Monday, 12 October 2015

Radio: The First Few Days. (4/30)

I think when I had my mask fitted I was smiling. I now have to smile a wee bit each time they lower the mask onto my face before the radiowaves start tumbling into my head, because then it'll fit better. What a funny girl Past Gracie is. I like to think she was subconsciously preparing me, Present Gracie, for the harder days yet to come when I'll need to smile and get on with this. Then again, maybe she was just happy on the day when the specialists half-smothered her with hot wet plastic and chatted to her mum as it set on her face; happy because things were finally getting going, because it would all be over and she'd be well again by Christmas, and because the hot wet plastic was actually weirdly pleasant.


There's always music playing through speakers in the Radio Room. I really enjoy that. It's just an iPod packed with tunes that the radiographers all contribute to, which is nice because it means there's always something different playing, like a lucky dip of mood-setters. Day 1, I can't remember what the music was. I was busy looking all around me (from behind the confines of the blue mesh, of course) and memorising what happens over the course of the six-ish minutes I'm lying on that table.
Day 2, the tune that started up when I laid back was that one 'yessir, I can boogie, all night LOOONNNGGG!' which I found hilarious and sweet. I almost wiggled along to the song as though I was in a Cadbury's advert.
Day 3 was better as I'd got into a groove already. I started the day with a large black Americano (and then to chase it a skinny flat white, obviously) at Caffe Nero in Sutton high street. We binged on the free wifi there for a while.When I got into the radiotherapy area of the hospital I was frantically storming through the last couple of pages of my book (All of the Above, by James Dawson) when they called me in. The song that started playing as the radiographers left the room was 'I Need Something' by Newton Faulkner. Holy heck, I love Newton Faulkner. The album Hand Built By Robots takes me back to my school days, stressing over GCSEs because they were the most important thing in the world. The album Studio Zoo reminds me of a happy time, the weeks studying up on his latest sound before I saw him live in Portsmouth (and cuddled him after the show), and I hadn't a care in the world. His voice is just perfection. So real and relaxed. I was able to close my eyes, to let the machine whirr away and the waves work their magic.
Day 4, I couldn't recognise the music as it was playing slightly quieter for some reason and the sweet mechanical whirring around my head seemed slightly louder, but it didn't matter. I was too preoccupied thinking about my Dad sitting outside, it being his first time accompanying me, and him having just seen the 'radio room' and watched me being strapped in and set up with my mask and the machine. I was hoping he hadn't been too overwhelmed by it all. I like to think that those close to me will find seeing the room and talking to the radiographers reassuring. It may make everything that much more 'real', but at the same time it'll squash any unpleasant visions they had and convince them that I'm in the best hands.
***I had intended to upload a photo of my 'view' while lying on the radio table, but I had to sign a form saying the photos I took on my phone will not be sold to a tabloid or surface on social media or basically ever see the light of day unless I show them to someone for a maximum of five seconds all the while constantly checking over my shoulder for the Hospital Police***

Now I would request a song or two, or give the radiographers my iPod to plug in and a playlist to play while my session is happening, but that seems wrong somehow. That's like manufacturing a moment. I'd rather just let the nice things just happen to me. I'd like to be constantly surprised at what the universe decides on, what it throws at me.
Mind you, the universe has been a little too 'tough-love' with me for the past eighteen months or so... Oh well, I still trust it. I still believe that whatever happens happens; everything happens for a reason and shouldn't be uselessly needlessly questioned. We can make things happen for ourselves if need be, of course, but sometimes it's nice to just sit back and let things run their course.

'I'm so amazed how quick my sessions have all been so far!' I gushed as I sat up on the hard table, after Day 3's session ended and Newton's soft tones had faded away. 'This is only my third, but yeah...' Shh, Grace. I'm sure it's quick because they know what they're doing and they get shit done. It's probably nothing to do with me.
The radiographer smiled as she packed the equipment away. 'Yes, it's a nice clear 'n' clean arc, with you!' I almost swelled physically with pride. I'm an easy job for the radiographers! I'm a treat in their otherwise busy, complicated days. That's what I like to think, and what I took from that one sentence, anyway.

My first week (a week consisting of three days) was mostly surprisingly positive. And I'm so happy about this. Now I've started my first full week, and I'm optimistic. I think as long as I keep cool and do what the professionals say I should (lots of rest – but also keep pretty physically active, which I intend to do by walking a fair bit and doing a few local yoga sessions) then I won't get too much worse as the weeks go on. I'm dreading the tiredness and the possible nausea that sets in after a few weeks. I'm totally torn at times between storing up sleep and staying socially dormant now, in the early days, saving myself and building up a healthy happy body and an ironclad defence... Or making the most of my physical alright-ness (I could never say 'fitness', like ever) and doing AS MUCH AS IS HUMANLY POSSIBLE RIGHT NOW; seeing all my friends, attending so many events, drinking all of the whisky, staying up late, doing the occasional London Day (it's only £3.95 from the station near my hospital, y'know!).
The temptation to go totally mad while I still can is intense and relentless. But I must be strong, and I must be sensible. I don't resent that actually, not as much as I thought I would... I don't resent any of this. At the end of the day, this treatment happening now will benefit me later (I hope, I mean I won't know for a while), and I'm so lucky to have such awesome specialists looking after me. Also, such a fab family for putting up with me and my constant needs for lifts, errands and hugs. Yes, everything is good so far.

There is one thing, just the one negative, that I've realised after starting my treatment. No, it's not that I can't do certain things. It's not that I'm having to spend days at a time away from home. It's that my weekends have become infinitely more precious. I've always done shift work and never had a five day 9-5 job, but... I get the Friday feeling now! I will be filling up my weekends – at least for the first couple of weeks – with activities, treats and friends. I only hope other people will understand that for the next six weeks a) I am only really available on weekends (and the occasional weekday evening maybe, but we'll see) and b) if I'm seeing you on a weekend, it's a big deal and mustn't be taken lightly. I really would rather not be led on and then fobbed off at the last minute. Not that my bestest friends would do that – this is just a 'please don't' kind of warning.


Anyway, that's four sessions down. Bring on the next twenty-six! 

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