Radiotherapy – the half-way point, 16 down, 16 to go

I passed the half way point in my radiotherapy yesterday! From now on it’s counting down instead of counting up.

I was debating whether or not to write a blog post about my “milestone” as I wasn’t sure it warranted a mention, plus I’d only just written one a few days ago, but the decision was clinched for me when a radiographer who I met for the first time yesterday told me I was “infamous“. I wondered if my past was finally catching up with me and was about to head for the door, but she went on to explain she was talking about this blog. (Phew!). She said I have a following of radiographers who are pleased to be able to find out more about how the treatment they deliver affects patients as most of us just say we’re OK, when asked.

I had very little idea what to expect from radiotherapy and thought that maybe other men affected by prostate cancer could be the same and might get something out of this, but it never occurred to me that the medical professionals involved might, too. I felt chuffed about it for the rest of the day.

So here goes ……

16 sessions down, 16 more to go and I still don’t glow in the dark. The side effects, though, continue and have increased a bit. Mainly fatigue, I get worn out really easily with the feeling of tiredness extending right into the fibres of each limb. Nothing like ordinary tiredness, but more of a weak, heavy feeling. I wake up tired most days, but that feeling soon lessens when I’ve had my only full-caffeine cup of tea of the day. I avoid all caffeine the rest of the day because it makes me pee more, but in the morning I need it to give me a kick start. I’ve noticed that the fatigue gets worse within a short time after each radiotherapy session, so much so that I need to get home and get my head down. I usually drop off to sleep in the afternoon and now set my alarm so I don’t sleep too long

The waterworks remain the other main side effect I’ve experienced, even without caffeine. The night time peeing is the worst, which is probably one reason why I wake up tired, but it’s a lot more frequent throughout the day, too. I’ve cut down on my fluid intake during the evenings, which helps a bit, but not entirely. Maybe I shouldn’t be drinking at all after a certain time, but that’s not easy when the weather’s so warm and I’m so dry.

In my radiotherapy review a week ago I was told everything I’m experiencing is usual, except it’s all occurring earlier than expected. Hopefully I reached “side effect peak” early and things won’t get any worse from now on. So far, it’s nothing I can’t put up with, if it’s temporary.

I’m trying to follow all the advice I’ve been given, which includes keeping moderately active, eating well (within the restricted diet) and keeping hydrated all through the day. I self medicate with over-the-counter painkillers and low dose anti-inflammatories to keep various bits of discomfort at bay and generally try to get on with life. I’m not doing as much as I usually would but, nevertheless, I’ve been told I might be over-doing it. If I am it’s not to be macho, it’s trying not to be defeated by what’s going on. I know things won’t go back to the way they were but I’m trying to make sure the last year doesn’t turn out to be my “new normal“.

Whatever the outcome of this stage of my treatment I have a vision in my head for soon after it finishes of a hot, sunny, sandy beach and a warm sea with gentle waves. A bit of sedate night life wouldn’t go amiss either, nothing too raucous. I don’t think I’ll be staying up all night anytime soon. Those days are over and could be one change I’ve got to accept (well, maybe). Mind you, there’s always the current night life, which consists of being up peeing and seeing the sunrise at 3.30am every bloody day from the toilet window!

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