– Radiation Journal Part 2 -
15days of whole brain radiation

This morning (1am) I wake up disoriented. What city am I in? What is its name?

I think the name Uppsala before I think Boston – I’m in a foreign place, a place I’ve never been. And yes, the hallmarks of home are faded. Last night’s dream image is of a puppet theater, or a stage where a man, standing behind a singing woman, moves his hands around her throat to choke off her sound.–The dream says I’m about to become the victim of a male world -- its machines, its medicine, its heap of bricks that is the city men built.

I am complicit in my own destruction. I trust my doctors so I  become passive, and I trust it’s  for my own good, but I’m never sure.

I’m reading an Ian McEwan story in which sexual submission by a bride who is herself disgusted by sex is a metaphor for my submission as a patient – The bride, obedient to social expectations,  ends up hurling herself into the bedroom  thereby  avoiding  the endless preamble. When I see the patients in the waiting room, looking reduced, I want to run, but that is not allowed.

I arrive at MGH at 7:30 for my 8:00 am appointment. I walk to the Charles Street Post Office, reclaiming control over my life – The weather is mild, the streets empty, the city,
waking up.

 I have a magazine, but only look at it sporadically.The patients arrive, leaning on walkers, in wheelchairs, with gray skin, wearing little hats over their bald heads, comparing notes on their cancers and their families. One man on a gurney is emaciated. Their sons and daughters who accompany them are smiling. They talk on their cell phones, and to each other, and about the fish, and wait to be called. Someone in scrubs climbs on a stool to feed the fish. The patients worry that the big fish will eat all the food before the little fish get any. They worry that the big fish will eat the little fish.

Sartorial quirks in the waiting room; Dr So and So,   – probably in for radiation to the prostate, has a gown tied over his sweater, shirt and tie, but his calves are bare down to his socks and shoes.  The younger couple, he sleepy, she chunky, in a Johnny.  A father and daughter from Russia.  A well dressed couple eats a scrambled egg breakfast on trays from the Café before treatment.  A thin man who hasn’t changed into a gown, but is asked to.  Gowned women are breast? Gowned men, prostate? Fully dressed, brain? 

This morning there is a thin woman in the waiting room wearing a white coat and a cap, whose skin is gray, and who looks quite sick. Curled into herself with her eyes closed, without a book, she looked just miserable until  her husband walked in and sat next to her, they talked, she came to life. Her love for him: a rescue from body’s prison. My daughters and their children rescue me.


radiation journal

12/26/2006 - 1/18/2007


part 1

part 2

part 3


part 4