Two Pills, Three Days, Four Nights

Two Pills, Three Days, Four Nights

The next step in my cancer journey is radiation. For many, this involves a machine and doesn’t sound like a terribly pleasant experience. For me, it will (they tell me) involve two pills, three days, and four nights in isolation. The two pills are radioactive iodine, which is absorbed by thyroid tissue. If you have a healthy thyroid, this would be very bad news, which is why they put me behind the lead walls for a time. For me, radioactive iodine should attack and kill whatever remains of thyroid in my body, including the tissue that remains in the wake of the surgery and any potential seedlings the original tumour planted in other parts of my body (most vulnerable being lungs and bones).

I imagine it like those flesh-eating fish, little tiny ones, who are only interested in a particular kind of flesh (dead stuff). And somewhere in the world (I can’t remember where), it’s de rigeur to put your feet in this special little ponds and these flesh-eating fish surround you, pulling off dead flesh and leaving the living stuff. They clean you off, let you start fresh. They say it tickles, having flesh-eating fish clean off your feet. This is exactly what I imagine when I think of the radioactive iodine treatment. They tell me it won’t hurt at all.

But I will be in isolation for three days, four nights. Once I have that dose, they leave me in a room of my own, with a bathroom of my own, and no one, not even nurses or doctors, come in or out. They will call me to check on me, and my dad is convinced they will have me on closed-circuit tv, but for all intents and purposes I will be alone.

I don’t think they have an internet connection in there. (If ever an internet connection was needed, I would think it would be there.) Apparently people find the isolation the hardest part. My endocrinologist’s office recommends getting the tv hook up. Strongly.

I’ve decided to think of it like a spa retreat. Three days, four nights of mud masks and salt scrubs. The paperwork recommends bathing daily while in isolation, because the radioactivity is excreted through your pores throughout the day. Some patients, they say, bathe several times a day. So I’ve decided this three days, four nights will be a celebration of body washes and exfoliants and smelly shampoos.

I’ll get the tv hook up. But I also need books. Right now the only thing I can really wrap my brain around is young adult fantasy fiction. I’ve read pretty much all of Brian Jacques Redwall books, I read Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and Inkspell (so relentless! So German!), and I’m just finishing Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series (Magik, Flyte and Physik), which I absolutely loved. Sure it’s a bit Harry Potter, but it’s sweet and funny and the people are inherently good. Any recommendations? I was considering A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it might not have that general feelgoodness that I’m somehow searching for. I want to love the main characters desperately. I want to admire them while still feeling that they’re human. I hate it when I hate most of the characters in a book. I find it disheartening. I should take Spiderwick, that’s a given; I spent one sickly new year’s eve at Holly Black’s house, and I’ve been meaning to read all the chronicles for ages. Any others? There must be a million Harry Potter spinoffs, right? Please feel free to recommend something. I’m going to need to purchase enough to last me three days, four nights, because somehow I can’t imagine any public library would be too pleased about me taking their books with me into radioactive isolation.

0 thoughts on “Two Pills, Three Days, Four Nights

  1. my favourite feelgood book is george eliot’s ‘silas marner.’ i haven’t read much young adult, but i’ve heard good things about tamora pierce and stephanie meyers. can you also bring a dvd player, or laptop? maybe you could go wireless.

    suddenly, radioactive isolation sounds so glamorous. i’m so jealous. but still, i’m sending my best wishes your way.

  2. You’ve probably already read this, but I just finished Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones. I never really liked her other stuff, but this one was truly magical.

    My “sick” books are the Chronicles of Narnia. I pick up the first one as soon as I feel anything coming on, and I always know I’ll be better by the time I’ve finished the last. (At least, it’s worked so far).

  3. The Phantom Tollbooth.

    Wrede/Stevermer, Sorcery and Cecelia. (The first sequel isn’t great, but I’ve heard the third book is okay. This book is utterly charming.)

    I would be taking gobs of Terry Pratchett if it were me. But my taste isn’t everyone’s. If you want to give it a try, I recommend the Night Watch books: Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Night Watch, Thud!. Also The Truth, Going Postal and Monstrous Regiment, purely because they rock, ESPECIALLY Monstrous Regiment.

