Scanning for Life
June 20, 2017
I am sitting in the waiting area for my CT scan. Even though I won’t see the results today, I am nervous.
There are 11 people in the room with me, all at varying stages of their cancer treatment. Some are drinking the white goop that will help to identify parts of the body in their scans. I had that last time. Today I have 900ml of water to drink over precisely one hour.
I take deep breaths. Manda puts her hand over mine. This is the start of the process that will reveal how well I’m doing on the chemo regime. I will meet with the oncologist in a few days to hear his thoughts. Good day or bad day? Time will tell.
The Fear emerges from my subconscious and nods it’s unwelcome presence at me.
I drink my water and my name is called. In a lonely cubical I change into my dressing gown and wait to be taken into the scanning room.
The scanner is like a giant Polo mint with a bed that slides head-first into the hole in the centre. I lay down and a chatty nurse inserts a cannula into my arm. She casually tells me that I have scar tissue in my veins. I put my arms up over my head and the bed slides smoothly into the scanner. Lit panels of blue and purple glow around me. Another nurse behind me attaches the cannula to the injector and warm liquid is pumped around my body. It makes my groin feel hot and I want to pee. The bed moves and stops again and I hear a humming start, like a jet engine spooling up as you fasten your seat belts. I mentally fasten mine as everybody else leaves the room.
The humming steadies, and above me I can see some mechanism rotating fast. I feel like I’m in a portal to another dimension, time travelling, or beaming up. A metallic voice tells me to breathe in and hold my breath. I’m already holding my breath. The machine moves mysteriously around me. Then it’s done. Two or three minutes, tops – feels like an age. Another nurse appears and I’m unplugged, told to drink plenty of water and to stay in the hospital for at least another 20 minutes, just in case… of what I don’t know.
Manda drives me quietly back, we stop for coffee and a bun – anything normal and comforting is so welcome. The process isn’t too scary or too painful (‘Just a small scratch, dear’) but it really challenges my equanimity.
Meanwhile in a parallel universe, here are a few images from a recent stroll around London. I’m shooting to a theme here as I hope you’ll see, and trying to be braver photographing people in the street. I’ve been invited to have a joint exhibition in a year’s time, so I certainly have my work cut out for me. Always good to have something to work towards 🙂