Yes, I’ve survived my first zapping. Upon my arrival at the Cancer Centre, my two very kind Radiators walked me through the process before taking me to meet the ominous looking machine. They used my nondenominational crosses to position me on the bed, and then moved the bed according to some mathematical formula that I might have better understood had I excelled in geometry. Then they vamoosed so they would not be subjected to the high doses of radiation that I would be. The machine moved around my body in ways that appeared completely random but were anything but, I’m sure. I had no idea when I was being zapped and when the machines were just thinking about what to do next. Before I knew it, I was done.
I had received a thorough pamphlet on possible side effects of the procedure that I avoided reading until I was in the car on the way to my first treatment. No point feeding my rampant suggestibility. I understand that side effects of radiation may be cumulative over time, and I may feel my worst a few weeks after treatment ends. With abdominal radiation, gastrointestinal effects are not uncommon. I won’t delineate all possible GI effects-I can’t see that adding to your reading pleasure–but I’m sure I’d remember if farting was mentioned. Flatulence, passing gas, whatever you want to call it. (Oh, don’t be squeamish, you do it too sometimes.)
And so, in the interest of honest reporting, my first night post-radiation was spent battling terrible, painful, sleep-depriving gas. Sure, it could have been something I ate, but I doubt that. I slept between 2 and 6 a.m., and spent the rest of the time in the basement so poor J. would not be awakened by my fumes. In fact, to rule out food as the offender, I forced myself to have the leftovers of the potentially offending meal the following day, and, indeed, I did not have the same reaction. So I’ve determined, with my completely uncontrolled study, that Day 1’s radiation side effect was really, really bad gas.
Thank goodness for the dog, who has come in handy at many points during my illness. Rightly or wrongly, I’ve blamed a lot of things on Jelly over the years. There was: “Sorry my dog ate my lab requisition. Could I get a new one?” (True story.) And: “I would have eaten my lovingly prepared low-sodium lunch but my dog beat me to it, so I ate chocolate chip cookies instead.” (Another true story.) And most recently, “That smell? Of course that was the dog, J.” (Maybe not so true.)
So, to be honest, when I talked about that special glow I’d be emitting when we next met, I wasn’t referring to what would happen if you lit a match anywhere near my excessive methane gas emissions. I was aspiring to be radiant but not on fire. J. sometimes gets upset with me for assuming the burden of all humankind, but I must acknowledge my significant role in Canada’s spike in greenhouse gas emissions on January 13-14, 2015.
The worst seems to be over, at least until next week. I think it’s safe for us to go for coffee now, so long as we steer clear of open flames.