Good Narrative Principles

Radioactive at 55


To call it surreal is to somehow place this experience in the realm of other things I have come across in my life and have it be true. But sorry that is not the case.

It is at once very ordinary, in other words, there is the size of the room, large for one machine and a sliding table and the other worldly, the lights flashing, the noise indicating radiation is present.

There is also the knowledge that I will be there for six weeks. So really I don’t have to record everything today. There is next week or the week after. They’ll be sunburn and fatigue. And a small chance of all the other scary stuff that they tell you about slowly with candor and equal emphasis.

There is also the staff. People to whom I bear my breast too. I enter the room and I slip my arm out of a three arm-hole robe and tried to be discrete at least for the first few days. But what a joke. The whole thing falls away and so both breasts are on display. At first it was an all women crew. But now they’ve started introducing the male assistant. He marks me with a scuff pen, that by the way happens to be carcinogenic. They call off numbers. My job is to stay still. Passive.

And the flashing and the zapping begins.

Today it stopped and I thought fuck it I’ll get up I don’t need for them to release me. Turns out I do. The machine stopped mid-zap and had to be reset.

They reassure me that this so rarely happens that they didn’t even bother mentioning it at first. But of course I worry about that.

Today, being my birthday I feel glum about the whole thing. About being there. Tears slide down my face as I sit under the machine.

Even Terry Gross had on a boring guest talking about the ever lowering profile of the war in Iraq now that Obama is in office and has declared we are pulling out. And they are right. I wish there was another guest on. Someone who will fill me with inspiration and talk to me about the continuity of thought and the eureka nature of an insight and how like John Doe the punk turned country/western singer the certainty of Zen optimism.

Today while Ooming in yoga I realized I was born 55 years ago NOW. And that at my birth I was probably very scared. The thought returned to me again during shivasana and then I factored in my Mother holding me as a new baby. She always told me what  a pretty baby I was. Blue eyes. A girl.

Who is now 55 and being radiated.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.