Wednesday, April 18, 2012

So what is radiation like, exactly?

I didn't know what radiation was like before I started, either.  Now after 7 weeks of treatment I feel like I'm an expert.  Here's how every day since February 28 has been:
Step one: check in at the front desk in the basement of Prentice and scan my barcoded card.
Step two: get called back to change, dress down from the waist up and put on the oh so stylish hospital gown.

Step three: head back to the vault where the machine is and chit chat with the radiation therapists.
This is similar to the radiation machine at Prentice.  It's crazy big.

Step four: verify my name, date of birth, and area of treatment.
Step five: lay down on the plank, put my arms up, get raised up a few feet to where the arm of the machine is, and lay still while the therapists line up the machine.
Step six: lay still while the laser is on, 20 seconds on the left side and 20 seconds on the right side.

Step seven:  get lowered down, get dressed, head home.

It typically took 15 minutes at the hospital and one hour total.  Everyone in the radiation oncology department are total pros and everything is run like a well-oiled machine.  They also could not be more pleasant, and I really got to know them after seeing them day in and day out.  I'll miss chatting with all of the nice people, but I won't miss having to go in every day.  That's radiation in a nutshell!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm back!

Well, a lot has happened since I last posted!  Apologies for such a long break (again).  The most important thing that has happened is the arrival of this precious little girl.

Clare Mary Gough was born February 15 at 9:13am, 7 pounds 2 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long.  She was delivered via scheduled induction 3 weeks early and her birth could not have gone more smoothly.  Inductions typically take about 12 hours and often end in a cesarean section, and thankfully my labor took about 8 1/2 hours and was quite pleasant once I got my epidural.  It was absolutely the best experience of my life.  Clare is perfect and healthy, and I am 100% biased, but so beautiful.  We are so blessed.
Hooked up to monitors to measure baby's heartbeat and my contractions.  Last shot of the pregnant belly!

Proud daddy with Clare, just minutes old

My happy little family

Clare's stats

Such a blessing

All ready to go home

She will be 9 weeks old tomorrow and I have no idea where the time has gone.  Though I have plenty of sleep deprived, bleary eyed, overwhelmed moments, I have never been happier and I have loved every second of being with her.  Being Clare's mom is what I was born to do.
Growing so fast!

The other big thing that has happened is the end of radiation -- woohoo!  I started 2 weeks after Clare was born and just finished today.  Compared to chemo, radiation was a breeze.  More than anything it was just inconvenient -- I went to the hospital every day, Monday through Friday.  Though it took less than a minute to actually receive the radiation, it took me about an hour each day, and longer on Tuesdays when I met with Dr. Small.  In the last couple of weeks I've been experiencing the unpleasant burns that come with radiation.  What was characterized as "like a sunburn" when I started is definitely worse than that, and covers my entire left breast and arm pit.  It's not pretty, and has ranged from a sore chafed feeling to what is now a deep, burning itch.  There are a couple of topical medications that would really help that I unfortunately can't use because I'm nursing Clare on the right side and they aren't safe for her.  Still, I would take radiation for 7 weeks over chemo any day.

Now that I'm done with radiation and still have a few weeks left of my maternity leave, I feel like I finally have my life back.  I'm thrilled to have nothing to do all day except hang out with Clare and enjoy every second I have with her before I have to head back to work.

So that's what I've been up to the last few months.  Now that I've caught up with things at home and am starting to get the hang of this whole being a mom thing, I promise to keep the old blog updated.  Believe it or not, I still have plenty to write about even though chemo and radiation are now a thing of the past.  Thanks for reading, and for all of your support and prayers through this whole journey.
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