I wanted to circle back and update on how everything went with my treatment, just in case anyone searching for help happens upon this thread, I want to provide information on my experience in hopes to help them.
I finished all of my treatment on 6/30. I did 5 brachytherapy, on 6/21, 6/23, 6/25, 6/28 and 6/30. I am in the US, where I think it’s more common to break up the brachy rather than be inpatient and have it done over a weekend. My doctor was a little more aggressive with mine than they normally are. Normally with my doctor, he wouldn’t start brachy until I completed external radiation and it would only be two a week max. My doctor stated that it’s best to do the treatment in as short of a time period as possible and since I was overall tolerating treatment pretty well, he felt comfortable being aggressive. So the two weeks looked like this for me:
Monday - Brachytherapy
Tuesday - External radiation
Wednesday - Brachytherapy
Thursday - External radiation & Chemo
Friday - Brachytherapy
Monday - Brachytherapy
Wednesday - Brachytherapy.
It was a lot, but I survived!
Generally speaking, the brachytherapy process went like this:
6:00AM: I would check in at my hospital. I would be taken to the “pre op” area, where I was given a bed and I changed into a hospital gown. They asked me medical history questions each time and set my IV. I would also meet with my doctor and the anesthesiologist before hand each time. Personally, I had some issues with the IVs. I did not get a port so they had it set an IV in my hands/arms each time. My veins are visible but seem to be deep/tricky for nurses when it comes to IVs. Plus, with being poked so often from blood draws, chemo, and then IVs every other day for brachytherapy, they were running out if ideal places to put them, which is what made it difficult. If you are lucky and have good veins or if you have a port, I imagine this would not be as much of an issue for you.
7:30AM: I was taken to the operating room where they transferred me from my bed to the operating table. They put on heart monitors and leg massagers. The anesthesiologist would work on getting me set to be put under general anesthesia. They would put a mask on that had gas to help relax me, and then the anesthesiologist input medication through my IV to put me under the general anesthesia.
8:15AM: I woke up being carted to a “recovery” area. In the recovery area, I would have a nurse that would set me up with a pain medicine drip, Dilauded, which I had a button for that allowed me to push for pain medication every 10 minutes. Waking up, I wasn’t in horrible pain. The first time was weird because I could feel the weight of the brachytherapy device on my bowel/rectum area- but it wasn’t horribly painful, just uncomfortable. When I woke up the following times, I was less uncomfortable because I expected it. Also, my anesthesiologists would give me pain medication in the OR when I was under, which I am sure helped. Anesthesiologist on my 2nd brachy chose to only give me Tylenol while I was under, I am not sure why and didn’t even know this until the next brachy, and I definitely was more uncomfortable that round. I am lucky in that I do not get nauseated from anesthesia, my family members do and it just causes an unfortunate complication after surgeries, but if you do or are concerned you might, definitely mention it to your anesthesiologists. They can give you patches to put on your skin or medications in your IV that will help with this!
9:00AM: Once the recovery nurse got my pain medicine drip set and felt comfortable that I woke up well, 2 nurses would push my bed over to the radiology department. Once I was there, I was be transferred from my bed to a CT machine. They undid my pain medication for the time and I would do a 10ish minute CT scan. Then I would be put mack to my bed and pushed to another room. There I would be again transferred from my bed to the MRI table. I would then do a 15ish minute MRI. From there I was put back onto my bed.
10:00AM: Once all of my scans were completed, I was carted to a side room and waited for the doctor and a physicist to review the scans and plan out the brachy therapy. This would take anywhere from 1-2 hours, depending on the availability of the doctor, physicist and the machine. During this time I just laid there, I had my phone with me and texted with my family mostly. My nurse was very nice and would hang out and chat when she was able to.
11:30AM ish: Once they were ready for me to do treatment, the physicist would take me from the room to a room that had the machine. He would insert cords to the end of the device that was inserted in me. My treatment only took 6 1/2 minutes. Once that 6 1/2 minutes past, the physicist took me back to my room. On the way back I always made sure to push my pain button because the device was going to be pulled out of me shortly after and my nurse high recommended I do so.