Thursday, September 24, 2009

My experiences with the Fry Doctor

And I kind of wish it was the fries you eat...

So we saw the radiology oncologist today. At least that's what I think his official title is. The radiologist is apparently the person who reads the PET scans? I don't know. So he's hereby going to be called the Fry Doctor. I wonder if he would be amused by that? He seems like a nice guy, answered our numerous questions. He doesn't score points for the rectal exam, but at this point, no one does, really.

First we chatted with his nurse about radiation in general, side effects, that sort of thing. She asked if we had any questions, and we were all, "Well, we have questions, we just don't know who to ask." She acted surprised and taken aback that we were asking the stuff we did, especially stuff about S E X (come on, you know we do it, proven by our two children). At one point she even apologized for blushing. I'm sure she mostly deals with people over 50 who have rectal cancer, maybe those people aren't having sex anymore? I don't know.

Apparently when you go in for your consult with the Fry Doctor, they get you set up to the do radiation simulation too. We didn't know that as it was suggested to us that we'd have one appointment to talk with the Fry Doctor, then a separate appointment to have the simulation. We were there anyway, right? Basically the simulation is a CT scan and is used to figure out exactly how to send the radiation right at teh cancer. Some parts of it are kind of cool, and some parts are not. I will explain. Feel free to stop reading for a little bit if you're easily grossed out.

The simulation is in a CT scan machine (a tube). I changed into hospital gowns and had to lay on a hard table. There's a belly hole, and the idea behind this is to squish your guts as far out of the way of the radiation field as possible. Then the techs put a plastic bag under my legs, filled it with some chemicals, and it foamed up around my legs, making a mold of the lower half of my body. When I go for treatments, it's important that I lay in as close to the same position every time as possible. The mold will help with that.

While the mold was setting, the Fry Doctor did a rectal exam (boo). He wanted rectal contrast for the scan, so this involved a tube in my ass so they could squirt the contrast up there. Laying on a scanning table with a tube up my ass was a low point, let me tell you. Luckily (unluckily?) I had time to contemplate how the hell we got to this point while the techs did the scan. I decided not to cry in the tube. I thought it wouldn't be helpful, and the techs kind of don't like you moving around in those things.

After the scan, the tech got to play tattoo artist. She used India Ink. I know because I looked. No tattoo guns though, she used a needle like they do in prison. Everyone who talked about the tattoo marks was very apologetic and I kept saying, "I really don't have a problem with tattoos." And then they laughed because I have a very visible tattoo on my arm, not to mention the other three that I doubt could be missed in an open backed hospital gown. The dots will help the techs line up the machine properly when I go for treatments. The tube was removed from my ass (I don't know why there was a delay with this...sigh), and I was released.

Then Eric and I talked to a social worker. And I cried. She asked about the kids, and that made me cry more. I'm still overwhelmed. I don't feel like I have much of a handle on this at all. At one point this afternoon we thought I would start treatment on Monday, but that all depends on how much longer it takes the radiologist to look at the PET scan (s/he still hasn't yet). The computer program that tells the radiation where to go takes anywhere from 1 to 5 days, although the Fry Doctor did say that as long as the PET scan person didn't see other cancer, it was an easy program to write.

I get stressed out about scheduling and finding people to watch the kids. Tons of people have offered, it's just a matter of coordinating. Most days treatment will only take 15-20 minutes, if that. Once a week I'll meet with both the chemo doctor and the Fry Doctor so they can see how I'm tolerating treatment. I would like a predictable routine. I like to have my calendar and look at it and know what our plans are so I can make other plans, or just figure out when to go to the grocery store. Maybe I just need to quit being such a planner for a while and embrace the chaos?

Anyway, that's my story for today.


  1. Sheri,
    First of all its ok to cry.
    You are being shuffled around like a new toy, and everyone wants to play with you.
    Its ok to be scared. I know I was! I even went so far as I would sit and look at wedding dresses, thinking about what they would pick with out me.
    All this is happening so fast and it sucks!
    It sucks that I only have half a boob, and not a day goes by with out discomfort. But I am alive, 7 years after I was told I had cancer. I was told most people have it reacure at the 5 year point. I am past that!
    Cancer sucks no mater how you look at it. and its ok to feel sad, mad, and feel sorry for yourself you have a right.
    But I also know you are a very strong person, and you will make it through this awful journey, and you will have another look on life, I promise you that. Your relationship with Eric will grow even stronger, as will those with your in-laws. Let people help, they do want to. call if you need, I have been there.

    I love you very much
    Aunt Karen

  2. hope this is good for a smile, Sheri:

    in reference to your blushing nurse's lack of ease and speaking as a 59-year old tortoise, married to an even older one, "we may be old, but we ain't cold!"