Round two of my cancer diagnosis commenced on May 13th at 3:45 pm. Going to UT Southwestern Oncology for treatment was a no brainer: its the best. Their staff radiates positive vibes, so naturally, I feel better. It is battling this evil little demon that has invaded my beloved earthly form with its sights set on the destruction of my body that keeps me focused. This course of action is my main goal and will receive my full attention for the near future.
Today is the ” oh so” specialized 3RDT MRI. I’m amused at the Star Wars comparison to R2D2. At least R2 would show me a hologram of Princess Lea for my entertainment. As with any procedure, it is inserting the word “specialized” into the mix that assures the method will be expensive and painful. I was right.
My bright eyed and bushy tailed MRI nurse accompanies me to my changing room, where I change into a scratchy blue hospital gown accented by yellow non-skid socks. After my wardrobe makeover, he inserts an IV pic into my arm and leaves.
A young woman, maybe twenty-one or so, also wearing the blue gown sits down next to me. She has two IV pics in one arm and appears scared. At this age, my shyness with strangers is minimal, so I ask her, ” first MRI?”.
Without looking over, she says, ” no sir, this is my sixth one, and there’s more to come. It’s Cancer.”
She looks at me and asks, ” how about you.” At this point, I feel like this young girl needs a laugh, even at my expense.
In a deadpan voice, I say, ” complications from the Racoon Flu. My entire body is pulsing with it. Never saw a garbage can I didn’t love. She knows this is total BS and laughs. I crack myself up.
Ten minutes later I lay on the MRI table, IV in place, earplugs inserted, headphones on, and the nurse/tech leans over and tells me “this might be a little uncomfortable.” He smiles and snickers as he says it.
I ask, ” how big is this thing you are inserting into my earthly temple.”
He laughs and says, ” not too big, just enough to get close to the subject and light you up with some good old Radiation.”
I plead, ” let me see it, and I’ll be the judge of that. What kind of Radiation are we talking here?”
Rather proudly he exclaims, ” this is the good old American stuff, came straight from Los Alamos Labs. The same material used to build “the nuke back in 1945. It’s so pure that Dr. Oppenhimer personally endorses it. Its the bomb.”
From behind his back, he produces a probe that looks like a 1/24th scale model of the Hindenburg Blimp. Attached to the business end is an evil pigtail coil that is glowing green. This contraption is right out of the Spanish Inquisition playbook of torture, and it’s going inside of me? Fortunately, for my mental stability, the relaxation drugs I took an hour ago have kicked in, so I am defenseless to attempt escape. I accept fate and brace for the assault.
When the nurse, Mr. Smiley inserts the “little Hindenburg” into my backside, I was convinced I was either in the throes of childbirth or expelling an alien creature from my abdomen. I will never again doubt the painful stories of Alien abductees or women birthing children as “no big deal. ” I am squirming like a brain-hungry zombie, begging for mercy, offering money to end the agony, anything to stop the immobilizing pain. Then, in an instant, the suffering was gone, and I was human again. Listening to some awful hillbilly music, I drifted into La-La land.
I drift back into consciousness hearing George Jones sing ” He Stopped Loving Her Today,” possibly the saddest damn country song ever written. I choke back a tear, then realize where I am and why I’m here. Nurse Smiley congratulates me on a job well done, helps me to my feet and back to the dressing room.
Heading for the waiting room, I realize that scenarios like this will be my life for months to come. I think of a song from The Grateful Dead: I will get by, I will survive. Catchy little tune. Everyone needs a theme song.