The way to be good at receiving radiation treatment is to stay still, to not move at all. They will tell you breathing is okay. They will tell you swallowing is okay. Both feel like violations alone in the dark on the bed, breathing and swallowing and staying still, not moving at all.

They will tell you to turn your head to the right when receiving radiation on the left, to the left when receiving radiation on the right. You don’t want to get a sore throat. I don’t understand how any of this works. Dr. Radha told me to apply Aquaphor to my shoulder blades. The radiation will burn all the way through but they will give it to me anyway.

I don’t know if the radiation is coming from the giant buzzing disc that rotates around my body or if it comes from the bright red lights in the walls. The machine has a second arm, a large white metal plate that I see sometimes but other times is hidden. It rotates around, I think. When the radiation therapist steps out of the room she says This is treatment and it must be protocol to say this each time. I don’t know if the sounds I hear are the machines moving or the radiation coming out of the machine or out of the walls. I can’t remember her name.

This morning the radiation therapist called in another woman I had never seen before and the two of them talked to each other over my body about the table. Something wasn’t lining up. They asked me to get off and removed the sheets and added a roller and put the sheets back on and asked me to get back up and then lie down again. It is all metal and a glass plate underneath. Your field is beautiful. Everyone who looks at my body downstairs in the basement in the radiation oncology unit says this to me. I asked what she meant by that, what made it beautiful. The marks are right where they should be so we hardly have to roll you at all.

I was supposed to get a blood draw yesterday. I told the nurse I had axillary node dissections on both sides of my body. The protocol for blood draws in a patient with an axillary node dissection is to take blood from the other arm. I don’t have any other arms. Where do they take blood from you? I told her I didn’t know, that I have a port for now. She shook her head. We’ll do this tomorrow. Today another nurse called after me as I was leaving, asked me if my labs were complete, told me to wait while she checked my record, wait while she set up for a blood draw.

I said no.

 

 

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