Chemotherapy Cycle 2, Day 23.
Temperature: 37.4 deg C.
I wake up at 03:30, an hour before we need to wake up. I’m too anxious to get back to sleep so I shave and clean up while Cassie sleeps for another hour. When the alarm(s) finally go off (we’ve set our regular alarm, a clock radio, and the alarm on my cell phone), Cass makes us breakfast and we’re on the road by 05:15. Otis went to the dog sitter last night so we don’t have to worry about him but his absence leaves a hole in our routine that adds to the queerness of the early hour and general scanxiety.
We arrive at the ferry terminal in Swartz Bay at 05:45. I was worried that there might be some conflict over the travel voucher that we have from the cancer centre but the lady at the toll booth has obviously seen whacks of them and there’s no problem. The fare for our trip to Tsawwassen for the two of us and car is covered and we’re given a voucher for the return. We’re in the ferry line up by 05:50 and load onto the Queen of Saanich minutes later. We had expected to be on the 07:00 boat but the ferry corp must be putting on a 06:00 ferry in anticipation of the busy Labour Day weekend.
We take a walk around the old ship. It’s listing at least 5 degrees to port which I find disturbing. I ask one of the stewards about the list but she has an attitude of “yeah, so what” so I guess I won’t worry about it (!). We arrive and unload in Tsawwassen a little before 08:00 with only 4 hours to kill until my scan. I can’t eat or drink anything but water until after the test.
The weather is shitty. It’s seems like autumn has arrived over the course of one week. The rain is a persistent and miserable blather that matches my apprehension about today’s test. We noodle around the lower mainland trying to find something to occupy us for the time we have to wait, but nothing we can think to do is open or accessible. So, after only getting lost once, we end up at the Vancouver Cancer Centre. I had thought that our Vancouver Island Cancer Centre was an impressive machine. However, in comparison, the Vancouver Centre is a sprawling factory for the purpose of treating cancer. It’s like a university campus where, instead of packs of students hurrying to lectures, droves of patients are rushing for chemotherapy, radiotherapy, tests, or consultations. It’s an eye opener. British Columbia is fucking serious about treating cancer!
We arrive at the PET scan reception area just before 09:00. They’ve had a cancellation and want to try to fit me in but we’re concerned because I ate at 05:00 and have only fasted for 4 hours, not the required 6. However, the PET technician indicates that the purpose of the fast is not to clear the digestive track but to reduce your blood sugar. Since the PET scan works on the principle that radioactive sugar is required to uptake into “hungry” cells… well, they need to be hungry. If you’ve just eaten, the isotopes will have no way to get into your tissues. He quickly checks my sugar and I’m 5 and change which is perfect. Anything under 11 is workable.
I’m put in a comfy chair in their quiet room and the tech gets me relaxing. Cass puts the iPod on me and they drip the sugar into me over 60 minutes while I lay absolutely still. I’m careful not to even reposition my hands or feet or move my head for an entire hour. I’m absolutely determined not to create any reason for a false positive on this test. If anything is going to light up I want it to be any evil lumps that are still gasping for life after being strafed by the chemicals for two months straight.
Once the hour is up I’m allowed to use the bathroom and put on some hospital pajamas. Then they put me in the PET/CT scan machine. The scan takes a little over 20 minutes. The process of the scan and appearance of the machine is just like a regular CT scan. I have to remain absolutely still while it is occurring. By the time it is done my shoulders are numb from lying on the hard pallet and tingle as the blood returns to them. As soon as the test is done I feel like a weight is off my shoulders. Even though I don’t know the result I’m just happy to have the test over with. It’s not even noon. We’re done before we were even originally scheduled to begin.
We’re both starving and drive off through the pouring rain to find something to eat. We want to go to Granville Island but I get turned around. Instead of turning off Burrard onto 1st Ave W, I continue over the Burrard Street Bridge over False Creek to downtown. I have Cass turn right on Pacific, left onto Homer, left on Smithe, left on Howe, back over False Creek on the Granville Street bridge, exit on 4th Ave, right on Burrard (AGAIN) and finally, after a full tour of downtown Vancouver, right on 1st Ave W and into Granville Island. Please don’t let me navigate your road rally or scavenger hunt while I am being treated with chemotherapy!! Cass dealt with this amazing fuck up on my part with very good humour.
We go to the Marketplace at Granville Island and enjoy watching the people and boats and eat some delicious food. By about 13:30 we’re back on the road. Cassie is rocking and rolling through traffic and our old BMW was doing what it was meant to do. We manage to get to the Tsawwassen terminal just before 14:00. By a wonderful coincidence, Joe, Donna, and Terahn are a few cars behind us in the lineup. They are on the way home from their vacation in Medicine Hat. We pass a pleasant hour catching up and then it’s time to get on the ferry.
We return to Victoria in time to pick up Otis and are now in our usual positions in front of the tube. It’s been an eventful day and tomorrow will be another one when we get the results of the test.
Director: OK, Fallout Boy origin scene, take 1 -- action!
[X-ray machine blasts straight on Milhouse's face]
Rainier: [lifts up truck] Up and at them.
Milhouse: Thanks for the help, mysterious stranger. Say -- I think
those X-rays gave me super powers.
[they stand around; Rainier scratches himself]
Director: That was perfect! Let's do it again.
Milhouse: Uh, these aren't real X-rays, are they?
Director: Good question! We'll check into that. OK, X-ray machine to
full power, and -- action!
[X-ray machine blasts Milhouse's face; his skull becomes
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