Aug 22, 2008 - 9:40 pm
July 2, 2008
I am 70 years old. I am very hard of hearing and I have papillary thyroid cancer, which a thyroidectomy in November and a double dose of radioactive iodine in December did not totally kill. It was decided that 6 or 7 weeks of radiation should kill the remaining cancerous cells. Let me share with you what happened when I went to get my mask. Hopefully it will help some of you.
I walked into the room with a very nice young lady who immediately told me that I had to take off my shirt, glasses and 2 hearing aids. I told her that I would not be able to hear her when I removed them and she said “No problem, I will take care of everything”. Problem #1 – because I could not hear, she told me and showed me nothing that was going to happen. She had me lay on the table on my back and placed a plastic block behind my neck that tilted my head back. Problem #2 – apparently during my thyroidectomy my wind pipe was damaged so when I tilt my head back my windpipe closes, cutting off my air supply. The next thing I know she had tied my feet together and strapped my arms down tight against my body. I did not have a clue as to what was going to happen next. She came around behind me and said into my ear “Close your eyes. This will take about 10 minutes”. I closed my eyes and she placed the warm mesh over my face, neck and shoulders and clamped it to the table. I was totally immobile. I could move nothing but my fingertips and my air supply was even more restricted by this covering which was molded to my face, neck and shoulders. I am not claustrophobic; at least I didn’t used to be, but it didn’t take long before panic started to set in. I could not breathe. I could not speak, I could not open my eyes, and I could not move. I started to feel that I was going to pass out or worse. I was able to move my fingers of my right hand so I started banging on the metal table. Finally, after what seemed to be forever, the girl came over and asked if I was alright. I managed to open my lips enough to say “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!”, whereupon, she unclamped the mask and I tilted my head forward gasping for air. It took me about 15 minutes before I could speak. I asked her why she didn’t ask it I had any special throat problems and she said “I didn’t think about it”. Throat cancer patient with a throat problem – how about that. I was able to get back on the table and survive the making of a 2nd mask without my head titled that far back, but the fear I experience is still giving me nightmares and daymares. I have a real challenge as I face 6 or 7 weeks of that mask holding me down, ½ hour a day/5 days a week.
I have now seen the mask, taken a picture of it and have started treatment. On the advice of a friend, I asked the doctor for a mild sedative to take before each treatment and it has helped.
I know we are supposed to ask questions, but how can you ask when you haven’t got a clue as to what they are going to do to you. I hope my little experience will help stop it from happening to some of you.