Today’s cancer party game was a bone scan (‘n harmony). My oncologist was reluctant to even order the scan, but I have been having persistent upper back pain and, since none of this cancer stuff makes sense, anything out of the ordinary is worth checking.
Bone Scan Plan:
- Show up to get a shot of radioactive liquid injected into my arm at 1:30pm
- Spend 2 hours being a walking source of radioactivity and feeling like a member of the CIA holding a huge national secret in my veins
- Go back to hospital at 3:30pm to be body-scanned
I am brought back into a room with radioactive warning signs and symbols everywhere. I ask how much radiation I will be receiving and am reminded that I am already the most radioactive thing in the room. Cool.
The technician introduces himself. I’ll call him Fred. I can tell immediately that I am in for a ‘special’ experience. Picture Richard Dreyfus as Dr. Leo Marvin mixed with that creepy guy who hangs out in front of grocery stores. This guy is chock full of bone scan jokes. I am so excited to be trapped in a room with him for an hour…
After what seems like an airport security check of things in my pockets, or belts with brass buckles, Fred tells me to lay down on a very thin table. The table is so narrow that there is nowhere to place my arms except on my belly. I ask Fred what I am supposed to do with them. As he starts to answer, I feel a large rubberband wrap around both of my feet. Fred says- and I am not exaggerating- ‘I hope you like being tied up’ and he velcros a 1 foot wide band up and over my whole body and arms.
As I am sure many of you have noticed, I have a small decorum problem when I am feeling anxious/vulnerable/afraid. My response to ‘I hope you like being tied up’ is ‘well…it’s been a long time.’ SHIT. What is happening right now? How on earth did I make this more awkward?! We sort of stare at each other- befuddled and embarrassed me strapped to a table with my feet bound and…him.
Somehow Fred and I are able to move past this complete and utter nonsense of a conversation and I am told to stay still (as if I have a choice) for the next 25 minutes as my radioactive body is gamma-rayed.
Fred plays classical music that I know I recognize, but can’t place. I want to turn around and ask him which symphony it is, but I am unable to move and am not sure I want to talk to Fred anymore. The tenor of the music changes and I instantly know that I am listening to Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture. It is the same symphony Joe and I saw the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform just a few months ago.
Here I am, laying strapped to a table with my homeboy Fred, radioactivity seeping from my pores as every inch of my skeleton is mapped on a computer, listening to the section of the symphony where Romeo kills himself in grief over his supposedly dead lover.
Would Fred kill himself if I were to perish in the scanning tube?
Our love knows no bounds.
When the machine finishes with my body, I try to weasel information out of Fred about what he sees on my scans. Maybe I was caught up in the dramatics of the radioactive overture, but I got a bad feeling from him.
He punted my question to the radiologist on-call who would read the scans and send the report to my oncologist.
My particular breast cancer is not at a stage where anyone would expect it to have traveled to my bones, but no one expected me to have cancer in the first place.
Tonight will be an anti-anxiety pill night. Something is making me feel unnerved. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that my nervousness has more to do with my experience with Fifty Shades of Fred and not a cancer on the move.