It’s Thursday! Blog day! I’m feeling chirpy and this is the direct result of a dose of steroids. I finally got to have my second chemotherapy session yesterday morning. I turned up at 1pm on Tuesday, as per my appointment, and got strung up to the cannula. My veins were as plumped-up as they could be (drinking gallons of water), but there was still a lot of angsting over their smallness, buriedness and general unsuitability for the cannula. Then there was the waiting around. Waiting, waiting. What’s happening? A worry over my platelets. Still not enough of the buggers. What to do? The nurse tried to track down my clinical trial coordinator, who was busy. “So many patients!” she exclaimed, later, when she finally materialised. According to her, I had enough platelets to go on with. But it was now nearing three o clock in the afternoon. This place – big blue comfy chairs, people sitting quietly with relatives and friends, in various shades of cheer and gloom – was called a Day Suite. I knew my chemo drip would last four, maybe five hours in all. What is the definition of the end of the day, for a place called a Day Suite? “How long will you be here?” I asked my assigned nurse, who had a beautiful Irish lilt. “I’ll be going at 4.30,” she said, “but there’ll be someone here after me; they’ll stay until the last person is finished.” Okay then. More waiting. And then, a rash of apologetic faces. They had suddenly discovered that I was to have a long drip, not a short drip, and there simply wouldn’t be time. The Day Suite really did close at 5pm, or thereabouts. The Irish nurse had assumed I was having a short drip; I’d assumed she’d known I was having a long drip. There was nothing for it but to withdraw the needle and untie me from my machine, get out of the blue chair and head back to Newtown for the night. I love my doctors, nurses and specialists – and Medicare itself – but I’m finding that intra-hospital communications (and hospital food) leave a lot to be desired.
The next morning (bright and early at 8am), everything went as smooth as silk. We (Steve and me) left the hospital at about two thirty and drove straight back to Bathurst. Picked up the dog from his second home at Kirsty’s, made a tuna bake and settled in to watch telly. It was an evening feast of medical shows – RPA, featuring none other than Professor P, my very own Upper GIT* specialist! He was giving a woman a liver transplant; getting right in there getting a hand-hold on the bad, lumpy, misshapen liver, lifting it out, putting a nice smooth one in (from some other poor sod who’d just died). I’m looking forward to having him get in and work on my own upper GIT tumour, my dark horse that has not been biopsied, that we are only assuming is made of the same stuff as my lower tumour. We had a good chat when I met him in his rooms across the road from Westmead hospital. He was wearing a pink pin-striped shirt with skull cuff links. That’s right. Skull cufflinks. He said he’d probably die of some evil cancer himself, when he’d prefer to go suddenly from something like a cardiac event. He said his goal was to reach the age of 84.
I’m enjoying the steroids. They’re carrying me through these days; expecting to crash out on the weekend (judging by the delayed reaction last time). Dawn will be coming up from Canberra to be in attendance and bring me cups of tea. I’ll just lie around on the couch. And then, by early next week, I should be coming good again.
Being on steroids is reminding me of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and the torch-bearers running from Enmore Road into King Street in the People’s Republic of Newtown. There was a big crowd outside The Hub, the erotic cinema no-one was ever seen going in or out of (now being gentrified, of course). The crowd was chanting, “More drugs in sport!” The look on the torch-bearers faces, once they realised what was going on, was priceless.
Nicely pumped up on steroids, I don’t feel ill enough to be writing an “illness narrative” (like anatomical craft, it’s a Thing & you can find it all over the Internet). So I’ve gone back to “work”, while I can – belting my Songs for Kate doco into shape before sending off to Ronin Films for distribution; writing a review of Franzen’s The Kraus Project for the Newtown Review of Books. I’ve put “work” in inverted commas because these are my projects for love, not money. It’s actually good to have time to work on them, now that I’m free of most of the work that involves getting money.
*Upper GIT = Upper Gastro-Intestinal Tract