As I lay there today, it was painful like yesterday, and I felt like I was in a torture chamber. I wish I had been better prepared for this part, and I realize each person's response to the radiation and pain is different, but I think hearing this was the easy part did not prepare me for what was yet to come. The problem is that any touch is painful right now, even my soft camisole, so the need to place a piece of metal over the scar and poke and write on me, and then, put plastic on me, and write some more is hard, but the template is now done, and I had radiation today which actually also felt painful. It was a minute after a set-up of probably 30 minutes. Francine doesn't work on Tuesdays, so I worried that a doctor I didn't know made the determination the new template is okay. It is a piece of lead shaped just for me so I am radiated in just the right place.
I learned today from a guy in the waiting room that the computers are so exact that the treatments are never exactly the same amount of time, because the power or force is programmed in, but the treatment is affected by the temperature of the room and the humidity, and so it takes everything into account and gives just the "right" amount.
The machine was pressed against me to figure out the template, and that was not so much fun either. Anyway, I appreciate all these people running around and checking that everything is just right, and today, again, I felt like crying. I was literally shaking while trying to stay still. The radiation is cumulative even after it is done, so it is continuing to worsen, and will continue to do so, even though now certain parts are not being radiated. I realized today when I looked in the mirror that I am burned. When Mary Pat, the nurse, checked me today, she gave me a new ointment to use, instead of the Lanolin. It is Aquaphor and I will use it over the Hydrocortisone for the next two and a half to three weeks. The problem is mostly where I have been sunburned in the past. That area raises and new skin forms underneath, so when this heals, I'll peel and have a new layer of skin in some places. There are women who have been sunburned over the whole breast. Try to imagine that. Yech! I feel like an ad for covering up. I am really staying away from the touch of the sun right now.
So, the good news is that Mary Pat, the radiation nurse, called me yesterday and said that Dan had an opening for a massage today. I had not returned to him because I thought I was doing so well, and I didn't want to take the time, but I was not doing so well yesterday, or today, and so, I appreciate Mary Pat's call.
I have been reading a book on communicating with dogs so I just nodded a hello to Ralston, Dan's seeing eye dog, but he rose and came right over and gave me a full-on kiss, something that dogs, I now know from the book, "The Other End of the Leash" rarely do. They usually approach from the side.
I told Ralston how pitiful I felt when Dan was out of the room. Then, I told Dan that I was feeling miserable. I felt guilty last time complaining because Dan is legally blind. Today, I felt lousy enough to confide how lousy I felt. He was a baker, before his blindness took that away, and he knows just what to do. I explained it was painful to lie on my stomach, but we made it work. Last time I was there, we had quite a chat, and I think that is why I hadn't returned, but today, when I went to the bathroom and looked at myself in the little cotton robe, and saw the burns, I realized yes, I am really not doing so well, and it is okay to tell him that, and just feel the massage, so I did. It is just upper body and allowed me to feel how tense I have been, and to let go. He held my head.
In the waiting room, Kirk fed the fish, and said that he had just heard that porpoises actually call each other by name, that they have individual names for each other. I thought of the Bible and the power of naming. It seems we are not alone in that. Kirk also said that when he was in Hawaii snorkeling, he learned that sharks did not need to be feared if porpoises were nearby, as the porpoises attack any sharks that get aggressive. How wonderful to have porpoise protectors.
I remembered when we swam with the dolphins in the Bahamas how we learned that dolphins can tell if a woman is pregnant even before she knows. They treat her as they would a pregnant dolphin.
As I lay on the table feeling the massage, I felt like a cave with new openings in my being. The pain does route out new space for joy.
Dan said he learned a new quote. It was something about cremating disappointment rather than embalming it. It was appropriate as I have been feeling disappointed that my "ending" is not quite as I had envisioned. I wanted to float out of radiation on wings. I felt today like I was crawling out, crippled, and I know we can't walk until we crawl, so it is okay.
I am with the words, "To err is human; to forgive is divine." I see how in the medical process everyone is doing their absolute best and they are human. We all are. So, we have a chance to forgive ourselves, others, the world. It is a great opportunity that way. I could be angry that toxins are still poured into the world, but, why? We are all in this together. On the way home, I heard an interview on NPR that though Americans and the British are so wealthy right now, we are not as happy as we were when we were less so. Wealth increases choices, and, an array of choices, does not necessarily mean happiness. I understand.
Yesterday, a good friend shared something she has been through, something unbelievably painful for herself and others, though there is healing now. I realized today that we need to pull back and take a whole view. We can't know where we are on the ship. The bow may be going up to meet a wave, or crashing down. We may be in the center of the ship, or waving the flag in the stern.
These last few days have been important. I think I am feeling what I have been through, how long it has been, and how much I want to be done. I have had enough.
Someone finished today and brought in coffee cake. She was so busy handing out slices, she didn't want to go in for her final treatment. They told her you can't celebrate until you are done. I am ready for my graduation. I am willing for my seas to calm.