We got up to Atlanta early and had lunch at one of our favorites places, Murphy’s, in the Virginia Highlands area of the city. Our son, Michael, met us so we could visit with him and pick his brain on an exciting, new marketing program we’re working on at the magazine.
Jill had a fantastic beef bourguignon dish. Michael’s lunch was a crab cake burger and caesar salad. I had north Georgia trout with a parsnip puree and delicious roasted broccoli and cauliflower. The food there is excellent and the service is equally fine. I’m glad I didn’t have to look at that hairy stomach shot at lunch that you’re seeing over to the left of you right now.
We finished lunch and I made an almost fatal decision. I decided to NOT take the drug I keep in my bag for special claustrophobic situations that I might encounter along the cancer trail. I decided to wait until we got to the Emory Winship Cancer Institute and see how long I might have to wait before I took the 2 mg of Ativan. So I hopped in the car, stone sober, and we tooled on over to the cancer center, checked in and sat in the waiting room.
Jill went on a bathroom run and before she was back they called my name. I grabbed up my Kindle and my jacket and headed out into the hall. Jill intercepted us on her way back and we followed a nice “technician,” as she called herself. We were steered into a room where two other technicians greeted us. “The first thing we want to do is show you the machine we’ll be using today,” said one of the techs.
From you previous posts, you might remember that seeing the machine is actually something that is below the last thing on my check list. I prefer NOT to EVER see the machine. I’d rather be blindfolded (I actually have been, once before) out in the hall and led to this monster, laid down and do the whole deed without seeing anything but the backs of my heavily sedated eyes.
No, these three nice women thought they were doing me a favor by parading all that plastic tubing, hand-i-wrap and straps right in front of me and God before I had even had a taste of the drug that was to keep me safely in the I don’t give a damn zone. I never made it to the red zone. They brought me a syrofoam cup of water, I popped the pill and then I found out it was time to strip. I was going down in a hurry, it looked like, with both eyes wide open and nothing to take off the edge of my terror. I may have to smuggle a flask of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and a long, silly straw for my next date with the Hoover sleeping bag of death.
These radiation techs are really nice people. But they can look you right in the eyes and lie to you. They lied to me today. I’ve already gotten over it, though, and I think next time I’ll actually accept the hug I was offered. So let me set this thing up: I was wearing my socks, my boxer briefs and a lovely hospital gown. That’s it. I was herded over to the table by three lying radiation techs and told where to sit. (Every couple of seconds I’d try to determine if I was in that Ativan zone like the time I had forgotten that I’d only seconds before finished eating my dinner salad and asked Jill when she thought they’d bring my salad.) I was so not there.
As I approached that table I realized that I would need to seriously revisit the timing of the happy pill drop for the events the will take place on Fry Day. It was if I was on a ladder getting on a man-sized stallion for the first time and realized there was no saddle. I’m going to have to do this bareback? By this time, I was flat on my back and three sets of “tech” hands were rolling and tucking me into a Hand-I-Wrap suit just like they knew what they were doing.
Things had gotten pretty tense in the room and I’m thinking why couldn’t they be giving me a sponge bath or something, not sending me to a certain death from a panic-induced escape where I might break something that I’d likely want to keep.
They finally got me fully trussed from the bottoms of my feet all the way up to my neck. Here’s where the lying started. The machine started hissing and I could feel air leaving the space between my bean bag pad and my lovely Handiwrap covering. Just about time I started feeling like I was getting a good hug from Jill, one of the techs said, “This is what it is going to feel like.” I thought, yeah, I can handle this. Even though the Ativan was serving no purpose, it really wasn’t that bad.
Then the flipped the hyperspace switch or something because I was beginning to feel like that guy who stole meat several years ago from the Piggly Wiggly and and was sat upon by someone until he stopped breathing….for good. I looked around to see if I had knocked off the butcher shop that is right down the road from Emory. No ribeyes were in my sack. Just a shaking side of beef from Seale, Ala. was in that sack with me.
Mercifully, I found a place my mind could go and not spontaneously combust. I toughed out the 15-minute CT simulation and was gingerly set free from my wrapping. Then all three of the techs went at me with Sharpies. I decided to give you a look at one of the lovely 1.5″ crosses I was tattooed with today. The others are in a less hairy, more pig fleshed looking place that I just couldn’t offer you a look at. Surely you understand!
So, just like that, it was over! I stood up, gathered my stuff and we headed to the car. Jill insisted that she drive me home. I’m happy to report that the Ativan kicked in about the time we got to Atlanta Braves Stadium. I’ll do a better job with that next week. Speaking of next week, I was told today that they will call me when it is time for me to come up for my date with the linear accelerator and radiosurgery.
Thanks again for all your notes of concern and support. This was a good day an I’m really excited about getting this done. The folks at Emory are fabulous, even if they had to sugarcoat a couple of things to get me on that table.