Gratefull! Hopefull! The Journey Continues, Part 7

Recovery from my surgery continues. I’m gaining more strength and mobility with each passing day. I actually helped deliver the July issue this past month. They come in bundles of 20, and you’d be surprised how heavy those can feel, especially about the 20th stop of the day. It’s a fine line as you recover to get back to your routine. Pushing yourself a little each day to do more and more, but knowing when enough is enough and not overdoing it.

More about “The Hair!”

My hair continues to come back, albeit a little grayer than I’d like. Before the diagnosis, I colored my hair religiously and often wondered just how gray it was. Guess I’ll soon find out. I’ve also wondered what I’d look like with a short hairstyle and was never brave enough to cut it. Guess I’ll find that out, too! Not sure how much longer I’ll want to wear my hat before baring it all, but it will be soon. Hats are hot and even hotter in 90+ degree weather. So, if you notice a little woman with really short gray hair out delivering magazines, it’s me—say, “Hi!”

Next Leg of the Journey

I’ve started radiation and have a great new radiation oncologist, Dr. Karen Winkfield. Her bubbly and vivacious personality helps make this phase a little more bearable. She has a wonderful team, and I find myself blessed again. You may recall in an earlier installment I was pretty deflated at first to learn I had to have radiation. While they feel the cancer is gone, this is insurance to make sure there are no cancer cells left so I’m grateful again for the treatment to make sure there are no traces left.

My First Tattoo

Getting mapped for radiation treatments was quite the process. With cancer having been on my left side, there is concern that the radiation could damage my heart, so I have to hold my breath during the treatment to help protect it. The technicians had to do a series of X-rays of me, holding my breath and not holding it, to get to the optimum position. They created a bolus out of this material that when soaked in water becomes pliable and molds to your body, and then hardens for them to use for each treatment. This piece apparently makes the radiation concentrate in that area.

Then they asked if I had ever been snorkeling. Let’s just say I failed miserably with my one experience at it, so I’m immediately worried that I may not be able to do this! First, I get to hold my arms way above my head, which is not so easy since surgery. Then I get to put this fun mouthpiece in that connects to a machine that monitors my breathing. Next, comes a really cool pair of glasses that allows me to see my breathing pattern. Not sure what size head those were created for, but the ear pieces extend way past my head, so it’s a challenge to get in the position they need me to and still see what I need to see. Last, but not least, a nose clip. I do pretty well till they put that clip on my nose. That’s when I have to talk myself off the ledge to calm down and relax. When I hold my breath and get it to a certain green line, I hold for 30 seconds and then release. I do this for what seems like an eternity.

Finally, I’m ready for my tattoos. Yes, I’ve made it 53 years without one, and I finally do, and it’s a couple of blue dots. In addition to these tiny tattoos, they put these clear stickers in certain places and mark all over your chest with a permanent marker. Needless to say, I look like a page in a football playbook. They say the marker will eventually wear off, but I’m on week three, and they are still very visible. The blue dot tattoos will be with me forever. Not exactly what I would choose if I were to ever get a tattoo! However, they will forever remind me of this leg of the journey.

Let the Radiation Begin

I have to do 30 treatments, one every day for six weeks, except weekends. By the time this comes out, I should be halfway. I leave for my annual Florida vacation with my family the day after I finish, so no doubt I am anxious to count this down! Each day, daughter Morgan and I are greeted by the lovely ladies at check-in. I call them triple D; Deborah, Dora and Donna. They are super friendly and it brightens my day to see them. I ask for badge 99 and then go to the changing area and put on a hospital gown. From there I go to the waiting area outside machine #3 and watch Morgan work on a giant puzzle while I wait to be called in. Kelly and Noel position me on the table and equip me with my mouthpiece, glasses and nose clip. I’m impressed with their knowledge and skill. They leave the room, and I wait for the green light to breathe in and hold my breath until the red light appears and I can breathe again. Thanks to all these amazingly caring and knowledgeable folks, I remain GrateFull and HopeFull!


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