Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Specially seasoned, cooked well done

Sometimes it helps me to give funny or offbeat names to the things they do to me – never to the really serious things, of course – but more to procedures at the maintenance level.

For example, I call therapeutic phlebotomy "blood letting," which is what happens when I go every other month to have about a pint of blood removed to reduce the iron overload that resulted from multiple transfusions.

The name game has come to mind because tomorrow I go to Boston for my annual face fry.

The term is actually photodynamic therapy, or PDT, and my dermatologist uses it to treat my face for spots that might turn into cancer. It is definitely better than getting more skin cancers, and by the way  I think I have another squamous cell, this one on the side of my hand, so I will be surprised if she does not biopsy it.

Marinating last year
Here is how the American Cancer Society describes PDT when used to kill cancer cells:

Photodynamic therapy or PDT is a treatment that uses special drugs, called photosensitizing agents, along with light to kill cancer cells. The drugs only work after they have been activated or “turned on” by certain kinds of light. PDT may also be called photoradiation therapyphototherapy, or photochemotherapy.
Depending on the part of the body being treated, the photosensitizing agent is either put into the bloodstream through a vein or put on the skin. Over a certain amount of time the drug is absorbed by the cancer cells. Then light is applied to the area to be treated. The light causes the drug to react with oxygen, which forms a chemical that kills the cells. PDT might also help by destroying the blood vessels that feed the cancer cells and by alerting the immune system to attack the cancer.
The period of time between when the drug is given and when the light is applied is called the drug-to-light interval.

After a nurse covers my face with the chemical, I sit for about an hour and a half, reading a little through the slits in the foil that covers my face. Then the covering comes off and you sit under the light. That part takes 15 minutes and hurts more than the worst sunburn you can imagine. Moving a cold air blower around with your hand helps somewhat in each area that you target.

She is also going to do my lips, woo hoo!

Afterwards your skin is red, blotchy and painful. You're supposed to avoid the sun, so this is a good time of year to do it.

In the past I have had to take something for the pain, but I'll see how I feel. I'll be going to Margaret's afterwards, and maybe the good company and good food will take my mind off of it.

 I'll drive back Friday morning, well done.

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