Wednesday, February 17, 2016

So much for stereotypes

I had two concerns about radiation in Bern, which is about 2.5 hours from Geneva. Distance wasn't one of them.

1. I have done most of my medical stuff in French. My German, once quite good has descended into shopping German. Sometimes I can get the gist of a conversation, but not enough to deal with treatment details. I have even less understanding of the dialects of Swiss German. My daughter, when she was going to university in Germany would cross the Swiss-German border and often not understand what she was hearing nor would she be understood.

2. I had an image of a stuffy doctor. 

Entering reception, the smiley receptionist with short blond hair said, "Frau Nelson?" before I could say a word and we spoke French until she wanted to practice her  English. Forms were completed quickly.

I waited for the doctor to call me. He appeared: I am not sure of his age, somewhere maybe in his late 40s. He wore jeans under his white coat. "Madame Nelson?" 

Not Frau.

He spoke in French until he heard my accent and switched to English. I don't think he knows the meaning of the word stuffy in any of his three languages (four if you consider Swiss German a separate language). I quickly replaced the idea of stuffy with warm, competent, understanding.

He managed to add two appointments for that afternoon so the first of five weekly treatments could start on the 23rd. Realizing the distance he will schedule the appointments early afternoon. I may just set the alarm for 3 a.m. so I can appreciate not having to get up on treatment days.

He, too, is a history buff which I discovered when he explained that breast cancer had been treated with hot clay in ancient Egypt. That is known because of the hieroglyphics on tombs.

So what will they be doing?

My skin will be warmed to 42° for 45 minutes. Then the areas where the cancers were will be nuked for a few seconds. The heat causes any microscopic cells that might be lingering to come closer to the radiation. In other words they take on a kamikaze trait, which is fine with me. The radiation will be milder and do less damage to me. Instead of 25 nukings.

During the other two appointments, the attendants said they preferred English to French. They decorated me with pretty red designs as markers. I was photographed inside and outside my body.

I am ready for this last step soooo ready. So ready to get back to a normal life.



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