Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Frankenstein and the Illustrated Woman

Well, radiation has been a funny thing. It has changed my perspective on a couple of deeply-held prejudices. Take tattoos. I always swore I'd never have a tattoo. But I'm coming out of radiation with not one but FOUR. OK, they are in places that never see the sun and the radiation techs use them to line me up in the laser grid so that I get blasted in the right place every time. So I'm not exactly the Illustrated Woman. Still, the tech who gave me my first tattoo swears it is a butterfly. I can't see it myself - really - I'll have to take his word for it.

And then there is the idea that modern science has done away with the old Frankenstein lab model. Every day, I climb onto a completely flat, completely rigid table which lifts me up through a laser grid somewhere near the ceiling into the mechanical embrace of this slowly spinnable robot armed with every kind and speed of lightning. Stacked all around the edges of the lab are weird impressions of life-sized body parts. Some pressed into distressed plastic molds. Others just suggested by Lucite curves: put your elbow here, grab this post and drape your neck over this roll. The creepiest ones are mesh busts that fit over the head like the Man in the Iron Mask.

Instead of crowing, "It's aliiiive!" every morning, the techs chirpily tell you to lie absolutely still. One day I had a cough, so I was sucking on a cough lozenge. My tech asked if I could stop moving so much. Not the coughing - the sucking. Catch 22! Luckily, they have a high-tech device to help prevent you from feeling like you're going to fall right off their little bench: the toe rubber band. I am not kidding! Before your head locks down into its mold, the techs have your toes tucked into this industrial strength rubber band. Actually, that's the most comfortable part of radiation.

I am happy to report that I have taken my last trip on that Frankensteinian elevator! I have had only minor blistering, which is already beginning to heal. The much-feared fatigue is just now rolling in. Sort of a delayed reaction. I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and trouble staying awake when I do. My physical therapist tells me that I should expect some relief on that front in about two weeks - maybe a month. Resuming my exercise regimen next week should help.

Meanwhile, our Lord and my children are making sure that I have plenty of reasons to get up in the morning. I am directing the dramatization of Mendelsohnn's Elijah at church next week. (Check it out here! ) Petra has been back and forth between here and Stockton, working with me on the libretto for her musical tribute to American servicemen and women, 21 Gun Salute. Chloe graduated from DU with great fanfare, and is moving to LA next week to pursue a post-graduate program out of Pepperdine University in film producing. Robert will soon finish his Eagle Scout rank, and is working on his lines (sometimes with me) for Petruccio in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.

It's good to remember that when our capacity for enduring pain is expanded, so is our capacity for entering into joy.


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