Thursday 9 April, 08.15 am. Wattanosooth Cancer Centre, Bangkok Hospital
This is the second part of my blah. I had just had the radioactive dye injected into my bloodstream and had 2 hours to wait for the scan. I found a quiet space in Starbucks and started to write……..
Between the dye injection and the scan…
Here I am again. Mind racing. Heart racing. Blood pressure sky high, and that is according to the number on the “vitals” check rather than my own assessment. And radioactive dye seeping through my body, finding its way into my bloodstream, bones and, according to the information sheet, my urine. Nice.
I have to drink at least a litre of water, urinate as often as possible. And get this? (Sorry if this feels like too much information, but in cancerland there’s no such thing as too much information} – when I go to the bathroom I must use toilet tissue and not the water hose which is the norm in this part of the world. Apparently that could interfere with the reading.
Here I am again. A Bangkok Hospital wristband with my name, hospital reference, age in years, months and days and the date of “admission”.
Here I am again. In Starbucks. Downing gallons of water and drinking a bucket of Earl Grey tea, according to the instructions. And writing. Again writing. Just like I was in October 2012. Trying to process the extremes of thoughts in my mind, yet with that exhausted, fatigued sense of “whatever”. Yeah, whatever. Or whatever happens. Whatever, anyway. I am almost past caring, I want to know what is causing the pain. Yet I want to know it isn’t cancer. But even if it is, I want and need to know. It is the not knowing that is so exhausting.
This just doesn’t get any easier, for me at any rate. Five and a half years ago I was diagnosed. Almost exactly five years ago I had my eighth cycle of chemotherapy and was preparing for radiotherapy. That radiotherapy took place, here in this hospital in the bunker I walked past to change into today’s inauspicious peach coloured hospital gown. Then two and a half years later in October 2012, I was back (not counting a few 6 monthly checks with the radiology oncologist which were more of a social chit chat). I had found myself here after Dr Wirote expressed concern at raised tumour markers. That had been totally unexpected. Utterly out of the blue. Back in October 2012, he’d sent me for a CT scan, my most hated procedure in terms of diagnostics, and a bone scan. The CT scan was a familiar horror. The bone scan was an unknown terror. At my request, Dr Wirote packed me off to these procedures tightly clutching a pack of 10 Xanax. I had swallowed one before the dreaded CT, another that night to help me sleep, and another the following morning to see me through the unknown and uncharted territory that was a bone scan.
I was “pleasantly” (if you could go so far as to say that) surprised that the radioactive dye injection for the bone scan was way easier than the CT. No IV line in the hand, or instructions to hold your breath while you just wait for the electronic voice that tells you they are about to inject the dye. No rush of heat, no sensation of bladder release, dizziness sweeping over you. It does not last long but it is long enough. No electronic voice telling you to breathe in, hold your breath, breathe out, don’t move. Yuck I hate the CT contrast dye and was enormously relieved that the bone scan dye is so much gentler in comparison.
Or maybe that experience was aided by the 3 Xanax in 2 days in a body that is not familiar to Xanax. Whatever it was, with the dye injected, 2 hours before the scan and a dye with no reactive sensations, all there is to do, is lie there the whole time while the scanner does its work. It is a bit like a massage without the massage, if that makes any sense. Maybe that was the Xanax.
So I am pretty chilled about the scan this time, although have still taken half a happy pill just in case there are any surprises in the procedure.
If I am chilled about the scan, what about the results? Now that is a different story altogether. This time there is a symptom which needs to be checked out. The spinal pain. My mind is doing what it did when I first found the lump in my breast. I veer from “it’ll be fine. Plenty of possible causes – old compression fracture, that fall from a horse in Mongolia which landed me right on the base of my spine, calcium depletion from Femara……” oh yes, plenty of possibilities. To the other extreme “shit. It is cancer in my spine”. There is a real possibility of that. And from there I enter a new and unwanted space.
And that is where I need to stop thinking, but also why this is such an excruciating space to be in.