Monday, 25 October 2010

Perking up again

I need other people to give me encouragement at the moment, and as usual they do. My new friend Ann from the clinic points out that if Agerwall’s 98 per cent failure rate were true, the Garry Weston centre would be overwhelmed with patients. It is crowded but that’s because it’s in such a small, narrow space.

Conner Middelmann Whitney who wrote Zest for Life, the “anti-cancer diet” book and runs the cookery school in Toulouse, suggests I look at David Servan-Schreiber’s book, ‘Anticancer,’ which tells the story of the author’s fight with an aggressive brain tumour. His cancer was diagnosed when he was 31; he is now 49 and still in good health.

Conner says: “that he writes in great detail about all the ways in which we can improve our chances of recovering from cancer, touching on a wide range of anti-cancer factors such as diet, exercise, stress reduction, meditation etc. He talks, among others, about these dreaded survival statistics, and how they’re just that: averages, means, numbers. His point is that you can transcend statistics by following an anti-cancer lifestyle. Accused by some critics of giving cancer patients false hopes, he accuses many oncologists of giving people a feeling of ‘false hopelessness’ and thus sapping them of the energy needed to play an active part in their recovery. Maybe a useful thought to hang on to? ”

“False hopelessness” – yes! That is exactly it. The result of being clubbed over the head with raw statistics. All you can do is forget them – and try to live.

Jo at, replied to my blog and suggested cooking the “mind meal,” featured on the Mind Mental Health Web site.

On Friday 22nd I went out for the first time since I got back from Italy. I arranged to meet the friends I stood up before, while waiting for the nurses. We decided to have supper in Fortnum & Mason’s then go up Jermyn Street to the little theatre there, to see Black Bread & Cucumber, a one woman show by Caroline Blakiston, to celebrate Anton Chekhov's 150 birthday. She made history as the first British actress to play Chekhov in Russia, in Russian.

I enjoyed pottering around Fortnum’s, a thickly carpeted shop which sells groceries at unfeasibly high prices. It is strangely soothing just to move about between the stacked shelves of crystallised ginger (£20 a box) past the small chocolate Santas, (£20) and the packets of tea with accompanying silver strainers and spoons. I bought myself a 100 grammes of peanut butter fudge. The girls selling it were very pleasant, not sniffy about my little bill among people spending hundreds of pounds.

I did a bit of Christmas shopping in there, shortbread, Stilton in a jar, and ginger biscuits in elegant tins, then slipped out the back to Paxton & Whitefield which sells “exceptional cheese, since 1797,” at exceptionally inflated prices. It’s a good shop though, authentic, the stink of the cheese reaching right down Jermyn Street. They might have some of the original cheese behind the counter.

The customers always seem to be men, large ones in crombies, and young city gents who look as if they might be dining with the Camerons. It reminds me of the old El Vinos on Fleet Street, a rich but rough place with a masculine atmosphere where ladies definitely weren’t welcome. Women shoppers presumably prefer the safer less pungent climes of Waitrose.

I allowed myself a small triangle of Munster. It tastes good at the front of the mouth, melts on the tongue like chocolate but you get a strong bacterial, mouldy aroma as it hits the back of the throat. Always a good sign with cheese and cider.

The staff in there are friendly, but many of the clients are not. I said “excuse me” to a large ox like man, who looked a bit like Princess Caroline of Monaco’s husband, Ernst August, Prince of Hanover. He glared at me as if I was a fly on a bit of Gouda and ignored me for a few pointed moments before moving just a little out of the way.

While I was waiting for my friends I by passed Hatchards, the famous book shop which has hardly any drama, for Waterstones to pick up a copy of If So, Then Yes by N.F. Simpson. If you miss a play at least you can read it.

From the beginning there were some very amusing lines: Maureen Somebody said that life is like trying to put together a gigantic jigsaw puzzle by the light of a small torch in a dark room.

Geoffrey Though partially sighted.

Just what I have been feeling the last few days, about ambition, failure, unwanted change and the unknown future.

I have a different attitude to old age now, and to old people, like Simpson himself at ninety one. If they complain about their lot or about life itself I think they might have missed the point. What wouldn’t those people in the Garry Weston clinic and I give to know that we will live to be old?

The show was fascinating. We weren’t told why Caroline Blakiston decided to work not just at the Moscow Arts Theatre but in some very remote parts of Russia, but she gave a fascinating insight into life in the Soviet Union just before it gave up the ghost. She seemed to have acquired Russian easily and is obviously a very gifted woman. She came out afterwards for a brief chat. I asked her if she was going back to Russia again to work. She said there was nothing on the cards but she might. As I left she called out to me, “If I live.” Our eyes met and there seemed to be a spark of amused recognition. I wondered if there was something wrong with her too.

