On Thursday, 2 days following my chemoembolization procedure, I got my first whole body hyperthermia treatment at Hallwang. It was not as bad or difficult as I assumed, though it had a few awkward moments.
Hallwang do not offer high temperature hyperthermia. High temperature hyperthermia is where you are heated to 42.5 degrees for over 4 hours. This is typically done under general anaesthetic. The aim of this procedure is to kill tumour cells as they have a much harder time dealing with high temperature compared to healthy cells. Hallwang uses lower temperatures, a little above 39 degrees Celsius. Their aim is not to kill cancer cells, but to stimulate the immune system.
I wanted the Hyperthermia straight after my Chemoembolization, however due to the bad reaction I had to this procedure, Thursday was the first day I felt well enough.
First to get your core temperature up quickly, they submerge you in a bathtub filled with hot water. Since I have been boiling myself in very hot water almost daily for the last 6 months, this was a walk in the park. The higher you can get your core temperature up, the less time you have to spend in the infrared tent. That I found makes quite a difference. They try to get you to 38 degrees in the tub, but I cranked up the heat and got to about 39 in no time at all.
Next you are moved into the infrared tent. It does actually look like a square box tent, with four infrared lamps at the top. Its quite pleasant to begin with, just like lying on a beach on a very hot and sunny day. But I get ahead of myself.
First came the rectal thermometer probe. Let me just say that having a nurse wiggle a probe up your anus, one which refuses and resists to let things in from the other direction, was not a pleasant experience, regardless of how attractive the nurse may have been. Awkward to say the least. It was actually painful and I felt violated. But lets not dwell on that.
The aim was to get me to about 39.5, but I was having none of that. I wanted to go higher. The poor nurse. I gave her hell and pushed her to crank things up. I managed to convince her to extend my stay in the tent several times till she finally put her foot down and pulled the plug. I think she was quite nervous and concerned at that time, but I was willing to go as high as as possible, maybe all the way to 43. 🙂
After reaching 39.5 things started to get somewhat rough. My BP went through the roof and I was in distress. The tent felt quite claustrophobic at that point and I had an uncontrollable urge to jump out and call it a day. Luckily the nurse was prepared for this and some sedative was added to my IV infusion that was keeping me hydrated. After that I was fine and I felt that I could easily go into the forties.
After the cooking session in the tent, the nurse wrapped me up, very snugly I must say, and let me sweat it out for maybe two more hours. During this time the temperature goes up even higher and I peaked at 39.9, which after talking to other Hallwang patients appears to be somewhat of record. I didn’t quite get to the temperatures that I wanted, but Overall 39.9 is not bad. I was never able to achive this during my home hyperthermia sessions. The sedative made the difference.
After I peaked it was just a matter of slowly cooling down and then having the rectal probe removed, but like I said, lets not dwell on that.
Lastly a quick shower and it was done. I must say that physically I felt very good after the procedure, though a little more tired than usual.