Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Just a cup of joe

Hi! So I asked my radiation oncologist about the dosing of radiation I am receiving. He said I am getting 250 rads (also referred to as centigrays; both measure the quantity of absorbed radiation) per day for my whole brain radiation. I am getting 400 rads per day to treat the subcutaneous node on my rib. He said 400 rads would "fry my brain" but he can give me the higher dose when going after the subcutaneous node because he isn't hitting any major internal organs. Frying my brain was evidently the goal, however, when the doctor performed the Gamma Knife procedure: it involved a targeted dose of 2,000 rads! No wonder he took so many precautions to make sure his aim was accurate.

I also asked how many bags of microwave popcorn the radiation would pop. The doctor said the units used for measuring microwave power are very different from those used for measuring radiation therapy so a direct answer is not possible. He went on to say, however, that he guessed the dose of brain radiation I am receiving is equivalent to the amount of energy in a cup of hot coffee. Think about that one the next time you're standing in line at Starbucks!

Also, I wanted to make one clarification. After talking to a friend who reads the blog, I realized that I may not have been entirely clear about how I'm getting around these days. I am able to walk--slowly, totteringly, but surely--with a single-point cane. I do not use a wheelchair, although I borrowed one when I was at the airport en route to and from Houston because the chair made it faster and easier to negotiate my way through large crowds. I'm starting to practice walking a few steps without a cane. I look like a neanderthal when I do so, but it's progress.



Katie Clancy said...

Progress is what we like to hear! You're not far from dancing at your brother's wedding. How is your nausea? Here's hoping things continue to smoothly progress. Take it easy and say hi to the gang.
Love, Katie & Ed

Marc said...

Your comment re neanderthal walking makes me think of those cartoons showing the 'evolution of man' from our knuckle-dragging forebears to modern man. We'll sketch you in as trying to catch up as fast as possible. While I think of it, I read a quote (attributed to Winston Churchill) recently that said - "If you're going through heck, for goodness sake KEEP GOING!" (That would be the family blog version, I hear that Sir Winston had a very salty tongue.) Cheers, ... Marc

katie.elsener said...

Hey Jeff,
It sounds like you are making progress and that is great. I am sorry about the nausea. You will get through this trial. Thanks for sharing your life with us. There are lots and lots of prayers flowing your way.
Sincerely, Katie

novaksnotes said...

Hi Jeff, Kelly & family -

I've been reading Jeff's blog since you were in Houston. I heard about your family while listening to WKLH and Greg Koch spoke of a fundraiser concert. While you do not know me, I wanted you to know that I think of your family often and all of you are on my prayer list at church. Good luck with the treatments you are receiving - sounds like you are getting excellent care and more importantly, have great family & friends for support as well as a great attitude. I will continue to read the blog, think of you often and continue to pray.

Mary Novak
Jefferson, WI

mka said...

I think one of the worst things you could hear a doctor say when he's about to use the gamma knife is, "Hold on a minute, I think I'm going to sneeze". I would hate to be in control of any radiation equipment. I also know my nose would itch when my head was strapped down in a head mold. I hope I think you should be commended on just lying there for the procedure. Love, Myrna

SandyS said...

My sis is wrong, the worst thing you could hear during the gamma knife is "OOPS". Mom came over and I printed out this months blog's for her to read at home. This is the first time I've taken the time to read them all, between Monica moving to Fremont & Rendezvous I've been a tad busy. (and Kelly, you are soooo much better than the headliner they had this year.) Jeff I'm proud of you for fighting this the way you are, you are amazing to all of us. In my head I hear the dallas cowboys cheerleaders yelling " Go Jeff Go" as you do what needs to be done.

michelle wait said...

Hey Jeff! Just stopping by to say hi and let you know I've been keeping up with the blogs. I just got back from Atlantic City last night. It was a good time. Can't wait to see you and all at the wedding. It's going to be here so soon! Love you and thinking about you lots!

Ann R said...

Happy Days 41-40! Nebraska just got by with another win it was way to close what up with our defense ?? Looking forward to seeing you all in a couple of weeks in Lincoln at Michaels wedding.
Love Ann Reins (Tracy Dodd Mom)