Image: Zuzana Brianza
My to do list for today was very ambitious and included a school nativity play, hanging Christmas lights on a Wendyhouse and my first radiotherapy session.
The radiotherapy department is located in the basement. I hope the staff is friendly given they don't see much daylight. They seem to make up for the lack of natural light with muzak. Ray of light by Madonna would be an appropriate choice for a radiotherapy waiting room while Alice Cooper's Poison would fit well in the chemo ward.
Looking around the packed waiting room I realise I'm the youngest one there and the rest of the patients probably never heard of Madonna or Alice Cooper. I won't bother looking for the suggestion box then.
I wonder what's the rule in the radiotherapy reception area? Do I have to give up seat if another older person shows up?
I decide to follow the rule of the London Underground: No eye contact.
I'm not quite sure what my session involves. I did get a package with useful information but between Christmas cards and practicing songs for the school carols service I didn't get around to read it. Nevertheless, looking at the wall display celebrating 100 years of radiography I'm rather relieved the technology has advanced significantly.
I decide to go through the useful information quickly so that I'm not caught by surprise like the last time during my radiotherapy planning session. I've heard of skin markings but didn't know that the dots were basically permanent tattoos. It seems that my session involves lying very still in a giant doughnut. After 14 rounds of chemo I'm confident I can do that.
"Let's check your tattoos" is a perfectly acceptable pick up line in a biker bar but sounds really odd when you hear it from a male nurse in a radiotherapy room. Hope they can still find the tats between my zillion birthmarks. After the radiotherapy machine has been lined up to my ink I'm told not to move for 10 minutes. It's not the most snug position, but as a mother I'm very used to sleeping in uncomfortable positions afraid to move in case the baby wakes up again. 10 minutes is not a lot but it's a really long time if you badly need to scratch your nose. 10 minutes is up and I can come out of the giant donut and finally scratch the hell out of my nose.
A couple of mums at the school gates came to say how sorry they are that I have to go to hospital nearly every day until January. To be honest I never thought this is how I'd be spending Christmas. But given that the school break lasts almost a month and with a good excuse to leave the house for a few hours every day, the chances are I may be the only one who won't completely lose it this Christmas holiday.
Merry Christmas to all!