Sunday, 24 May 2009

Week 10 .... Hannibal Lecter's mother!

Well this week saw the fitting of my head frame in readiness for fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (FSRT) .... thankfully the frame is removable as it is not a pretty sight by anyone's standards! John wanted to take a photograph of me wearing this formidable piece of apparatus so that I might post it here on my blog .... but I decided that I would decline his kind offer!

FSRT is radiation treatment divided into multiple doses given on different days, and is given in the Dunedin centre using a modified linear accelerator machine via a removable head frame. The particular frame used is called a Gill Thomas Cosman frame, and comprises a horizontal metal 'halo' with adjustable sides which is fixed to my head via:

1) a mouthpiece to my upper jaw
2) an occipital mould which fits to the back of my head
3) two straps which cross over on top of my head.

The mouthpiece is an impression of my upper jaw into which my upper teeth fit when the frame is put on. The mould at the back is then placed into position and the whole thing is tightened up, and the overhead straps are put in place. Once the frame is on I am helped onto the treatment couch and lowered backwards in such a way that the headframe slots into an additional frame fitted to the head of the couch ... I am therefore truly 'firmly fixed' and cannot escape!!

It is of course of paramount importance that my head should be in the same position for each and every treatment (!) and this is checked every time by means of a sort of 'space helmet' with 'access ports' in it. Once I am in position on the couch precise measurements are taken of the relative position of my head by passing a measurement tool through the helmet's ports and noting the precise distance to where it touches my scalp.

We did a total of three 'practice runs' ..... i.e. the whole caboodle of fixing the headframe into place, climbing onto the couch, being lowered and fixed to the couch-frame, measuring through the 'space helmet' (I don't know what this thing is called) then taking it all off and starting all over again.

The whole procedure was then repeated one more time when I went for a check CT Scan and it was certainly reassuring to find out that each measurement was within approx. 0.5mm on each occasion!

I am to have another MRI on Wednesday, this time they will take many more images in order to build up a very detailed picture of Feckit's exact size and shape, but the FSRT may not begin until mid-June.