Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A New Schedule, and The Purloined Package

I got up early today, not feeling too bad. I got a message from the radiologist's office requesting that I move my appointment up to today from Friday, so I called to confirm that I would. Then I decided I would go down to the hospital again to try to retrieve the package that arrived after I left on Friday. I was feeling strong with no pain medication, so I told Gail she could sleep in and I drove myself downtown.

I had to circle the hospital block several times to find a parking spot, eventually parking three blocks away. I walked up to the main desk, where the woman knew who I was as soon as I asked about the package; this marked the FIFTH time that Gail or I have been back to ask about the missing gift. She made a few calls and said that the package was in the receiving department, across the street and in the basement; and that "T. Lydon", who had signed for the package, worked there.

I walked, a little stiffly (my stamina is pretty low at the moment) across the street and downstairs, and then down two long corridors of nitty-gritty hospital business; boxes, skids, and discarded gurneys and chairs. I arrived at the receiving department, and after a few minutes (he was at lunch) located Mr. Lydon. My hopes were sinking already; the vast room I was in was chock-full of shipping boxes, of all sizes and shapes, with labels to and from everywhere imaginable. Remember the last scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the crate with the sacred relic was wheeled into a vast warehouse, surely to be lost forever? Spielberg must have been in this room.

T. Lydon began rummaging through the stacked boxes, muttering that he was sure that the package had been here yesterday, and eventually that someone must have taken it away. I was getting gruff and impatient, mentioning our many trips to retrieve the box, that it was an expensive gift, and that I wanted the package found or replaced. Several phone calls around the hospital failed to turn up the parcel, so I gave him my phone number and asked for the number of his manager.

I stalked out - slowly - and made my way back to the car. The three blocks that I had to cross were uphill this time, and I got short of breath with a block to go. I had slowed to a crawl by the time I reached the car. I drove home to pick up Gail for my appointment with the radiologist.

A short while later we were at the medical center, a beautiful new facility only a mile or so from our house. This time I was escorted into the actual machine that will be used for the treatments, a massive carousel of technology that gyrates around the patient/target, delivering its precise (one hopes) bursts of ionizing radiation. The movie I'll call up this time is Independence Day - the scene where the giant saucerlike destroyers move into position over the White House, and then doors in their belly open up; subsequently, lethal rivers of light pour out and blast everything into smouldering ruin.

The machine that rotated into position inches from my sternum was saucerlike, and having moved into position did indeed open a set of gunmetal doors. But instead of Hollywood carnage, all it delivered was a click and a brief hum, which I believe were x-rays being taken to locate my inner invader. A few moments later the massive engine moved ninety degrees and clicked again from my side, and then I was done.

My two weeks of radiation treatments will start tomorrow rather than Monday, still with the weekends off. I will be going twice a day; Gail and I were a bit dismayed to learn that we have been scheduled at 7:45 am and 1:45 pm each day. (That is the time I would normally be at work, but I've been enjoying my respite from the alarm clock; Gail is still on a West Coast schedule, and emphatically not a morning person.) But the visits will only take a few minutes, and the center is a very short ride. If my condition permits, I can spend some of the six hours between treatments at my office, or just fall back into bed if I feel weak.