It's 6:30 in the morning. The sun has not yet risen, but the sky is slowly brightening. It's cold out. I pull on my hat and my slippers, and turn on the heater. I have my hot water with lemon. The house is quiet except for the low hum of the laptop.
It's the perfect time to sit down & write.
OK, write! Now! Do it! Go!
And yet the words are not coming.
The blank page stares back at me, the cursor blinking...
I find myself typing "Chemobrain" into Google instead.
I learn that this feeling of cognitive "slowness" could go on for years (!). I believe the radiation treatments I'm currently receiving are aggravating the condition. I feel foggy most of the time, but especially right after treatments (did I tell you I put regular gasoline in my diesel car minutes after my first treatment?).
My radiation appointments are becoming routine:
Arrive at 11:40a and change into my hospital gown (everyone else has white or pink; I feel pretty cool in this one, even though I have to wear it backwards for easy access).
By 11:43a I'm sitting with a magazine in the little waiting area. (The other day I found myself reading this article, which was a little surreal, especially this part: "Since patients who undergo radiation to the chest have a somewhat higher risk of later developing breast cancer and other health problems, avoiding radiation would be a big plus for Christina.") Awesome.
Thanks, Good Housekeeping.
Around 11:45a, the technician calls me back to the treatment room. I begin to untie my gown on the way. By the time I get there, I slip my left arm out of the sleeve of the gown, hoist the fabric up over my jeans and lie down on the metal "bed." I'm a model of efficiency. I lift my arms over my head and hold the plastic handles there for this purpose.
The techs adjust my head so I'm looking slightly right, then using calipers they line up my little tattoo marks with the green laser lines and then tape a layer of "fake skin" to my chest (that's what they really call it; it fools the machine into radiating my body to the correct depth). Once I'm all set up, they leave the room.
For ten minutes the machine buzzes and rotates around me. I close my eyes and work on a to-do list in my head. The time passes quickly.
The techs come back in and un-tape the fake skin and offer me an arm up off the metal bed -- something they do automatically for the older patients. I slip my arm back into the hospital gown and re-tie the side as I'm already walking back down the hall. Back in the dressing room, I slather my skin with calendula lotion. I look in the mirror. My skin is warm and looks somewhat sunburn. It is getting more and more sensitive. I barely have to shave that arm-pit anymore.
By 12:05p I'm exiting the building.