• Another 100 Days of Good Karma: Day 237 (Radiation Treatment 1 of 30: Photon Torpedoes and a Rescue Mission)

    You might be a nerd if you know what these are.

    You might be a nerd if you know what these are.

    Thursday, March 5, 2015

    Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today:  2.50 miles;  Running Total: 194.49 miles)

    Day 237 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.

    Today was my first radiation treatment. Everyone I’ve talked to has said that radiation is easy compared to chemo and surgery, but not gonna lie, I was nervous.

    I lay back on the table as the nurses got everything set up. They put the glasses on my face and, on their cue, I took a few practice breaths to make the yellow line lift into the blue stripe to turn it green.

    Several films were taken of my chest while I held my breath. Then the moment came.

    A nurse came over the intercom, “Okay the next breath is Treatment.” I could hear the capital ‘t’ in her voice and anxiety made my chest tighten.

    Here we go, I thought.

    They said it wouldn’t hurt, I thought.

    Even if it hurts, my kids are worth it, I thought.

    Tears pricked my eyes as I took a deep breath putting the yellow line in the blue stripe, making it turn green. The machine hovering above my chest buzzed.

    I felt nothing.

    Absolutely nothing.

    It was as painful as having an x-ray done. Which is to say ‘not at all’.

    I’ve heard that I’ll feel the effects later. That it’ll feel like a sunburn and my skin will be really tender. But the pain of ‘later’ is always smaller than the pain of ‘now’, and I was so goddamn grateful that something didn’t hurt that I almost laughed.

    Except laughing would have been bad because I was supposed to be holding my breath.

    “Okay, breathe,” the nurse said.

    I let my held breath out, watched the green bar turn yellow again as it dropped out of the blue stripe. I closed my eyes in relief.

    After several Treatments my nurses came back into the room to move the table. They attached an apparatus to the saucer thing above my head.



    “What’s that?” I asked.

    One nurse reached over me and adjusted the apparatus.

    “It’s an electron cone,” she said. “We already treated you with photons. Those go deeper into the skin. This next treatment will be with electrons that penetrate on a more superficial layer. We’re targeting the lymph nodes that run along here.” She ran a finger down the center of my chest to demonstrate.

    “Photons, huh?,” I said, grinning. Then (I swear I couldn’t help it, it was just too perfect), “Like photon torpedoes?”

    She stopped messing with the apparatus above my head and looked down at me, puzzled. “What are photon torpedoes?”

    Fuck. I am such a dork. 

    Getting caught in a nerd moment with a non-nerd is like getting caught farting.  The other person either laughs out loud at you or politely ignores the smell.

    “From Star Trek. Their weapons. They’re photon torpedoes.”

    “Oh,” she said

    In case I wasn’t alerted by the fact that she didn’t know what photon torpedoes were, her flat ‘oh’ made it very obvious that she was not a fan.

    “Never mind,” I said. “I’m having a nerd moment.”

    She finished fixing the apparatus into place and said, “I didn’t watch the show Star Track” (I cringed a little here, but I didn’t correct her), “but I watched the movie. It was good. I liked it.”

    I smiled and nodded. “I liked the movie, too.”

    A shout out to Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto: Thank you for bringing sexy back.


    “Are you sure they’re photon torpedos?” she asked. “Maybe proton torpedos?”

    “Yeah,” I said, reflecting on my thirty years’ worth of Star Trek experience. “I’m sure. They’re photon.”

    To her credit she was totally awesome about my nerd moment. She came up with a whole scenario like I was in an episode of Star Trek.

    “The bad guys have kidnapped you and invaded your cells and we’re the good guys. We’re going to rescue you and get you back to the ship.”

    I did laugh out loud this time, but it was okay because I wasn’t supposed to be holding my breath. “Hey, I like that!”

    Not bad for a non-nerd, I thought. Not bad at all.

    Today’s silver lining: I knew it! Everything in life can be tied back to an episode of Star Trek. Total validation!

    What’s your silver lining today?  I love comments!

    Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share?  Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.


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3 Responsesso far.

  1. Kristel says:

    I’m glad the technician recovered from the awkward moment and was able to get into the nerd moment with you!

  2. Mom says:

    I thought everyone knew what a photon torpedo was! At times these words mix with 21st century stuff and you don’t know the difference. I’m glad you could smile through it! Did you see the political cartoon the other night? Spock was standing under a beam of light with his hand up saying., “Okay God, beam me up!” I loved it. I should send it to you. Mom

  3. […] Star Trek warrior nurse laughed. “Not yet. Besides, we still have to beat the bad […]

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