Next week scan on Monday, results on Wednesday, with Mr flippin it’s all going to go wrong Agerwall again. Better get used to it.

Thursday, 21 October 2010



Lots of travel in the offing - just been to Italy for the D Telegraph and they want to send me to Toulouse in early December. Also have Venice on the horizon for Private Banking Magazine. Physically I have no sign of cancer in my blood or on the last scan. I should be really happy now, but the doctors have taken away my hope.

My GP was so concerned about the views of Mr Agerwall, who told me that the chemo was unlikely to work, that he rang the hospital. He Spoke to a doctor today who said only a tiny percentage of people don't go back for more chemo and it is likely to come back within six months! This is worse than Agerwall who said within two years. How does one live with this? They don’t give any advice.

Doctors like to speak of ovarian cancer as a "chronic disease," no one ever seems to get completely cured, that would be tantamount to a miracle.

I don't look forward to a life like where chunks of the year are taken up by intravenous drips and nauseating drugs and how many rounds of chemo can they give before they call it a day I wonder?

This illness or rather the threat of it, seems to highlight that part of my life which has been a complete failure. I spent years worrying about not having a man, aching for love, yearning for a mate, “my other half,” envying people their weekend breaks and companionable summer hols, now that tumour on my soul has been replaced and largely shoved out by ovarian cancer in the groin. One nail drives out another nail, so strengths by strengths do fail – as Shakespeare put it, in his pessimistic play, Coriolanus.

The future looks bleak; no choice but to live from day to day to day, not looking ahead or envisaging the future and not looking back to such a short time ago, when life jogged on in a normal, hum-drum way, and there is no way this situation will ever change.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Epistle from Planet NHS

I wrote this letter 7/9/2010

Dear Claire Perry,

I am currently attending Hammersmith Hospital for chemotherapy. I am receiving good treatment, all is going well for me, but I must make a complaint about the treatment I received in the Victor Bonney ward, Queen Charlotte’s hospital after I was admitted there on May 4th this year for a hysterectomy.

While I was in there, there was no cold water on the ward. We were not assisted to wash in bed and I tried to take a shower. The water in the shower on the ward was scalding hot and I was left completely alone in the shower room, although I had just had an op and still had a morphine bag.

When I asked for help I was taken to a bathroom near the reception desk, where there was apparently cold water, again I was left completely alone, and I could not turn the cold tap on although I struggled to do so.

The nurses were curt and unwilling to help us. I asked for a drink of water but a nurse couldn’t give it to me although she was standing next to a sink. I lost a new nightdress which was taken away with the sheets and disposed of. The nurses I told about this laughed and found it very amusing. I spent some of my time in tears.

We were then told to leave the ward after only three days, regardless of how well or ill we were. The doctor who dismissed us did not examine anyone.

I realise this might be a separate issue as hospitals were required to meet targets on operations performed, without having enough beds. But the manner that we were pushed out was very unfriendly and distressing.

I knew I should make a complaint about the nursing on Victor Bonney but I was inspired to get on with it when my neighbour told me she had been in the VB ward too, and had received bad treatment. She told me the nurses were “rude and unhelpful.”

My counsellor, Philip Alexander, who works with cancer patients for the NHS at Charing Cross and Hammersmith also told me he had received several bad reports from his clients about Victor Bonney.

Yours truly,

13th October 2010 I received a letter from Imperial College Healthcare, Planet NHS, from a Keith Ingram, "Acting Associate Director," who deals with “Service Quality.” Sounds a bit like something from the railways but in this case you don’t get any complimentary vouchers.

He lists four people who’ve apparently investigated my complaints and states that “after checking the ward report book,” there were “no reported problems with the water supply during the period of your stay I am sorry that we are unable to provide you with any additional information.”

I go around making up complaints about water supplies for the good of my health do I? What is interesting is that my chief complaint, more important than any lack of cold water, was that twice I was left alone, attached to morphine bag, with scalding hot water. No help to wash, no supervision while I was feeble and light- headed. This was surely a lack of basic nursing care – but that is not mentioned early in the letter. Perhaps nurses no longer help people to wash, or stick around to see they don’t get turned into boiled lobsters?

