This is a radiation therapy machine. Pretty funky looking, right? I went with my dad this week to see what happens when he has radiation sessions. While he changed, one of the nurses took me into the room and explained what they were going to do. It’s kind of nifty, actually, and she took care to treat me as a daughter but not a 5-year-old. I chose this picture so you can see what I did – the whole thing rotates. It’s huge! And rotates. So actually, a lot of the machine is behind this.

Basically, my dad lies on a table (which they can also move 360 degrees, or close) and then they turn him and the table so that little tattoos are lined up with laserbeams coming from the walls and ceiling. When they created his care plan, they put tattoos on him so that the radiation would only go where it was needed. You don’t want that stuff going all over your body.

They let him bring a CD or iPod, and blast Beatles songs through his room (and the nurse’s station – which for radiation mildly resembles a cockpit). When my dad first spoke of his radiation, he mentioned it feeling as though he were in a planetarium. Now I see why. The radiation machine moves, he moves…it must be strange, disconcerting. He brings them M&Ms. He brought popcorn once, telling the nurses he’d put some kernels in his stomach to see if they popped. Always the comedian.

It’s a big room, as hospitals go. There is even a slight entryway before you turn the corner and see the layout of all the equipment and monitoring systems. As I left the room with the nurses, I thought maybe it was an extra precaution against the radiation. But what do I know. Maybe it’s just a nice privacy thing for patients. Regardless, a huge door slowly closed, and intermittently a sign above it would light up: “Radiation In Use.”

There were 2 monitors that showed my dad, and 3 others for the radiation, monitoring, and treatment itself. I didn’t watch this. I saw the setup and was content to sit in the little extra waiting area in front of the door.

After he changed back into his clothes, we went to a cafe so he could sit down and drink some water, get a snack. Incredible what just 15-20 minutes of radiation can do to the body. He’s on the last leg, though, which is good. Nearly done.

But the last is always the hardest. I was trying the somewhat chaotic work-from-home-and-bus-and-airport-and-plane, trying to figure out if I needed to be on a conference call or not…you know. Fun post-vacation agreements. My dad called me from downstairs. He had a hard time saying it: “I don’t think I can drive myself to radiation today.” He was so tired. Is so tired. And was just feeling awful. I called my mom; we knew there had been a chance of it, and it was fine, but she could not get out of her meeting. I raced around the house, throwing my things into my duffel bag and brushing my teeth so I’d be ready to catch my bus, and so I wouldn’t smell, respectively. I drove. We got there. There was no parking. He went off to his appointment and I drove around the parking lot like an idiot for awhile. There is a garage but it’s down the road and it would take too long. If his appointment was on time and as short as it had been the day before, I might be able to make it home in time.

As it was…no space opened up, Mom called, and after several back-and-forths, and voicemails on Dad’s phone, we agreed I should leave and meet her at home to grab my stuff.

Now, I know my dad doesn’t feel this way, but at the time…worst daughter ever, abandoning your dad at the hospital like that.

I reluctantly drove out of the hospital, grabbed my duffel bag and some snacks/breakfast/tea for the road, and my mom drove me to the bus. After, she picked him up. Turns out he did not have his phone on him, so even after his session had ended he would have no way of knowing. Presumably both got home with minimal freak-out, but I admit I’ve been too embarrassed to ask.

It will all be done soon. My dad would probably feel better if he watched his sugar more, but he’s in single digits for sessions left. He still ostensibly buys treats for me when I’m home, but is the only one to eat them.

My spastic work-from-wherever day was frustrating at best, and I didn’t get what I needed nearly on time, which led to backups the following day. My boyfriend picked me up from the airport and we grabbed dinner with his family. I checked work email. I was….well, just not in a good place. But my boyfriend, as ever, handled it, and we went to a late showing of Snow White and the Huntsman. Yes, lack of sleep followed. Yes, I was exhausted. But, mentally, I was good. We got everything done, on time, to the best of my ability, in the time given.


Tomorrow is Friday!!!