Two weeks ago I began to experience vertigo. It wasn’t as interesting as in the Hitchcock movie. There was no murder and no Kim Novak — just a lot of swaying from side to side.
On Monday, it was worse. I walked the dog around the block and I’m sure my neighbours concluded I’m a drunk.
Luckily, I was scheduled to enter hospital Tuesday for three days of chemo. I told them about it. They said, don’t worry, it’s likely an inner ear infection, not a brain tumour. They ran a CT scan on my head.
Tumours. Two of them, both small, sitting on the back of my brain, causing no ill effects at this point. (The vertigo was completely unrelated, which leaves me wondering what cosmic force gave me the spins in order to find two tumours no one knew existed.)
My oncologist called me with the news and did his best to put my vandalized mind to rest. These are tiny, very treatable, and “a minor setback.” He told me I am an excellent candidate for a gamma knife procedure. That’s a newish technology that burns tumours with focused beams of radiation, without opening up the skull.
It sounded good, but later that evening I was struck by a frightening epiphany. Gamma radiation. Gamma rays? I know what that means. I’ve read the literature and I’m well aware of the risks.
I could transform into a hulking green rage monster with super-strength and an affinity for purple pants. I might turn into an elasticized man, a flaming torch or a walking pile of orange rocks. I could end up an invisible girl.
Where would I even find a pair of purple pants? I guess I could go clothes-shopping with my mother; she always found me clothes I wouldn’t be caught dead in.
Maybe my powers would be less jarring. Given the advances in medical science, they may have gained some control over the side-effects. I could, for example, gain semi-super-hearing, allowing me to listen in on conversations a full 20 feet away. (Maybe not the whole conversation, but enough to glean the gist of it.) Maybe I’ll be able to predict which elevator door will open first.
And then, how would I use those powers to benefit mankind?
With mediocre power comes a sliver of responsibility.
All right gamma rays, do your worst. Or best. And to the surgeon, please, don’t drop the gamma knife and cut my brain in half.
And thank goodness for vertigo. Now please make it go away.