First things first: I have an end date! My last treatment is scheduled for November 30 and we are flying home on December 4! With that in mind, we are going to celebrate Lucy's birthday once we are back in Chicago so save the date, December 8, (and any mailing of presents) until we return.
Second: please be forewarned that what follows is a description of side effects of pelvic radiation. Since we are dealing with the pelvis, that will include all the delicate lady bits and their close neighbors in the region.
I have discovered that some of the dreaded side effects are starting to show up. Side effects listed on the sheet they gave me included:
Fatigue, burning of the tissues inside and outside of the urethra, vagina and anus, bladder irritation, diarrhea, burning when urinating, shortening and narrowing of the vaginal walls, menopause symptoms. These were the most common and most likely. There are other, more dire, symptoms but I will leave them out unless they become relevant.
That means that what I've listed thus far is starting to become relevant.
The first was fatigue. By Friday I am usually wiped out but this past Friday was the worst one yet. I slept almost 11 hours straight this weekend and it still felt like it wasn't enough. I had also started to experience some burning in the rectal area but by Saturday night it literally felt like I had razor blades and a hot poker taking turns at me when I used the bathroom. I can see why you might lose weight during radiation...you stop eating because you don't want to poop!
By Sunday the symptoms had eased somewhat but Monday morning I asked to see the radiation oncology nurse prior to treatment. I told her my symptoms and she said that unfortunately, I will now have to include an exam of my nether regions in my weekly checkup with the oncologist. I got a preview of that with the attending oncologist who walked in and told me to bend over. Yes, yes, he was nicer than that and warmed his hands a bit but still, I was bent over while he and the nurse toured my bits and pieces. The good news is that there are no lesions...yet. I walked out with a prescription for suppositories, external cream, and domeboro for a sitz bath.
I also walked out with these:
The instructions say to insert it for 15 minutes 2-3 times a day, sliding it in and out as well but if that isn't relaxing I should consider using a vibrator to help. (I kid you not, it really does say that)
Why isn't this advertised in the brochure?