Instead as a kind of defence, the letter brings up my cancer support nurse and says that I didn’t tell her there was any problem about going home after the op and being on my own. So we have moved on quickly to an issue which lies outside the Victor Bonney ward. A full page is then given over to this. Apparently we patients were “mobilised,” to avoid blood clots.

I pointed out that we were not examined before we were booted out. He says that Dr Yazan Abdullah, Senior House Doctor, “felt we were feeling well enough to go home.”

Yes but he didn’t feel us! Never put a finger on human flesh that morning if our round was anything to go by. Then there is a mention quite far down the page about my complaint that the nurses didn’t help me to wash – Keith Ingram has never been taught to write in clear paragraphs, his points are all mixed up. He says that a “Lead nurse” has discussed my concerns with her nursing team, “so they can think about events as part of their reflective learning.”

I can just imagine them sitting round on the nursing station, dunking biscuits and quietly reflecting on pesky patients unable to turn on cold taps and demanding assistance. When I dipped my toe into the cold waters of Further Education we had to keep a “reflective learning diary.” It was important to write one’s mistakes down, show how one would act if the situation recurred and this act of penance could get you a lot of marks at the end of term. The more “reflection” that had gone on the more you were, theoretically, a good teacher. "If a student spits in my eye I will never throw them through a window again, instead I will walk away," you write, and no one knows what will happen if that situation occurs again, least of all you.

Mr Ingram goes back to my cancer support nurse, who apparently doesn’t support anything I have said in my letter, because I didn’t mention it to her. I had no idea that I was obliged to discuss nursing care with her – we’d only recently met. I hadn’t even had my final diagnosis as a cancer patient. She was offered as someone to consult in the future. The letter says she would have “approached whichever nurse was in charge of the ward,” really? She is usually terribly busy and no one ever appeared to be in charge of the ward. There was a woman in blue uniform who would come in and glare at me in the early morning, but I don’t know who she was, could have been a passing member of the WRVS driven mad by the axing of trolleys. We never knew her identity and she was so scary it was better not to ask.

The upshot is – nothing to do with my unsubstantiated, mischievous complaints, but “a series of interactive workshops” were held, from May to April, called “The Caring Dimension,” to give nurses and their interpreters, “an insight into the Trust’s new values and behaviours.” Note that word “behaviours,” good old “behaviour” is no longer enough, it has somehow acquired a pompous sounding plural.

The trust’s “new values” involve nurses in “Caring.” Sadly they were only just getting the hang of this new notion when I was there. They obviously weren’t practising this new skill on patients and we missed out on it.

Q: Wouldn’t it be more economical in terms of money and time, if nurses and midwives were given a good basic training in the first place? Nursing used to be a “caring profession,” so why is this aspect only taught after they are qualified and there are complaints? Could they not even assess whether people are “caring” before they accept them for the training? There could even be a questionnaire along the lines of: Do you kick the cat? Do you deal in crack cocaine? Do you actually like people?

Due to a brand new checking system, in July the Victor Bonney ward received 93/100 as a rating for staff courtesy, with overall care rated at 88. It has shown “further improvements,” if that is possible this September. A bit like the A level grades – a hundred percent pass rate is in view!

So much for me, my neighbour and all that hospital counsellor’s clients who also left Victor Bonney recently, disappointed, appalled and upset.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Joke. (Not side splitting but it amuses me!)


I had a letter in the Daily Telegraph today – to my great joy and surprise. It also had a small headline on the page and a large amusing illustration.

I made one of my favourite jokes. An unpleasant vicar called Simon Shouler was on Radio 4 this week demanding the right to murder badgers that stray into his church yard and he wants to get rid of the bats in his belfry. He said he should be allowed the right to do this, “in his own way.” Very sinister if you ask me.

I pointed out that all he has to do to the bats is baptise, confirm and marry them, and he will never see them again.

I once made this joke to Fr Rodney Bomford who was then vicar at St Giles Church in Camberwell. He was not amused and gave me one of his chilliest looks. Strange people vicars, you never know what will upset them.


While I am feeling a big Old Vic, trouble with my crust of bread, totally Mutt and Jeff, I have been reading an interesting cookery book.

Zest for Life, The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet, by Conner Middelmann-Whitney is treat. Not whimsical, neurotic or faddish, it provides information about cancer – and how to avoid it and escape its return to the maximum possibility. Also a selection of delightful recipes from what is probably the healthiest diet for any European.

Olive oil, fish, feta, aromatic herbs, fruit and wine this is the food of the Etruscans and the Greek Gods. She will tell you how best to put them together to make delicious simple meals.

