I walked out of work to head to my 23rd radiation appointment with more pep in my step than usual. For the past several days, the side effects of radiation have increased; nausea makes it harder for me to eat, fatigue makes it harder for me to stay active, intestinal cramping makes it harder for me to be comfortable.
But today, as I leave work, I know that I have only three more treatments. And a three-day weekend to help get me through these final days.
When I get to the waiting room, I see some of the usual suspects rounded up. There are rumors that the technicians are running ahead of schedule. Then there is a rumor that they are running late. Then, a patient is transported in by ambulance. He will probably get priority. I hear him in the hallway telling the techs he feels great today, “Morphine will do that for you.”
I am not dissuaded. I have waited here before for my turn, long after the appointment time. Waiting again will not dampen my spirits. Not today.
Then, I listen to my voicemail. Ann is coming to wait with me; she’s on her way. It’s a surprise. I feel lighter, happier than I have in days.
When I am finally called back for my treatment, I am only thankful, even when it takes four tries to get me in the right position.
Yesterday, as they were getting me set up for treatment, I actually dozed off on the radiation table, even though I am desperately afraid of my arms flailing to the sides and being ripped off by the rotating cylinder that orbits my body.
Yesterday, they also had a hard time getting me on the table just right, and when the treatment finally started, it was all wrong. The machine normally starts beneath me, then rotates counter clockwise, over my right arm, across my abdomen, then around my left side – 360 degrees. Then, it comes back 75 degrees clockwise and the treatment is finished.
Yesterday, the machine started clockwise, and if they hadn’t assured me later, I would have sworn I got a double dose.
That was yesterday.
Today, as they took xray after xray, trying to position me correctly so that the radiation would be administered in the proper area, I found myself singing out loud, tapping my feet, bobbing my head a little.
Just enough, apparently, that they reminded me to lie still.“Time for a cool change, I know that it’s time for a cool change, Now that my life is so prearranged, I know that it’s time for a cool change.”
I sang along with the Little River Band on the Light Rock station playing in the room. I giggled to myself, wondering if they could hear me in the room around the corner with the camera where the techs sat safely away from the radioactive material.
After another adjustment to the table and another xray, I realized I was now singing a Bon Jovi song, also OUT LOUD, and this time, I didn’t really care if they heard me.
“I’ll be there for you, these five words I swear to you, when you breathe, I want to be the air for you, I’ll be there for you.”
I sang louder when I thought of Ann waiting down the hall for me and the friends and family who prayed me through these last few weeks and my Jesus who just never quits on me.
And then I really had to laugh as the Doobie Brothers hit the playlist. I laid there in a room by myself, completely exhausted and happy down deep, singing in my best 80s rock voice, “Give me the beat boys and free my soul, I wanna get lost in the rock and roll and drift away.”
I wouldn’t be falling asleep today.
Twenty-three down. Two to go.
Photo by LifeSupercharger, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.