Saturday, January 26, 2008

Just Call Me Rudolph Voldemort

Well, Victoria and I have spent the last week traveling to NNMC at differing times of the day to find "the sweet spot" in Washington area traffic flow that will get us from Ashburn to Bethesda and back with the least amount of hassle. There is no such time, although the earlier you go, the more time you get to wait in the clinic areas until things actually open at 7 AM.

Our purposes this past week were to meet again with the surgeons for followup and to "preview" the coming attractions of radiation and chemotherapy. In our chemo preview, we learned that I will indeed have three sessions, but, each "session" will last four days, for a total of twelve chemos. Don't you just love little surprises?

The second best part of the oncology "previews" is the execution of multiple consent and release forms. In these, you acknowledge that there may be certain "side effects" to your treatment, including nausea, hair loss, fatigue, your right ear may fall off, loss of appetite, lack of saliva, minor or major rashes, instantaneous blood poisoning resulting in immediate death, possible confusion as to all the things that are happening to you and occasional diarrhea. Please sign here and initial there, thanks.

The best part of the previews was in radiation oncology, a friendly place over whose door should read the sign "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here." I was to be fitted with my radiation mask, the device which permits the use of IMRT, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy. The mask starts off as a dry piece of a thin cardboard-like material, which is then made malleable by the addition of warm water.

First, I was placed on a table, several neck supports tried until one was found that raised my chin up as high as was comfortable, then a support placed beneath my knees. In with a specially fitted mouthpiece which keeps my tongue in proper position and steady, then out with my hearing aids. Finally, my arms were tied with straps which went beneath my feet so that there would be NO movement while radiation was being administered for about 25 minutes TIMES 35 sessions; however, in this case, a session actually does mean only one day.

The warm damp mask was placed over my head and shoulders and, as it dried to hardness, the staff worked down against the contours of my face to make the fit as snug as possible. As they pressed down on the mask, the only release point for the pressure was the small hole cut for my nose tip, hence the title of this blog.

Now, with children out of the room, you may look at the picture I had them take with my camera. The net look of the mask allows the therapist to point the narrow and weak radiation beams at exactly the same place each time so that the combined effect is lots of radiation at the target.


I suspect that getting "previews" helps educate the patient and inoculate a bit against the unknown. However, if we had been given previews of Ranger School or Beast Barracks as they actually were, I might not know many of my West Point classmates today.

Next week is mostly rest, with a few appointments. Monday, 4 February, 2008 at 0800 EST is H Hour, D Day. I'll be working my way through the obstacles on Slytherin Beach. Before I reach the heights of Gryffindor, I will have rid myself of this Voldemort mask and the reason I have to wear it...

See you on the high ground, with spot reports to follow along the way. Your prayers are my reinforcements.

Love to you all
Posted by Picasa


Unknown said...

Well, when I first read this blog entry the thought crossed my mind that what you underwent could in many ways be considered a modern day mummification process. I went to Wikipedia to read more on how the mummification process was administered in ancient Egypt and come to find out that they're absolutely nothing alike. And by the way, you definitely got the better deal when comparing the two processes!

So, now that this new mask has been created we have to give it a name. Since we already have named your sleep apnea mask "The Mask of Snorro," might I suggest that we call this second mask, "The Mask of Cancer No Morro."

Keep your spirits high Dad, the battle has just begun!

P.S. - I have decided that if Lord Voldemort had a nose like yours that Harry Potter would have lost. (;

Sue said...

The first thing I did when I saw the title of your new post was to scroll down to see if there were any pictures. You did not disappoint. I laughed right out loud! After this whole thing is over, you should ask the docs if you can keep your mask to scare the grandkids when they're being naughty.

Take it easy this week, do something really fun with your fabulous wife, and enjoy the Miss America Pageant tonight!

Oh, and P.S. I didn't know you had hearing aids. You really are getting old! :)

The Dragonfly said...

There is something about the mask (in combination with the nose) that reminds me a little of a clown's costume. Maybe that is a little subconcious message that you need to have a big sense of humor for what is coming. You can do it Dad!

Anderson Zoo Keepers said...

Ken, you rock. We love you! Shar

Sue said...

My husband Dan is curious to know if your docs did a PET scan with 3 dimensional mapping of the tumor, which they can then program in for precise targeting of the radiation. Apparently this is the newest and most accurate technology for attacking cancer cells while keeping the healthy cells as unscathed as possible.

Just making sure those Navy boys are giving you the best!

kjae said...

You are in our thoughts and prayers, keep your chin up (it looks like you don't have a choice).
Love you

kjae said...

Kirk thinks you should name it Shelob was here! Hope you can make it to Mt.Doom and destroy the ring. You even have your own Sam.

Tobi said...

Ken, I really admire your strength and fortitude. I get sick for a few days and I turn into the biggest whine bag. From now on I will think of all the crazy, horrible things those doctors are making you do and whine no more.

teddyp said...

Ken, with all the clowns in my family, I'd glad to lend you a clown nose for affect. Teddy

Susan said...

whoa, that is one scary mask. That alone should scare away anything that's inside. Keep up the spirit.

Christie Norris said...

Ken - I'd like to forward this on to my clients to tell them this is what will happen to them if they don't pay their taxes. My prayers are with you!

squeezeme said...

Ken, I am actually grateful you included a picture, because as Sam told me you that you are a bit claustrophobic, and now I will picture what I need to pray for, that you will be made comfortable and peaceful while enduring this part of the journey. We prary for you and send our love.

Crazy Granny said...

Wowwey! I'd recoginze that nose anywhere. Hang in there Ken. Your in our prayers. Love Ya