I woke up this morning feeling like I’d rather stay in bed. As I snuggled with my cell phone, catching up on social media, I received a call from my surgeon. He asked me how much I knew from my ultrasound and I replied that I was loopy when the doctor was giving results, but from what I understand I’m stage two. “Well…” He says, “You’re either stage 2 or stage 3. You’re right on that line where it’s difficult to say either way. But whether you are stage 2 or 3 does not change the treatment plan.” I sat up in bed, reached for a pen, and took notes as he relayed that it’d be about 6 weeks on chemo and radiation, followed by a 2 month break for recovery, followed by surgery, followed by some recovery time and another 3 months of chemo. I mentioned the doctor had prescribed pills for my chemo, and he said that’s great news because the pills are less invasive, but after surgery I will have to do the IV version and not the pills. This, he wants to make sure I know, is all just a rough draft of the plan. As I meet with Radiology and my Oncologist I will be getting the solid plans from them. “We’re looking at about 9 months before the bulk of the treatment is over.”
On the drive to my MRI scan I turned off the NPR pledge drive to sing to myself. I kept starting over on the same song after getting choked up somewhere around the middle. After a 20 minute drive I never did make it all the way through the song. The cancer tower, like the few other cancer centers I’ve been to, is the most beautiful part of a hospital. The furniture is always a step above your typical office. The art is actual art instead of horribly boring watercolor paintings of nothing. I sat alone in the large, quiet waiting room full of comfy sofas, killing time by attempting to remove my nose stud. No luck. A nurse came to tell me she’d be bringing me to another wing in the hospital because the two machines here were in use. We walked in silence, after two elevators we ended up taking the creepiest basement hallway of stark white walls, floors, and ceiling, accented only by florescent lighting. I felt like I was being walked to a secret lab where I might be subject to a special sort of MRI for the insane. It would involve a lot more straps and needles.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of an MRI scan, it’s loud and long. This is obviously not me in the video, but here’s a clip of what I listened to for about 20-30 minutes straight:
I didn’t have any trouble holding still until I noticed scuff marks on the machine. I stared at them trying to figure out what they might be from. Not shoes, you aren’t allowed to have shoes in here. Perhaps they were panic marks from claustrophobic people desperately trying to free themselves from the machine. And for an instant I had a hard time holding back laughter as I remember the advice from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, “DON’T PANIC!” Of all the times panic may have entered my mind in my life, never had I remembered that particular reference, and why on this occasion did it mean anything? It’s meant to keep intergalactic travelers from panicking, not cancer patients getting an MRI. Maybe it was that the equipment was alien to me. I spent much of the time I was in that loud machine thinking about how this equipment fits in historically. How just 100 years ago I wouldn’t be in this thing, and if anyone from that time had seen this machine they might try to burn it and any people associated with it for witchcraft. I then visited the future where these machines have been around so long that they are considered nothing but a relic, so out-dated that they’re now known as a danger to anyone exposed to them. But not now. Right now they are the best thing we have, and I’m in one. The scuff marks are really probably from something boring and insignificant. I didn’t ask, because I liked my imagination’s explanation just fine.
I took the long way home. I think I might have subconsciously been trying to get lost because I was taking roads I wasn’t familiar with. I followed the stream of traffic through the city and happened to drive right in the middle of the Occupy Wall Street protests. The site of all those people out of work and living together downtown for the cause is inspiring. I love a good protest. I hope their efforts pay off.