50. Fifteen left and counting...Or 40% of the way through radiation.
On April 8th, I officially began radiation.
Of all the things in this process, this is the one I have been the most apprehensive about, if for no other reason than complete vanity. By all counts, radiation is supposed to be a breeze when compared to Chemo. But the side effects…. well… sunburn, skin shrinkage…. anyhow…
While Chemo was once every three weeks, radiation means having to drive daily from the East Side to the Westside every day.
The machine itself is like something out of a sci-fi movie. For real, when we walked in for the first appointment, I was looking around for Patrick Stewart because it was like I was being treated on the Starship Enterprise.
And once you’re in it, it feels a little like being in a tanning booth. A very HIGH INTENSITY, tanning booth, that gets the job done in a mere 5 minutes.
Pretty much, the average appointments go like this :
Leave 45 minutes early from Los Feliz and then curse yourself for not making it a whole hour when WAZE drives you into bizarre construction on back streets.
Finally get to Westwood Medical Center Plaza and try not to yell at the drivers who have decided they can park in the circle and you can’t get through, or try to back up from the ticketing machine upon entrance.
Pull into parking garage hoping for a spot on B2 that is near the stairwell that will get you in super fast.
Park on B2 further away and try not to think about how low the ceilings are and WTF would you do if you were in an earthquake and trapped?! ( thanks post chemo brain!!)
Run into the stairwell down into level B2 the lower bowels of the hospital where all things radioactive and nuclear live.
Wave hello to the front desk and continue down the hall to the “Radiation Treatment” waiting room.
Arrive in room and fumble through wallet to find check in card. Scan barcode the same way you do when going to the gym, but in this case the cards are on stickers on card stock so it’s more like a really low rent Blockbuster whose card laminator is on the fritz.
Nod hello to the fellow patients who are working on a community jigsaw puzzle, that has been left on the table to put together, or those who have picked up the knitting needles and have continued making “hats for the homeless”. It’s actually kind of awesome that things are just left there, knowing that someone will come back to chip in tomorrow.
Step into changing room to take off bra. I have learned wearing a jumper or a dress with straps is the best ensemble for a quick in and out.
Walk out of changing room to hear one of my four radiation technicians tell me it’s my turn.
Walk with them to the control room chit chatting about what’s happened in the last 24 hours.
Get to control room recite my name, birthdate, and area of treatment ( if anyone were to try impersonate me this would be a shitty time to do it, plus you’d actually have to be able to spell my last name.)
Walk into treatment and drop my top like an amateur stripper who doesn’t know what the word tease is.
Lay down on the treatment table. I mean it’s not like they haven’t seen it all before.
Grab on to the bar over my head and focus on the mini bluetooth breathe monitor that the technician puts in by my face to make certain the meridians (aka lines) are correct.
The mini monitor is like a breathalyzer game, you breathe in, hold your breath and try to keep a green rectangle in-between 2 lines. ( Okay, It also makes certain your heart and lungs are less likely to get radiated, but focusing on the modernized “Pong” game is more fun.)
Once aligned, the technician places my breast plate (maybe I am destined to be an Amazon, cause it full on reminds me of a warrior breastplate) to protects my skin so the radiation can go deeper.
We’re set, so the technician, heads back into the control room to “light it up.”
Breathe In. HOLD. Exhale. Breathe in. HOLD. Exhale. Breathe in. HOLD. And…finished
In all about 10 minutes.
I replace my top, grab my bag and bid adieu.
I step up my pace getting to my car and head toward the exit.
Placing my ticket in the kiosk, it reads: $6 , that’s a new record! Usually its always been $12.
I check the WAZE, 53 minutes to get home. I drive out wondering if I plan effectively can I skim even more off my parking fee? Can i get it down to $4?
Hard to say, but I got fifteen more tries, so I’ll think about that tomorrow.