It’s an odd feeling, being in hospital when you feel completely well, yet that is the situation I found myself in. My consultant, the lovely Sarah Jeffries wanted a close eye kept on me as I started the radiotherapy. I suspect the near miss of the cyst had given more concern that I fully appreciated. It was a surprise to me when the Registrar who had told me I had Gastroenteritis when I had my last appointment appeared on the ward and came over to me to apologise for not spotting the intercranial pressure build up. In fairness to him, there had probably been a lot of bugs about. On the other hand I think it may be a bit of a gimme on the tick list of things to rule out in cases like mine but we all know how tight the NHS has had to become with things like scans and this is the unenviable balance Doctors have to strike. Anyway, no harm was done to me although I stIill fear the poor ambulance folk who’d had to lug a semi-conscious me down the stairs would now have terminal back issues. See now Tories what your cuts do!
Sarah Jeffries also had a quiet word with me to indicate she was aware of the short comings of the Research Fellow in terms of his lack of ability to listen to his patients and suggested while I was staying in hospital I should engage with him as much as possible. Naughty but he did deserve it the arrogant git. For the next week I amused myself by practising yoga moves in front of him when he came on his ward rounds. He remained reluctant to engage in discussing the merits of them or any diets or supplements with me but I persevered the entire week. Entertainment was hard to come by as the ward I was on was depressing indeed. The other patients were, by and large, in a very bad way. One especially was truly terrifying to me. A lady by the window who was calling out in pain and distress throughout the day. Her body would contort with the pain of her situation. There seemed nothing anyone could do. She was not particularly elderly, perhaps in her 50s. One day when her husband came to visit her we had a chat. A few weeks before she had been a perfectly healthy working woman and grandparent. One day, on her way home from a meeting, she couldn’t find the way. It transpired her brain was filled with an aggressive grade 4 glioma. She remained on the ward for only a few days before she was moved out to a hospice.
With the pressure relieved from my head, I was now feeling absolutely fine. A porter arrived to take me for my rescheduled radiotherapy. “Well you’re a lot better now!” he exclaimed. I was a tad baffled as I didn’t have a clue who he was. He soon filled me in. He was the porter who had tried to take me to my radiotherapy previously. He was a very cheery fellow. For anyone who’s ever watched programmes like Casualty, the nurses and doctors do not spend time listening to your life stories/woes, they simply don’t have the time. But people like the porters and the auxiliaries who bring round the food, they’re the ones who bring the sunshine into the day. The others on my ward were in such a bad way, most of them couldn’t eat. But some of the auxiliaries who came daily would make a point of trying to find out if someone would be ensuring they had managed something. A fairly hopeless task, given most were, I think, beyond being able to eat. But they cared and that really shone through. Hospitals are so busy but beyond that so medicalised, small acts of kindness and caring go far. I was feeling fine which meant my usual interest in food had reasserted itself so I really looked forward to the food rounds. And whether it was because of the chance of some human interaction or the large quantity of steroids I was dosed up on, I had an enormous appetite. To this day I have fond memories of some lasagne I had on that ward….
The radiotherapy itself was no problem at all. I popped on the mask and it took no more than a minute or so, as had been promised. For the next 6 weeks I would be repeating this once a day. The first week was easy as I was remaining an in-patient. After that we would see. By the end of the week they were happy to release me for the weekend. This was coming not a moment too soon. I hadn’t seen Ned and Posy for well over a week which was like an eternity. I’d never been separated from them for more than 24 hours before. I couldn’t wait to see them. When we arrived home Ned came running down the path to greet me. I went to give him a hug but as he reached me he very deliberately stopped and turned his back on me. I think that was my worst moment so far. He couldn’t have made his feelings any clearer. He was only two and in his young mind I suppose I had abandoned him. Posy was fine but quite clingy to Debbie and that too was hard for me. Less than a month before she would yell if anyone but me held her and while I was glad she seemed content, it hurt me that her affections had switched quite so swiftly. But what could we do? There was nothing David or I could do but continue to get on with it.