Things started well on my first visit to the Radiotherapy Clinic. Disabled parking was plentiful and well placed, people were welcoming, there were plenty of staff, everything seemed relatively shiny and new. But unfortunately this clinic seems to share something with nearly every other hospital clinic I’ve visited to date; there’s a lot of waiting around.
However, during the four hours I spent there I managed to have a blood test (came back as normal) a CT scan and got fitted for what they call an Immobilisation Shield. Fun and games with both of these as I had to be hoisted (in a hoist) on and off the two machines involved. Staff seem less used to this sort of thing, and it’s easy to see why as I saw no other non-ambulant folk at the clinic while I was there.
But the CT Scanner is really new and modern. I’m struck by how machine design these days seems to owe so much to Star Trek and Star Wars. Everything looks as if it could have come straight from the USS Enterprise or the Millennium Falcon.The friendly, even charming Radiotherapists strap me down and do magical radiotherapy things I just have to trust are the right things. Which I suppose is the case throughout this process. Throughout what I’ve learned to call my ‘Pathway’. ‘Pathway’ appears to just mean treatment but as a patient (I think I’m still called that) I’m encouraged to feel involved in the process. Rather hard not to, actually. I suppose there is always jargon.
The Shield is a bit like a death mask and is worn when you get to have radiotherapy. The brilliant thing about The Shield, apart from the fact that it is a brilliant thing in itself, is that you get to keep it when your treatment is finished. I’m already marking out the wall where it’s going to be hung.
Fitting it is all a bit claustrophobic and initially hot and wet, then when they turn the fan on to dry the mask out, cold and wet. There was fifteen minutes of lying flat with the mask on, listening to Amy Winehouse via the in-house audio, thinking about William Blake (and his death mask) and wanting to scratch my unscratchable nose.
Ten days later I get called in to meet with Dr B. He got me to sign a consent form, which at least covers his back, then told me what was going to happen. First the insertion of a feeding tube in my stomach, then a final ‘dummy run’ before six weeks of daily radiotherapy. Also three chemotherapy days where I’ll be stuck with a drip in me for six hours a time. All sounded ghastly.
And Dr B emphasised that it really would be ghastly. Now I’m not sure if he was using his clever consultant psychology here ie tell the patient the worst possible outcome and then when it turns out to be slightly better than advertised you’re all pleased. Or maybe he was just being honest.
Well I should find out soon enough, as treatment is due to start next week.