The person who does the radiation (nurse? specialist?) led me back to the room, which she assured me was always dark and cold. There, in the middle of the floor, was a bench with the same 50 SHADES OF GREY pegs to hold onto above your head.
We quickly dispensed with the niceties of the cape, and I gripped the handles and shut my eyes while the woman told me to just lie there "like a sack of potatoes" while they manuevered me into the proper position for nuclear reaction. (I don't know if that's exactly what radiation is, but hey.)
Then they took about 35 X-rays while speaking to me through an intercom. They assured me they could see me and hear me via microphones and two TV monitors in case I decided to freak out. As I listened to today's line-up, "Jack and Diane" and something I feel very confident was by the Black Eyed Peas, I stared at two red lights in the ceiling, wondering if they were the lasers that would radiate me.
Then I wondered if my eyes might laser shut.
This morning, I didn't put on dry shampoo because the ingredient list contained aluminum, and they told me not to wear normal deoderant that works in summer because it contained aluminum and I pictured my head starting on fire.
Then I wondered, while waiting there, if my shorts would actually become radioactive, which would make me sad, because they are both linen and Athleta and those are two things I don't have a lot of in my life.
I listened to "Jack and Diane" and wondered if my entire cancer experience would be narrated by '80s hits while the machine reared up its head and started rotating its way around me. It didn't actually show any laser beams, as I had anticipated, but it fried one side of me then rotated around and hit the other, all in the space of about ten minutes.
I went back to the closet and put on my clothes. A nurse took me into a room and told me about the healing properties of aloe vera, which the lab pharmacy would sell me at cost for ~$2. When and if the burns got worse, she had samples of other lotions that I own from when the little angel was a very chapped-face baby.
She said the fatigue was cumulative, so I probably wouldn't notice it for a while, and if I felt tired, I should get some exercise. I realize that seems counter-intuitive, but I've always found the if you can't take a nap, the best cure for a case of the tireds is a brisk walk around the block, preferably outside.
They gave me a schedule leading up until the Friday before Labor Day. I left. I sold some books at Half-Price Books. I bought some hanging plants on clearance at Walmart that I thought I could save from certain Walmart death. I took them home. I hung them up and gave them plant food and water. I ate dinner with my parents and the little angel.
I thought maybe this radiation thing won't be so bad.
It remains to be seen. They say the fatigue and skin burns will come later. But the worst fatigue I've ever felt in my life came when I was unemployed and not taking my meds for microscopic colitis and I developed a Vitamin D absorption problem and my friends, I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to work again because I COULD NOT WAKE UP in the mornings. Fortunately, now I take 50,000 units of Vitamin D once a week and I get up before seven on the daily, but let me tell you if something is off with your body the struggle is real even to get out of bed. I always used to think people were exaggerating. Not anymore. There are lots of people who struggle with chronic fatigue every day. Please understand that feels like not trusting your body to rev up at all. It's terrifying to think you might actually not be able to get out of bed. I hope I never experience that fear again.
So, in a way, having a Vitamin D deficiency, after one day, was scarier than radiation. For sure having a broken leg and a plate put in was scarier than radiation.
It's funny. I always thought cancer treatment would be the scariest thing ever. I realize I'm at the low end of the scale, but it's still cancer treatment. I now measure medical hell on a scale of CAN I MOVE to OMG I MAY NEVER WALK AGAIN.
There have been a lot of moments along the way on this cancer journey where I've seriously questioned my ability to go on, but today is not one of them. But, tomorrow I'll be two hours late to work because of radiation. And that will go on, two hours late or two hours gone early, for 22 work days. That's the hard part, the logistics. The hard part is not fighting cancer, but fighting cancer while the rest of the world goes on like everything is normal when it is so not normal for you.