Wednesday, October 15, 2008


You walk thru a doorway with a door as thick as a safe, down a long, blue, featureless hallway with walls surely lined with lead into a big, blue, mostly empty room. You step behind the curtain, take off your pants and shoes and grab a pillowcase to cover your bare essentials, although surely they know that at this point you really don't have any modesty left, and anyway they will be able to see right thru that pillow case from their monitors in the room next door.

There's a bed of sorts in the middle of the room, with a mold custom fitted to hold you approximately in position. It's covered with a sheet, I guess to make it look more bed-like. There are monitors on the wall that tell the therapists what's going on, although the therapists will have long departed before the monitors begin to update. There is a green, three-dimensional coordinate system painted on the walls and ceiling by laser lights, so they can be sure you are correctly aligned. And there's the machine to which they align you, a large hulk in the back of the room with a few appendages that reach out -- the business ends of the thing.

After they've left you alone on the bed, covered by your pillow case, holding on to a foam loop to keep you from fiddling your arms, everything is quiet for a while. Then the machine's appendages deploy, unfolding one to each side of you. And then they scan you, appendages rotating around the axis of your body. And for a few moments, there's silence again, followed by slight mechanical adjustments of the bed as the therapists remotely fine-tune your position.

Then comes the treatment, which frankly takes the least time of everything. The machine squeals, alerting, no doubt, anyone in the room (except for you) that they must immediately leave. And red lights flash on the walls. And the appendages hum and click, rotating in discrete increments from one position to another, radiating your internals from various directions so only the target gets a full dose.

And then it's done. You might grab a bit-o-honey from the candy bowl (or maybe not, depending on how you feel), and you walk out the door to the special parking place that only patients have the code for. And you go home.

You'll be back tomorrow.

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