I just started radiation treatment yesterday. Yep, I get to trudge down to Mayo’s Charlton Subway level EVERY DAY (okay, except for weekends) for three weeks. The treatment itself only takes about 15 minutes….but that’s 15 minutes in the Machine of DOOM (cue organ music)
It probably didn’t help my anxiety level yesterday that I was just reading a book on DNA and the grisly effects of radiation on the skin of a dude who was unlucky enough to be in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the atomic bombs exploded.
Radiation is scary, man.
For me, scarier than even the chemo. At least with Chemo you get happy volunteers offering you Lorna Doones and a window to look out of. Nurses can see the stark terror on your face and chat you up.
When it’s radiation, you’re laying alone, half-naked, arms raised above your head in a terribly vulnerable position in that room with the giant machine inches from your body, the red light, and a stream of radiation being poured into your body.
(Okay, Mayo had a screen playing soothing nature sounds and showing streams and waterfalls on the ceiling, but you could only see it like for a moment every few minutes because of the HUGE HONKING RADIATION SPOUT moving around over your head)
Ever seen that scene in Goldfinger where Sean Connery-as-James Bond is lying on the table with his legs spread apart and a diamond-cutting laser slowly inching it’s way towards his nether regions? Yeah, it was kind of like that (okay, only mentally, because when they actually radiate you there’s no light, no warning, nothing but a pleasant hum, but you get the general emotional idea).
Encased on three sides by Machine of Doom, all I could think about was “what if they measured wrong?” “what if a tech sneezes when she pushes the button and jiggles it out of whack?” “what if there’s an earthquake and the HUGE HONKING RADIATION SPOUT drops on my chest crushing me?”
Since I’m in a clinical trial that is researching the effect of interspersed “boosters” at the same time as the regular treatment (instead of waiting until the end of the regular treatement) I also got to have the pleasure of having the techs come back in, slide an extension spout and block/lens thingy onto the HUGE HONKING RADIATION SPOUT of DOOM to make it even closer to my lumpectomy site. Then, my doctor scurried in, felt around the incision site with her ICE cold hands, and scurried back out.
Then more of the humming and red-light blinking, interspersed with glimpses of the lovely waterfall. (as if that’s going to fool anyone that they’re not subjecting themselves to a crazy stream of photons that can turn their skin inside out!)
Of course, don’t get me started on the irony of bald, wrinkled old me lucking out with three lovely, luscious-haired blonde girls as my radiation techs. Heidi informed me with a smile they would be there every time for me. Because, yeah, that’s what I need to feel better about myself every time I encounter the HUGE HONKING RADIATION SPOUT of DOOM.