Dry Heat

This afternoon I had my dry run before I begin six weeks of radiation.


My daughter asked me if it was fun.  Yes it was, I told her.  And it was also scary.

I strolled into the basement of Mt. Zion, they pointed me to the men’s changing room, I rummaged through a box of striped gowns (they reminded me of Holocaust wear), threw one on, was guided into a sweet catapulting room with cherry floors, lay down on a softly cushioned table, jammed a prosthetic in my mouth to prevent my tongue from moving and a few moments later two men bolted my head down with a mesh mask and split from the room.

Right on.  They told me they were taking x-rays which might have been a dumbed down euphemism for something else.  I heard a heavy whooshing sound, like the proximate breath of some very large reptile.  Every so often I would register an intense blue white flash followed by a strange sharp odor lodged somewhere between my nostrils and my tongue.  It smelled as if the air itself was burning.  Not cool.

I followed my breath.  I tried not to swallow.  I composed long sentences in my head.  Not much different than any other time except for the swallowing part.  I wondered about how much tolerance there was in the measurements – what would I fry in my head if I tricked my neck a millimeter to the left or to the right.  I tried not to trick my neck.  I hoped that their measurements were right.

After 20 minutes it was over.  I mentioned the smell to the rad tech.  Only a small number of people can see and smell it, he said.  What’s up with that, I wondered.  We all have eyes and tongues and noses.  There shouldn’t be that much variability in this stuff, in our bodies, in energy moving through those bodies.  And in my mind, in this game, variability is also not cool.

I grabbed my stuff.  I snapped some pictures.  Rad tech John handed me a green appointment slip for my first dosing.  8:30 am.  Monday.

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