Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Radiation Day 3

I still hate it. Is it going to get better?? I have to do this THIRTY MORE TIMES. :(

Today, the main problem for me was that one of the techs poking at me while I was lying there bare-breasted was male. I have told the radiation oncologist, his sub last week, the nurse, and one of the techs, at least once each and sometimes twice, that I am very uncomfortable having male doctors touching my breasts and need an all-female team. My surgeon, too, called the rad. onc. ahead of time and had a lengthy chat with him about this. On my simulation day, the tech who was doing my CT scan assured me that although the facility has one male tech (and the rest are female!), if he is part of my treatment at all, he will just be the one who is in the other room to turn the radiation switch on and off and he won't be touching me. Well, today he was in there touching me! And it's only Day 3!! Did they all "forget"? Or not take me seriously? Is the info not in my chart? I was mad. I don't CARE if they don't understand/agree with/relate to my discomfort with being touched by male doctors, because you know what, it's MY BODY, not anyone else's...which means no one else has to understand, they just need to RESPECT MY NEEDS when it comes to MY BODY. So when I met with the rad. onc. after my treatment today (I'm required to, every Wed), I AGAIN told him that radiation is difficult for me emotionally, and I need the techs who are touching me to be female. He looked awkward and said he'd talk to the staff again.

That's my primary problem with radiation. My secondary problem is that I absolutely hate having to change into the damn hospital gown at every appointment. For starters, it takes up time and is rather pointless - I have to go into a changing room, take everything off from the waist up and put on one of those horrid, ugly, shapeless, huge gowns that I can never seem to tie properly, then put my clothes in a locker and lock it, put the key on my wrist...then walk down the short hallway into the radiation room so the techs can take the gown off of me. What the F is the point of the gown?!? I asked yesterday, can I please just walk into the radiation room in my normal clothes, take off my shirt, lie on the table and get zapped, put my shirt back on, and go home?? They said NO, basically because the gown is just "procedure" and they know someone's ready to go when they have the gown on. I really don't see what the big deal would be if I didn't wear it, and they'd "know I was ready to go" because I'd be sitting in that same stupid "waiting chair" by the radiation room entrance that every other patient sits in. Not bothering with the gown would not only save time, it would help me emotionally, too - wearing that big ugly gown every day makes me feel so much like A Sick Person In A Hospital, and not like ME at all.

OH, and another problem I had with radiation today - when I was lying there on the table, the techs called in the rad. onc. to "check the field," and they stood there debating whether the field was okay or not, staring at my chest for what seemed like forever... rad. onc. asked something about if they should "use the wire," and one of the techs blurted out, "No! It's only her third day!" WTF?!? "WHAT WIRE?!" I asked with much anxiety, and rad. onc. was just like, "Oh, nothing really, I was just thinking out loud..." ALKHFUIEHW:K??! That's all he said about it then, and I had to wait until the radiation treatment was over and I was in his office afterwards to again ask him to explain what he was talking about with the wire comment. And he clarified that later on during the treatment process, they may have to place a wire on my skin, ON, to check something. Not IN my skin. It would have been helpful if he had made that clear WHILE I was lying there on the table, so that I did not spend the rest of the treatment having flashbacks to that horrible pre-surgery procedure in which two men stuck a wire deep into my breast while I cried.

Radiation, so far, is a hell of a lot more stressful than I expected it to be. Am I going to make it through THIRTY more treatments like this?! I honestly don't know. If I had a mastectomy now instead, I'd never have to go through it again. I'd never again have to have a mammogram, an ultrasound, a breast MRI, or a man touching my breasts...


  1. oh, the gowns are so silly. like the damn gowns at the gyno... they leave the room to have you change, then you sit there shivering in a paper gown for 10 minutes waiting for them to come back. But apparently it is unprofessional to ask a patient to undress in front of the doctor (and maybe illegal? I don't know. It's a big deal. The first time i went to the Gyno, i put the gown on backwards and the doctor/nurse were horrified when i just took it off and put it back on IN FRONT OF THEM!!! Not like they're not going to see me naked anyways... But it's like a weird ethics thing.)

    And... well... you could always sue them after the fact for not respecting your "no men" wishes. It caused you "emotional suffering" Ha. I am partly kidding but it does suck that they're disrespecting you like that. At the very least, if they DO have to have a man touch you for some reason, they should at least tell you first, and explain why and ask if it's ok...

    I hate it when people don't get "us" (lesbian/feminist/etc). It's like, there's nothing to get, i don't want a male doctor!

  2. that whole wire story shows such insensitivity on their part! i would speak up, & demand answers immediately! & i think you should speak up right away when male doctors are touching you and they said that wouldn't be the case! make THEM uncomfortable for a change! you CAN get through this, Britta. xoxo Cathryn

  3. I totally agree with Cathryn. Maybe even prepare something in advance to say if you have a male tech/doc?

    Sending you so much love, Britta. Hang in there! You can do this.


  4. truthfully, the people in radiology/nuclear medicine probably have no idea about the wire in your boobs bit... so, try not to hold it against them.

    But man, how insensitive. I mean, when i call the gyno office they ask first if i mind having a Male practitioner... and i tell them i would prefer a female and it's done! Same thing at my General practitioner! I don't see what's so hard about this!

    I think you should totally prepare something in advance to say when you're faced with a male. Not rude, but well thought out and matter-of-fact.

    *rolls eyes.*