Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Transplant: Glass Box of Emotion

Part of my pre-transplant treatment was Total Body Irradiation/Radiation (or TBI). So far in my treatment, I had not had radiation. I had had the chemo, I had gone through the long hospital stays, I knew how crappy I felt when my blood counts were at zero. But radiation was a huge unknown factor in this process.

When I asked my doctors about radiation they told me this: "You will be receiving a lifetime dose of radiation." In other words, I would receive the same amount of sunshine (a.k.a. radiation) in about 90 minutes as I would in 90 years. I imagined TBI would go something like this:

So, to administer my TBI, I had to stand in a glass box three times a day, 8 minutes at a time for a total of four days. Here's the box:

Sounds easy, right? Not exactly.

I had two metal plates placed a few inches in front of me to protect my lungs from the harmful radiation beams. Just imagine two metal boobs hanging by strings and lined up exactly with my lungs. So, I had to stand perfectly still. If I moved just an inch, the radiation would blast through my lungs and irreparably damage them for life -yay! Not only that, the nurses would have to reset everything and start over. (Below, my nurse adjusting my metal boobs.)

Standing still for 8 minutes doesn't sound so difficult, but it was probably the most physically demanding treatment I had to endure during my entire leukemia road trip. Not only did I have six months of chemotherapy weighing me down, but every second those radiation beams hit me I felt weaker and weaker, like a Gelfling getting her life-essence sucked out by the Skeksis:

So, this happened before they even turned on the radiation:

I fainted.

Fortunately I had amazing nurses who got me a wheelchair and a juice box!

Check out what all this led up to here.

1 comment:

  1. looks like you should come out of that box as a superhero.....