But there's no such thing, right?
I have little time to ask questions, since my radiation time is so brief. My "therapists" are always cheerful and efficient as they quickly prepare the table and adjust my position. I only have a minute or so of "social time" before I have the machine and the room to myself... for all of 4 minutes.
So I allow myself a question a day. On my first day, the machine was decorated for Halloween and my question was about sneezing. I was glad to learn, it was okay to sneeze... if I didn't move. Or I could holler, "Stop!" Since they are watching and listening through the glass.
My question yesterday was, "What happened to the turkey?" The turkey that recently took the pumpkin's place on the machine, suddenly ended up on the door. I was told with an embarrassed laugh, "The masking tape didn't hold... and it fell off."
Luckily the bird didn't land on someone during radiation. but that would have been quite a good story. "Well, I got this bump when I hit my head during radiation, because a turkey..."
Sometimes they're still preparing the table when I get called back. Then I have time for more questions. "Do you have a nickname for this machine?" I asked yesterday, since I'd waited an hour for the technician to repair the thing.
The therapists laughed as if they have a few names they couldn't share. "Old Guy" was all they mentioned. My job this weekend, is to choose a name.
The Blue Pillow
The squashed, blue pillow is usually hidden under the sheet when I enter. I finally asked and it's called a "vac bag", which is like fancy bean bag, customized to fit my shape, by vacuuming out the air.
It's not at all squishy and it keeps its shape to help me get into the exact position for radiation. When I finish my treatment I won't get to take it home for a keepsake, since it's sanitized for a new patient. That's an odd thought, but I'm all for recycling.
Can I Nail the Pose?
Each time I lay down on the sheet covered platform, I reach back and hold the bars above my head. To get me into the exact position each day, the therapists tell me to scoot up or down. Then they tug the sheet, beneath me, to center me more right or left. My question one day was, "Does anyone ever just lie down and hit the right position perfectly?" They laughed and said it was possible. I told them it was my goal to nail it on the first try, before my treatments ended. I decided my chances were slim, when I heard it happens only about once, every 6 months.
I'm only in that room for a few minutes and nothing hurts, so I feel comfortable pondering some questions.
"Does anyone ever fall asleep in here?"
"Do people keep their eyes open or closed?"
"Is there anyone who has a treatment shorter than me?"
Yes, people fall asleep, often and most people don't open their eyes, like I do. And there might be one person with a slightly shorter treatment than mine. And that thought lead to a question, with a sobering answer.
"What is the longest treatment time?"
"Well... about 30 minutes." My therapist answered that day. I gulped at the thought of laying still so long... daily. It can take that long for some brain cancer patients, she explained. She told me some had to wear plastic mesh masks over the head and shoulders, to keep from moving. I knew I had seen stacks of those molded "face-cages" with names on them. My therapist was honest about how claustrophobic she felt when she tried one on, in school. I suddenly remembered the woman I had seen leaving... with imprints on her face.
I usually leave the center in good spirits, but that day I left thoughtful and sad. Sad for those who suffer long treatments. And more sad to think of those who deal with cancers and treatments, with lower success rates.
My Fellow Patients
It's easy to joke about my radiation, because it is painless for me. But I really need to stop and think about my fellow patients who share the waiting area. We sit in our matching gowns... with such different stories and futures. As we move into the holidays, I aim to be more sensitive to those around me.
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me. I ranted for a year, until I got my vaccine in March 2021.
Coronary Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was Don who was dealing with a worry that started with the letter "C".
Coronavirus and Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease! All are evil, but none can totally get me down... if I vent! I usually end up feeling a little more positive at the end of each post!