Saturday, 28 August 2010

Good news and bad, and goodish


Report to Garry’s for the usual pre-chemo blood tests and spotted a bit of good news on my way in; the giant fish tank which takes up so much room in the chemo clinic is going to be removed.

It was supported by “charitable funds,” given to Imperial College Health Care, but the charity has “run out of money” so it’s goodbye piranha and whatever else was hiding in the murky waters, no doubt they will soon be heading for the hospital canteen and next appear fried.

I'm looking out for some good news about my mid-way scan. Because the scans at the start of all this turned out so badly I feel pessimistic, nervous and agitated.

As usual I have to stand about for a seat before I can slip in between the other ladies patiently waiting. Some have been there for hours. There ought to be a sign on the wall saying, “No fuming.”

To my dismay that the young Singaporean phlebotomist who is so slow and calls everyone “luv,” is back.

Before I can settle into this grumpy morass of fretting females, I have to get a urine sample. Standing astride the specimen jar in the loo I drop the top which rolls into the next stall.

“Please could you send that back again?” I ask. No reply, no sound apart from some rustling. I ask again. A bit of grunting but it doesn’t reappear. I am suspended with the warm liquid in my left hand.

Ask again, feeling exasperated, realising that the person in the next loo probably can’t understand English.

“Don’t get stroppy with me Mum! She can’t understand yer,” calls an Asian-estuary voice from the third cubicle along. I wonder if I am about to get into a fight, but when I emerge, bald and clutching phial of amber nectar, the two women look slightly abashed. Looking like this can get you out of trouble, and I get my top back.

They call me out of the line to see a doctor. Young, beautiful and composed like all the English girl doctors, she gives me the news; good and bad, and goodish.

My scan was completely clear. I am reacting well to the chemo and things are as good as the doctors could possibly hope, no problems at all really.

“But because your cancer was aggressive it’s more likely to come back than one which was ordinary and clearly differentiated,” she says, killing any chance of elation.

“I know that’s tough psychologically,” she says.

It is a real bummer. I sat there with that feeling of unreality again, as if we couldn’t really be having that conversation.

But, some good news again, she didn't think the cancer would come back in my diaphragm because the disease was well contained in the ovary and they got everything out from there. It was all “debulked,” as they put it so beautifully.

The bad cells went along the bloodstream to the lymph node in my groin and if it arrives back there again, it's quite a good place to get it.

"If I was you I’d check your groins," she said ominously.

I have always been a fidgeting, hitching, itching, elastic twanging sort of person, discontented in my own skin, and I can see this taking on a new dimension possibly leading to arrest.

Back in the queue for bloods I met Ann again, the university teacher. I told her that I still couldn’t believe the doctor was talking to me about all this. What was I doing here?

She said she didn’t have that feeling at all. She is at least sixty five so perhaps she doesn’t mind so much, but she also appears to be what I would call an “whole” person, self-contained, content and accepting. Nothing can really ruffle or scare her. A state we could all aspire to.

Left the clinic with that old Roy Orbison ballad baying in my head:

“It’s too soon to know,

Times passes slow,

My hearts been broken in too many pieces,

And it’s too soon to know.”

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