Radiotherapy is one of those life experiences that I would rather not be having (goes without saying really), but it’s best to at least attempt to embrace every experience that comes along as an opportunity & to learn something from it if possible I find!
Reflecting on the first week of five at Springfield Cancer Centre (UK) has been a bit challenging, not so much because it is “traumatic” – it isn’t; other than making the surreal a reality it has been pretty good on balance. It’s more because I am feeling pretty tired & somewhat sore.
So that there are no misunderstandings, I should explain I was tired before the treatment started which probably didn’t help. According to the information leaflet, I shouldn’t be feeling tired from the radiation just yet, so there you go. Similarly, the soreness is due to a niggly minor flare up of my Fibromyalgia (usually very much an occasional visitor thankfully), combined with the necessity of lying on my back (not a thing I do through choice, due to damage at L3 &L5 of my spinal vertebrae) & the THING on which I have to lie. Laughingly referred to in aforementioned leaflet as the “couch”.
Be honest with me please, if you are the average non medical Westerner privileged to have a reasonable income & a roof over your head, would you in all fairness think of a couch (aka Sofa) as anything other than that well loved piece of furniture in your relaxing space; which other than our individual preferences in terms of style, colour, degree of stuffing etc. we & our loved ones can sit back on, snuggle up & relax, drink a cuppa or a glass of our favourite tipple, talk with friends or watch a film of a winter’s evening. True, it may be sagging a bit now due to it’s dual purpose of indoor trampoline for the little ones with parents who care more about their offspring’s joy, than the cost of the sofa (but that’s what God invented stiff cardboard for isn’t it?).
It might, on the rare occasions when someone in the household decides to plump the cushions & have a bit of a clean up, it’s likely to disclose a variety of small mouldy items that were once edible secreted in various nooks & crannies (the culprit will never own up so it’s not worth investigating), the odd few pennies (why is there never a diamond necklace or a medieval crown??) & possibly even the missing fish slice, but it’s yours and you cherish it…
Not so the case when it comes to the “couch” on which those undergoing radiotherapy must lie, which in all fairness can mean the furniture used in medical examination rooms etc, but still generally has some cursory attempt at providing a modicum of comfort…
Honestly, whoever wrote the information leaflet needs to be sued under the Trades Description Act!! (Only joking): but in all seriousness, I personally feel that it is better to be truthful & accurate about these details, which are the things which the person on the receiving end will have to deal with, in my case for 25 sessions!
* Apologies if I have used above picture before – can’t remember, but I am still morbidly amused & yet repelled by the concept of a pay per sit bench to keep homeless people from sleeping on them…
Those of you who read my ramblings on a regular basis will know that I am quite keen on providing people with an explanation. I reason that most rational, reasonably intelligent adults will be able to accept & come to terms with things even if they aren’t very pleasant, providing they are told the truth & given a reason as to why it is the way it is.
In this particular case “the because” is this. In order to ensure that the radiotherapy beams are directed accurately & only to the areas which have been defined as the best ones to obliterate any traces of remaining NLBs, it is essential that the recipient is as still as possible & that there is no sagging. This means that it is not safe or feasible to have even the teeniest bit of memory foam underneath one’s body in order to relieve the stolid firmness of the metal bench/slab/table: call it what you will (but not a couch please!).
There’s a somewhat solid, dense (not sure what it’s made of) “mould” for your head & a similarly moulded “foot stop” which you put your feet in so that your heels are touching against it. Not sure if it is the same for everyone but, in my sessions I also have two wedges under my knees to try & take some pressure off my back…
It’s when I am lying in this position for the next however long it will be, that I realise that I am not a reincarnated Medieval Japanese person of Noble Birth. Otherwise I wouldn’t flinch at the prospect, let alone complain about it!
Never mind. It isn’t for long & there will be an end point & there are millions of people in the World who would probably be only too glad to have even such a hard place to rest their weary bodies for a little while.
So I guess that I will cease my whingeing forthwith & jolly well put up with it, consoled by the fact that it could be worse – they might have made me use one of these instead: