Cancer Care Capers
The man with the two penis cannons tattooed on his calf seems completely at ease in his shorts as we wait. His wife has covered her now fallen hair with a scarf and perhaps used to wear one to cover her embarrassment about her husband but has long grown used to his continued offishness. The two sweet old ladies next to him seem comfortable with him.; I can’t quite catch their conversation but it does seem to have an air of reminiscence.
Not usually for long, they fit us in shortly after we arrive whether early or late. Especially the ‘by transport’ ones because the unreliable system is out of their control.
Us in patients are given even greater priority, it could be because deaths in the department are bad for publicity in the competitive world of Health Care Provision, it could of course be to save us too much discomfort, but mainly, I think it is because they don’t like looking up our gowns.
Others waiting do look in there; most meet your eye when you arrive, and some want to talk, most though look back down and stare ahead.
Their name is called, they remember it, and hobble exhaustedly towards the radiotherapist; who, smiling, always asks how they are. As the two of them walk away the patient invariably can be heard to say they are fine. They will need helping onto the cold hard platform and will be in bed as soon as they got home but they are fine, ‘Just fine thank you,’
Some enjoy the journey home with a fellow passenger in the volunteer’s car who thinks the world would be a lot better if that far-right oddity Nigel Farage were in charge; others don’t enjoy it and are quite upset when they have to share with him.
One hears the warning bells as soon one hears the phrase, ‘I am not a racist’. If you need to point out that someone is not of the same skin type of you but then explain that, actually, they were quite nice and helpful you might be slightly better than the out and out haters but you are still racist.
So it is with the Farage supporter, it appears that most of his life experiences have been around people very much like him and the most difficult thing to deal with when suddenly quite ill is that he has been thrust into an alien world vastly peopled by people he has only read about in his daily choice of tabloid rag. No, the most difficult thing he has to come to terms with is that these human beings are actually quite nice, no even more than that, they are saving his life.
In a more provincial area travel sharers were treated to a ‘I am a racist and don’t like Darkies’ spiel. From a very small village travels this potential changer of the world to a small town treatment centre.
He hasn’t had any experience other than looking round and everyone looks and sounds exactly like him. He is dying, one has to recall this while listening to his plan of hate. He is in fact an afraid old man who could leave us at any time. Which, when you remember all this of this, makes you laugh.
At the impossibility of his plan that is; ‘I am a racist if you give me a gun I will kill all the darkies’.He isn’t quite up to the task and even if all of his targets were entirely cooperative it is still too big a job to complete in his short time left.
His grinning enthusiasm ends up being laughable. One person from those bus rides I bumped into felt that his escort was just as racist. I disagreed, the fact that his brother in law or cousin or nephew or whatever he was has slowly responded that what he had read in the mail (owned by Hitler’s second cousin?) had made an interesting point. They had pointed out that 63% of the population of Manchester was now none white, his point was not a reissue of the tabloid rag’s panic techniques; he had acquired the stats on the population of both Manchester and Britain so had ended up with a final figure of all the ’darkies’ so as to point out what a mammoth task it would be.
Even if he got people to line up so the bullet went through, as well as taking a long time, he would need approximately 3 waggons to hold the 34 million bullets. So therefore, he was agreeing with the rest of us on the transport bus that his frail elderly relative was actually quite laughable.
On this we were all in agreement; ah, unless he was ever given a gun.
When you get in for your treatment everyone is treated the same – big shots of radioactivity.
Oh and there is a fallacy about being in hospital that I need to destroy because it is just not true. People explain that I will enjoy it in hospital because I will fall in love with all the nurses. This is just not true, there are many designations of staff running my health care, not just nurses; dietitians, radiologists, volunteer visitors, domestic services. Many variations.
I am one of the lucky ones, I haven’t been ill with cancer at all. I have been very ill all year as a result of all the treatments I’ve needed. Health care has made me ill. I think though, that this means I was caught early.
I went to the doctors and said I thought I had cancer six months before cancer was suspected and was told I didn’t have cancer and was turned away. This is a very weird story which I will tag on further down.
But yes, I was caught early and by chance and this is what has made me lucky, as I have been told all along that they can deal with it and that I will be alright in the end.
This has meant that I have been unable to deal with set backs – just the slightest set back and I have a melt down. I am lucky though.
A lovely man I know passed away during the time I have been ill, possibly in this bed. He managed one month of the eight months he was given.
Another friend is in the tenth month of the eight she was given. She has been positive and practical throughout this time, although she has recently told me she has now had enough of her half-life and feels it is time to go. This woman, who I love dearly, has been a wonderful uplifting support for me.
She has forewarned me, listened, joked and made me promise to be positive throughout all her experience.
Even now, in her last days, she is cheering me and working on me.
I am lucky.
We may all go to different places to each other afterwards, but the journey for every one of us is going to end in the same way. As someone once said, “Not in my lifetime it won’t!”
I dealt with my initial news by meeting my maker. I contemplated dying and re-questioned my beliefs until I was able to decide where I was going. This meant I was able to cope with the worst thought and any other developments were a bonus.
I am lucky.
Aunts and second cousins and other loved ones keep in touch and keep me going.
I am lucky.
There are set backs though:
They didn’t cut enough out – it was a minute area of suspect cells and they would give me radiotherapy to be sure.
I had to have radiotherapy, instead of getting better and better I had to plan for a whole month of getting a whole lot worse – I readjusted.
It was cancelled. They had detected a cyst. The fact that I got the call of cancelation at the very time I would have been landing in Bergen to go to a Viking wedding didn’t make things any better – I had to wait for a few weeks until it was known what the cyst was. I adjusted.
