at least for me.
Two days ago I was stressed out to the max and ready to quit radiation. My only qualm (as with everything) is that Peter still felt it was for the best and that I would be able to not only make it through, but do so without the horrifying side effects I used to find* (did you read that: used to find) on Google.
After my near-breakdown this weekend, I felt enough was enough. I was not some sort of strong, brave person who could deal with this sort of thing. I was tired of feeling like I was killing any good left inside my chest and simply wanted out. I know I was supposed to come to this conclusion prior to beginning the sessions, but that simply isn't my luck.
Peter pushed me to make it until Tuesday, since that is the day we normally meet with the doctor. Thanks to oodles of bad traffic, I was nearly late and by the time I changed, it was my turn. Unlike last week, I was having a treatment first and then meeting with the doctor. There was not much I could do and I settled myself into the cold, hard slab and just...cried.
Yup, I cried (and, oh, goody, the techs probably caught it on film). I couldn't come close to a contemplative, much less meditative state and gave up. I did manage to keep myself from shaking too much, lest I fry other parts unnecessarily. A few minutes later, it was all over and time to meet with the doctor.
I managed to change first, which salvaged some dignity for me. Somehow meeting while still dressed in the robe (there's generally no exam) just adds insult to injury. Peter and I huddled in the room, I alternated between trying to finalize my decision and bursting into tears. I finally calmed myself, as I didn't think the doctor needed to see my outburst and then just as she walked in....
She immediately expressed concern and asked if I was okay. I managed to explain that this wasn't the cakewalk I expected, I was having a difficult time with the entire process and I just wasn't sure I could continue. Rather than lecture me, Dr. R. simply asked how I would feel if I were to stop now and then had a recurrence in 5 years.
Honestly? I just don't feel I would be that upset. Disappointed maybe, but I wouldn't blame it on not finishing radiation. A. I don't believe it will happen, B. (more importantly) radiation does not completely reduce the risk...so theoretically, according to the doctors, there is still a small chance of something coming back.
I explained all of the above, she nodded her head in understanding and said, "Well, if it's that stressful, then it's better to stop now."
No lecture, no eye-rolling, no yelling, just calm and reasonable. Peter, who had been mostly listening at this point, then decided it was his turn. He knew one of the big stressors was the timing of the appointments. Having to get the kids up early, out of the house way early, and most importantly, pay for extra daycare was weighing heavily on me. I also have to deal with a good deal of traffic (45 minutes or so after I drop off Nick) and it was just getting to be too much.
He offered a brief but detailed explanation of me feeling like I was putting us in a financial bind with the entire scenario. From his early departure from Iraq to all of the unexpected expenses, I felt like every dollar spent, whether on daycare or gas to get me to treatments was wasteful spending...money that we should be spending on other things or simply saving.
Dr. R. seemed to get it and offered that perhaps she could be of assistance. Another patient had a slightly later time and maybe that would ease the stress of getting in. She left to converse with him/her and Peter stopped to ask me how much of my stress was tied up in the financials or even with the timing and how much was truly the treatments. When it came right down to it, I realized it was probably 60% the treatments and 40% the drive and timing.
Five minutes later Dr. R. was back with the stellar news that the patient was happy to switch and I need not be at the center until 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. We could all 'sleep in', Nick would go to school at his normal time and the drive might be a tad bit less hectic. I agreed to see if it helped at all, as it was only one more day and we left feeling a tiny bit less encumbered.
This morning wasn't exactly like clockwork, but we all woke up and got out of the house in a somewhat timely manner. The drive wasn't fabulous, but I had left the house 10 minutes later than I should have. I still arrived basically on time (just not early), and headed in feeling already quite a bit better.
As I walked in, I was stopped by an older woman that I recognized from the waiting area. She had a grandmotherly presence and kindly asked how long I had been coming there. I replied that it had been about two weeks. She just looked at me, smiled and said, "Honey, don't worry, it's gonna be okay."
Hmm, guess everyone knows I'm a stress basket?
Despite not being early, I had plenty of time for the skin check photo (don't worry, no slide show forthcoming, just for personal reference), the quick change and a good 5 minutes in the waiting room with Words With Friends (insert huge thank you to Jill, Christy, Heather, Bethany, and, of course, Pete, for helping to distract me by kicking my bum in said game). The tech soon arrived to take me back.
I climbed up on the table, managed chit-chat about the rain and after turning my head, put myself in meditation mode. I did my best to avoid the buzz of the machine and soon it was over. No tears, no stress and I realized I felt like I could go Thursday and perhaps have a similar experience. More importantly, if I didn't, I could still make the decision to stop. In fact, I could do that at any time...take each and every day as it comes, and if at some point it is suddenly too much, that will be that.
Today was not that day. I thought it might be, but as I was leaving, I found myself asking the tech, "Same time tomorrow?"
"Same time, it's all yours," she said, grinning as usual.
"See you then," I said, walking off with my bag slung over my shoulder.
She quickly returned with, "See you tomorrow!"
I turned the corner, headed to the changing room and for the first time in two weeks, I left the center feeling nearly carefree.
*a late-in-the-game Lenten promise...give up Googling stuff related to you-know-what