We’re getting close to some milestones: 2/3 of the way through today, and two weeks from tomorrow should be my last day of radiation treatment. Symptom-wise, I remain cautiously optimistic. I can still taste and talk, even if I do evaluate food choices in terms of viscosity. The swallowing pain seems steady and the fatigue comes and goes and means I sleep more than I have in a long time–about 9 hours a night plus an hour’s nap–but I am still able to do stuff. The burn pain isn’t fun and it’s the first thing I notice when I wake up, but if I’m occupied by something I can forget about it. Apart from skin creams, I am thus far free of exotic drugs. Oh yes, there’s the electrolysis-like effect of the lower part of my beard falling out. But there are enough fans of the clean shaven look that I may give that a try even when I don’t have to. In the last couple days, I have developed a strange dry cough that may blossom into something nastier by the time this is all over. For now, a little cough syrup at bedtime is all I’m taking.

“The time this is all over” is a little unsure. Radiation continues to work after the doses stop, so it is possible some symptoms may get worse for a week or two even after the count hits zero (though whether and how I will use negative numbers on this blog is as yet undecided). The exact arc of my recovery isn’t something I can chart out, but I am still looking forward to the end of treatments, even if there will be lots and lots of followup.

Today I saw the dietician and got a radiation nurse. The dietician is pleasant and chatty but not much has happened since her initial instructions. She takes my weight each week, which fluctuates a pound or two in either direction but hasn’t started to plummet. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

The nurse was a new thing. I mean, I’ve had lots of nurses in the last year but as of yet they hadn’t been part of the EBR routine. I guess they make sure patients get connected with a radiation nurse when the symptoms start to get serious. And if nothing else, I’ve got a nice radiant burn going at this point. She took down a list of my symptoms and treatments, and asks lots of questions about my state of mind as well, which I suppose is a good thing since no other medical professional has asked yet (apart from the radiation techs, in a more “how was your weekend?” sort of way). Not that they need to worry about me, but it seems like a good thing to have built into the process.

And now, a little gross-out haiku from this afternoon. You have been warned.

Radiation sleep.
Cat rests on top, then vomits.
Sleep now, clean later.

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