I did a “radiation simulation” today, in the basement of the big hospital in Taipei. First they put a plastic compound on my face and made a mask. Then they put a mark on my chest to indicate where the mask should line up with my body. I’ll have to walk around with this tattoo for the next eight weeks, and woe to me if I accidentally wash it off in a shower.
After that I met my radiology doctor, Dr Ding, who is very motherly and speaks great English. “It’s very important,” she said, “that you don’t lose weight.” When did you last hear that from a doctor?
Next a friendly nurse showed me around the premises and gave me a card I’m supposed to bring to each visit. She also gave me a long lecture on radiation side-effects and how to deal with them. Basically it seems to be a matter of being as nice as possible to my mouth, nose, throat and neck. I have to eat soft — not too cold, not too hot — things, not brush my teeth too much or sit in the sun. She gave me a long list of various creams and preparations that can help revive dead mouths. 50 % of patients end up hospitalized, she said, but then again 50% do not.
After lunch they strapped me to a bed, put the new mask over my head, fastened it securely, and ran me through a CT scan for ten minutes. To be strapped down with a piece of plastic covering your face is bound to release automatic flight mechanisms, but I’m glad I managed to remain cool. Why panic now after all I’ve already been through?
I have 33 sessions of radiation lined up, together with a weekly dose of chemotherapy. It’s all starting on August 25th. To say that I’m looking forward to it would be an exaggeration, but I’m very happy to have a definite schedule. I’ll get a lot worse, but then I’ll get a lot better. No, damn it, I’ll be cured!
Perhaps I could have the mask once they’re done using it. It would lend itself very nicely to some kind of art project or installation.