In the Matter of Shrinkage

The first time I had a CT scan I didn’t cry in the machine. I worried. I wondered what the technician was thinking (more likely something along the lines of I forgot to put the laundry in the dryer than holy shit, that’s one big messy fucking incurable tumour).

The CT machine speaks, but offers no insight, advice or comfort. Hold your breath. Let out your breath. I couldn’t hear properly when it said Don’t swallow. Luckily I didn’t swallow. I’m learning that, when a scanning machine prefaces anything with Don’t, I Don’t anything.

The machine didn’t tell me not to cry, but I wondered as I lay there, salt water flowing to my ears, whether I was messing with the images, or causing the radiation to misconduct and short out in my brain. A flash of electric current, as in Young Frankenstein when they’re trying to get the body to come alive.

“Are you alright?” Mike, the 20-something technician, had noticed my tears. The gown I was wearing was short-sleeved and barely covered my bum, so there was nothing to wipe my eyes with.

“Ya, it’s just…I’m mid chemo. I’m getting results.” I blurted it out. I’m sure Mike was a nice guy, but I didn’t really want to talk to him.

“Well good luck. I hope it’s going well.”  Sweet.

What I wanted him to say was “It’s going great!” But a) he sees piles of these scans a day, and what the hell does he know, and b) even if he had a photographic memory and could recall the 1000s of scans he’s seen over the months since I’d had my last CT, and could provide some comparative analysis, he wasn’t the same technician I had the last time.

Now it was my own little voice providing helpful guidance.

What if?
What if?
What if?

Mid chemo. The tipping point. The hump. And I’m lying on the hump, hooked up to yet another IV, being injected. This time it's contrast dye, to illuminate the future. You can’t see over a hump if you’re lying down, so next best thing is to make shit up. Shit like, it’s not working, or in the face of all medical evidence, the tumours are actually growing and taking over. My body is now the Little Shop of Horrors.

There are definite drawbacks to a creative mind.

I was so grateful when my kids blew a hole in my shit production machine, as only they are capable of doing. I confiscated the Ipad from my 14 year old, and ran down the hall to hide it in my bedroom. He was right behind me. I had 8 seconds, and shoved it under a pile of laundry on a chair. I ran to the bathroom, then come back to read Percy Jackson out loud to my 10 year old, while the teenager searched.  He searched for 25 minutes.  In the cupboard, in a container under the bed. I laughed and said I only had 8 seconds to hide it. He kept looking. Finally he left the room and strolled back with the pad. He had it all along. Found it in the first 2 seconds when I was out of the room and totally played me.

Love being played like that.

Today I got a message from Dr J. We were trying to sort out yet another scheduling problem. The message included this:

As a preview so you can relax, your CT scans look good! Very nice shrinkage of the masses. We can go over the details next week.

I clapped and cheered then formulated the following response as only I can:

Thanks!!!!  You just made up for all the crappy scheduling with that CT news!!
Of course I wonder why it's only "good" and not "great" but then I noticed the ! mark.

It's such fun to live in my head.


Good is good! And I've never known a doctor to add an exclamation mark to anything, so that ! - great by proxy.

I am so proud of her skill in writing but I cannot get used to some of the fucking language


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