Reading this book I have so far lost all interest in my old diet – no more toast and butter, much less red meat, sweets and pastry. I really enjoyed replacing my usual boring potatoes with her cauliflower mash. Mine was a bit brown because of the turmeric and slightly damp as I put too much stock into it, but the taste was divine.

Conner once suffered from cancer but survived and now lives in south west France, where she is able to buy abundant fresh local produce, and she runs a cookery school.

Zest For Life is Published by Matador at £12.95

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Happy Holidays

Saturday 9th October

Wonderful break at a spa, 500 metres above Lake Garda, but perhaps it was too soon after chemo for such adventures.

It was a two hour drive from the airport to the resort, 500 metres above Lake Garda. I arrived hot and as soon as I saw the long, blue infinity pool I dived right in. Glorious! There is nothing to beat breaking the surface of a swimming pool, especially after months of being virtually house-bound. A few hours later my left ear went rather numb. I ignored it but three days later I had a really bad infection and the pain was getting worse.

My own stupid fault – I had wax ear plugs with me. I will never swim without them again. On the plane home I nearly wept with the pain as the cabin pressure made it feel as if someone was applying an electric drill to the side of my head. Start crying silently with the pain, hiding behind my airline mag in case anyone notices. The side of my face was swelling and I remembered doctors at Garry saying that if you ever get an infection or a fever you have to go to hospital immediately.

At Victoria I thought of going to their private medical walk in centre. Years ago, when I was well off, I walked in there for an ear infection. They were pleasant and treated it effectively and charged me £65. I’m not so well off now and there is the complication of the chemo, so I took a taxi with all my luggage, suitcase, bottles of wine and olive oil, to Charing Cross A & E.

The plane landed at 5pm. I got to the hospital at about 7. 45pm and didn't see a doctor till after midnight. It was a kind of torture, apart from the real pain in the ear, sitting there under bright lights as the floor gradually filled up with old copies of the Sun and the Standard, food wrappings, plastic cups, water, vomit and urine. A young lad next to me vomited into a kind of grey cardboard top hat.

I was freezing when I finally got to see a doctor, shaking and hungry but so relieved that the long wait was over. They did a few tests, including a chest X-ray and I got home at 3am.

Charing Cross issued me with a prescription for antibiotics but the doctor apologised, saying: “We haven’t got any here. We’ve run out, as usual.”

The idea of having to return next day loomed up like a dire punishment for having wasted their time and further stressed them out.

It was a ludicrously painful night, the throbbing pain turned to grinding and I couldn’t move my head or get comfortable. Neither could I listen to the radio unless I lay flat on my back as otherwise I had to lie on my good ear and the other one was stone deaf.

Maisie, who decided that she didn’t want to eat any of her remaining cat food, sat by me, bolt upright but staring down at me, meaningfully. I should have given her a big fish treat as soon as I got home but I had hoped she could wait until morning.

The next morning, Sunday, a quick glance in the mirror, something I avoid these days, showed a distorted face and an ear sticking out like ET.

I got up at 7 am to get the emergency fish sorted and be ready to schlep over to Hammersmith Hospital to collect my drugs. A friend gave me a lift and I pictured another queue winding down the street. At 10am when I arrived there were only two of us queuing, including two pharmacists waiting to be let in to the locked department. They took our prescriptions in with them. As I sat waiting a lot more people began to gather.

When I got home, longing for my bed, I realised that this was the day I was supposed to be starting my duty on the coffee rota at church. I had let them down without realising it. Went to bed feeling dismal, reflecting that the spa and its good effects were like a vanishing dream.

While I was away I received two phone calls from a Jill Wickens asking me to call her about the complaint I’d made about the community nurses and the inappropriately named “Harmony.” She sounded anxious and really keen for me to call.

On Monday, after unpacking, apologising to the cat yet again and giving her more fresh fish, taking pills, trying to sleep and sorting out washing and work schedule, I screwed up courage and called her. I do not recommend calling anyone connected with the NHS – if you value your sanity - and lo, at the number she’d given they had never heard of her.

I was immediately back on planet NHS, a dead star most furthest removed in the universe from the planets known as Happy Holidays and Relaxing Spa Treatments. The bored voice on the line put me through somewhere, and another bored voice put me on to an extension where I heard a female voice, but not that of Ms Wickens.

I started again and redialled. A young lad on the line seemed to find the situation amusing, he was certainly not bothered, but he gave me a number for a centre in Acton. They knew Jill Wickens. What a relief! She had gone on holiday for two weeks and handed over the case to someone else who “will be dealing with it.”

