My last radiotherapy session was on Tuesday. On Monday there was a phone call from the radiotherapy department; I wondered if they were ringing to say there had been a terrible mistake that morning and I had been given ten times the right dose. Not just double; it’s more likely a decimal point or zero might get misplaced… actually they just wanted to ask if I would mind coming in later as the engineer was coming to fix the machine… hmm wonder if it WAS working properly in the morning?
It was rather sad saying farewell to the lovely staff, though on the previous Friday I thought I might stay there forever. I had breezed out of the main waiting room after my treatment, yay it’s the weekend ( Not that there was anything special happening at the weekend except not going to radiotherapy ) saying farewell to the chaps drinking water getting ready for their prostate treatment. I sauntered up the corridor only to find the double doors closed and locked. This had happened to me once before. That time I had been relieved to hear voices behind me; some of the staff were going for their coffee break and swiped a card on a box. This time there was not a soul in sight or sound.
I returned to the waiting room, but there was nobody on the desk. Who to ask, who to find? One can hardly go barging into treatment rooms, or disturb radiologists in the control room when their patient is being irradiated. I could only hover by the changing cubicles hoping to catch someone collecting their patient. Fortunately, from another set of double doors that said Staff Only emerged a chap in plain clothes, one of the numerous persons, with lanyards and ID cards to distinguish them from patients, who stride purposefully up and down corridors and stairs. I alerted him to my plight.
‘This always happens on Fridays when they test the fire alarms.’
He went into detail about magnetic doors as we marched up the corridor. As we reached the doors he said
‘Hmm, let’s hope this works.’
I had assumed it would. Luckily it did.
Meanwhile back to my last session… The third zap above my collar bone, targeting lymph nodes, has been the only one where I can look up and see the square screen through which invisible rays are emitted. Strange shutters above the glass move in and out, up and down, but it is usually quick. This time things seemed to come to a halt. I waited for the familiar buzz, wondering if the machine had broken down and when no one spoke over the intercom, fearing they had all gone home. I was tempted to move my arm as my shoulder felt sore and I began to imagine the horrors of the rack or crucifixion. Then the buzzing started.
I was given a help sheet to add to my collection. The effects of the accumulated radiation carry on for another couple of weeks, not that I had had any bad effects. I do now have a big square and a smaller square that look like sunburn. I had imagined the target areas being round. I was told to keep the area protected from the sun. ‘For how long?’ I asked. ‘Forever’ was the reply.