Yesterday I went to Addenbrooke’s hospital for the first of eventually 47 radiotherapy and consultant review appointments, which will thankfully end on 25th May. I had no idea of what was coming, and looking back, I think ignorance was probably a good thing.
I was aware that ‘at some point’ in the near future, my protective mask was going to be made. This turned out to be yesterday. I was shown a flat outline of a head and shoulders in some unknown breathable material which was attached to a frame, and told that it was to be heated up in a container of hot water and then placed on my face. This would cause the material to mould itself to my facial contours, but apparently I would still be able to breathe (how reassuring).
This is where the exercise for the mind comes into play. I am slightly claustrophobic, and as I lay flat on the CT scanner, I was told to close my eyes. I dutifully complied with a racing heart, and then what can only be described as a thick hot blanket came down on my face. As the heat left the blanket and it started to harden, the doctor and nurse clamped the frame to the CT scanner, rendering my head and shoulders totally immobile. I then laid like this for at least 15 minutes while they scanned my neck and made marks on the mask regarding the area they wanted to treat.
I started to try and take myself away from my plight. I imagined my newly-purchased holiday home, and the journey along the M11, M25 and A3 that I would need to make to get there. Then I imagined myself and Sam sitting on the decking with a drink to watch the sun set. Then I tried to work out how much 47 years of site fees would cost, but failed miserably as I am number illiterate. The time dragged endlessly by, and I realised that every time I presented for treatment, I would have to go through exactly the same thing, except that for future appointments the mask would have already been made.
Apparently I can take some CD’s with me for next time and concentrate on the music, which I might have done yesterday had they warned me what was going to happen. Ugh, the whole process is horrific. The only good thing about thyroid cancer treatment (or any other cancer treatment for that matter) is that you learn how to endure.
If you were in my position laid flat on a CT scanner with the hated mask over your face, what would you do? I’d love to know!