Saturday, January 18, 2014

RADIATION AND AFTER . . . Careless reading and Patient information?

For a couple of days, I was worried about the sun.  But that worry was partly from the written discharge instructions, not just my long-term reasons to stay in the shade.

This morning, I picked up my folder full of booklets from the cancer center, and also the discharge sheet.  The pamphlets they gave me  are from the American Association of Radiation Oncology.

Reading again, I discovered that one of those pamphlets is where, a couple of weeks ago, I saw this:

"If you undergo external beam radiation therapy, you will not be radioactive after treatment  ends because the radiation does not stay in your body."

This sent me back to the discharge sheet.  Reading carefully instead of skimming, I found this:

"Radiation continues to work for several weeks after your last treatment, therefore the effects will continue for two to four weeks."

How does it work if it's not in our bodies?  

This pamphlet comes from the hospital, and like other hospital forms, I have no idea who wrote it.  And I don't know if the nurse read it to me verbatim.

The social worker had also given me papers to read.  One mentioned that in reacting to the stress,  I might notice that I find it hard to concentrate.  If I had been working six or eight hours a day and commuting, it would have taken me a lot longer to wade through all this printed information, and I still might have become confused.

The stress begins at the diagnosis, and some of us have felt overwhelmed ever since.

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