Partial exhale

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I got some good news from the MRI today: The images on the screen are still not x-rays of beetles! Also, my tumors all “shriveled”! A resident who was in to see me before the doctor was having a hard time suppressing her excitement at the good news, finally removing herself from the room “before I steal Dr K’s thunder.”

It was a long, weird day. The CT scan was first, and I had to fast for that. Then I had to drink down a whole bottle of barium sulfate. I’d photographed it before, but today I chose to photograph something one step removed: another patient who was photographing his bottle of barium sulfate (image altered to protect his privacy):

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I barely flinched when the IV went in today. I’m a good little cancer patient now. I don’t get teary or anxious. I get to keep all my own clothes on during scans because I know not to wear any metal. Today I realized the person who tells you when to hold your breath over the loudspeaker is in fact saying it live, it’s not a recording, because it was a different voice today. The technician in the room asked me the usual questions, like if there were any chance I could be pregnant. He actually pantomimed a pregnant belly with his hands, which cracked me up.

Unlike last time when I had a scan double-header, this time I knew to ask them to leave my IV in. They were fine with it, and covered it up for me, but it was mighty uncomfortable. And it felt like I was concealing something as I walked around waiting for the MRI.

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I have a secret.

I was able to drink water, but since I didn’t have any break from the cancer drug today, I had to figure out timing for when to take it, respecting the two hour moratorium on eating before and one hour after. That meant that, even though I was starving from not eating anything since yesterday around 8 pm, I still had to wait to eat. So I spent the time between scans walking around looking for shady benches. I found one by the hospital, then tired of it because there weren’t any trees.

I showed up early for the MRI and they saw me right away. I wore all my own clothes in the machine today, opting only to take off my shoes. There was classical music playing (and I made sure that they’d actually paid for a subscription to Pandora so my ears wouldn’t be blasted off with ads, like last time). But I couldn’t hear much today – not even the announcements and questions they were asking me over the intercom. To tell the truth I think I was half-asleep most of the time (the scan took about half an hour).

The only moment I came even close to crying today was when a mom had to bring her son in for an MRI. He seemed to be about ten years old. He was putting up a brave front in the outer waiting room, but once they took him in alone to prep him for his scan, he was just screaming. I sat in the waiting area next to his mom, and tried to think of something to say, but I’m not on steroids anymore, so I let the urge pass. Besides, I really had nothing useful to say. I know for sure I’d be a complete wreck in the same situation. Poor kid. Poor mom. I hope they’re doing better now.

After leaving the MRI place, taking my cancer meds and having to wait an hour to eat and longer to see Dr K, I walked up First Avenue and passed this ravine, which occupies an entire block, seems to be unclaimed by any real estate concern, and houses a homeless person’s encampment:

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I couldn’t see anything wrong with the place this person set up camp. There was shelter, transportation (a walker) and even a clothesline. A view of the East River and natural features (the bedrock of the city, Manhattan schist). A flagpole with a flag.

I walked a block north and was in the shadow of this iconic building:

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Which, because I am an incurable Hitchcock fanatic, immediately brought to mind this scene from North by Northwest:

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I wasn’t exactly a case of mistaken identity today, like poor old Cary Grant. No one called me by the wrong name, poured liquor down my throat, and made me wind up in jail (etc etc). But it did feel like I was walking around with something to hide. It made me happy not to be stuck inside the hospital, shuttling from one floor to the next. Just being out in the world with a sword of Damocles dangling over your head, and maybe for part of that time an IV in your arm awaiting its next use – especially on a day with nice weather, when nothing seems like it could possibly be wrong? That’s kind of hard.

So… I am really goddamn happy I got good news today. Hoping for similarly sunny skies when I see Dr P for my CT scan results on Wednesday.

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