I’m currently typing this from the crude home office I just set up in the living room at my parents’ house in Deerfield. It has a window and everything! Hello future lost hours of productivity staring at the front lawn instead of the the pictures of Italy on the wall in my cube back in Michigan!
I’m back in Illinois for the next 4 weeks while I commute to Warrenville every day to get proton radiation therapy. I’ll be doing my job remotely in the morning, then getting zapped in the afternoons, and then since I forgot it gets dark at 4:30pm here in the winter, I probably won’t be able to ride my bike much, so if any of you are in the area, we should hang out instead. I’ll regale you with stories of Michigan and you can buy me beer.
Never gets old.
So this morning I packed everything I thought I’d need for the next month and for all future winter weather conditions bound to arrive shortly into my car and drove straight to my treatment appointment. I was there plenty early, so after a quick walk around the nondescript office park to stretch my legs a bit, I went inside and got ready for my first treatment.
Here’s how it’s supposed to work: I lie on the treatment table in the custom back mold and head mold that was made the last time I was there. Then they place the custom netted face mask over my face and neck to make sure I don’t move. And then they adjust my body slightly so the tattoos on body line up with the lasers shining down from the ceiling. If that’s all good, they take X-rays of my body in relation to the machine where the protons would come flying out at me. The machine doesn’t move, so the table I’m on rotates 90 degree and they take another X-ray. Studying those results, they make any minor adjustments to the positioning of table I’m laying on, redo the X-rays to confirm I’m now in the final correct position, and then things can proceed.
But that’s as far as I got. They couldn’t get the machine to calibrate correctly when I was laying on it, so they let me get off and regain some comfort while they troubleshooted. Ten minutes later, they told me to go home because they weren’t getting a quick solution, and when the precision of the protons being fired at me is down to a few millimeters, there’s no room for error to be “close enough”. I was there for over an hour while they tried to get everything set up perfectly for me – all for a blast of protons that will last about a minute.
So everything is pushed back a day and we’ll try again tomorrow, as if I wasn’t already anxious enough to be done with this all. The treatments themselves are painless, and the side-effects should be limited to a little fatigue and a skin rash in the area of treatment, but that’s about it. A lot easier than chemo.