Thursday, June 21, 2012

+1 Mask of immobility

To follow up on the progress of oncological treatment for the Patient, today's visit was to get measured for a custom made full-face mask. This mask will lock the Patient's head down on the treatment table so that movement beyond a 1mm tolerance is not possible. We're talking about precision radiotherapy and we don't want to fry the wrong part of the Patient's anatomy, do we?

I didn't get to see the procedure for the mask making, but the radiologist showed us a sample of one. It's like a hard netting made of what looks to be a ploymer or silicon material, moulded exactly to fit over the face, so  each mask is unique to the wearer.

Guess if the area to be zapped were on some other part of the body, there would be other means of immobilizing said part. But the head tends to roll around a lot, firstly because the neck is a relatively unstable base, and because any distraction or moment of inattention will cause the target area to shift significantly in orientation, causing unnecessary and undesirable collateral damage to the surrounding tissue.

Tomorrow should be the fitting of the mask, some discussion of customization and modification for optimal comfort, and also a sort of calibrating  rehearsal on the machine -- a dry-run, so to speak. Unfortunately, I won't be able to perform my usual chauffeur duty as my day-job is calling me back from the mid-term break.

Transport will have to be taken over by a free shuttle service for such contingencies, though at the moment the Patient is on a waiting list. Public transport for now, but hopefully the shuttle will be able to accommodate when the treatment begins for real in a couple of weeks' time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Local treatment

Hospital food has a bad rep. But the Malay rice stall's offerings in the SGH canteen was quite palatable. The fish on the left was especially tasty. No, I don't know what kind of fish it was, but it had a gloriously fatty skin along the dorsal fin area that was delightful in assam gravy.

But the bigger question is, what am I doing in the hospital? To keep things simple, transport duty for a close but not blood relative to get his angiosarcoma seen to. That, btw, is a form of cancer that's rare but aggressive in nature.

The good news is that it's localized and treatment can be targeted specifically at the growth area with radiotherapy. A better option would be for complete surgical removal, but due to certain complications like ageing, among other things, the risk for anesthesia is too high to attempt.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been getting something of an education in the oncological process, at least from the patient's perspective. From the initial reluctance to accept the need for treatment to the eventual ok, let's get this over with. Today's hospital visit was for the radiologist to spell out the procedures for treatment, and the risks and possible side-effects therein. That being done, the patient signs the consent form and commits.

So, in the next two consecutive days we will be starting the process at the hospital. Calibration, not treatment yet. As the procedure is precise, measurements and calculations need to be done first. The urgency is there, but so is the care taken to minimize the risks involved.  We'll go slow and steady.