Update on Jo

I had a blog post together about quilts that Ray recently finished but I’m moving that to next week as so many of you have asked how I am after my radiation treatment….Thanks for understanding Ray.

I thought I would take a little time and give you the whole write-up on my radiation treatment on Tuesday and how I’m doing now. Admittedly, I was pooped and didn’t feel the best on Tuesday night but I’m feeling better now….but wait, I should probably start the story or the day at the beginning.

I was up and went to work on Tuesday morning. We are short-handed at work and I didn’t want to sit at home contemplating the day. I would MUCH rather be at work, busy, and keeping my mind off things.

I left work at 12:30 pm…came home, changed, and then Kalissa and I headed out.

We were early so we did an errand.

Then we found our way to the waiting room…I passed the time stitching.

The nurse was great and let Kalissa come back with me. I was pleasantly surprised to find my favorite three-holed gowns again.

I explained in a previous blog post that these gowns are great as they completely cover your bum.

A bit after that, it was time to head to the radiation machine. This is the machine and I’m on the “bed”. They are prepping me.

Here’s a better picture of what I look like. I’ve tried to explain to people that I am in a saran wrap body bag and they suck all of the air out of it so it’s super tight. It really feels like a giant blood pressure cuff.

The whole machine rotated around me. I couldn’t feel anything except the hum of machines. They put music on for me to listen to.

I was told it would take about 30 minutes. It would be divided into two 15-minute sessions. One would be to treat L1 and one to treat L5. In my mind that translated to be about 5 songs worth of music…but that was wrong. It took longer.

After the first session, they let me move my arms. This position was killing my bad shoulder and I was happy for the quick break. Then back to work, they went. They were working the machines for three songs when the guy came back into the room and said things weren’t right and they needed to reposition me. I had to roll slightly to the right. He told me that was perfect and then started the machine back up again.

In that quick second of releasing the bag and twisting, the heel of my right foot ended up at an awkward angle and now suctioned down to the table my heel was jammed so tight to the table it was oddly hurting. They told me I could stop them at any time but by the time I felt like I should stop them I was four songs into the procedure. I could do this. Then I got a Charlie horse cramp in the arch of that same foot. AH!!!

By now I was five songs in. I couldn’t move or I would screw up the whole thing. A Charlie horse was not what I needed.

I made it through without having them stop the machine. I was so glad.

Then my doctor came in and talked to me. This is what I learned:
-I now have a 1 in 10 chance of breaking my back sometime in my lifetime
-the radiation should drop my tumor marker number and it will drop up to 6 months after the procedure
-common side effects…tired, nausea, sunburn, vomiting
-my sciatic nerve could become a problem that never goes away
-it is common once cancer has spread like this that it might again
-if I lose control of my bladder or bowels I was to go to an ER immediately

…and then I was sent on my merry way. The doctor jokingly but truthfully said, “I hope I never see you again because that means you didn’t have a return cancer”. He’s a great guy and highly recommend Doctor Lehre at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

I came out of treatment two hours after I went back. Kalissa was worried about me.

So home we went. We stopped at Chick-fil-A on the way home. Both of us were so hungry. (thanks for the gift certificate) and stopped for gas (again, that’s for the gift certificate) It really makes me feel loved and watched out for!!

I felt good. So good that I drove home.

Then once I got home I was not feeling as good. My back felt weird in a way I couldn’t explain and exhaustion hit me. It was now 8:30 pm.

I wrote that quick bleep of a blog post and went straight to bed or tried to. I ended up in the bathroom vomiting. Once it all settled down, I took some Ibuprofen and went to bed. I NEVER go to bed before 10 pm so I was nervous that I would be sick the next day but I wasn’t.

I ended up going to work the next day and for the most part, felt pretty good- a little slower than normal but good.

Now my only problem is the sunburn feeling. It feels like a bad sunburn but totally doable…and I feel itchy. (Kalissa and I are wondering if the itchiness is a nerve thing) The sunburn almost feels like is blossoming from the inside out. My lower back feels tight like the skin does after a sunburn.

My back itself feels better than it has in two months. You might remember that I said it has felt like I need to go to the chiropractor but can’t. I don’t feel that way anymore and that’s awesome!

I’m taking this all as good news. I see my doctor around Thanksgiving time or so. I don’t remember the actual appointment date. Fingers crossed that I continue feeling well and that the numbers of my tumor marker are way down again…

Many thanks to everyone who has helped me along this journey. Your thoughts, prayers, comments, cards, and gifts have all been so appreciated and needed. It’s made a world of difference for me. Thank you.

27 thoughts on “Update on Jo”

  1. Thanks for explaining everything, Jo. I never knew about the vacuum packing, that must have felt so weird! I’m glad for you that the side effects didn’t last too long. It’s so kind of people to send you gift cards to help with food and fuel.

  2. Way to persevere!!! Very interesting to learn about the vacuum packing. Prayers the itchy goes away soon, you continue to feel well and the markers go down in your bloodwork. Regarding the 1in 10 chance of breaking your back, what precautions must you take other than limiting heavy lifting and no chiropractor? Will assume you already avoid gymnastics, stunts and contact sports like soccer and basketball.

  3. My thoughts and prayers are with you that this treatment kicks cancers behind. Sciatic nerve issues at least in my case is severe pain. It hurts to sit or lay. Usually ibuprofen helps it but check with your doctor if that happens to you and see if they can suggest or prescribe something.
    You have amazing spirit and outlook. Keep it up. There are a lot of people who admire you and love you.

