Thursday, May 20, 2010

Panic At Union Station

I'm running through the vast rush hour crowds at Union Station in an increasing panic. On my way home from my first radiation treatment I am suddenly overcome with the urge to vomit and don't know what to do.

I look for a garbage but there are no open garbage recepticals any more, all have lids with little slit openings, not large enough for a terrorist to slip a bomb through.

There are no quiet corners in the station, every inch swarms with an impatient humanity rushing for departing suburban trains.

I push my way through the rushing throng toward the distant men's washroom. Seeing me coming and the increasing look of panic on my face, the crowds start to part to let me through.

I burst into the men's room hoping to find an empty stall, but everyone on the lower level is full. My weakened back screams with the pain of the effort, as I climb the stairs between the two sections, finally finding an empty stall. The reek that meets me helps explain why this stall is not occupied. But then I'm not there for any pretty purpose.

"You may experience some nausea," the radiation technologist had explained, two hours previously. "Where the hot spot on the bone is located will require us to shoot through part of your stomach. It could also cause diarrhea, but then the Dexamethazone you're taking is constipating and it could all balance out.

I was laid out on the Radiation machine ready for my first of five treatments and she was explaining the experience that awaited me in the calm sterility of the room, the sounds of Enya playing softly in the background.

"You'll be getting five treatments which will actually increase the swelling of the tissue surrounding the hot spot which will act to increase your pain level in the short term. Although within a few days of the final treatment you should notice a decrease to the point where you experience no pain from this whatsoever. It is very important you continue to take your Dexamthazone and your ocycocet through this time. You might even find you need to increase your dosage temporarily. Talk to your oncologist about this if you need to."

I nodded understanding. The technicians left the room and the machine whined to life. Ten minutes later I was through and ready to head for home.

"I don't like your breathing," the radiation technician said as she helped me off the table. I explained about the fluid in my lungs and she asked if it had been getting any worse, which it had. So she walked me over to the radiation nursing clinic just to get it checked out. Two hours later, after my lungs had been listened to by several nurses and a doctor and I'd been for a chest xray, they told me they were more concerned by my high blood pressure reading than my lungs.

Unexpectedly my blood pressure was 154 over 102.

"This could be a total anomaly," the nurse finally said. "But you'll need to monitor it and if it stays up, you'll need to see your family doctor."

And I was released back into the outer world and sent on my way to Union Station and, eventually, back home to Linda and Lindsay.

By bed time my blood pressure was down to 130 over 70 and I prepared to go to sleep ready to face another day tomorrow.