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Why Jaymun Will Never Associate Turkey with Thanksgiving Day


Jaymun's last day of radiation was Tuesday. All I can say is, "Hallelujah!" because it was a real struggle getting up during the night at odd hours to wake him and feed him before his NPO (no food by mouth) order kicked in. Everyone on this floor chuckles because to Jaymun, six hours without eating is worse than chemotherapy at times. He has a hearty appetite and we are extremely thankful for that--he's still gaining weight right along and that means he's going into the transplant with a strong body. Some of the nurses are astounded by the amount of milk he chugs down in a day's time and many have commented that they think he eats the most out of any of the patients on the HOT unit. By all accounts, he shouldn't even have an appetite at this stage of his treatment, but I am delighted to see him prove the doctors' predictions wrong.

I had promised to write something about his radiation treatments. Radiation is a scary word. It's an even scarier reality to actually have a loved one go through it. I was leery about sharing Jaymun's radiation experience with people, but I feel that perhaps it gives a better overview of all the steps along the way. Plus, Dr. Firat and his radiation team are checking to make sure I keep my word--hello everyone!

Early in the morning, a nurse and I walk Jaymun through the long hallways to Froedtert Hospital.  If we're lucky, an anesthesiologist from Children's is waiting for us so we can begin on time. If not, we wait. (Which is never good news with a hungry baby!) Jaymun goes into the radiation room and we lay him on the treatment table. Most of the time, he's grinning away at everyone while the " sleepy juice" is injected. Once he's sedated, the radiation team goes to work. They first strap his body and head down to keep his body still. Then they draw with markers on his face to line up the spots perfectly with where they need the radiation to penetrate. The past few weeks, Jaymun's face has looked like an Indian warrior brave, with all the marked lines and circles.

They then rotate the bed with the radiation machine, raising Jaymun's body higher to line it up with their equipment. Dr. Firat oversees the radiation specialists, making sure everything is according to his satisfaction . (In this case, being a perfectionist is a welcome virtue!) Everyone must then exit the room and the doors are sealed shut. We are able to watch Jaymun on the screen the entire time, but it's still a strange feeling to know that he's laying in that room all by himself, with powerful X-rays zapping his little face. Dr. Firat told me that Jaymun is his youngest radiation patient. That's never a comforting thought as a parent, to hear from so many specialists that our baby is the youngest they've treated for this or that.

If Jaymun was an older child or adult, he wouldn't need to be sedated. He would just lay perfectly still, looking up at the ceiling--and this is what he would see. (Dr.Firat believes I'm also the first to ever take a photo of the ceiling, but I thought the view was interesting --wouldn't this make a lovely backyard?)

The bruise on his cheek is radiated for 98 seconds. After the spot on his cheek is done, Dr. Firat inserts a tiny lead shield over Jaymun's eyeball to protect it from the radiation. I'm a bit squeamish about that part, so I've never watched up close. The tube is lined up perfectly against his face again. Another 98 seconds of radiation and he's done. Once the lead shield is removed from his eye, the anesthesiologist and nurse hook Jaymun up to a machine that measures his level of oxygen. We drive him through the halls again in his crib and by the time we reach his room, Jaymun is waking up from the sedation...and guess what's the first thing on his mind? We should have timed ourselves trying to make a bottle in record time!

Hopefully, we need never visit the radiation unit again. Dr. Firat and his team were very kind and reassuring to us and tried to make Jaymun's ten days of radiation as smooth as possible. We teased Dr. Firat about being Jaymun's "turkey doctor" (he's originally from Turkey, but I was disappointed to hear not one word of Turkish language spoken--he's even sadly dropped the Turkish habit of rolling his "r's" when he talks!).  I took a quick photo of Dr. Firat and Jaymun one day before he was sedated. (I believe Jaymun is wearing Dr. Firat's favorite striped outfit as well!) We also thank Danielle and Barbara, the two ladies who assisted Dr. Firat most often during Jaymun's treatments. They made a scary experience a little bit less frightening for us.

There won't be many photos of Jaymun in weeks 18 or 19, simply for the reason that I felt bad taking them when he had marker lines drawn all over and the radiation effects made him look extremely sunburned at times.

So there's radiation in a nutshell. Now you know...