So There I Was ...

Being irradiated. It was pretty impressive. I entered the room with the yellow triangle warning signs. I waited for the tech. When he entered he was wearing a lead apron and carrying a lead box. I asked “How come I don’t get a lead apron?” “Wouldn’t do much good since we are injecting the stuff into you.” He put on lead lined gloves and opened the box. He took out a syringe. I was wondering how good of an idea this was as he injected me with radio isotopes. “Okay, sit a while and I will come back and check you.” He said as he put the syringe carefully back into the lead box and walked carefully out of the room.

He came back after a while with a Geiger-counter. A regular old Geiger-counter. He held it up to my chest - nothing. He held it up to my neck. Man, don’t we all know that fast ticka-ticka-ticka sound from old sci-fi movies. He wrote down his readings.

“Okay you can go now; the doctor will call you in a day or so.”
 “Um, how long am I going to be radioactive?”
“Ah, you’ll pee it out in a day or two.”
“So I’m not a danger to my babies or anything, right?”
“Oh, heck, no”
“Then why did you need a lead apron?”
“Cause I handle this stuff all day long every day, and hope to do so for a long career - over caution - don’t sweat it - ok?”

Oooo - kay.

See, I have thyroid disease. They were checking me for Thyroid cancer. Ironically with exactly the thing that most likely causes Thyroid cancer. Radiation.

Hair of the Dog. If dogs glow in the dark.

Although no one can prove it in the specific, I probably came to need that test due to the fact that I was female, born in 1957 and lived through my childhood in the US Midwest consuming copious quantities of cow’s milk. Cow’s milk that came from cows that ate grass contaminated by a series of open air Nuke tests in Nevada. My mother would not have approved, but she didn’t know. The cases of thyroid disease among my peers is dose-correlated to childhood milk consumption. Thanks.

It turned out that I did not have cancer, just hypothyroidism, and I take a little blue pill of synthetic thyroid hormone every day for the rest of my life.

And you know what. I am ok with that.

I could be pissed off, paranoid, radicalized. But I’m not. I want them to do better for my kids than they did for me, and I think they mostly do. I want them to do better for my grand kids, and I think they will. Because in my experience, people learn. It is our Charism. We screw up, and run ahead of ourselves and our Guide, and we cut corners, and we cover up, and we suffer for all that. Sometimes we suffer terribly. But we learn. And we do better.

And I trust scientists, and engineers, and nuke plant workers with kids. Greed trumps conscience sometimes, maybe often. But sometimes it doesn’t. I trust whistler-blowers. I trust activists, even though I am not one. Some people have a call.

Yesterday, in Portland, when they got a Federal Official and a State Official and a City Official and the local Sheriff all up for the TV’s and they all said “Chill, people - we’re ok for now - and if that changes we will tell you.”  I believed them. Because I don’t think you could get them all to lie at the same time in the same way. And if something so God-awful happened that they couldn’t save any of us, and they decided not to scare us, then I would be OK with that too. Cause in that case, I would not want to know.

There are things that I do want to know. Like how much radiation was in that Thyroid test. It was certainly the scariest test I ever had. But I looked it up - .03 millisieverts. Turns out the four years I lived in Santa Fe at 7,000 feet gave me 6 milliseiverts per year. The other 47 years of my life I have gotten at least 3 mSv per year. My yearly Mammogram .7 mSv. I have had two CAT scans at 2 mSv each - much higher than the injection. It takes 400 mSv per hour to acutely affect your health and acute radiation sickness starts at a 1,000 mSv burst. The people of Japan aren’t getting anything like that - yet - God save them. The workers volunteering to go into that plant might be, God bless them. 

I want to know about these things because some of them I can control, and some I can’t. But as much as possible, I want to be an informed volunteer of my own life.

I also want to know what they learned from Chernobyl and Three-mile Island, and what they will learn from Fukushima. And I want them to apply it right now, and into the future to Diablo Canyon, and all the others. But I don’t need them to shut them all down. ‘Cause radiation in itself does not scare me.  Radiation happens. I’ve also had a small skin cancer removed. Probably from those sunny days in Santa Fe - perfectly natural and organic. Risks happen. We are all going to die of something, and I may die of cancer, but I may not. And the scientists may save me from my  natural or unnatural radiation-caused cancer with a dose of Hair of the Dog radiation therapy. Or I might not let them. And I am ok with that too.

Because my life today is good. And Love is a strong power, and cannot be stopped by lead shields or pools of water. And I am not my body.  And God is over all. And people are glorious. And when our old scary plate-tectonic Earth shakes us all to heck, we help each other. And when our science trips us up, we learn. And some of us risk all to try and save others. And I believe in that. I choose to trust.

I am afraid that living where I do has not engendered such trust. Our state has made it very easy for greed to trump public health and is working hard (with our new Congress trying to lend a hand lately) to make it easier. I teach the kids who grow up playing in the benzene-contaminated soil around the refineries located all around our poorest neighborhoods. There can be no doubting the damage it has caused them. It is very hard to stop so much money from doing what it will but we try.
"But we try"
that is the part I trust.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home