Monday, April 13, 2009

Through the Scanner

Following up on my April 4 dispatch, today was the day of my CAT scan based on the placement of the gold markers (which will apparently just stay there, probably lasting longer than I shall). I think this was my first CAT scan (although I had an MRI after I dislocated my shoulder). I was very impressed with how streamlined everything was and how little I had to prepare. Prior to going in, I only had to replace pants and shorts with pajama bottoms. Even the shoes remained until I got on the platform. The scan itself covered such a small area that it did not require being absolutely still for very long. Ironically, the book I had brought for the waiting room was Simon Morrison's The People's Artist: Prokofiev's Soviet Years; so I found myself with the second movement of his fifth symphony rushing madly through my head during the procedure, almost defying me to do something like beat my foot. Nevertheless, my inner calm won out over this particular obeisance to Joseph Stalin. (It is only Dmitri Shostakovich's fifth symphony that sends me into an uncontrollable fit of giggles.)

What I had either forgotten or did not realize was that things were not over after the scan was completed. The laboratory technician then marked my skin with aiming points for the gold markers using a Sharpie. After that another technician came in to fix a more permanent tattoo at each point. I wonder whether this would be a tattoo parlor experience (such as the one that forced one of Tara's personality changes); but it just involved a lot of ink and a relatively small pin to get the ink under the skin. This particularly technician would count to three before poking me, which I found easier to take than tensing up for the unexpected.

As promised, none of this took any energy out of me. I had no trouble walking home (although I decided to stop for ramen in Japantown). The next stage is for the radiation treatment itself to begin, my first visit will be a week from today. After that I shall find myself with a new daily schedule.

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