Hyperthermia

20130507-155624.jpgOn 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.

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About Ren

I have been diagnosed with stage 4, metastatic colorectal cancer in October 2012, 3 days after my 44th birthday. There is no cure, but I am determined to go down the road less travelled to find one. I have setup this blog to document my journey and hopefully help others in the process. My view is that if there is a cure, it does not lie with traditional chemo, but with the immune system. Time will tell.
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2 Responses to Hyperthermia

  1. Rona0909 says:

    Great account of what went on in hyperthermia – I don’t think anybody realises what it’s like until they have to go through it. Like you, I thought the hypethermia would be higher than 41 degrees – I read that on the Klinik St George site. And I know it’s not a competition, but I got up to 41 or something under the lamps – second highest record, I was told. Maybe you’ve broken it!!! But I don’t think I kept the temperature – it fell to about 39.7 under the blanket after I cooled down when I had to use the bed pan several times[let’s not go into that too!].

  2. Rona0909 says:

    ren, I just want to say that your blog is honest and open, and offers hope to those who have to explore other avenues of medicine. You show what it’s like, warts and all, and I admire your courage in sharing so much of what you are going through, even the painful and unpleasant experiences. You are like a captain of a ship sailing through uncharted waters, filled with sharks and hidden ice-bergs, but your mind is sharp, your resolve strong and you will find a way through. Good luck and keep writing because you write well. May you reach fair breezes and smooth sailing soon.

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