If I told a psychiatrist that I had dreamt that I was lying naked while two young men drew purple patterns across my chest, he would probably tell me I had all sorts of issues.
This was not, however, a dream. Just the start of radiotherapy.
I had the first preparatory session on Monday. A nice young doctor showed me into a cabin and told me to strip to the waist (why do they always give you privacy for this when you are going to be naked and manhandled for the next half an hour anyway?). Then I had to lie on my back on a machine with my arms up behind my head. It wasn't the most comfortable of positions, a fact which became increasingly obvious over the next twenty minutes while they told me repeatedly that I MUST NOT MOVE. At all. Not even an twitchy little bit. That's the cue for the nose to start itching but I was soon distracted as things got increasingly surreal. After the machine had whirred around for a bit, the two young men arrived with their pencils and one stood on each side of me, drawing patterns on my skin with deep concentration. That was quite soothing, but then the tattoo guy arrived and pricked spots across my chest which was not so great.
Apparently these lines and dots are to help them put me in exactly the same position every time I go for treatment. At the moment it looks to me as if some very drunk people have been trying to play noughts and crosses on my chest though my daughter thought, rather more poetically, that they had covered me with stars. The lines will eventually fade though the tattooed dots will remain. I have therefore ticked off one of the things that appears on many bucket lists of Things To Do Before Turning Fifty: I have my tattoos. It's a kind of Join-The-Dots tattoo. Perhaps I should turn them into tiny flowers? But no, it hurt!
Thanks to a little miracle, it hasn't been a problem driving to the hospital. After last time, when we got stuck in their full, claustrophobically small, underground car park, I was nervous about driving in every day. But then a friend asked what help I needed during radio. Jokingly I told her that I needed only one thing - a parking spot at the hospital. Okay, she replied without missing a beat. It turns out that her daughter's boyfriend lives opposite the hospital and I am now armed with the code that allows me to park in his compound - incredible! Another friend explored the tram option with me and (after getting a bit lost in the Bois de la Cambre) I now also know how to get the tram and walk across the park so I have another option for the spring-like days that will undoubtedly arrive any day now.
My second preparatory session today resulted in a few more lines and the conclusion that everything is set for the actual treatment so I am ready to go tomorrow. I will look a little lopsided for a few weeks as I am not allowed to wear my bra and prosthesis under the cotton T shirts that I must wear every day and I am no longer allowed to use soap or deodorant so I might smell a bit as well. But nothing can be as bad as chemo so I am feeling quite jaunty about this next adventure. Just six weeks and the invasive treatment will all be over.
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