Nothing will sustain you more potently than the power to recognise in your humdrum routine, the true poetry of life – the poetry of the commonplace, of the ordinary person, of the plain, toilworn, with their loves and their joys, their sorrows and griefs. – Sir William Osler
I had a call a couple of weeks ago from the haematology department of Tallaght Hospital. The person on the other end of the phone said “I have bad news for you”. Right says I, go on, but I could feel my heart racing. Then he calmly said “we have to change your appointment to October instead of next week”. Well I could have killed him. You don’t say something like that to someone like me, who is always expecting the news to be serious. But it gave me two more week’s off the hook so every cloud and all that.
But then last Thursday it was time to head off again to get bloods done, and to have a chat with my consultant. It’s the same routine I have been keeping since about 2009 when I was allowed back to a reasonable length of time between hospital appointments.
I saw Emma off to college early in the morning and then Cathal went off on the bus to school. It was just me then so I sorted the cats and headed off. I was listening to RTE Radio One on the way to hospital in the car and I can honestly not tell you even one story that was on the air that day. Then it was time for Tubridy and again, I can’t tell you what was being talked about. There is only ever one thing on my mind on these days – will today be the day?
I was feeling okay apart from some tiredness. Could that be to do with the bloods not being good which might be to do with the myeloma being on the march again?
Each time I go I get the results of the current bloods which are taken on the day I am visiting the hospital. But, there is one result which takes time to come back so each time I get that result it is two month’s out of date. That’s the result that tells me what the myeloma is doing. It’s the one all about the free light chains, the para proteins.
So I had the bloods taken after sitting in the urgent queue – it’s for special customers only, those who have an oncology or haematology or some other appointment to go on to that same morning. The secretary remarked that she hadn’t seen me for a while – you see there is a big difference between eight and ten weeks!
After bloods it was off for my usual treat of some OJ and a banana and walnut muffin. Then it was upstairs to register for the rapid access clinic. On the way up in the lift a man started humming Any Dream Will Do which just seemed so out of place but as I left the lift on level 3 I found myself humming it too. I was delighted to have been infected by music and hoped it would be the only infectious thing I picked up while in the hospital.
Check-in was taken care off and I sat down to wait. I seem to bump into a lot of the same characters all the time and I have taken to naming them for myself. On this particular day there was Grumpy Guy, Old-Fashioned Lady who sat down beside me and blurted out for everyone to hear “What a gay day”. Then there was anxious hubby who was fussing over his wife and so on.
Usually I don’t bat much of an eyelid on the other patients. It’s not exactly a place where conversation is flowing as we are all carrying our own particular nerves within, almost too afraid to verbalise them.
But then a young man arrived up with his mother and I was so taken aback that I wanted to go over and hug him. He was whiter that the whitest white you can imagine. He looked gravely ill. The nurses took one look at him and pronounced him to be only fit for one of the beds in the day ward. He couldn’t have been more than 19 or 20 and was probably a recent transfer from the children’s section. I haven’t been able to get him out of my mind since I saw him. I remarked about him on my Facebook page and a friend of mine said that he remembers feeling the exact same thing when he saw me about a fortnight after my transplant. I too was whiter than the whitest white you can imagine and he worried for me and whether I was going to make it. I am hoping that young man has the same luck as I have been having and that he will be sitting in my seat someday….. But if you are the praying type, please pray for him.
Anyway back to my results which arrived after a two-hour wait. I wish there was something to do in the hospital while you are waiting – like a table tennis table, a craft table or something to take your mind off the results – like a relaxation zone. Adults need things like this too. If you could be paged in the relaxation zone to come just at the moment the consultant arrives, then that would be amazing.
So I get called from my seat by my consultant and he tells me immediately that everything is okay and that the bloods are all fine and that the free light chains are grand. Then he apologises that he doesn’t have more to say to me. I assure him that these short and sweet conversations are all I need. He muses over whether he will allow me slightly longer between each visit and then decides that he won’t as his gut feeling is to continue to see me every eight weeks. That’s fine by me. I assure him that it is a small price to have to pay for peace of mind. We shake hands and I am off the hook, again for another eight weeks.
I really wanted good news this time. Well I want good news every time but this time in particular I wanted it more as it means I can say that the eight year remission is holding steady.
It was onwards with life and back to work – for another eight weeks.