Thursday, August 6, 2009

Facts about Proton Radiation and an Update

Some fun facts about Proton Radiation:

1. The first attempts to use proton radiation for cancer/medical treatment began in the 1950s but it was only in the last decade that it has become possible to develop proton beam facilities in conjunction with established medical centers.

2. Radiation is delivered through large gantries. Each gantry weighs 190 tons, sits three stories tall, and is 35 feet in diameter.

3. 2/3 of the proton therapy center is build below ground level. The walls are 8 feet thick and 50 feet high. A 20-story building could be constructed with the amount of concrete poured for the proton therapy center (and it's only 3 stories tall!).

4. The equipment for the machinery weighed 1600 tons when it arrived from Japan at the Port of Houston and it took a 31-truck caravan to bring it to the construction site.

On a more personal note:

She's had a good day. She did start losing her hair today. Lots of little hairs on the pillow this morning when she woke up. It's falling out in little bits and clumps, and there is obviously not a whole lot to fall out anyway.

The major issue of the day seems to be getting her accutane prescription filled. For those who do not know, Accutane is usually an acne drug and it is HIGHLY dangerous to unborn babies. Causes very severe birth defects. For that reason, any female of childbearing age who is on the drug must be on TWO forms of birth control AND must take a pregnancy test each month. In order to prescribe the drug, physicians must be registered through this system called iPledge and you can't get the prescription except through an approved provider. Furthermore, as a patient you have to register on this iPledge site. If you're of childbearing age, you have to take a test so that they know that you understand the risks of pregnancy, etc. Obviously, we don't have to do that for Charlotte but we do still have to follow all the other rules. Well, we ran into a few glitches trying to get her prescription refilled here:

Glitch #1: The prescription was originally written in VA under Dr. Khan so in order to transfer the prescription and have Dr. Wolff write the script, I had to go on to the iPledge site and transfer to Dr. Wolff as my primary doctor. It took us forever just to figure out that we had to do this.

Glitch #2: When Dr. Wolff went in to approve me (well, Charlotte) as a patient, he couldn't find her in the system. We worked on this all day (in and out of treatments) and while the system kept telling me my application was in process and awaiting doctor approval, Dr. Wolff couldn't seem to find Charlotte as his patient waiting approval. We were lost in cyberspace. It only took me coming back to the clinic after radiation and both of us getting on the telephone help line with the iPledge folks to get it resolved.

Glitch #3: I took the prescription to the MD Anderson pharmacy to get it filled. At this point, it was after 4 PM. They said if I wanted the prescription compounded into liquid form (I did) it would take almost 2 hours. So we headed back to RMH to wait. Meanwhile, Charlotte ate some dinner and we've been relaxing. I go to call the pharmacy about quarter to 6 to see if it's almost ready so we can walk back to MDA and the pharmacist tells me that she tried to call me (obviously called the home number which doesn't help much) and the insurance is not approving the prescription. No idea why since they approved it before. It may be because we are trying to get it compounded into liquid form. Needless to say, it will cost $300+. Basically, I don't care about the cost at this point, I just want the meds. She says, "Do you need this today?" and I said, "YES!!!". She didn't get her morning dose and I'm not waiting any longer to get this stuff into her. So she said it would be another hour...or so. Sheesh.

So we will be heading back over to MDA in a bit. At least the weather will have cooled a bit so we can walk. Fresh air and exercise will do us good.

Otherwise, everything is ok. As ok as it can be. Thanks for all the positive vibes and support we have been getting. It really means a lot. One step. One day at a time. That's all I can do. Dr. Bitsko called me this morning and we talked so that was helpful. One more day of treatment till the weekend. And two more days till we get to see DADDY! Yay!

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