Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Beginnning of the Recovery

I sent this e-mail to Huong for forwarding on Friday, June 12. It takes up the subject of the initiation of the radiation oncology and physical therapies. There is a huge mistake in this rendition: The radiation guns are really only turned on for 40-50 seconds.

I am composing this from GHQ in Christiana Hospital room 7E08, which is has been my home for some time now, as you are all aware by now. Huong will forward to all interested parties (and then some) I'm sure.

My new T8 vertebra is healing, slowly. I still need a bit of Percoset for it now and again if I work it hard enough. The Valium injections have been eliminated entirely, and the steroid injections are being dialed way down as well. No more earth-shattering spasms, thank goodness. I am also out of the special self-inflating boots that I was wearing to prevent the formation of blood clots in the legs, and I'm also unhooked from the portable heart monitor.

Yesterday the physical/occupational therapists worked me over pretty good. Since the collapse of T8 essentially deprived me of the use of my legs for a week, I am really back to learning how to walk again. My leg strength is pretty good; the main problem now is stability, getting the muscles to work in a coordinated fashion to move forward without lurching all over the place. The walker is helping me do this. I also need to work on upper body strength as well, since I was flat on my back for a week and everything kind of atrophied. The overall deterioration of all muscle groups happens more quickly than you might think.

This afternoon, I received my baptism of radiological fire. The initial set up process took quite a while, because the radiation is carefully targeted to the desired spots, not just fire-hosed over everywhere. I was carefully lined up with lasers, and then little permanent registration marker tattoos were added to places on my chest and abdomen. These will be lined up each time with what is showing on the scanner being used to aim the radiation guns. Once everything is set up, the switch is thrown, there is 15-20 minutes of buzzing, you get kind of warm, and then that's it. I'm supposed get nine more of these sessions before they go back to assess the overall effects, and determine whether anything more needs to be done. When I got back to my room and went to the bathroom, my urine seemed especially warm coming out. Before I'm done, I can expect some "sunburn" effects and maybe some permanent hair loss in places, maybe some stomach upset/nausea effects, and definitely extra fatigue. But so far the experience hasn't been a particularly negative one. We'll see.

So between the radiology and the PT/OT, my life seems kind of programmed for the next couple of weeks. I won't continue to bore you with the same old details; I'll just update if some new dramatic effects come into play. That's all for now...


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