Saturday, March 5, 2011


When Lightning Strikes

Remember that lightning in my head/eye I told you about last post? Well, guess what--it turns out that luminescence was something the radiation oncologist called "backscatter" from the "scatter" type of radiation to which we are subjecting the dura of my brain. As the "backscatter" hits fluid in the structures of the eyes, it sort of flouresces it. And that is apparently what has "sunburned" the retinas of my eyes.

At first, I thought I just had dry eye again from the small tumor shown in the MRI to be crowding the Internal Auditory Canal. So I treated it as my opthamologist has taught me, putting in special drops and taping my eye closed at night. That seemed to take care of it, and although my eyes felt "itchy" all weekend, it was okay.

I also got an additional 2-day reprieve from rads because the machine required repair. So it was Wednesday before I received radiation again. By then, the eye was unusable, constantly dripping and causing my nose to incessently drip. Hey, shouldn't it be getting BETTER, since we're zapping the IAC for cancer cells??? I had no choice but to tape it shut around the clock, not just at night. The techs asked me if I wanted to see the radiation oncologist, but I assured them I was doing what the opthamologist has me do for what I thought was dry eye.

Unfortunately, I woke up the next day with it MUCH WORSE. You will not believe how such a little nuisance thing can make you SO miserable. In addition to the constant weeping of the eye and dripping of the nose, the eye itself feels like there is broken glass and razor blades in it, even with the eye closed. Trying to use my eyes was impossible and only made my head ache. I gave up and had to close my eyes until this situation improved. It is a truly painful condition.

So Thursday night, I'm standing in front of the mirror, blinking and trying to see to brush my teeth between keeping my eyes closed to mitigate the razor blades and broken glass feelings. Why does my HEAD look CAVED IN? I touch by my temple. OUCH! Not only is my head now concave there, it's also very painful to touch. I get DH, and he verifies this is not my imagination -- my temple has clearly caved in and is now weirdly concave.
We check carefully for any signs of swelling, which may indicate hydrocephalus (a very horrible possibility when fighting mets to the brain). I see none. It is clearly not a swelling above my temple, it is a concavity at my temple.

I call the doctor on call and leave a message: "I don't think this is an emergent situation; but if it is, please call me back!"
Friday finds me consulting with the radiation oncologist before undergoing my daily rads. And guess what -- he's never seen anything like this concave appearance before. Weirdness idiosyncratic to me. Gotta love it.

By this time, I'm being LED around, temporarily blind, as I MUST keep my very painful eyes closed at all times to mitigate the misery. The doc spotted right off that this was not dry eye, but that the retinas have become "sunburned" by the "backscatter." He told me the drops I was using were NOT going to do the job, and wrote two prescriptions for me.

He also surmises that the concave appearance at the temple might actually be caused by inflammation of the optic nerve. But basically, we don't know; and I don't think I dare stop rads because of it. But boy, you can sure tell by that dent what a WALLOP the WBR packs!

So all weekend, we have administered the antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops every 8 hrs, and the eyes are improving. I think it will be better very soon! At least I can see enough now to attempt some reading and writing. Stay tuned for whatever lies ahead next!

No comments: