Day 1: And so it begins
Boston’s a weird place. The roads make as much sense as my little sister’s obsession with Josh Hutchinson, every kindergarten class in town seems to have skipped over the letter “R” while teaching the alphabet, and vans think that just because they can put a sign on their roofs that suddenly makes them a goddamn school bus.
Then again, Boston might just seem strange to me because I’m here under odd circumstances. See, for the next seven and a half weeks, I’ll be undergoing proton radiation therapy on my skull. So you may be asking, “Tom, why in the heck are you doing this?” You mean aside from me hoping for the .000000000000001% chance that I’ll get genetically mutated into a crime-fighting, wise-cracking, web-slinging superhero? Well, earlier this year I learned that I had a large tumor growing in the base of my skull. Not the best news I’ve ever gotten. Luckily, surgeons at Johns Hopkins are issued not only white coats, but also Samuel L Jackson Bad Mother Fucker wallets, and they went up my nose (yes, up my nose) and spent 13 hours cutting and sucking that little bastard out. Proton therapy gives me the best odds to be done with it forever, so here I am.
Today was my first day of treatment and I felt pretty good. I mean as good as I could considering that I was about to be strapped down to a table by my face only to have a beam of subatomic particles shot through my face into regions of my skull only millimeters from important structures like, uh, my brain. Pretty good, indeed. Then, they brought me in. Google Images will tell you a Proton Therapy table looks like this, when in reality my room today looked a hell of a lot more like the lounge in the Millennium Falcon. Except Chewy wasn’t there to make me feel safe.
Before I knew it I was lying down. Three people were tucking things under my butt, wrapping things over my chest, and before I knew it, my face was clamped down to the table like I threatened to eat their livers with fava beans and a nice chianti. “You’re doing great,” they’d reassure me, as if lying still took any real effort with my head bound to a metal board. My lips were pinched shut under the plastic mesh. My eyelashes poked through the openings but I couldn’t see. My blood coursed through the vessels in my face, pumping against my immovable mold. How long had it been? How long was it going to be? I hyperventilated. My mind raced. I can’t do this! I can’t do this!, I screamed in my head, as a tear welled up in my mask. 2 months of this? 2 MONTHS OF TH- “Mr. Barrett, you are all done.” Well, that wasn’t so bad.
One treatment down, thirty-four to go.