Tuesday Tale – Questioning

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…

Unmasked

After months of indecision and confusion from our leaders we are finally wearing facemasks – a bit. On public transport and for customers in shops it’s official, though without much hope of enforcement. Staying at home as a full time carer, the only shop I have been to is the tiny Boots’ pharmacy attached to our doctors’ surgery. Actually lots of people aren’t going to real shops; busy working couples who have been doing on line shopping for years and the ‘vulnerable’ who have discovered on line shopping and don’t trust anything the government says.

At our little chemist the staff have always worn masks and only let one person in at a time, so it feels safe, with the added benefit of privacy for discussing personal medical stuff. But I miss the jolly days crammed in with bored toddlers and having a joke with bored adults as we all waited and wondered who would hit the jackpot and get their prescription next or at all. And of course listening in to other people’s strange medical problems or listening in to the medical problems of strange people…

In Covid times we wait outside, not too many people, but with plenty of opportunity for confusion. You may think someone is pushing in, but they are making their way to the outer door of the surgery to ring the bell and report to the all powerful receptionist, who tells them to wait outside until summoned on their mobile phone; leaving them with the dilemma of which queue to stand in. The rest of us are either queueing to go in to the pharmacy or have already been in but have to wait for our prescriptions.

On my first visit with official mask wearing I got a tickly cough ( NOT a Covid cough ) as soon as I got inside – what to do? Rip off mask and take a sip out of my water bottle? NO, not allowed to touch mask let alone remove it.

One of the regular staff is always friendly and helpful, but a good while ago he was away and when he came back had lost his voice, reduced to a whisper, that was okay without a mask… I had no idea if he could hear my mask voice properly; I was there to collect new prescriptions, with either no idea what they were called or how to pronounce them and also to explain that as we were having a regular medicine in liquid form could we cancel the repeat prescription for the capsules… He checked the computer screen and the bag of medicines and the forms, but he may as well have been speaking in Martian. I understood only his last whispered words Address, post code – for a moment I thought the mask would make me forget my own address, but I managed that bit and just hoped what was in the heavy bag was all the correct stuff.

As I was leaving I did feel, in my stuffy mask, on a hot day, looking forward to taking it off as soon as I got round the corner…  I did feel at last I was part of the Covid Community.

As I was leaving, another staff member came out to give a lady her prescription and asked her address, the woman instinctively pulled down her mask to say her address…

Friday Flash Fiction – Health Crisis

I looked at the list of unpronounceable names on the drugs list. They actually trusted people to administer these to their loved ones? Trusted wives, sons, nieces, the next door neighbour to hand out the right tablets in the right number at the right time? The hospital expected me to ‘do the meds’ without a key or a trolley?

Four tonight, next two days four twice a day, the following day three twice a day… take one three times a day… what a collection, what a selection of pretty sweets for Brian’s ghastly grandchildren; pity they won’t be visiting. This corona virus; good excuse for his daughter to get out of helping and Young Brian away in Spain, couldn’t get a flight back. Not so resentful of me now they have a free carer for their father. I certainly didn’t sign up for this.

Better get organised. Take with food… must be taken one hour before eating… swallow with one glass of water… box of 32 paracetamol, that’s handy, in great demand at the moment, I’m sure Brian doesn’t need those with all the other stuff. A quarter tablet, how the hell am I meant to cut up that microscopic tablet. See leaflet for possible side effects, take me all night to read this… must seek medical help immediately if you accidentally take more than the prescribed dose. Wouldn’t that be a shame, could happen easily, especially with the size of the writing on those little brown bottles… oh, I thought it said 12 not 2 tablets. Ah… ONE 3 times a day, not 3, 3 times a day? No wonder, that explains it…

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The Game of Life Continues…

Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs. Do not seek professional advice here either!

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The Game of Life continues with no rules; it is over a year since the Game of Life started  play on Tidalscribe. Worldwide people continue to be out of the game in war and disasters – natural and man-made; even the blame for natural disasters is now laid at the feet of humans. What happens to individuals in their little lives means nothing in the bigger picture, but the bigger picture is too much for us to take in so we talk about people we know.

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A storm, a phone call and an early Christmas card.

 We had a big storm recently, not a typhoon, hurricane or flood. Out of all the people in Dorset the roll of the dice went against one older lady, a tree was blown on top of her car.

When my old school friend phoned one evening with ‘sad news’ it wasn’t hard to guess her elderly mother had died, but it had still come as a shock to her because of the circumstances and because she had been her mother’s carer for a very long time.

Just back from our little holiday in Wales, Cyberspouse  browsed through the mail and opened a Christmas card. Without actually looking to see who the card was from he started reading the brief type written slip inside describing the peaceful death at home on Good Friday of someone’s husband. From the name I guessed, we only exchanged Christmas cards, but our mothers had been best friends when we were in infant school. Chemotherapy had not worked, but he had time to see family and another grandson born, loved ones take comfort from targets achieved.

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How many things can humans have fixed?

How many extra years does modern medicine give you? Cyberspouse met up with a friend he hadn’t seen for a while and was surprised to see him looking so well. Over a period of time he has had his rib cage opened up, heart surgery, cancer, other multiple conditions, plus various parts removed.

Death Jokes

‘Eighteen months at the most I was told’

Well seventeen, it was a month ago they told you that.

Wilko Johnson is an ageing pop star I knew little about, but a few years ago I heard him talking on the radio about being diagnosed with terminal cancer; he just made me laugh, after always suffering from bouts of depression he was feeling really cheerful, his calm acceptance of his imminent demise apparently impressed his friends and fans. He carried on with life without bothering about treatment. After doing farewell tours, circumstances led him to an oncologist who offered to operate with a 15% chance of survival. He survived.

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Appointments

Cyberspouse’s most recent scan showed everything still stable, nothing had changed since his previous scan and six months of no treatment, when we went in to see the oncologist she said ‘Oh, you’re looking well!’. Life carries on as normal; we’ve had trips away most months, north, east and west. There are no magic answers to cancer; if you are feeling okay you may as well get on with life and not waste time searching for ‘key lifestyles’ and new cures ‘overseas’.  If a diet of raw vegetables doesn’t appeal to you eat what you like. The Macmillan nurse said at the start of all this, keep moving and feed yourself up, words taken to heart by Cyberspouse. We don’t look things up, but I find Quora quite interesting or amusing when it pops up.

Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, and edited by Internet users, either factually or in the form of opinion.

Cancer is understandably a popular topic and most of the answers sensible. There is no miracle cure that someone somewhere in the world is hiding so they can make money. If there were, the rich and powerful would not succumb like the rest of us. It is not one disease, cancerous cells can pop up anywhere and move round the body to anywhere, cells have their own DNA and this can alter; every patient is different as to how illness and treatment will affect them. Cancer is not a battle to be fought, if it was the young with everything to fight for would not die.

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People you don’t see, in laboratories, are busy researching, adding to the multitude of different chemotherapies and other treatments – adding new chance cards to the Game of Life.