Radiation session number eight today. I had an anxious moment in that the session was scheduled for 12.20, and the appointment with Patrick Bowden, my radiation oncologist, at 1.00. Normally this would have left plenty of time, Pat being just one floor above the clinic in Epworth Centre. However, there was a delay, so I was imagining having to go up in my treatment gown! (These are just a conventional dressing gown, thankfully less revealing than the standard hospital gown that fastens at the back.) However, the clinic reception rang Pat’s office to alert them that I might be delayed. I got there almost on the dot, and he was running a bit late, so it didn’t matter.
The meeting was just for him to check how I was going with the radiation treatment, and allow me to put any questions to him. I said that I wasn’t having any side effects from the treatment that I was aware of (which of course is terrific). I will have a further meeting with him in early May, at Epworth Box Hill this time. A week before that I need to have another PSA test. I gather, although this wasn’t stated at the meeting, that this test will indicate whether the treatment I am having has been successful or not.
Pat refers to metastases as “spots”; the radiation assistants do likewise. (I guess this is a simple and non-threatening term.) At our previous meeting he had said that radiation treatment patients fall into three categories:
- Limited or no spots;
- Lots of other spots over time (I infer that “other” means “different to the original ones”); or
- A few spots, then successive treatment cycles.
Today I asked him when he would know into which category I fell. The answer: after the next PSA test. (At least, this should reveal whether I was in the “bad” category, as he called it.) So there is more waiting involved.
I am thinking of the scene from Wagner’s opera Siegfried in which Mime and Wotan get to ask each other three questions. (Wotan is disguised in this opera, incidentally, as the Wanderer.) An incorrect answer is supposed to forfeit the responder’s head. Wotan/the Wanderer gets his answers right, of course, but Mime gets one wrong. However, Wotan lets Mime keep his head.
This isn’t an exact parallel because it’s me asking the questions, but my head that could be forfeit. The fable is instructive, however, as it shows that asking questions, and getting answers, can be a dangerous business. I suppose I should stop asking questions before I get the wrong answer! However, for practical reasons I need to get the answer (or answers).
The delivery of the treatment at Epworth, incidentally, has been very kind and solicitous. I even got to hear some Wagner during yesterday’s treatment; just a selection from one of the internet radio stations. Fortunately, it wasn’t the bit from Parsifal about the king with the wound that never heals. My beloved drove in for the meeting with Pat (we got the on-site parking for free). Then we had lunch in Burwood before she had to go back to work. Radiation treatment gives you a fair appetite!
We have had a recurrence of the hot weather, but only high twenties, and cooler at night. I went for a walk this morning, when it was still cool. Before setting off for Richmond I had time also to put out a couple of loads of washing, have a coffee, and water the plants. (I had given everything a feed the previous day with a Seasol/Charlie Carp mixture.) Everything is looking good, except that the bamboo is getting very bushy low down. I must photograph it and send it to the garden designer to see if we can cut them back or tie them up a bit. (The latter might be difficult as they keep putting up new shoots.)