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Day two of radiation complete, and I already remember one of the biggest headaches of radiation appointments.  Which would be the parking lots.

Imagine, if you will, a busy hospital or medical park parking lot.  There are many cars coming in and out.  There may or may not be a bottle neck as people get their parking tickets and pay for parking.  There are reserved spots for employees, reserved spots for doctors, and often, reserved spots for radiation patients (thank you!).  You are driving your beloved patient to his or her appointment.  You leave your home with plenty of time, and arrive with at least fifteen minutes to spare before the designated appointment time.  Little did you know that you would spend twelve of those minutes negotiating the obstacle course that is the parking lot.

Why does it take twelve minutes to advance through two floors of a parking garage?  First, it seems that most of these parking garages were built before the time of the SUV, so the parking spots are narrower than many of the standard vehicles that people drive today.  That’s fair, and no one’s fault – I don’t blame the parking lot engineers for not being psychic.  And many drivers take extra care when pulling into said parking spaces to be sure that they are allowing space for their neighboring drivers to get in and out of their cars without feeling like they are squeezing themselves flat, and we thank those drivers for that.

But then, there are the drivers who insist on backing into their parking spaces.  By my estimation, it seems like every third driver does this, and it baffles me.  My grandfather always backed into his parking spaces so that he could “make a quick get away.”  We  laughed about it, but here’s the thing  – since he always backed into parking spaces, he did so quickly and efficiently.  During round 1, I felt like at least once a week we were stuck behind drivers who were backing into their parking spaces as if they had never done so before.  And yes, the parking spaces are slightly narrower than the standard SUV, so if you are driving an SUV, it would take more time to back in properly.  Time where a line of cars is building up that nearly goes out the exit of the parking lot.

Also frustrating is the phenomenon of hidden cars.  How does this happen?  When a gigantor-SUV parks next to a MINI Cooper that is parked next to another gigantor-SUV, the MINI Cooper is now hidden.  So the driver who is searching for a parking space gets all excited, and ready to pull in, and then finds that lo, the parking space is already taken. Drivers behind this driver have now pulled up a few inches, thereby making backing back out of the turn a difficulty, and once again holding everyone up for another several minutes.

On top of this, I’m going to hazard a guess that very few of the people who are driving or parking in any given medical center or hospital parking lot are feeling happy and relaxed.  Many have medical concerns, or are concerned for those having medical concerns, and this adds to stress which may cause one to drive or park less carefully than one normally would.  So perhaps a driver who usually would straighten out their car in a spot might not do so.  Or someone who usually takes care to not park over the line might be careless and end up taking up two spots.  Or maybe stress has nothing to do with it, and that’s just how the person is all of the time.  Regardless, I find more of these instances in medical parking lots than anywhere else.  Maddening.

So finally, you navigate the cars darting in and out of parking spaces, whipping around curves, parking all cockamamie and out of control, you squeeze carefully into the parking space, and you’re ready to walk into the building.  There are signs posted everywhere that very clearly say “NO SMOKING.”  There are words, and images, reminders both clever and mundane.  No SmokingThere is a designated smoking area that is not the parking lot, so those who feel the need can go there and do what they want to do.  I confess – years ago, I used to have a smoke now and again.  CrabbyCancerMan did, too, although with more frequency in the past several years in response to stress (and know now that if you post a comment correlating his cancer to smoking, it will be deleted – no further lectures are required).  And of course, having throat cancer and all, this is completely forbidden.  But of course, since CrabbyCancerMan is a stress smoker, and cancer is stressful, the desire to smoke is there.  He has not had a single puff since diagnosis, which is great, but can you imagine his deep desire to punch a person who is standing right beneath the “NO SMOKING” sign puffing away at a cigarette?  Forgetting for a moment about polluting the air that people who have compromised immune systems are breathing, forgetting for a moment that the smoking guidelines are posted for a reason, let’s consider solely the selfishness of taunting those poor, frustrated former-smokers who have to pass the intoxicating scent of their former narcotic before going into the opposite-of-joy that is cancer treatment.

All of this said, my chipper self would point out how wonderful it is that, for the time being, the worst part of the daily radiation treatments is the parking lot.  My crabby self wants to tell her to jump in the lake.

Only 28 more sessions to go.