Thursday, August 17, 2006

Beam me up, Scotty!

Yeah, yeah, it's been a couple of weeks. I know. Truth be told, other than the whole radiation thing I do every day, I've been beginning to, or trying to begin to put this whole cancer thing behind me. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard when you wake up every morning to be radiated. Or when you're on fire from hot flashes.

Back to this cancer business it is, then. I've been asked some questions about radiation, so here you go...


Q. Do you glow in the dark yet?
A. Not yet. Give me a couple more weeks.

Q. I heard they have to tattoo you... Is that true?
A. Yes and no. Some people get little tattoos. At my hospital, they just mark you up with permanent marker. Kind of reminds me of those sorority hazing stories where they mark up all your fat and laugh. Only there's no beer at the end of it.

Q. Can you taste/smell your own burning flesh?
A. No, sorry Dave. Actually, I usually can't feel anything at all.

Q. Are you stinky?
A. I can't wear deodorant, creams or perfumed anything on my radiated side. Only baby cornstarch power. So, after a big walk, yap, Pretty stinky.

Q. I called you at 8:30pm, where were you?
A. Asleep. Same goes for 10:30 am, Noon, possibly 3pm or before dinner. Radiation makes you tired, plus chemos caught up with me, plus hot flashes keep me from sleeping at night.

Q. Do you have a wicked sunburn?
A. Not yet. I was worried, as I could feel "something" after only about 2 treatments. They told me it usually takes like 3 weeks. But here I am, after 11 treatments, and nothing yet. I have a prescription cream I put on.

Q. Anything else hurt?
A. My back hurts a little and my shoulder's sore. Oh, yeah, and my left boob. It's a little tender, and not in the "love me tender" sort of way.

Q. Do you wear a lead cape?
A. As much as I'd like to be my own radioactive superhero, no. It's not like an x-ray. The radiation is very very focused and specific.

Q. So what happens?
A. Well, I wake up at the ass crack of dawn- strike that, it's before the ass crack as it's still dark outside.
I get to the hospital by 7am.
I greet my little valet guy. At 7am, it's pretty slow so we chat a bit.
I go to the radiation oncology section, which is in the basement. It's very empty, not even the receptionist is there yet.
I check in on a computer touch screen.
I sit down and read some bad business magazine from 1998.
I look for an "Us Weekly". No dice.
I'm called in by my tech, a pretty young woman who directs me to take off my top. Sweet. Keep up that visual boys. That's all you're gone get.
I get to put on the obligatory gown, open to the front of course.
I then enter the room with the linear accelerator. Just like Saturday morning Physics at Fermilab, only I don't have a college application to put this on.
I lay flat on my back, my head in this little cup thing. My arms reach up behind me, holding on to these little handlebars.
The techs line me up with my marks, sometimes involving me to be pulled and yanked into position by my gown.
They leave the room and some crazy ass machine circles around me, first taking pictures to make sure they've lined me up and aren't hitting, say, my heart.
I lay there completely still as the machine circles around me at different angles. There's usually about 5 or six different one. A weird noise, like a buzzing, means it's working. Here's my machine.

After about 5 minutes, it's done. I put the shirt back on, go to my car, and drive home. Usually back to my bed. My insurance company gets a bill for like two grand. I look forward to doing this 20 more times.

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