Monday, November 05, 2007

Finally Free of Photons - Fabulous

Here's my last post from the Parotid Tumor Patients' Forum. Of all the things I've lost it's my mind I miss the most, and look forward to renewing its acquaintance after a few days or weeks off the radiation. Let's hope it missed me and wants to come home.

Finally Free of Photons - Fabulous!

Posted By: CarlaFW
Date: Monday, 5 November 2007, at 1:01 p.m.

It finally happened. The day I thought would never come arrived and on Friday I issued forth from Radiation Oncology on a couple of hugs, calls of congratulations, and clutching my freakish souvenir - the much-maligned "autocast" - my mask. It still bears tape with little "x-marks the spot" inkings and one long and carefully drawn "V" along the lower left quadrant (with a tip of the lizard skin to Jodie).

My emotions are mixed. For three months the Radiation Oncology unit has been a regular part of my daily schedule. I've gotten to know the wonderful women who are the backbone of the unit; have listened to the gentle teasing of its outnumbered male, Mr. C; have enjoyed my conversations with Dr. L over everything ranging from my treatment plan to mutual acquaintances to the latest depredations of the Demon Spawn, also known as Arlington County's Parking Enforcement.

For three months I've plopped into the unit's comfortable chairs, chatting with patient and staff alike, phasing through as all radiation patients do since treatments never exceed a few weeks or months at most, and quite often may be as brief as one or two visits.

What can I say about this strange science? Every day at RT is a voyage on the SS Paradox, a sophisticated balance of hair of the dog with what bit you and destroying the village to save the village. Now my ship has come in and I can resume my life, wait for the infernal itching on my neck to go down, and find other things to occupy my mornings.

I took the mask to work and horrified all the claustrophobes by modeling it with commentary. My children were astonished when they saw the thing. I think they thought I was got up in something like a hockey mask every day.

My appearance at work on Saturday turned into a little bit of a reality check as I was there for only two hours before being overcome with exhaustion and driving home to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening on the couch. The cat took up her position on my chest and the dog his position on my legs, and my 16 year old and I watched "Jaws" as I told him of the summer of my own 16th year when the movie was released and my sisters refused to go swimming with our family off the shores of Massachusetts. Normalcy is nice.

Today I went to work and felt a little less fatigued, but forgot the name of the restaurant up the street when suggesting to a colleague that we go there for lunch, and forgot a copy of the code section I needed for court today, and forgot the name of the client on my walk from the office to the court. Radiation does that, I think. Its effects ripple like the pond into which the rock has been dropped, and it will take a while for the waters to recede and for the silt to settle and the depths to clear. I'll just have to be patient.

So that's it. My little adventure is done. It's been almost a year since I went for the physical that set me on this course. Let's see what 2008 brings.

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