Planet NHS again – 13/10/10

I am taking Clarithromycin for the ear. They are making me feel rather ill, headaches and nasty taste in mouth, rather like the old chemo taste. Daft fears spring about in my head – maybe this drug is undoing the chemo, perhaps my lymph glands are too busy coping with this infection to deal with the free-ranging radicals?? Is all this spinach I’m eating enough to cope with all this infection?

I rang NHS Direct at 9pm just to ask about any possible side effects of the anti-biotics, perhaps I should change to something else? They took down my details at length then said that a nurse would ring me up, "In about eight hours time."

I said thanks but no thanks. Couldn’t quite believe that a nurse would be on the line at 5am anyway. I think there would have been a deafening silence.


Just remembered that someone was supposed to be dealing with my Harmony case. Not a word since that phone call to Jill Wickens.

This morning on the radio hear that Violetta Aylward, a nurse employed by an agency called “Ambition 24 hours,” an even sillier name than “Harmony,” switched off a disabled patient’s life support machine, leaving him with severe brain damage. A video passed to the BBC shows her struggling to revive the patient, applying the resuscitation bag in the wrong place. Aylward is a foreign nurse and the agency didn’t check her qualifications. The only real surprise is that there aren’t many more similar cases, but most people probably die quietly of neglect.

Monday, 4 October 2010

A Way Out of the Wood

October 4th 2010

That's hopefully the worst night over, with its wild chemo dreams. In the best of them I had borrowed £250 from Ann Widdecombe to buy a skirt and blouse, but I lost them, or couldn’t remember where they were, the garments had vanished and I was very worried. The Blairs were mixed up in that one too. Then I was invited to go on Woman’s Hour on R4 to speak about the govt’s plan to cut Child Benefit. When I got there I thought that two women producers were making fun of me with sinister nods and winks, verbal abuse took place. Then I couldn’t remember the name of the presenter, Jenni Murray, and no one would tell me. I woke up thinking, “Well, they will never ask me back, what a mess I made of that!”

An email from the redoubtable Loretta Oliver, Chief Exec of Ovarian Cancer Action.

She says she has spent the weekend walking through a dark tunnel after her last chemo. She had forgotten how bad it is. I was in that same tunnel – I am sorry we didn’t meet!

I spent the weekend feeling so lonely and neglected. London is a going out place. I had a lot of invites to go out, from Friday night when I was waiting for the nurse, onwards, but if you can’t go out you feel you are finished as a human being.

I was shut in thinking of that doctor of doom with his two percents and his “highly unlikely,” saying I had no chance. Facing this alone, with just the radio and the cat for company, I ended up thinking that even in the condemned cell at Newgate prison they sent someone to sit with you.

On Sunday night I suddenly started hearing from friends, messages came towards me like a flurry of birds and I immediately felt better.

This morning I know I am almost through it. My feet are very numb, can hardly walk, but feel that I can keep going out of this, and as an example of forward going, I am off to Italy this week, my first break since I visited the Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabruck in the rain last October. I’d just broken up with someone and was going down with flu.

Among the Christmas catalogues arriving on the mat I found a parcel from Fiona Kenworthy, containing a beautiful black and white headscarf. She sent me my turbans a couple of months ago when I turned into Joan Collins, and keeps in touch. Such a kind person. I recommend her.

Cathal, who lives in Luxembourg and sometimes buys my paintings, has also sent me a £50 Amazon token. If he was one of the Medici he couldn’t be a better patron. Kind acts actually do help one to stay alive.

For lunch try a recipe from the River Cottage, never bothered with Hugh Fernly Whatsit before. It’s a Sardine Bake, but replace the sardine with salmon as that’s what I’ve got in the fridge and it’s about to go off.

This turns out to be a truly delicious marriage of softly fried onions, potato, fish, butter and milk. Absolutely yummy – one of the best meals I’ve ever had and it makes me think about the character in the Tin Drum, late in the novel, when the war has just ended, everything has been blown to smithereens, but he meets a friend and they eat a sausage together. All the food that went before doesn’t count because this meal marks the start of something new and different. They’ve survived and there was a future, even if it was east Berlin.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Harmony Breaks In Again

“Harmony” first broke into my life way back in May, at the start of all this, when I first came out of hospital and needed a district nurse – and couldn’t easily get one. I did get one eventually, but she was called a “community nurse,” didn’t have a uniform, instead she sported a great fat bosom sticking out of a silk blouse, and came with a capacious bag full of equipment. She took over an hour to apply one dressing as she had been given no information about what was needed and had to rummage through so much to find the right size.

