Emelda Forsyte had little experience of hospitals until her diagnosis, so she looked upon her first chemotherapy session as an ideal opportunity for research for her next novel. Her diagnosis was treatable and curable, positive and hopeful, but she would give her heroine, Jolie Jansen, a very likely terminal prognosis. It would add a cutting edge to the fifteenth book in the series.
Jolie had not been nervous about her first chemotherapy session until the lady in the reclining chair opposite died.
‘Good morning.’ A nurse’s voice startled her out of the opening chapter forming in her head. What did that nurse say her name was? They all looked the same in their uniforms and masks.
‘Name and date of birth please.’
‘Emelda Forsyte, 5th July 1964.’
Even with a mask on the nurse looked very puzzled.
‘Oh sorry , I must have the wrong patient. I have you down as Jane Brown.’
‘No, I apologise, Emelda Forsyte is my nom de plume.’
The nurse looked even more confused.
‘I’m a writer, you know, my private detective novels, Jolie Janson, third series on ITV Sunday Drama set in the wilds of Bedfordshire.’
The top half of the nurse’s face still looked blank.
‘Ah, I’m not into all that crime stuff… so you are Jane Brown and your date of birth is?’
Emelda looked at the patients in the other three bays to check if they might be listening in, no doubt they were if they had heard there was a famous author on the ward. She removed her mask and mouthed something.
‘Sorry, I didn’t hear.’
‘10th May 1949’ Emelda whispered.
Emelda watched carefully as a needle was inserted into her hand, more than the slight prick she was told to expect, but hey, Jolie would not flinch, that was nothing compared to the injuries she had experienced. At least the blood being drawn out looked a good colour.
‘I suppose even those tiny phials of blood would be enough to clone me’ Emelda joked.
‘Oh no, they just go to the lab for testing, make sure you are well.’
‘Hmm, but if someone stole them from the lab I could be cloned.’
The nurse chose not to hear and slipped away.
In a short while she reappeared with a bag for the drip and another nurse who asked her name and date of birth.
‘I already answered that.’
‘We double check each time, just making sure the right patient is getting the right drug. This has just come up from the pharmacy with your name and details on it.’
‘That is reassuring, but have you ever had a rogue pharmacist, I mean there could be a fatal dose or a deadly poison in that bag.’
The two nurses exchanged glances.
‘Now dear, it’s quite natural to be nervous your first time, but you are in very safe hands, no need to worry.’
‘I am not nervous, just thinking about research for my next novel.’
‘Okay so let’s go through the prescriptions you have to take home. Now these injections must go in the fridge and on Friday the district nurse will start coming round to give you one injection each day.’
‘District nurses, do they still have them, she won’t be in uniform will she?’
‘Could be a he and they will be in uniform and PPE, you will be perfectly safe.’
All Emelda was worried about was the neighbours seeing, district nurses were what old people had visiting them. Hopefully they would have to park round the corner and not draw any attention. Then she had an idea.
‘How would I know they were real, could be an assassin in disguise with a lethal injection, like that chap who pretended to be doing Covid vaccinations.’
‘Just ring your surgery if you have any worries…’
Emelda examined the contents of the paper bag from the pharmacy and withdrew a box of tablets to read the instructions.
‘Read the leaflet inside carefully when you get home, you must take those tablets as instructed.’
‘So what would happen if you made a mistake, or your husband or daughter were in charge and intentionally gave you too many… or perhaps a wife might look at her husband lying in a drunken stupor and stick all those needles in him at once.’
‘Any mistakes and you must ring the hot line straight away or even dial 999. Who is at home with you?’
‘Oh I live alone, ditched Mr. Brown years ago and became Emelda Forsyte.’
‘I am sure you will manage your tablets fine, just remember to lock all your medication out of reach of you have grandchildren visiting.’
‘None of those thank God, humans under the age of twelve are to be avoided at all costs.’
Emelda was glad to be up and feeling fine, calling for a taxi and bidding farewell to the nurses who looked relieved to see her leaving.
‘Now take it easy and be prepared for the effects to kick in tomorrow.’
‘Oh I shall be fine, see you all in three weeks’ time.’
Before Emelda arrived back at the main entrance she was surprised to be stopped by a man in a suit who quickly produced a warrant card.
‘Mrs. Jane Brown?’
‘You would probably know me better as Emelda Forsyte, crime writer, is that why you stopped me?’
‘Never heard of her, I am only interested in Jane Brown; security gave us a call, your nurse rang the patient alert hot line about some inappropriate conversations and questions. Can you confirm you have just had a session of chemotherapy?’
‘Yes, it went very well, lovely staff, I don’t understand what you are saying.’
‘Hospitals have to be very careful that medication is not taken away to be misused, if we could go somewhere private to have a little discussion?’
‘No, you misunderstand, I was merely doing research, anyway I must go, taxi arriving any minute.’
‘I could invite you to come to the police station to help with our enquiries.’
For a moment Emelda was most offended, more because he had not recognised her as a famous crime writer than that he might think her a criminal. But this could be a research opportunity. Jolie Janson had more than her fair share of run ins with Bedfordshire Police, but Emelda had never actually been inside a police station…