My New Kayak and Goalie Mask

Friday, September 6th, 2013

I’d like to say that today’s appointments went without a hitch, but that would be lying.  I was okay with being put in the blue kayak thing because I had that done before.  It took them several tries to suck the air out of the contraption with me lying in there, so they could get a mould of my body.  I know what meat feels like when it’s vacuumed packed, let me tell you.  I thought I was being pressed to death, like one of the Salem witches (which I’m going to blog about when I get to that portion of my vacation).  This is what my kayak looked like before they made it into a mould of my body to keep me immobilized during radiation.


 I didn’t realize that they were also going to make a plastic mould of my head and chest (because the vertebrae T3 is up around the shoulders).  It was a giant, thick piece of warm plastic which they put over my face and shoulders.  I was okay with that, but when they stuck me in the machine, I felt like I was suffocating and almost had a panic attack.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with the MRI (although a lot of people get claustrophobic when being enclosed in that machine); but I wasn’t okay with having my face covered in plastic and then being stuck in that thing.  I couldn’t see a thing and my heart was beating incredibly fast.  I was only in it for 4 minutes, but every time it whirled by the right side of my head, I swear my heartbeat popped out of my neck.  It felt like something was being sucked out of my throat.  I started saying the Our Father and Hail Mary over and over again until it was over.  Here a pic of the mold of my torso which lay on the counter.


I asked the technician how long I would have to be in that thing during treatment.  He said 30 minutes.  That’s a whole lot of Our Fathers and Hail Marys.  I’m afraid they are going to have to knock me out for this one.

After my blue Kayak and Goalie mask torso were made, I had yet another MRI.  While undergoing testing, I was thinking about what I was going to write about in my blog about my latest experience.  The “Goalie Mask” experience reminded me of the time when I made face masks with my class for art (with those bandages hospitals use when making casts for broken arms/legs).  I told my students to put a lot of vaseline on their faces and to cover their eyes and eye lashes with wax paper.  Even demonstrated the technique on a student.  Everyone had a partner and was applying the bandages when one kid came up to me and said he couldn’t get the mask off his partner’s face.  “That’s odd”, I thought.  “Maybe he didn’t pull it off hard enough”.  But no, that wasn’t the problem.  I couldn’t get it off either.  “Did you put vaseline all over your face?”  I asked.  “Did you put wax paper over your eye lashes?”  I knew we were in trouble when the kid under the mask started panicking as he shook his head side to side indicating “No” he had not.  “Don’t worry”, I told him.  “I will get it off” I said as I yanked it off his face.

Needless to say, the poor kid didn’t have a hair left on his face.  There were two perfect eyebrows and delicate lashes encrusted on the inside of his mask.  And I don’t even think he realized what had happened to him (at first) because he was so happy to have that mask off of his face.  I remember him turning to his partner and saying, “I knew I shouldn’t have picked you as my partner” as I told the rest of the class “You see what just happened to him?”  Needless to say, no one else in the class made that mistake after seeing that.

So I’m thinking about this as the machine is whirling around me and I started to laugh.  Especially when I started to think,  “I wonder what his parents said to him when he came home without any eyebrows?”  I don’t even remember calling his parents.  I do remember calling “Glen’s” parents when he got hit in the nose with a giant triceratops horn when a kid passed it to him (Dinosaurs Science Kit Unit, show and tell, bleeding nose…need I say more?), and I remember phoning “Franklins” parents when we returned to school from Horton’s Tree Farm because their son was bothering a miniature donkey and it bit him and I thought he would need a tetanus shot; but I don’t recall telephoning this particular child’s parents to tell them he would be returning home without eyebrows.  Anyhow, I started laughing. I couldn’t stop myself.  And I kind of hiccuped or snorted as I was trying to suppress my laughter and I am sure I moved.  Told myself to quickly think of something else, or I was going to screw up the test/treatment plan.  Lucky for me, the 1/2 hour was over shortly thereafter and I was allowed to go home.

I met Cathy M. for lunch and then I went over to see Irish Maria.  She recently got back from Princess Margaret Hospital after a 10 day stay there to rest and try to gain some weight.  She is very thin (around 100 lbs).  The doctors won’t give her any more medication until she fattens up.  The drug Herceptin did not work.  They want to put her back on Taxol, but she needs to gain weight before they will do that again.  I’m not sure she is in a hurry to get back on that palliative chemo drug again.  It really wipes you out.  Her doctors said they do not know what to do with her because she is the longest surviving esophageal cancer patient they ever had.  Only 3-5% of patients last 5 years, and she has already made it to 7 years.  It’s just not her time to go.  I have the utmost respect for Maria and admire her resolve.  She has struggled with this disease for so long and has not given up.  And it hurts having cancer.  It is really a very painful disease to have.

Yesterday, I went to visit my daughters teacher Michelle.  She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June.  She looks great.  You honestly can’t tell she is sick.  Her doctors are now sending her to PMH because they said the chemo. drugs they were giving her over the summer weren’t working.    I’m hoping that they will put her on a clinical trial with that Dr. Mak Tak.  If you google him, you can see why I think so highly of him.  I think he is onto something with his research and he is going to be able to help a lot of people with cancer.  I hope his target therapy works and he gets cracking on administering it on people soon.


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