Sunday, September 25, 2022

A Rock

 I was doing just fine until she handed it to me ...


This past Friday was my last Radiation visit.  Radiation deserves to be capitalized here.  I don't know how Radiation works or in my case at this time - if it does works.  Friday was my 42nd trip to Baylor Scott & White Oncology Radiation - desk XT - Nine weeks it has been.

Here is how it works.  You find a place to park out back and waddle up to the building.  The glass doors slide open admitting  you to a foyer with appropriate masks.  Put on the mask (sigh).  Walk through another sliding glass door and turn right.  A very nice lady - receptionist if you will - greets you with an appropriate greeting.  She asks if you have any new covid symptoms.  I try to beat her to the question explaining that I have no new diseases at this time.  For some reason that seems to bring a chuckle.  There are two ladies at this "kiosk" - you get one or the other.  Both are sweeter than pecan pie.

[ Side Bar:   Leaving Thursday, I stopped at this desk to ask a question.  I notice our young lady had a painted rock on her desk area.  I started to point at it and comment - I like painted rocks - and my hand grazed her pictures lined up beside the pretty rock.  I set off a clatter of disorder.  Things calmed, and I told her that I liked her rock.  For such a simple mission, I caused such a loud commotion. ] 

Once checked in, you sit and wait.  The room has various folks - sitting - waiting - nobody really talks.   Some I recognize from previous visits; but, there are always new people waiting.   If a nurse comes out and calls a name, that person arises and follows.  If the person is accompanied by 2 or more others, it must be their first time to see the doctor.  Everyone wants to hear what the doctor has to say.  I know when I first arrived months ago, my family went to the back room with me and met the doc.  I'm guessing it is a tradition for scared people and their scared families.  

In my case, I await the "Rad Tech" to come for me.  "Mr. Metze," is called; I walk through the door;  pleasant greetings and small talks are exchanged as we walk down the long hallway; my birth date is requested and checked on the computer --- "11 - 4 - 40," I respond.   Into the ambient lit room I go - my small backpack is deposited on an awaiting chair - and, I climb upon my metal table which has been covered with a white cloth.  

A block is placed between my feet as they are tied down.  A longer block of wood is slid under my knees.  A small wood block awaits my head - yes, a head rest for a block head if you will.  Next, a small white cloth is placed over my stomach - I affectionately calls this my "modesty blanket."  I slide my hands under the cloth and lower my shorts.  This exposes me to the machine. Finally, a small 6 inch round hoop is given to me to hold.  It helps me keep my hands planted on the chest, out of the way.

The young ladies {RadTechs} adjust the machine and the table before leaving out a door which is slid shut. The rest is just staying still as the big ole white machine rotates over me.  The machine first checks to see if I have gas in the intestines - if so, back the young ladies come and a tube is used to remove the gas - not my favorite thing.  This happened 3 times in my 42 days of zapping.

Obviously, when completed, the process is done in reverse.  The young lady walks in and says, "All through."  Never fails.  I dress; speak a departing salutation; and, yes, all through.   Tomorrow comes - same thing.

**On Thursdays, as I leave, the doctor and I discuss how it is going.  It is always going okay.

**On Mondays, before I leave the girls remark my tattoos with a big pen.  Tattoos are explained in a previous message.

But, on this last day, Friday, after I was zapped; I met with the doctor's great nurse who explains what happens next.  She & I walked out to the lobby to be greeted by my wife - my daughter Laura & her husband Tom - and a small collection of other nurses and staff who have followed to watch me ...


A large bell hangs on the wall.  The message says something about ringing the bell 3 times to signify one has completed his treatment.  With Laura's camera whirling and to the applause of the gathering, I RANG THE BELL.  Doing what I do, I bowed.  I explained to them that is had been merely an endurance test.  All was going well.

We started to leave.  I stopped by the receptionist desk and pointed at the rock on her desk.  I wanted Laura to see it.  The young lady smiled - picked up the rock and said she wanted me to have it.

I don't know why, but this got to me.  I could feel the emotion rising up in me: Attacking me.  I feel the same thing right now as I type.  I couldn't talk other than to mumble something like "no, it's yours."  She insisted and I waved my crowd out the door.  I couldn't even reply "Thank you."  I made it through nine long weeks of zapping and being uncomfortable.  And a stupid little rock broke me down.  Who'd a thunk?

So, I close.  Our plan is to wait 3 months.   I take a blood test.  Then, we will know what is needed next.  I do try to be optimistic and tough about all of this.  You can see that toughness in the others who share my waiting room - waiting.  They do what they have to do and smile.

But, a little painted Rock took me down.



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