Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2. THE BATTLE

Part 2 – The Invasion

By MichaelDavis (Davisstories.com)


“The Battle” is a series of articles of one author’s real life trip through a minefield of experiences as he’s learning to deal with personal difficulty. There is no ulterior purpose, other than to share thoughts in the hope others may find counsel in the shared journey.

By the age of forty, most of us have encountered the physical invasion that occurs when we enter “the medical zone.” Except for me. That’s right, except for a triple broken elbow and a few stitches when I sliced my hand, I have done my best to steer clear of the smelly scary halls of hospitals. It should thus be of no surprise for those among you that have spend tons of time in those “places”, I was in for a real shocker during my journey to cure cancer.

Amazing how many ways and places they can find to invade the body. In two short weeks I have been poked and probed like I was a food sources for a nation of vampires. Of special delight was my first PET scan. I encourage everyone, if you are given a free token (it’s $4300 so you can’t just pay with pocket change) for a trip into the radioactive isotope world of the PET machines, run, don’t walk to the opportunity (just kidding). In my case, it was especially memorable because of my size. You see, I’m 6’2” and 52 inches in the shoulders. The breath dimension of my body (go ahead, say it, I’m a bear) places me in about the.01 percentile range for ergonomic dimensions. They pushed and crammed and strapped my body with straight jackets and blocks till I would slide through with a little grease here, and a little lube there.

Because my Cancer is in the throat, for twelve minutes of the scan, I was also required to wear a medieval mask (I am not kidding) like you see in some S&M movie. Why? Modern radiological technology is computerized and very precise. They need accurate points of reference for the tumor relative to your body so they can triangulate and minimize as much collateral damage as possible (this is a very good thing). The mask has a mouth piece you grasp to anchor on your face as they clamp (that’s right, I said clamp) the sides against the table (again, this is a good thing). Now, I know each of you are going, “OMG! I could never”…but you can. To survive, to expedite recovery, you really can. For me, I was not uncomfortable with the mask because I understood its function and importance to the treatment effectiveness. You can breathe, there is no pain, just slight pressure on your face and the angels in the hospital do all they can to soothe the experience because they do understand the mind trip you are going through. I repeat, there is no pain, so remember that if you’re “called to the experience.”

Personally, other than the straps pulling my arms in to fit my large frame into the tube and restrict movement, I was fine with the experience, for the first twenty five minutes. Then, I became…well, I need to explain another fun part of this test. The PET machine works by detecting how radioactive material highlights normal and abnormal cells (cancer). Thus, you must glow for a short period (figuratively of course). The PET techs are careful to minimize their exposure to you after injection (by the way, the injection was, nothing, I really felt no burning or hotness flowing through my body at all, like many had stated). Remember, they are hit eight hours a day, we once a year or whatever but to a very minimal degree for us. After injection, I was escorted into the hallway (“please follow me, at a distance”, (g)), and I actually set off an alarm. Might be me again because they use a drop for most humans but a gallon jug for me, because of my big butt (again, a grin). He cut off the alarm and lead me into a dark room to sit and meditate for an hour as the glow juice works its way into your tissue. They also have you drink a bunch of “kool aid” like juice (the sugar is important to the process). This will be more relevant in a moment.

The funny side - It was so peaceful (yeah, even with my surroundings) and I had not slept well for three weeks (wonder why), I actually started to snooze. Hour later, the tech came in to get me and I paused for a nature break (I figured that would be helpful, given I was not allowed to eat from 7 AM till 3 PM, only water, lots and lots of water). Once the scan started, I was fine, for 25 minutes. Then I began to feel…you know. I’m an old man. Nature calls are very critical as a normal routine, but Lord I should have known better than to drink so much water. By thirty minutes in, I’m dying. I tried to think of greasing fries, chicken and biscuits (I was really starving) but no lakes, no oceans, yet the mind can be cruel. Finally I gave the signal (a lifted finger, no not that finger) but nothing happened. I started waving that finger of mine like it had a life of its own. Finally, I heard the machine slow down. The young lady slowly walked in and asked, “Mr. Davis, are you alright?” I pleaded, “Please sweetheart, unstrap me quick, I don’t want to embarrass myself” (yeah, like there was any chance of that). Now remember, I was doing a full torso scan (explain why later) but they only required I unbuckle my belt and pants, pull them around my knees. She unstrapped my arms, and I bolted like a rocket, literal dragging my pants on the floor, just no time to worry about that angle of my profile to the sweet young angel I left behind, “Back in 30 seconds.” Five minutes later, I returned and we only had to redo the last six minutes of the scan (they do the scan in slices).

Another funny angle – It takes 20 hours to remove the isotope from your body from nature calls, unless you drink water like crazy and then roughly 10 hours. During that period, they suggest you not hug family members. So, I got no snuggling that night, and I missed it!

Good news – They did a full body scan to check for spreading (migration of the cancer to other areas) and I was totally clean. OMG, what a relief for both of us. Sure, the throat treatments will still be ….ooooh…but things are looking positive. I know its weird to ignore the discomfort part of this experience, but my current view is, no gain till there’s pain, and I really want to start, now. Oh, and how does this relate to writing. I’ve already derived a neat idea for a suspense novel and a short story from the last few weeks; so many new experiences, so little time (g).

That’s it till the next phase. Back in a month. Anyone those wanting to interact offline, email me at general@Davisstories.com. I will try to respond to everyone, but it may take time, especially as I get farther into the treatments.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the year, 4/09

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