Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Panic Attack

I had been feeling so much better since I finished chemo. I had some energy and a little bounce in my step. That is, until I got the stomach flu Monday morning. That wiped me out. Richard got it last night and Katie is starting to feel sick. I hope Tommy can be spared.

Today I went for my Radiation Mapping appointment to prepare a customized treatment plan. They used a CT scan to find the target for radiation. The trick was that I had to hold my breath. I have been through some pretty difficult tests and procedures these past 7 months but this is the first time I've had a panic attack. 

I had to wear a snorkel devise and a clamp on my nose. I got to practice a couple of times before they sent me inside the CT chamber. The tech walked me through the steps as I watched my breathing on a monitor.1. Breathe normal. 2. Blow out all of the air. 3. Take a deep breath and hold it for 20 seconds. While holding my breath, there was a small valve that closed, preventing air through the tube. After 20 seconds it would open to let air through. 

When they sent me in the CT chamber I was breathing normally and suddenly heard the tech over the speaker, "Okay, now hold your breath." I glanced at the monitor and it showed 29 seconds! OMG! Why didn't he let me take a deep breath. Why are we holding for 29 instead of 20? Then the snorkel started slipping out of my mouth as I tried to bite down even harder.  I felt like I was drowning. I tried to hold on but released the safety button and started kicking as if I had fins on my feet to swim away. The doc and tech came running and slid me out. Told me I was fine and they had the images they needed.

I didn't stop shaking until I got home.

Did I ever tell you that I'm not an exhibitionist? Well, I've had to flap my gown open for lots of these people. But today was very unnerving to lay there, bare and get 3 tattoos and various photos taken. Not my cup of tea. 

I've inserted some information below about this procedure. I will probably have to go through 6 weeks using this method in order to protect my heart and lungs during radiation.

Lt Breast treatment set-up with Active Breathing Coordinator
It is difficult to avoid the heart with Tangential Beams (High radiation dose shown in red)With deep inhalation, using Active Breathing Coordinator, the heart is totally spared

Treating a moving target: Because even the slightest movement can change the location of the tumor, targeting a tumor that moves as the patient breathes may require a slightly larger radiation field to compensate for the tumor’s movement. Some healthy tissue may inadvertently receive radiation as the patient breathes and the tumor shifts.
Protecting the heart: With left-sided breast cancer, which moves when the patient breathes, the heart is part of the healthy tissue that needs to be protected. Studies have shown that patients who have received large doses of radiation to some parts of their hearts or who have had larges areas of the heart exposed to smaller doses of radiation have a higher risk of developing radiation-induced heart disease.