Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gamma Knife

Well, it was time for gamma knife surgery to clean up any cancer cells left after surgery. Apparently, there are microscopic cells left after a surgery like mine that they want to get rid of before they grow into another tumour. Gamma knife is sort of like radiation but not. It is when they use tiny gamma rays, all focused around the tumour so that they meet right at in the middle. This minimizes radiation exposure so that they can use very high doses which is what melanoma responds to. Melanoma is not treated with your typical radiation because they can't use the high doses that they would need to without damaging the brain too much. I was admitted at 5:30 a.m. that morning so I was more than a little bit tired. I actually got a pretty good sleep that night even though I was a pretty anxious. There were 5 of us all waiting for gamma knife and when the nurse came to walk us down I couldn't help but laugh with Christine (my sister). I felt like we were walking the green mile or something. We were all walking single file behind the nurse and it made me feel like we were prisoners on our way to meet our destiny. Never mind in the waiting room when a discussion took place about "What each of us were in for". I guess you had to be there...

Anyway, I got my IV put in (something that I was getting very used to by now). And next it was time to get my headgear on that I would wear for most of the morning. Two doctors attached this Hannibal Lector looking device to my head. They cursed my hair as they did this because it was getting in their way. Eventually they got it secured and yes they did use a local anesthetic to make me more comfortable. I got wheeled out into the waiting area and the next patient got called in. Of course they were all asking me how it felt and if it hurt. I felt a little weird being the only one with this contraption on my head but soon enough we were all looking the same. We looked like we were going to a Star Wars convention or something. Christine took pictures, of course, this was a Creative Memories moment! Now I got wheeled down to MRI for my scan. They attached a box onto my headgear and secured me to the machine. What a weird feeling! I started thinking..... What if there is a fire and they forget about me? or what if Jason with his hockey mask comes in? There is no way that I could get out on my own. I was feeling very helpless laying there and just wishing it would be over quickly. Then I went to the spa. This is a place I go to often in my mind. I start thinking about being in the mineral pool, relaxing and all of a sudden I am there. It really does work for me and I forget about all of my fears.

Next, it was time for my head CT and this was much quicker and not as uncomfortable as the MRI. Getting around with this contraption on was something else. I got up to use the washroom and the weight was unreal. I made it through the doorway without hitting my now giant head! When I got back to the gamma knife area the doctor brought around doughnuts for all of his patients. What a nice guy! Or maybe this is his bribe for letting him do this to us?! Whatever, I love doughnuts!!! Being in the gamma knife area was such an amazing experience. It was so quiet and peaceful and really made you feel at ease. They had nice spa music playing and the staff was so relaxed.You could tell that they all really like working there. The team there figuring out my treatment plan was a Radiation Oncologist, a Neurosurgeon and a Physicist. They each had their own specialty and I completely trusted them. I was then secured to the bed by my head contraption so that I wouldn't be able to move my head and they began my treatment. This lasted for an hour and I did not feel a thing the entire time. It helped that they let me bring in a CD to listen to during this time. I brought in Jann Arden of course. (I love her!) My sister and I had gone to see her the end of November and we had a great time. Even with seeing two of Jann and hearing some static in my ears it was awesome! I can't imagine going now that I'm feeling better! So they acutally play the music through the gamma knife machine speakers! It sounded great!

After the hour they came into get me. As he was taking off the head gear that was I used to wearing at that point I felt relief at first, then the headache started. They apparently call this a rebound headache and some people get this when all of the pressure is released by removing the head gear. This lasted about 30 minutes and after some Tylenol and a little rest I was fine. Ready to go! My Aunt had come to check on me and we had a bit of a visit before we left. I felt bad as I left everyone else waiting for their turn with the head contraption on. I was lucky to be the first one in to get it over with but felt like I was deserting my fellow Star Wars fans. I met a really nice lady while we were waiting for our MRI so she called me over to ask about how it felt and what it was like. She had been getting brain tumours since she was in her 20's and had many different treatments to get rid of them. This was the first time for gamma knife and I could really see what an amazing gift this is. Gamma knife saves people's lives and we are lucky enough to have one in Winnipeg. We also have very talented Doctors who are specialized enough to use it. All I had was 4 tiny holes where the pins had been placed! Much better than surgery! I am very thankful for this!!

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