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 “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord…” (Jer 29:11)

Well, I’m sure the Lord knew the plans for me this week, but Kendra and I were a little surprised.  We showed up for what we thought was going to be a single radiation session on Monday and found out that my doctors had planned for me to have a total of 6 sessions over 5 days this week.

Changes to my treatment plan have happened many times, so I’m actually not very surprised by surprises any more.

This change isn’t reason for alarm.  As I said at some point along the way, double checking is a good habit that works in many situations, especially radiation.  My doctor explained that they decided to break up the radiation into multiple sessions because two of the tumors are right next to each other, and one is on the larger side of these small malignancies they have addressed over the last few years.  While it would be possible to radiate them effectively in a single treatment, it was their judgment that, on double checking what would be required and my history of post radiation seizures and healthy tissue swelling, it would expose me to less risk of those side effects if they broke the therapy up into more sessions which were less intense.  Sold!  It was a good reminder that while Kendra thinks my doctors are “cute“, I really like the fact that they seem to know a lot about brain tumors and what to do about them.  

With the updated plan confirmed, we got started with the first session on Monday afternoon.  Knowing that I was going to be coming back for further treatment the rest of the week, we talked to my parents, and they were able to come out from Chicago to watch the little kids while Kendra takes me in to get photon blasted.  My parents flew out Tuesday, and we’re really grateful for their jumping into action to help us.  We had some local friends watch the kids on Monday and Tuesday, so many thanks to Carol and Julia for that!

A few items of interest to report:

  1. This was the first time the technicians were able to get my Spotify playlist to work.  I’m not sure why it never worked before, but all systems were “go” this time.  I had created a new list of songs I’ve been listening to recently in the hopes that it would work.  I believe you can find it on Spotify by searching for “Jim’s Stereotactic Mix.”  Yes, as a matter of fact I do like Darius Rucker, U2 and Weird Al.
  2. I haven’t come clean on this previously, but with the exception of the very first uncomfortable treatment I did, I mostly sleep through these radiation sessions.  I don’t know if I’ve just gotten used to them, or if something has improved in the way they secure my head, but it’s no longer uncomfortable.  So, there I am, lying on my back, quiet room with some music I like, not having taken a nap in months (?), years (?), and I just tend to fall asleep while the radiation machine is rotating around me.  Here’s something even crazier about it which I don’t know how to assess the importance of: when I’m falling asleep lying on my back, one of my legs will tend to jump or I’ll get a little spasm in my wrist that makes one of my arms move.  I’m supposed to hold perfectly still.  I’m not very worried about it because my head is basically immobile, plus the technicians can see any motion in the scanner they look at to aim the radiation beams.  They’ve never come out and yelled at me for moving, and I’ve never had any apparent errant shots, so I think it’s all fine.  “Good enough for government work,” as they say.
  3. Unrelated to this week of radiation, something else I’ve never mentioned before but that is odd to learn about oneself is that I can sleep through brain MRIs and usually do.  This is like sleeping by lying one’s head on a fire alarm.  I don’t think this or the radiation naps are common talents.  I offer them up for you, but that’s all I can think of to do with them.
  4. I sometimes have fairly low energy after a radiation treatment.  I worked out with my boss and colleagues at work that I could just focus on rest and recovery this week instead of trying to cram some work in, and that ended up being a very good thing.  It’s great to work for and with supportive people.
  5. For the first time, Kendra and I decided to visit the “Peter Morton Auxiliary Snack Shop,” which made its Fortitudine debut almost 4 years ago.  Some updates: (1) The sign on the door has been taken down.  I don’t know if it has anything to do with this blog.  (2) UCLA still hasn’t had someone contact me about my questions, but if they do, I will try to find out why the sign disappeared. (3) The snack fare was like what you might find in a very small gas station.  One wouldn’t be so inspired by the experience to remark upon exiting…
If I’m being honest, I’ve been looking for an excuse to work this into the blog for a while now.

Well, I think that’s a wrap for the week.  I’m feeling great, totally like myself.  My parents head back home tomorrow, and I’m back to work on Monday.  Things will be back to as normal as they get around here before I know it.

With fortitude and prayers for you,
P.S.  I’d like to request your prayers for my high school friend Mike, who is learning to walk again after a lower leg amputation related to a hospitalization for COVID.  Also, please pray for Brian, son of some L.A. friends of ours who was on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and was injured by debris in the aircraft crash that happened there earlier this week.  He is in a hospital in Manila and the last I heard, he was going  to be okay after having undergone surgery.