    Will post more later as I think of them.

  4. You know, I’ve never read any Terry Prachett, but I’ve heard such good things about him. Maybe now’s the time. I’ll do as you recommend and pick up a bunch of them. Those are fun and funny, aren’t they. That will be perfect! Thanks, Dorothea!

  5. Seconding Howl’s Moving Castle, although I think you might have read that already. I enjoyed the whole Chronicles of Chresomanci series that DWJ did, too.

    Have you read Cassie’s book? City of Bones? You’ll get through Spiderwick quickly, so you might want to try Tithe if you’re in the Holly Black section, although it’s possibly darker than you’d prefer.

    It’s not actually YA fiction, but it’s popular with younger readers: Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series (His Majesty’s Dragon is the first book) is something that everyone should read. Everyone. In the whole world. You will fall in love with Laurence and Temeraire. YOU WILL.

    The Fallen series by Thomas Sniegoski might appeal to you – it’s about Nephilim, fallen angels.

    Madeleine L’Engle? A Wrinkle in Time series?

    I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith – not fantasy, but wonderful. I read that in the hospital, along with Tithe.

    Also not YA, but I’m currently enjoying (to my surprise) Eat, Pray, Love.

    And of course, you could always re-read Narnia, The Golden Compass, etc.

    Is your iPod properly filled? Should I start sending music? 😀

  6. I haven’t read Howl’s Moving Castle, but it is now on my list. Bonibaru, thank you, I knew you’d come through with a million options. I forgot about Naomi’s book, that’s a great idea. And Cassie’s! This is awesome, I have tons to read. I may not want to leave isolation at this rate.

    And I’d love to get music from you, but…dial up. Ouch.

  7. I second the Temeraire books – even Gareth found them like literary crack. Oh, and ‘I Capture the Castle’ is lovely, read that too.

    Have you read ‘A Great and Terrible Beauty’ by Libba Bray? It’s YA superatural gothic boarding school fic and quite fun.

    I really loved ‘A Sterkarm Handshake’ by Susan Price, which is a fantastically well-researched YA time-travel novel set in the 16th & 21st centuries.

    Also Thom Madley’s ‘Marco and the Blade of Night’ is a good YA adventure novel with mythical aspects, a bit spooky too.

    It’s not strictly YA, but Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s ‘Good Omens’ is also very funny (and very daft).

    My mum did the machine radiation, which she found more knackering than surgery and chemo. The isolation (and lack of internet access!!!) might be tough, but I like your idea of treating it as a slightly sterile health spa.

  8. Bonibaru linked me here, and I came, for I cannot resist giving recs for things.

    Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and the King of Attolia. These are unusual YA books, different from the usual run of fantasy, and just brilliant. I read them as they came out, and I remember being almost sad there was a sequel to The Thief, because it couldn’t possibly be as good. And then I read The Queen of Attolia, and it was so much better that it took the series to a new level. Really fabulous stuff.

    Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. First and last book aren’t as good as the others, though they’re worth reading. The middle three are brilliant, although if you love dogs you may wish to give The Grey King a miss while you’re in isolation; it is a fabulous book, and has one of the best dog characters written, but…um.

    Diana Wynne Jones, just in general. I particularly like Archer’s Goon and The Ogre Downstairs, but it’s hard to go wrong with her. (It’s *possible*. Just not easy.) She’s also written a few books that are technically for adults, but very much in her YA style, and of those, I would most strongly recommend Deep Secret.

    Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy, particularly the first two books, Sabriel and Lirael. (The third book has another dog-lover warning on it, plus it’s his attempt to wrap up something very big and he didn’t do such a great job.) Awesome books with kickass female characters (including one kickass female dog), and, in Lirael, the best library ever.

    Philip Pullman has the deeply awesome His Dark Materials trilogy, but I’m hesitant to recommend it since I don’t know your views on religion. (Basically, if you’re religious, don’t read these while you’re in isolation.)

    Good luck in isolation!

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