Its Monday and while the kids sleep in, I am rushing. I race out the door and notice the iced over windshield of the van. I grab the keys and start it, hoping to defrost and warm it quickly. I need to leave for radiation now.
But Superman is still getting ready. And when he hollers up the stairs "I just need a few minutes." I know I could be in trouble. A few more minutes to him means he will do at least 6 more things before he is ready. Like shaving, finding his wallet and grabbing hockey skates to sharpen- although he is our Superman, I marvel he thinks all that can happen in 3 minutes.
So 13 minutes later, as I sit tapping my foot in the car waiting, he rushes out the door- past me in the car and out to the truck where he finally finds his wallet. He gets into the van muttering about if he had only known where his wallet was he would have been on time.
But then his cell phone rings and he is cheerfully telling his client "Of course I can fit you in. I'm shooting photos late that night anyway, so what's a few more?"
I can only snicker. I won't change him, ever.
It's that very "can-do" attitude that gets it done- that and a whole lot more. Its just too bad the clock can't keep pace with his time.
As it turns out, I arrive at Roger Maris precisely at 9, my appointment time. As soon as I round the corner the techs come and tell me they are ready. I scramble out of my clothes into a gown and rush into the treatment room.
"We're doing some things different today. You're getting a booster dose. Its a booster shot to a smaller area of your lungs."
Not only are there numerous images taken, I see new parts of the machine come down and around me. Its taking longer this time.
When the radiation is finally emitted from the machine into my chest I can totally feel it this time. Its tight and I feel pressure and its heavy in my chest and it keeps going, and going, till I visually think I could explode.
"Well, take that cancer!"
Finally they come in and swing my table around to begin the treatment to my node under my arm. This dance I know well. I'm back in rhythm, knowing just when the table will shake, where the beams will go and when I am done.
I get dressed and am taken to an exam room to wait for Dr. Foster.
I'm coughing and coughing. My lungs aching with an odd sensation in them.
The nurse asks if my skin has started to burn. She asks to look, and I am shocked as I gaze down, suddenly seeing brightly sun-burned skin down the front of my chest. She then asks to see my back and I am thinking, my back? But then I go to the mirror, and oh, yep, I see. My back- more pinkish red- but turning color also. I am officially starting to burn.
I'm given a list of instructions and things to watch for. The next two weeks after this one, the burns could worsen. I need to call if it blisters or peels, otherwise I have my creams and lotions to use.
I also have my bmx- a solution I drink of mylanta, diphenhydramine, and lidocaine. It numbs my lips, my tongue, my mouth, my esophagus, making food easier to swallow. Its nasty and divine all at once.
It seems counter-intuitive that I will be going back in the morning for my next dose of "burning." The kind you normally try to prevent. The kind you'd wear sunscreen for in the hopes of not getting.
The kind that will hopefully penetrate down below the skin, burning, scorching and torching, cancer cells- disintegrating them into charred remnants of only a skeleton of their former tumors.
And I hope, and I pray, that not too much collateral damage has occurred.
Like breathing. Breathing would be good.
This morning we leave on time. Superman tells me he'll drop me off and then go and run an errand and be back to pick me up.
I'm a tiny bit terrified. I haven't felt so exposed and vulnerable in a long time, like I did yesterday.
"Will you stay?" I ask. "With me, in the room. Just stand there in case I need you?"
He nods his head solemnly, up and down.
"I will. I would. Anything. I would do."
And its enough. Just knowing he would, makes me feel not so alone, so exposed, so vulnerable.
He drops me off, offering to stay if I really need him too. But I don't.
I leave the treatment room today, feeling nothing but the remnants of broken and scorched tumors clunking around in my chest, surrounded by layers of love.
12 down, 3 to go.
Treatment, labs, a haircut, then Dr. Panwalkar tomorrow.