Glowing In The Dark - NotFriday, December 17, 2010
Disclaimer: The photograph herein has no connection with today’s blog except to inject a bit of black humor into the theme. The subjects of the photograph are anesthesiologists Tony Boulton and Igor Brodkin whom I photographed at VGH in Sept of 1999. I achieved the effect by turning on the lights of my darkroom, momentarily, while the print was in the developer. The effect is called solarization.
When I found out that my wife Rosemary was going to be subjected to 20 days of radiation I made the joke that if we went for walks in the late afternoon (in these dark December afternoons) we would not need a flashlight as she would glow in the dark.
The fact is that few of us (or at least this blogger) know exactly what sort of radiation this may be. We were to find out that it consists of X-rays.
My wife had a lumpectomy a month and a half ago. It was sa small but cancerous lump. The surgeon, Noelle Davis (the very same that operated on Biff Naked) informed us that the operation was not only a success but that the removal of a couple of lymph nodes from Rosemary’s right armpit had revealed not cancerous spread. Although Dr. Davis did not say it I imagined that she may have been thinking, “You are going to have to die of something else.”
I will now use photography as a way of explaining the purpose of Rosemary’s radiation treatment. When I remove a b+w print from the fixer or pour out the fixer from a tank containing developed b+w film I must perform an important task. The purpose of sodium thiosulphate (also called hypo as at one time it was sodium hyposulphate and discovered by astronomer John Herschel whose father, William, discovered Uranus) is to dissolve remaining silver salts in negatives and photographic prints. The fixer fixes the image and prevents the image from fading or deteriorating. But if any fixer is left in the negative or photograph these will also stain and deteriorate the image. So it is my duty to myself, if my negatives and photographs are to be archival to wash them well and remove all traces of fixer.
In the same way, radiation is used as a “and just in case” method to remove from the body any remaining traces of cancer if there are any.
Today Rosemary received her third treatment. For her first we were both met by extremely pleasant people with smiles and an easy way about them. They explained everything in a luxury of detail. Photons and electrons flew with these explanations and I was able to see Rosemary installed under a huge machine right out of a B science fiction film. Would this machine manipulate her brain or replace it with someone else’s?
The technicians ushered me out of the room (it had one huge and extremely thick lead door) and I watched the whole operation from a bank of computers and several monitors looking into Rosemary’s room. With smiles we left as if nothing had happened.
We have been warned that in her third week she might suffer a slight Can-Cun type sunburn but that she should not be concerned. And since the radiation is localized, Rosemary will have to keep washing her hair as she is not going to lose any of it.
While I waited in the comfortable waiting room which has a huge jig-saw puzzle being assembled in a middle table, there are magazines and books casually placed on tables, I noticed that most were watching a very large flat-screen TV. Today it was not the usual cooking channel but Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in The Road to Morocco!
I didn’t get to see enough because Rosemary was soon back.
As we went to the nearby back alley where I had parked our Malibu (I have municipal plates that allow me to park, to unload [my wife?] and load [my wife?] for 30 minutes), the Rocket was gone. It seems an overzealous parking enforcer saw us leave the car at 9:15 and lingered. At 9:35 a ticket was slapped on the windshield and the car was towed away at 9:45.
It would seem to me that parking, not radiation is hazardous to one’s health. If anybody had seen me they would have noted that in an evening walk in the dark my face would have glowed as red as Rudolph’s nose!