I am still not sure where the “Harmony” bits come in, I thought it was the name of a nursing agency which was obviously out of control, but I now discover that those nurses from Ealing and Acton are part of the Primary Care Trust and “Harmony” is just their call center.

On Wed 29th Sept in the chemo clinic, Nurse Eileen made a referral by phone for me to have three injections, on 30th, 1st and 2nd at 5pm to increase my blood count to prevent an infection.

I was with her when this was done and felt slightly nervous. I asked for the nurses’ number, just in case, but she quite blithely said it would all be OK, she had fixed it.

5pm was OK by me – I would have to miss an invite to supper with a friend, but I would be able to make it to meet her at the Jermyn Theatre in the West End by 7.30pm. We were going to the first night of If So, Then Yes, a new play by N.F Simpson, who is 91 and hasn’t had a new play on since 1972.

Thursday 30th 5pm. No nurse in view. I had some how expected this. At 5.15 I rang the Acton Vale surgery and happily there was a receptionist who kindly called the Harmony call centre. I also called Clio and the Harmony people myself. I got the bad news that the nurses changed over from day shirt to “twighlight” at 5pm. I knew this was bad news. Harmony knew nothing about the referral and said the night nurses had no information either. They suggested I should call my doctor back and go there for the injection. I called the surgery again, but my doctor and his practice nurse had gone. I called Harmony again and the injection was then arranged for later that evening.

The hours ticked away. I could not ring my friend at the theatre as she doesn’t carry a mobile. Two nurses arrived at 9.30pm one bustling and black the other lethargic and Irish. “I can see you’re a bit stressed,” she said. I was even more so when the black nurse told me they were not authorised to give the injection as I had, “no letter.”

Feeling all those microscopic cancer cells creeping back and opening out like jelly fish with all this stress, I said, “I must have that injection.” They tried to call out a Dr Raj. We sat and waited and the Irish nurse told me about her beagle puppy which kept breaking out and leaping her fence. He is apparently locked up in her home all day and bored to death.

Doctor Raj was not available, so in the end I gave myself the injection while they watched.

All friends by now, they assured me they would give information back to the community nurses on the day shift about what had happened. I wondered how I was going to get these injections at different times, or if they would all have to be this late, which would mean cancelling more plans. I could not see that I would be able to get them in the mornings and evenings, that would be far too complicated.

On Friday 1st just after 10am I got a call from Harmony, someone speaking in the most harmonious voice imaginable, with an almost forced joyfulness, saying they had just received a referral for me that morning, and a nurse would soon be arranged.

I explained what had happened and the woman on the phone said they had received no previous referral, no phone calls at all, from me, Clio or the doctor’s receptionist. They said the nurses from the previous evening had not contacted anyone either.

They said that if I had a problem I would have to call the nurses myself directly, but then said they could not give out any of their numbers. Nurse Clio also had this problem when she tried to contact them.

I again called your receptionist and Clio, who phoned Harmony again. I was told by a nurse that she had seen the original referral, and put a note by it on her computer for someone to pick it up. She was very vague about what had happened to it then. Later in the day I got a call from Harmony, from someone called Alex, who called herself “the supervisor,” Which is apparently not her job title.

She said that the problem was that the day time nurses “were already on their team visits” when the original referral arrived. “I don’t know why you are upset, your doctor should have sent this referral three days ago,” she said. So that put me in my place – the place of a bald headed, stressed out chemo patient who should shut up and disappear.

After they’d gone my friend who I’d missed at the theatre rang me, not cross at all. She’d been with a doctor friend of hers. “As soon as you didn’t show up we looked at each other,” she said, “and both said, “the nurse hasn’t come.”

The play, was apparently excellent and very funny. N.F Simpson was actually there in the audience! I would love to have seen him, with his impish face and bushy white beard. Oh well, nothing can be done and it could have been worse.

I made the calls and since the two “twighlighters” did their flit I have been doing the injections myself, but if I had been much older, frailer, or not so able to deal with all the stress of the situation by myself, I would have been left by the community nursing service with no injections at all.

Just before I went to sleep there was a bit of news on the radio that big, bushy eye brows are back in fashion and all the girls on the cat walk are striding around looking like Denis Healey, as if they have large wriggling caterpillars walking over their faces. Perhaps it was a good thing I didn’t go out to the West End then, I fear I am falling far behind at the moment in the area of high fashion.