Monday, 24 November 2014

77. The radiotherapy plan

It was an interesting day, but I am going to keep this brief, because the day was long and exhausting. It included a mad dash from one hospital to another; I made it just in time. I still have bags to pack and children to sort out before I get on the train to Scotland tomorrow morning. (No, my husband can't help; he has gone off on an overnight business trip too.)

Here is the plan:  three weeks of radiotherapy in January.

The treatment involves daily trips to the Royal Marsden Hospital. They don't do radiotherapy at St George's. It needs specialist machines in a specialist hospital. They blast you with radiotherapy beams for all of, oh, one or two minutes per session. You get weekends off, so it's Monday to Friday, fifteen blasts in total.

Because of Christmas and the New Year coming up, with too many bank holidays that would interrupt this itinerary, my radiotherapy can't be fitted in before the year is out. I'll have to wait until 2015.

I will tell you more another time. There is plenty to tell.

Not only about the excellent doctor, who gave me the choice whether or not to have radiotherapy (the jury is out, really, on whether it is absolutely necessary), discussing things very clearly without insulting my intelligence.

But also about all the other staff, from the receptionists to the nurses, who between them managed to change me from feeling myself, confident and in control, to feeling nameless, lost, like a small and ignorant schoolgirl. All in the space of half an hour. Just as well my husband was there to keep me sane by nodding that he felt the same. And thank goodness the excellent doctor redeemed the situation with that intelligent discussion.

The possible de-humanising effect of institutional procedures imposed by institutionalised staff on an unsuspecting new patient is a blogpost in itself. I hope I get round to it, because you do forget - and the staff, I suspect, have absolutely no idea what it feels like on the other side.

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