Just looking

The good thing about going to Hospital outpatients is that you get a parking permit for the hospital carpark. It saves $2! Woohoo! Who would NOT have cancer when you can get deals like that? I got my $2 worth yesterday. I was there at 8:00 am bright eyed and bushy tailed, well maybe bushy is not the word. There's details about bowel preparation I will spare you. I changed into one of those hospital gowns that someone has spent an entire post graduate design degree on getting to look as unflattering and to fasten as puzzlingly as possible. Then, with my human clothes in a plastic bag, I went into the waiting room. A waiting room is a waiting room is a waiting room. They all have a look about them: neat rows of chairs bought from a catalogue; cheery posters on the walls advising you in 3 languages to get a mole map done; and magazines. Piles of magazines. I read the only two copies of Classic Car in the heap and then reflected that there were 33 more visits to go and only Women's Weekly and Proctology Today left. There was also a stack of jigsaw puzzles. 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles. Dozens of the darned things. People obviously spend serious amounts of time in this waiting room.

The preparation took effect. I was asked for number 2 but on no account number 1 if you catch my drift and sorry about the unfortunate turn of phrase there. Anyway, tricky. Then forms to fill in. Advice to listen to. A pleasant woman with trendy glasses and an extremely trendy hairdo who led me through the whole process and into another CT scanning machine.

This one was was made by Phillips, the people who make microwaves and toasters. It had lasers to line me up to the nearest millimetre, and special little foam blocks to hold my feet in place. The pleasant woman and her beautiful boy assistant measured me with very precise looking metal rulers and retired outside to press the buttons, because, apparantly, it's not safe to be too close to this machine, and no-one would catch them dead - again, sorry about the unfortunate phrasing - in there when the lights went on. I was in there. The lights went on. It buzzed. It whirred. It moved me back and forth through the browning tray. They came back in and drew on me with felt tip pens. They measured me again with the lasers. Then the pleasant woman gave me my first ever tats: one on each hip. Very stylish. None of your crass anchors or skulls, but a minimalist rendering of a bird (just the eye. Actually, just the pupil.) And then it was more instructions and then home.

All this measuring and scanning now goes into a computer which runs a program so complex it will take a couple of weeks for programmers and physicists (yes, actual physicists) to work it all out. Radiotherapy works by blasting the affected area with very high energy x-rays. Everything that gets hit by the x-rays suffers, but the normal tissue recovers from the assault and the cancerous tissue doesn't. It's a great process except that x-rays are no respecters of boundaries and are very stupid. They hit the cancer and just keep right on truckin', right on through some bits that, on the whole and all things considered, you would really prefer them not to visit. With me they are using a quite new advance in radiotherapy. Instead of one big high energy beam they hit the desired area (well, actually, it's the undesired area but lets not get too pedantic) with a whole lot of small low energy beamlets, each one coming from a different angle. This means that while the target gets the required high dose, all the sourrounding tissues get much less. It takes a clever program to work it all out, and very careful positioning of the target, and by 'target' I mean 'me'. For every one of the 33 sessions, I have to be in exactly the same position I was last time, and my innards have got to be in pretty much the same state of fullness and emptiness if you catch my drift, and sorry for the phrasing once again. Hence the measuring. And the tatttoos. And the preparation.

So, in a couple of weeks, it's back to the magazines and the puzzles and the funny gowns. And the free carpark. Woohoo! All those $2 savings and I'll have my Ducati in no time!


Janice said…
Kelvin, you are a very witty, and very brave man, and it grieves me that you have to suffer this! I can only pray that your positive attitude will carry you through it successfully, so that you live long enough to become an addle-pated, boring old fart! (sorry about the graphic phrasing!).

While I'm on a roll here, what is it with you aussies and kiwis that you have to shorten perfectly normal words into what sounds to me like baby-talk? I mean piccy,and tats, and other words of that ilk? The problem is, of course, that I have to spend 10 minutes each time I find one trying to figure out what it means; I have enough trouble trying to decipher my youngest son's emails with it's lol's and gf and bf and all that silliness.
So if you have a plausible explanation for this verbal shorthand, I'd like to hear it!
Alden said…
Well Janice a few of the cuzzies and bros staked out this gig of Kelvins and the buzz is that Kels telling a few porkies. Truth is that after he had clambered onto the rotisserie and while the pert nurse drew her tats and piccies, Kel thought this is grouse, then when she bent over, Kel took a gander, had a jack as it were, thought she looked cool in her working nursey glad rags enough to crack a fat, which somehow fried the main circuit board. Kel needs to be hard out (to coin a phrase) and fess up bout said porkies – bring home the metaphorical bacon and tell the truth bout exactly WHERE little Ms Rumpy Pumpy (his description) drew the said piccies and tats - I can't describe the issue in plainer English than that.
VenDr said…
The antipodean slang can get a bit hard to handle for you genteel North Americans, I will admit. At college in San Francisco, the nightly card games between Australians and Kiwis became spectator sport for the people from your part of the world as they a) tried to figure the rules of the game we were playing and b) tried to figure out what on earth we were talking about. The piece of down under slang they most took a shine to was "a brass razoo" as in not having one. 'Piccy' is a bit naff, and I hope I would never be caught saying that but I like 'tat' -it conjures up something of the aesthetic of most tattoos and actually adds to the description. Which is what most clever slang should do.
VenDr said…
...and Alden - careful using the word Jack with a North American. Most unfortunate connotations and all that. As when I told my American hosts that I had just humped my suitcase upstairs and wondered why they were injesting their green beans and spraying mashed potato all over the clean table cloth
Katherine said…
North Americans even think 'mate' a bit odd a name to be calling another man.
I'm glad you're just getting the beamlets.
Alden said…
I forgot to add that the problem with felt pen markings is that they cannot be removed with a rubber.
Janice said…
Actually, my 25 year old stepdaughter calls me 'dude', and sometimes, "dudette", a word I can hardly bring myself to type it is so atrocious; in fact she calls everybody that, and when she got a job with the post office I felt compelled to warn her not to call her boss that. Or, in fact, anybody older than her, if at all. I don't get it, the English language is going completely to hell. We Canadians, I thought, were quite pure in that area, but a look at our commercials, and newspspers, and academic tomes soon puts paid to that. What's going on? I'm going to get myself one of those t-shirts that says "I'm the grammarian about whom your mother warned you." See if that helps. The one thing that annoys me most is when I say thank you to a clerk, or waitress, or anyone in the service industry, and they respond with "no problem". Now if I had said "sorry to be such a bloody nuisance", that response might be appropriate...you have no idea how many lectures I have given these young people about those words!!!

