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Saturday 24 September 2022

It's said to be the best medicine

Sometimes the days get shuffled backwards.
As it happens I've been more or less lucky

The chemo session following my bowel cancer op was “vaguely” due to last six months. In fact it only lasted four months. Without getting wildly optimistic I took the shorter period to be goodish news. More encouraging still was the removal of the PICC - a sort of tap mounted on my arm and down which the chemo flowed. Installing it was an op in itself (using X-ray guidance) and I opined they wouldn’t be wasting time getting rid of it unless it had, for the moment at least, served its purpose.

The next stage was a check-up scan of my middle regions and for the first time in this saga I encountered a delay typical of those hogging the NHS headlines in the media. Just a couple weeks in my case. In the X-ray/imaging department notices told me the results would “probably” be available in 14 days. Since then 4 weeks have slid by and no results.

I phoned the oncology secretary, determined not to nag or pretend mine was “a special case”. In fact her friendliness was immediately noticeable, as with all my dealings (bar one) over eight months with the hospital.

My hospital number? Somewhere, I said, thrashing through mounds of bumph. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I can work it out.”

Yes, she said. There’d been a delay. She apologised.

“Due to shortages?” I suggested.

She sighed but not irritatedly. “We don’t have enough radiologists.”

It was a day of economic news from the House of Commons. I said, “And not much help promised from our brand-new prime minister.” Adding, “But that’s a chat between us for another day.”

She laughed freely, even gaily. It’s my role as patient. NHS does the techie, I try to make them laugh.


  1. It's so hard to wait for anything. But for results like these, it seems cruel. Still, not much one can do about it.

    1. Colette: I'd dispute the word "cruel" - that suggests intent on the part of the NHS and with that one exception I allude to briefly I've received nothing but promptness, efficiency and grace during the two ops I experienced in 2021.

      To tell you the truth (and I'm using that well-worn phrase exactly) I have surprised myself by being able to compartmentalise my medical matters and may go for quite long periods without pondering them. In fact I'd have to say my nearest and dearest may well have suffered more than I have.

      As I have said more than once, I have always avoided asking for a prognosis from the medical professionals. Not from fear but because I am able to do this. The nearest I got to this unwanted info occurred during the first pre-op discussion with the surgeon who was going to do the cutting. Nothing about me specifically - just a series of arithmetical relationships (mostly given as percentages) between my age, general expectations with regard to bowel cancer, and advances in cancer treatment.

      When it was over my journalistic skills kicked in and I arrived at my own judgment: I am in my mid-eighties so what life expectancy would I allocate myself even if I ruled out cancer altogether. Not long. So what's to worry about?

      NOTE: I delayed responding to your comment on my previous post (ie, The road not taken). Now I have responded.

  2. I hope you get the results soon. Four weeks is a long time to wait. It's true though, laughter is the best medicine. We all need to keep on laughing.

  3. This coming Monday, I go in for an ultrasound of my full abdominal region. Had a CAT scan last week to rule out metastatic bone cancer: thank goodness, there is no evidence of bone cancer anywhere.
    I still have awful pains in liver, spleen and colon areas; hence, the ultrasound.
    I am so glad you are still here with us and, seemingly, doing well. I wish you the best results from your tests.

    As ever,

    1. Crow: Thanks for your best wishes. I realise I've taken as light-hearted a view of my cancer as I could. Given what you've gone through I might not have managed to be as casual. I suppose we all find different ways of wrestling with the beast. If it's any comfort when I think about you (which I do more often than you might imagine) my mind wings its way backwards to that self-deprecatory photo you posted of an over-soldered plumbing joint. Do you find this kinda irrelevant? It's a useful instruction for those who write: self-deprecation lasts longer and more favourably than boasting.

      And another one. From time to time you've upbraided me for occasions when I've (in your opinion) "gone too far". Your tone of voice was frequently minatory and I couldn't help thinking that this time we really had parted brass-rags. But eventually you re-appeared and I took this as a compliment, no doubt thoroughly undeserved. One of the unspoken and underplayed aspects of blogging.

  4. Upside, Roderick, someone probably quickly scanned your test and didn't flag it for immediate perusal or dealing with. Crossing fingers and toes that not a quick response means GOOD THINGS!