“I’m so sorry about yesterday,” I say to the radiographer when I arrive at the treatment centre. Remember her from two years ago: long caramel-streaked brown hair, big eyes.
“Yes: I heard about it,” she says, looking concerned. “It’s fine,” she says, putting her hand on my arm. “You were upset: it’s tough. Shall we go through?”
“It’s the whole left-side-holding-my-breath-thing,” I say. “It just adds another layer of anxiety and…”
“Well, you did really well,” she says. “You managed the breath hold so…”
“Is it OK if I get a coffee?” I say, gazing at the machine. “I’ve got a splitting headache and…”
“Sure,” she says. “Bring it through and by the time the treatment’s over it will have cooled down and…”
“Oh, by the way,” I say, once we’re in the treatment room and I’m taking my top off. “Look: my skin is red and sore already after one treatment. Just wanted to let you know and…”
“It is, isn’t it,” she says. “Just make sure you apply your E45 cream, the more often the better and…”
“OK,” I say.
And somehow today the treatment is fine. Hold my breath once, then again. They strap the bolus on my chest after that, and it makes it all more difficult: with the extra weight pressing down on me, so I struggle to hold my breath, but manage it after a couple of false starts.
“What’s the bolus for?” I ask her after it’s all done and I’m putting my top back on.
“It’s to deliver a higher dose to your chest,” she says.
“So why does it just go on halfway through?” I say, pulling my boots on.
“Because you don’t need such a high dose on your neck,” she says.
“Oh, OK,” I say. “Oh: I remember now what a bolus is: it’s a lump of partially-digested food that a giraffe swallows. It’s to do with chewing the cud and…”
“Never heard that before,” she says, laughing. “Well done. You did really well today. See you tomorrow.”
“Thank you,” I say, picking up my handbag. “See you tomorrow.”
Look at the baby irises:
These dark ones are my favourite: look at the velvet sheen on them-
So that’s two treatments down. Only another fifteen or so to go.
The attached photo is sunset at the hospital today.
Happy Thursday everyone!
*1935. By Horace McCoy. “The story of a tragic dance marathon on an Oceanside pier during the Depression infused with a mixture of fatigue and hysteria”. The film (1969) is directed by Sydney Pollack and stars Jane Fonda, Susannah York, Michael Sarrazin and Gig Young.