Before we begin the next chapters, feel free to refresh yourself with the last two updates. Maybe you're just getting into the story and need to catch up!

Your Buddy Russ has Cancer

Your Buddy Russ loses a close friend, his beard! 

All caught up? Good. Let's move on to chapter 3, Chemotherapy and Radiation: Part 1. Yes, it's like Netflix except it's free and more entertaining than Love is Blind!

You saw the mask that was made in the second edition of the story, we finally get to put it to use for my radiation therapy. I won't bore you with the details on how it works, mostly because I really don't know. I know it doesn't hurt and takes maybe 10 minutes from start to finish. Radiation therapy is being done at Lake Charles Memorial and the machine looks like a dang prop from a sci-fi movie. I think the worst part is the table you lay on is hard as a rock, you think we could get a little Sealy mattress going but what do I know?

For the medical and science nerds out there, I am going to describe things in my own words. I am going to say microwave on the subject of radiation. I am well aware microwaves are not involved in this process, but it makes the story way funnier. Laugh along with me, because I will make a popcorn joke eventually in this story. 

Buddy Russ
Buddy Russ
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Radiation round one was yesterday morning at 715am. Total, I will have 30 rounds of radiation. I am not a morning person, nor was I overly excited about having my head microwaved first thing in the morning. I did have some coffee on the way, at least I would be caffeinated while being cooked. I get all checked in when I get there, they give you a little card to swipe that lets the tech know you're there. He came and got me and took me to the back giving me a tour of what I will do for my next time. We walked into the room with the space machine and there was my mask sitting on the table.

This look familar?

He pointed at my radiation mask.

Yep, that stupid thing took my beard from me. I hate it.

There was a small awkward pause for a minute as we stared at it.

I'm kidding, let's get to cooking my brain. You ready?

I hopped on the table and he talked me through what he was doing. Down came the mask and locked me in. It was a smidge tighter than I remembered but the tighter the better to hold my fat face in place.

I'm going to move the table around once I go out to line everything up and then I will take an X-ray first. After that, the machine will rotate around you twice and we will be done. You won't feel any pain and it should only take about 10 minutes.

Off we went, the machine fired up and started doing its thing. I had my eyes closed, I guess as an instinct to protect them until I realized that the thing literally shoots through my skin and my eyelids don't stand a chance of doing anything. So, I decided to watch what was going on. The beam is invisible, or so I thought. As the machine passed over me, I saw little flashes of blue lights. It startled me at first and I closed my eyes thinking I had totally misjudged the decision to leave them open. I shut them fast, but the lights were still there. I took a breath from freaking out and realized it seemed they were coming from the back of my eye. I can only describe it like someone was welding behind my eyes and I was seeing the blue archs from the welder. That's weird, right? I totally agree.

Buddy Russ
Buddy Russ
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Two passes, more blue lights, and we were all done. The tech came out and popped the mask off and helped me sit up. He told me to take a min and get my balance just in case. I didn't really feel any different, but went ahead and took that chance to ask him about the blue lights I saw.

Man, technically there is no visible light coming out of the machine, but some patients do sometimes say they see flashes of light as it passes over their eyes. I am not too sure what it is, but I've had people mention it to me. It's nothing to worry about.

At least I wasn't going crazy.

For those of you wondering, I looked it up. It's called Cherenkov light. It has to do with high-speed radiation beams passing through a substance that slows it down just enough to become visible. Basically, the goo in your eye slows the beam down just enough that it becomes visible for a split second and you see a spark. You can see the color blue I am talking about when you see the nuclear reactor in a plant glow that weird blue color. That's where the name comes from. The radiation coming off of the reactor slows down in the cooling water and makes it glow that pretty blue.

I got up and left after making sure when I needed to be back the next day and headed out to the parking lot. After getting in my truck, I could feel like my neck was sweating a bit. I felt back there and didn't feel it. Then I realized that it almost felt like my brain was sweating, inside! That was a weird feeling on its own. It went away eventually. Today was day 2 of radiation and it just feels like I have a mild sunburn on my forehead. They said that will probably happen, but it's normal. I feel a bit sluggish due to the chemo, but we will talk about that in Part 2!

Goosebumps and other bodily reactions, explained