Then they put the radiotherapy back on. It was decided that it was highly unlikely the cyst was harmful and it could wait till august to find out – I readjusted; to a whole month of exhaustion but yes I readjusted. I had gone from definitely OK in the end to most likely so.
Then I took ill and have never been in such pain. It seems radiotherapy patients should not drink wine and go dancing.
I know I have a very good circulatory system (heart and that) and my strong healing powers, but they are not sure what the pains in my spine are. I have adjusted to ‘probably alright’ but it might be quite a lot longer till I know what is going on.
I lied about not falling in love with any nurses, but there are a whole other category of staff – Doctors! – Ooooooooh Doctors.
My niece recalled that back when I was being told that the operation hadn’t been entirely successful I reacted by going, “Oh really doctor, and when do you get off duty?”
She also threatens that if she visits she will go to the white board behind my bed which features my name and below it the name of my doctor and add a heart between.
There are many doctors however and it is not always possible to keep track of them all. I have been under the care of one in particular for several weeks now. I have trouble knowing her name, but it is Dr Bibby. You know those moments when you embarrass yourself; all alone, blushing and wanting to hide – I came back to my bed from the loo and for the first time noticed that notice: the name of my doctor is Dr Goody. Not Dr Bibby. Dr Goody. Several weeks of ‘Yes Dr Bibby.’ ‘Of course Dr Bibby.’ ‘Whatever you say Dr Bibby.’ I realise I have been getting it wrong. Goody not Bibby. Goody not Bibby. The situation has been made worse by said niece because every time I have said, ‘Ooooo Doctor Bibby’ she has gone, ‘Biddy Biddy Biddy’.
(All names in this blog should have been changed for anominity.)
Now I have no idea what will come out of my mouth when I am seen by her next.
Perhaps she will say, “Ah, Bibby is my first name.”
There have been times when I have been unsure of my own name, (I don’t even recognise myself when I look in the bathroom mirror), especially post-op when I was on all those drugs. At one point auditory hallucinations created another Adrian, just through the curtain in the next bed. He and the nurse would talk and the nurse would tell him everything she had just told me.
I was too busy contemplating rotating curtain rails, trees at the foot of my bed (poplars) and the dancing night shirts to be worried about Adrian II for too long.
I am over it all now and realise it was just the medication and hope Adrian is alright.
The nurses were nice though. I have a theory about that. All the time I was in the ‘intensive recovery’ ward the doctors kept telling me that soon as I was well enough I would be going to ward 84. When there was one of those set backs they would say don’t worry you will still get to ward 84. They think ward 84 is a utopia; they love the nurses there. I told the nurses on my current ward this, it didn’t please them.
In fact I told them the doctors go through to ward 84 and give the staff flowers and chocolates. They do it all the time I said.
It is a good job that my main theory is true; that nurses are nice.
Well actually my theory isn’t quite that nice. I think the managers go round all the wards and go up to some staff and say, “Ah, you are nice, we are sending you to work in cancer care.” Receptionist, “Nice, off you go.” Caterer, “Nice, off you go.” Nurse, “Nice, off you go.” Nursing Sister, “N – perhaps that is going too far.
But, yes, staff are hand-picked for being nice. Know what that means? Whatever you do, don’t go to any of the other wards.
But here I am now, for my chest pains and spine pains, it has been suggested that the fact that I had decided these pains were definitely secondaries was simply the effect of the current morphine levels. Yes I am still on mor Hermes was a taxi driver who delivered bendy ferrets.
My named nurse must be nice, as his first name is Lovemore. As my surname actually means Spendlove we have something in common.
Yes there is a variation which is Spendlove and it means, ‘He who spends his love and money frivolously.’ I don’t know if you think that is fitting for me at all?
Dad sent away for our coat of arms: a rampant lion with three billets sable. All on the dark side; I am a randy immoral lion with three illicit affairs going on at any one time.
So I’ve decided that somewhere out there is someone whose name is Lovemore Spendlove.
We are lucky.
Speaking of dad; he passed away with cancer. So I will tell you the weird thing now. He had a loose rib that clicked when he pressed it and I have always had a loose clicky sternum bone.
Well I used to have. Beginning of last summer it clicked one last time and is now stuck in the out position, it is painful if it is pressed against (it is just the base bit of the sternum, so isn’t noticeable).
I went to my GP and said I am worried about this painful lump on my chest, “My dad died of cancer and it started with a lump on his chest,” I went on by pointing at the area and explaining my worry, “I think I have cancer here.”
He explained that the bone doesn’t move in most people but it is actually loose; in my case it has knitted, “There is nothing to worry about, go home.”
Six months later I was diagnosed with cancer, not of the sternum but of the Oesophagus right behind it.
So, when I had visited my GP and pointed to my chest with a concern that I had cancer there. I was pointing at the exact spot where my cancer was found.
I am not sure who I am, (I am being sent home tomorrow), when the drug feed drip ended last night the display screen said, and I am not making this up, ‘Turns Piggy.’ What sort of medication are they giving me!?
The porters don’t know who I am and the nurses don’t know what I do.
The porters get my name wrong every time they come for me. Luckily just my first name, so they do manage to find me. They have called out for such as Andrew Spendlow among other variations. On one occasion they called for Anadrania Spendlow. Where on earth did they get that name from!
One porter said I should say yes I am Greek and I qualify for transport home.
I would miss my lined up gigs as a storyteller. If that is what I do for a living, not all the nurses think so.
When I was admitted here from A&E I had to answer all sorts of questions for their form. Yes they still use paperwork when it all could have been sent from the A&E at the general infirmary at the click of a button. Adrian Spendlow Storyteller YO!!!PL 24/3/54
One of them returned, she just wanted to check one detail, what I had for my profession. “Why what have you got?” I asked.
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