Monday, 22 December 2014

88. The bone scan triumph

I wasn't going to bother telling you about today's scan, because scans are thirteen to the dozen if you're a cancer patient. This one was to check my bone density, ahead of the years of hormone treatment that will follow the radiotherapy. The hormone pills can play havoc with your bone strength, apparently, so your skeleton needs to be up to scratch. 

But both the trip to the hospital and the scan itself turned out to be such a triumph, I can't resist a bit of boasting.

For starters, I walked to the hospital.

It's 3.6 miles (4,2 km), exactly a tenth of a marathon. Could I do it? Off I set, with my brand new step counter and my brand new shoes. About 45 minutes and 5,200 steps later, I arrived, my head itching with a sweat rash.

(Note to self: wearing a non-cotton beany hat when exercising is a mistake)

I had planned to arrive well ahead of my appointment, so that I could wipe away the sweat and get my breath back, but Bone Scan Man was waiting for me. A nice chap with a strong Polish accent, making me wonder, as usual, where we would be without all these fantastic immigrants. (I suppose I wouldn't be here either, come to think of it.)

Five minutes later, I was stretched out on the scanner, a soft pillow under my head. Aaaaahhh. LOVELY.

This probably wasn't the standard reaction to getting scanned.

"I've just walked all the way from Clapham," I offered by way of explanation to Bone Scan Man, who was hidden behind a screen. "It's good to lie down. Take your time, I'm fine lying here."

Bone Scan Man's head emerged, surprised. "I thought you've had chemotherapy?"

"Well, yes, but it's finished now."

"When did you finish the course?"

"Just over three weeks ago."

His eyes widened. "Three weeks ago?! You look amazing. Fit and healthy. I'm telling you, people don't usually look like that after chemotherapy. Looking at you, you can't tell."

"Hm. Apart from having no hair, you mean?"

"Well no, it could be a... a style."

I laughed out loud at that. HA! Like a fashion statement?

"Yes!" he said, and he wasn't joking. "Exactly." And then, picking up a huge cube, "I've got something even better for you now."

He wasn't half wrong. The cube was put under my lower legs, keeping them raised in a table-top position. Wonderful. How relaxing. The scan was disappointingly quick, but Bone Scan Man let me stay like that whilst he looked at the results.

And? What was my bone density like? Some of the chemo drugs, he explained, really affect your bones. I think that includes mine. It has felt like it, anyway, with my skeleton turning into overstretched rubber. It's only just reclaimed its usual sturdiness, but it still aches a little. (So do my muscles. Walking all this way required some gritting of teeth, but once they'd been gritted, it was OK.)

"Good news," he said, peering at the graphs and the picture of my hip bones on his screen. "Your bones are fine. In fact...," he peered some more, "it's well above average for your age group. You have the bones of a 30 year old."

Well, that's made my day. I attribute it to being raised on vast quantities of milk, cheese and bikes. (Thank you mum). In fact, I was so inspired by having a skeleton that's several decades younger than the rest of me, and I'd had such a lovely rest underneath the scanning machine, that I ditched the go-home-by-bus plan and started walking back to Clapham. I only got halfway, but still.

Just before getting on the bus, I popped into my favourite haunt, the sewing shop. I have never gone bare-headed out in the street, or in public places, not wanting to frighten the locals. But now, my poor head was so hot and itchy that I took off my mis-judged beany hat.

Nobody looked at me. I was almost sorry, because if they had, I would just smile back at them with confidence.

That woman with the steaming, shiny scalp and the rosy cheeks, browsing the fancy fabrics?

That's not cancer. She is just a Fashion Queen.

Never mind the scan, just let me rest my bones...

It is now official. Owl has no bones at all.

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