Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Special day early

Arrived at the cancer clinic at Queen Charlotte’s at 8.30am for a 9.20 appointment, because I woke early and then just couldn’t hang about, best to get it over with,  to start walking. Two fat magpies in the park, a good sign as I crossed over into the dismal atmosphere of east Acton.
In the waiting area with my copy of Metro,  I felt the stinging anxiety of waiting again, just like every time  before. Everything hangs on so few words.
By 9am the clinic had begun to get crowded; youngish women with gynae problems still hoping for children, and older women like me hoping for a bit more life.
I continually imagine meeting with the doctor; her clean, bright face, they way she will welcome me,  we’ll sit down feeling fairly formal almost as if it was a job interview, she’ll look away for a few moments at the screen or go through some papers then she will speak –  words that mean everything, more than “I love you” or “will you marry me?” ever meant.
“Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire,” we said on Sunday. Where is it when you need it. Banished by  panic is the answer.
The Metro headline reads: “Football is a matter of life and death says Sol.”
Sitting here too early in the morning is a matter of life and death. I wonder who Sol is with his silly words.
How many women have passed through here and died? Tell myself I have got to stop being afraid of death as that is the only way to live.
The nurse from Belfast I saw on the Victor Bonney Ward goes past. When I had my original op she used to come and stand at the bottom of my bed in the morning looking furious and dressed up  like an admiral. She was part of my morphine dream.  I saw her again last August and she seemed to have been demoted to mere nurse.
There is the same young male receptionist. I wonder how he sticks it. A chav girl  comes in with bottle tan and wearing a vest covered in sparkling sequins.
Then I am moved a bit nearer to the doctors’ consulting rooms.  There are nine of us in this new waiting area, two of us English, one Scot, the rest veiled, sitting with anxious looking men. The Belfast nurse notices me and a smile flits across her lumpy  features. Perhaps she recognises me or my note-pad.
Then I am in with the doctor, a very young man I haven’t seen before. He welcomes me, we sit, he looks at the screen and says, “Everything is fine from the blood test. Any problems?”
Tell him I had a short period of constipation and got really worried about it thinking that the cancer had returned. As I speak realise I am getting emotional and struggle to control it. That is very embarrassing. Tell him I am taking Asprin to try to prevent the cancer returning. Not a good idea he says, thirty percent get a stomach bleed. He wouldn’t do it. That thirty percent again, only that number survive this cancer longer than five years.
All over in about ten seconds and I am out in the sunshine again, on my way to the Royal Academy for  "Varnishing Day," which these days means champaign.

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