Sunday, January 29, 2012

Radiation Oncologist & Internist Appointments

Radiation Oncologist (RO):
I had an appointment with Dr. Ann Spangler  (RO) on Thursday, Jan. 26th for my "repeat" radiation consultation (the one I had in Sept. was considered out-of-date!) & luckily, they worked in my radiation simulation!  Before you begin external beam radiation treatment, your radiation therapy team carefully plans your treatment in a process called radiation simulation. Radiation therapy treatment planning usually involves positioning your body (they position an immobilizing body form with your arms over your head so that you don't move during radiation), making marks on your skin (I got 4 freckle sized tattoos to mark the radiation perimeter), and taking imaging CT scans (this helps your radiation oncologist determine the exact spots where treatment will be focused).  Thanks to my sweet friend, Carolyn, for going with me for support!  The best news is that I finally got an appt. to begin radiation treatments.  I start next Wed., Feb. 1st & go 5 days a week for 6 1/2 weeks!  The RO told me to get a mild bath soap to use during treatment, a deodorant without aluminum (I got Tom's), and aloe gel for any possible burns or blisters from the rads.  The actual time of the radiation appts. will not be established for a couple of days because the first treatments take longer.  Then, I'll get my choice of times - & I'm hoping for an appt. right before lunch so I can have a few radiation lunch dates with friends!  Girls just want to have fun!!!  Looks like I won't finish until about March 16.  My best friend's daughter's wedding is on March 17th, so I hope I'm not too fatigued from the radiation - a usual side effect - but, I will not do the twist this time or any dance that will injure my knee - LOL!

I had an appt. with my internist, Dr. Blake Barker at UTSW, after the RO appt. to solve my Sleepless in Arlington problem.  He gave me a Sleep Hygiene printout & prescribed trazodone 50 mg to take at bedtime.  He said to try that dosage for 2 weeks, & if that doesn't work he'd prescribe 100 mgs to try for 2 weeks, & if that doesn't work he'll prescribe 150 mgs.  Well, the first night it did not work. Sad face!  I got about 2 hours sleep - but may have been extremely anxious for my port removal appt. the next morning.  Friday night I took a xanax & a trazodone after getting approval from my pharmacist.  I slept like a baby!  But I am not going to do that anymore because I am going to follow the regimine the internist laid out for me without adding to it so that he can  be the one to adjust the dosage or add another drug.  So, we'll see how this sleeplessness thing evolves in the next few weeks.  I'm sure he wants to start out with the lowest dosage & increase from there if necessary - which is only good medicine.

I want to post my Sleep Hygiene Recommendations instructions in case any of you have sleep problems:

Sleep is important to health & quality of life.  Poor sleep can contribute to poorer blood sugar, poorer blood pressure control, depression, pain & heart health.
1)  No caffeine after 12 NOON.
2)  The bed is only for sleep and sex.  No work, no laptops, no TV, no cell phones, & no reading that is related to work or something else that is either stressful or stimulating.
3)  Alcohol may help you go to sleep, but will  lead to poorer sleep overall.  After the body processes alcohol, it becomes a stimulant & is likely to wake you up or lead to lighter, less refreshing sleep.
4)  Wake up at the same time every day.   Set an alarm if you need to.
5)  Try to go to sleep at the same time every day.  Set an alarm if you need to.
6)  No naps!  Try your best to stay awake during the day & save your sleep for the night.
7)  If you are having trouble falling asleep, get out of bed after 45 minutes of trying.  Leave the bedroom & find a relaxing activity & a caffeine-free warm beverage (hot milk, caffeine-free tea, etc), & return to bed once you feel  relaxed & ready to go to sleep.

As far as #1,  I usually only have caffeine in my morning cup of coffee.  I have given up poisionous Diet Coke & iced tea with meals because of the artificial sweetener factor. For #2, I don't watch TV in bed, etc., but I am guilty of listening to NPR, which I have discontinued.  For #3, I have given up all alcohol on my healthy eating diet to ward off cancer recurrence.  For #4, I am guilty of sleeping until I wake up - sometimes  late in the morning because of not getting to sleep on time.  I thought sleeping late was a perk of retirement, but I guess I need to set my alarm for 7:00 a.m. because I do hate missing watching Good Morning America & The Today Show (I'm a channel flipper) when I sleep late.  For #5, I have always gone to bed at 10:00 p.m., so that shouldn't be a problem.  For #6, I can not take naps any more than I can sleep at night - sleep eludes me!  For #7,  I need to try this pointer.  I usually lie in bed & fight falling asleep which the doc says starts of vicious cycle of not being able to fall asleep.
My hair is NOT this long yet!!!  I just have peach fuzz.  : (