  4. Judith Fairchild

    You’ve got the power to control your pains if I had had a charlie horse I would have been making them stop or have someone trying to rub the pain out. I never could be still when I was hurting.
    You’re a strong minded lady! You’re in my prayers.

  5. Carolyn Sullivan

    thank you for the update. I have truly been worried about you. yours is the one blog I read consistently. Yours and your Daughter’s that is.

  6. Thank you for the explanations, Jo – I had no idea there was a body wrap!
    Keeping you in prayer for a full recovery!
    Love and prayers

  7. Thanks for the update. I’ve never heard of the wrap. They didn’t do that in 2019 with my brother. He just had the markers that had to be lined up perfectly. Always something new. So sorry you’ve had some side effects. Hopefully they will be minor.
    Continuing prayers for improvement and good health. Hugs!

  8. I was told in 2016 to use Aquaphor after my radiation treatments. Given that I failed to apply it to ALL areas treated (didn’t realize that my armpit was included) I know it helped!

  9. Thanks for the detailed description of your treatment. Hopefully the side effects will soon be over. Take good care of yourself and blog when you can. We all understand if you have to skip a post or more.

  10. Yay, you made it through the treatment! You are much stronger than I would have been with a foot cramp and Charlie horse happening. I hope your recovery goes well in the next few weeks and that your next appointment is a very positive one! Thanks for explaining the process.

  11. Thanks so much for the update, Jo. Glad the treatment is done and behind you. While I imagine you want keep life ‘normal’, please grant yourself some grace to take it easy and pamper yourself. You deserve it!

  12. Thanks for thinking of US at this time!!! While I do appreciate knowing how you’re feeling/doing, I would not expect you to put us as a priority. THANK YOU!!! I hope you feel better each day and really admire your strength/stamina to survive a charley horse while saran wrapped in a machine!!!!! Always thinking of you & your family…Hugs,

  13. I hope, for your sake, that your recovery goes better than expected and you don’t suffer any sciatica problems. They’ve done me in the last year. My ability to sit at my sewing machine has really been affected. Here’s to only good things.

    1. It helps to know I’m not the only one that suffers from sciatica pain. Sewing is my escape and I’m lucky if I can sit or stand for more than 15 minutes at a time.

      1. I had someone in the medical profession suggest that ladies who sew quilt craft appear to be among the highest percentage of folks suffering from this challenge with sciatica discomfort. We do not get up frequently enough and move about. It actually causes shortening of cartilage tendons and muscles. This all pinches and shortens nerves. Sounded plausible when she explained it.

  14. Thanks for the update. I, too, did not know about the wrapping. Music is a good way to pass the time. Wishing blessings to you and your family.

  15. Jo you have a great mindset. You continue to be an inspiration to all of us. Hope the healing continues so you can continue your job, hobbies and lovely family.
    I have to tell you I had cataract surgery on Tuesday and the doctor and nurses started talking about Iowa State during surgery . I wanted to tell them about my daughters and SIL all attended there also. He told me I needed to be quiet. This is a conversation I will have to continue at my next appointment.LOL

  16. You are so strong to not have made them stop when you were in pain, I don’t think I could have kept quiet about a charlie horse! Thanks for the update and I hope you are not expected to pick up big dogs where you work, that is not worth taking a chance on with your back! So glad you are already up and about!

  17. Best wishes to you, cancer soldier! My radiologist gave me emu-oil lotion for the radiation “sunburn”. Also, I was given gabapentin for pain. It was heavy duty stuff — I hope you don’t need that. My prayers are with you.

  18. I’m so glad you’ve been able to go back in to work since you enjoy it. Thanks for sharing the pictures from your procedure. The pictures really helped clarify what is involved. You are such a good educator & sharing your experience is a gracious gift. I sincerely hope any side effects continue to be little to none.

  19. Oh man, you’re one strong woman! Thanks for the update, and continued prayers for speedy healing. I have broken 2 vertebrae…once with a gentle sneeze, once with a gentle cough, about 3 years apart. You’ll know it if it happens, and the pain will be sudden and excruciating. But, kyphoplasty will resolve it. One in 10 chance is pretty good odds, and you’ve done so well up till now, I don’t see any reason you won’t power through this too. Hang in there!!!

  20. That’s Awesome Jo
    You are doing so well! Let’s pray that Dr Blessed you with a “Do Not Return” sentiment. And you will keep that promise! So Glad to know things are looking better!

  21. Oh, my goodness, Jo! My stomach went into a knot seeing those pictures. It’s been 37 years since I laid on that table, but memories flooded into my mind. I am SO happy you are done; praying you will heal/recover quickly and NEVER need to see that kind doctor again. Rest as much as you can for as long as you need. Your body needs to recover from this very intense treatment.

  22. Mary Ann Mettler

    Wow you have had quite the journey – I remember your first battle – I think it was a class we took together in Cresco regarding Child Care that you told me about the treatment you would have for thyroid cancer. I have followed your blog for so many years and look forward to every post. You are an inspiration to me. Thanks for the update.

  23. Thanks for the update and the pictures of the procedure. I don’t know if I could be wrapped in plastic and made to lay so still. Good job Jo. I’m sorry you were feeling sick afterwards and hope you find something to relieve the itching.

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