Radiation: Day 20
I never thought I would get a tattoo.
If I were going to get a tattoo it would be something profound not two ugly black dots; one between my breasts and one under my arm
I didn’t know radiology technicians did tattoos.
I didn’t know, until that first appointment, I was getting a tattoo.
“You have to be here every day for radiation – for seven weeks. The tattoo helps us with placement”.
Go put a gown on.
Leave it open in the front.
Lay on the table.
The machine is above me.
Light goes on.
There is a grid on my chest.
They center the grid over the area to be radiated.
It didn’t take long — ten minutes? I don’t remember.
It wasn’t hard.
I had a false sense of relief that first day.
Each time I went to radiation they seemed to drain more of my energy and strength.
I went to radiation alone.
I didn’t need anyone to go with me.
The girls in the radiation clinic became by yoga friends.
Every week I had an appointment with the radiation oncologist to see how I was doing.
He was so impressed with how well I was handling radiation,
most people didn’t handle it.
I was strong.
It can’t beat me.
Day 20 of 35
My chest hurts.
The area over my incision is broken open and raw.
I’m tired but I can’t sleep.
I am still teaching aerobics and working.
I can’t breathe.
Don’t make me go.
Mom, I hurt.
Mom, I need someone to hold me.
I need someone who will give me some of their strength – mine is all used up.
Waiting for the doctor.
There is not enough air in the room.
Why am I crying?
The doctor walks in.
I need air.
He looks worried.
I know he is wondering what I did with the incredibly strong woman he saw last week. The woman last week was tired but she was a fighter.
This woman who is sitting on the exam table
in that gown is crumbling before his eyes.
The doctor is pleasant but sterile. He isn’t as warm and fuzzy as my oncologist.
I am so embarrassed.
I am letting him down.
He was so proud of my strength.
Maybe he was planning on giving me the Radiation Medal of Valor.
He doesn’t know what to do and I can’t help him.
I need help.
Make this pain stop.
I need sleep.
I have an open seeping wound
But I can’t close my eyes.
The room is getting smaller.
I need someone to lean on.
He prescribes an anti-anxiety medication
or maybe it is an anti-depressant or
a sleeping pill.
He throws everything he can think of at me.
I was at the bottom on day 20.
When I paused…
When I slowed my mind down…
I looked up.
There was light.
There was air.
A glimmer of the end was in sight.
I was more than ½ way through.
I was so tired.
I needed …
What? I don’t really know.
I needed something or someone to help me make it to-day 35.
I was starting to get a little fuzz on my head but I was still bald.
Was I falling apart because it was day 20 or had I just used up all my strength.
They could have written a ballad to my strength.
If they could have bottled my strength….
The radiation technician said they could fill in the tattoo with a flesh color after I was done.
I think I’ll keep it.
It is ugly like this time in my life.
It is a black blob or maybe it is a starting point.
To remember when I am at the bottom to look up.