and Alden: What?
VenDr said…
Apocryphal story that I like to think is true. Exasperated father confronts his children
Dad: There are two words that I never want to hear in this house again, for as long as I live. One of them is "gross'. The other is 'awesome'.
Kids: Sure dad. What are they?
Janice said…
Cool story, man! lol, but why did you call it that funny name? Doesn't seem very apocolyptic to me!
Alden said…
Janice it is only an apocryphal story that on the surface sounds apocalyptic for the English language - which is an incredibly resilient, flexible, adaptive and growing entity - we need not worry about it in the slightest, it will do just fine working with all of us as we continue to be the catalysts that continually grow it.

C.S. Lewis said that there are two real problems with the misuse of words. One - the overuse of words which leads to redundancy e.g. when sports commentators continually use words like brilliant play, miraculous save, sensational thinking etc, etc. The overuse of these words can mean that after a time they become meaningless and then exit the language. The precision that the word once had becomes lost. The second problem I have forgotten as I type but it shall return no doubt.

Over time the spelling and meanings of words change as we all know - and it doesn't matter so long as we all agree as to what they mean and how we are going to spell them.

"And Alden: what?" - In New Zealand a "rubber" is an "eraser" -In NZ you rub out pencil marks with a rubber, in North America you erase pencil marks with an eraser. In Nth America my understanding is that a rubber
is a Condom.

I had a teacher friend who was on teacher exchange in an American High School - at a staff meeting she asked if someone could lend her a rubber - apparently it took several weeks for the laughter to subside.
Verna said…
Kelvin, I'll loan you War & Peace in 3 volumes if you like, or the complete works of Robbie Burns in 5 heavy old tomes. You could always divert yourself from the awful by perfecting a genuine Scottish burr as you read the poems aloud! Maybe you could run a competition between all those who inhabit the waiting room, on the best way to fill in time without going stir-crazy.
VenDr said…
Thank you Verna. I'll bear your kind offer of books in mind if/when I get to the end of my own to be read shelf which, like the national debt, seems to get larger year by year despite my best intentions.And my Scottish burr could certainly do with some...er... burring.
It was interesting on Monday to see the other inhabitants of the room:many of whom, I guess, I will get to know quite well in the next couple of months. They were men and women, and of all ages. The youngest was a girl of about 18 although most were about my age. No one looked particularly frightened. No one looked as though they were facing anything awful. There was a sense of good humour and calm about the place. I guess for all of them -sorry, all of US - priorities have been sharpened up somewhat of late. Life is precious, even if some of it is spent on cheap chairs reading old magazines. The staff too, struck me as people who dealt, on a daily basis, with the big issues of life presented in the harshest relief. In that environment you either harden up to the point of imperviousness or become achingly, wonderfully human. The ones I met seemed to have chosen the latter course. I don't think anyone will be going stir crazy.
Janice said…
Well, Alden, your sportscasters must be much more sophisticated then ours, who abuse the heck out of 'um' and 'you know'. Now, as much as I enjoyed your little diatribe on how the English language is evolving, I have to say that I don't agree with the complete disregard for grammar that is going on, much as I have always hated grammar. People in the southern States have begun putting a glottal stop in words that have an apostrophe in them, for instance, and it sounds difficult to make that funny noise to me, as in did'nt, could'nt would'nt; watch Oprah if you don't believe me. It has become taboo in many University English departments, to criticize how the language is used, and as a result, we are graduating people who barely speak a word of English, yet have all sorts of degrees that they take back to their home countries. I know this is true, because I was an Academic Advisor at a local university, and saw this problem at every turn. I think we have to safeguard some parts of the language, or we'll all be speaking the same sort of gibberish as you kiwis (lol).

Kelvin, it is strange and wonderful how people can accept
a terrible diagnosis and the resulting treatment with good humour. I think it is the knowing exactly what is wrong that causes that. Read as much humorous (sp) material as you can, anything that will lift your spirits will do. As for me, I shall pray for a miracle!
Verna said…
Your description of the people you met the other day reminds me of the weeks I spent nursing in what was then the cancer ward at Wakari Hospital. It was the best ward I ever worked on simply because the patients were intent on living as long and as well as they possibly could. They laughed more and cared so much about one another and the nurses. At that time I was going through some pretty traumatic stuff and I have never been ministered to so lovingly as I was by those patients. May this time be a time of personal ministery by you and to you.
daharja said…
Ah - but think of the joy you can have in keeping up with the latest copies of Proctology Today!

Cancer is nasty. My father-in-law is going through the terminal variety at the other end (oesophageal), and it hits the whole family hard.

It's times like these that support networks are incredibly important, but even with the the best support, in the end you're there, going through it, alone.

Remember that sometimes being a hero isn't about capes and flying, but instead it is about backless hospital gowns and parking discounts. And sometimes other people can see these real heroes in our world, even when they don't look like movie stars.

Thanks for sharing your journey.