The four-dot tattoo was just one part of the surreal experience that is stereotactic radiation.
I have described the tattooing process earlier, without touching on the oddest part of the experience.
They turned me into a sausage link.
The first step in stereotactic (ie. tightly focused) radiation is ensuring I will lay in the exact same position for each of my four treatments. The tattooing helps them line me up in the same spot relative to the radiation-ray-firing thingie. The second step is ensuring I do not budge an inch while being blasted.
To do that, prior to my first session, I lay on a blue-beanbag-like mattress. Then the radiation technicians wrapped me, head to chin, in plastic. Imagine a six-foot length of saran wrap. They tucked it under my legs, torso and shoulders. Once I was completely wrapped, a vacuum sucked out all the air between myself and the plastic. I was vacuum-sealed, like a deli sausage.
It felt a bit like being back in the womb, and a bit like Steve Rogers turning into Captain America. Meanwhile, the mattress, drained of air, turned rock-hard. It retained the outline of my body, like a blue snow angel. I lowered myself into that impression during each of my four subsequent sessions.
I know this for sure: this is the next popular spa treatment. Forget seaweed wraps and salt scrubs. This all-over body hug is the tactile sensation health-conscious people will pay to experience. Vacuum-sealing doesn’t make you feel younger, eliminate toxins or flatten out wrinkles, bit it does make you feel incredibly safe. You feel protected, comforted, and even loved (by a big, emotionless, dangerous machine.)
It’s perfect. Except when it slowly pushes your nuts deep up into your abdomen.