Please may I play with your Geigercounter?

I was actually quite excited about going to the Nuclear Medicine Department to have my isotope injection and it gave me an opportunity to talk to Joe my 12 year old about what was happening. He has Asperger’s and science is his specialist subject so I knew I could make it into a positive thing.

“Hey, guess what? I’ve got to have a nuclear isotope injection which means I’ll be a source of radiation and I’ll register on a Geigercounter. Let’s see if we can buy one so we can have a play.”

Sure enough, we found a Geigercounter online that plugged into an I phone but unfortunately, by the time it arrived I would be back to normal levels.

I did however get a chance to play with the all singing, all dancing Geigercounter at the hospital after I’d had the injection in my nipple.

I told the nurse I’d ordered a Geigercounter for my I phone and she said “I have a big one. Would you like to see it?”

We then spent an amusing ten minutes playing ‘Find the radioactive Gilly’ while nursey approached me from across the room. The Geigercounter crackled intermittently until it got within a foot of me and then went mad, crackling with the noise of a million packets of crisps being rustled at the same time. The needle shot to the top of the scale and shuddered in a quite alarming fashion.

She wouldn’t let me take a picture of it though. Spoilsport.

As I was leaving I said ‘”I don’t suppose I’ll see you again but it was nice meeting you.”

“Nice meeting you too. You never know, we may meet again if you need your heart checking because you’re having chemo or radiotherapy. We also do the bone scans here.”

By this she meant that I would return if either the cancer had spread to my bones or if the radiation had given me bone cancer.

Bloody lovely.

Maggie was with me, the rock by my side again, and we celebrated my day before lymph surgery with lunch and then a spot of charity shop shopping.

I found three pairs of size 12 Betty Jackson trousers in the Cancer Research shop.

“Aren’t you going to try them on first?” Asked Maggie.

“There’s no point, I know they won’t fit me.”

“Then what’s the point of buying them?”

“Because dear sister, I have cancer and I’ve been assured that I’m going to lose weight pretty soon.”

She laughed. I laughed. And I thought, tomorrow they will slice me open and find out exactly where this radioactive blue dye has travelled to. They may remove just the first sentinel node for the biopsy or they could remove up to four if the radioactivity has followed the course of the cancer. If cancer is found in all those nodes then I’ll have a further operation to remove all my lymph from my left underarm and upwards.

Or at least that’s what I think is happening. I’ve googled where the lymph are and they seem to go all the way up to the collar bone so the idea of those being removed is freaking me out a bit. One step at a time though.

At least I’m not having a general anaesthetic, according to the letter I received two days ago. Miss Gadd, the consultant surgeon said I WOULD be having a general but I’m presuming that because I made such a fuss about the awful chemical taste in my throat from the anaesthetic when I had the lumpectomy that they’ve decided it’s easier to just let me have a local. Which is fine by me. I think.

One thing I haven’t asked is what lies beyond the lymph and where the cancer goes after that? Does it mean that it’s everywhere in my blood if they remove all the lymph? And if it is, does that mean tumours will start cropping up elsewhere- metastasising – and then its chemo or nothing?

I am already beginning to google in secret because I don’t want to upset Ged if he glances at my phone screen. And I have an enormous bag that travels around with me containing all the letters and notes and leaflets I’ve been given plus random scribbled notes to myself. The Cancer Bag. It’s like a comfort blanket to me but I realise that Ged and the children may already be hating it. I imagine them all giving it a swift kick whenever they pass. Which sort of amuses me.

Right. I’m off to bed for an early night before tomorrow’s surgery and will no doubt spend the night waking from dreams where I am trying to rescue my children from house fires and runaway trains because in reality, I’m terrified of not being around to protect them.

Such is life.

2 thoughts on “Please may I play with your Geigercounter?

  1. Your blog is amazing. My favourite bits (for the laughs) come in the part about the photographer in the theatre and the clear false nails. Wonderful to be tracking the whole history with all its horrors and absurdities. All in all, it’s inspiring.

    • Thank you for that. The one thing about having treatment for a teensy cancer is that one meets scores of people who are very bravely fighting much bigger battles. That’s truly inspiring.

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