Sunday, July 24, 2016

Missing the Words

I can't think of another period in my life since I began my creative writing journey in 2003 where I've lost the Words so thoroughly. It's not that I haven't been creative in this time, in fact, I can honestly say it's been one of the most wonderfully artistic times, but there just haven't been the Words.

Dave begins his radiation therapy on Monday. His fabulous oncologist wants him to do a five week course, five days in the week to knock the tumour back well and good. There is a great deal of concern about how well his bowels will cope with the radiation as there is the chance that they may become paralysed. This would mean a period of hospitalisation and the end of the treatment at this time. 

It's meant Dave's return to his abode outside of Norwich as it will be easier for him to get to his daily treatments from there. I've had a re-shuffle of my bedroom and have incorporated my studio space in it. I also went through my bookshelves and removed two-thirds of my books, keeping only those I am likely to read or are attached to. I now have a plastic crate full and about eight bags of books waiting to go to charity shops. Letting them go was quite hard. Most of my reading these days is genre-based and I tend to download the books onto my kindle out of preference. I find it easier to read on kindle when I can adjust the text size according to how tired my eyes get. And it's not like any of the books are valuable to anyone else. Hauling them around the countryside is an exercise in ego that I no longer have time for. I've known too many people with massive libraries full of worthy books, who were complete tits. I've got nothing left to prove to anyone.

The chickens are fine if a bit of a pain. Canasta decided to go broody again, but with the temperatures being what they were, I was disinclined to let her stay in the greenhouse. I hauled her squawking butt out of there every night and if it got too hot, put the laying bag outside under the damson tree. She got fed up and stopped, but unfortunately all of the hens then stopped laying in the bag. At first I thought they'd stopped laying because they were moulting, they're a scruffy looking bunch these days, but no; they're laying away. I kept them in for a few days and actually, they are laying. Today, I let them out and I'll see what they do. If they keep laying away, we shall have to think again about the arrangements. I can't be having chicks on top of everything else right now (or ever, given Jenga's genetic closeness to the girls). 

You may, or may not remember that this time last year I did a five day artist's skills and methods course and then started a year long drawing and painting course. The five day course led to me falling in irrevocably love with oil paints. I tolerated the drawing and painting course, but had to drop out in January with Dave's diagnosis. I think it must have been April when I thought "fuck it" and picked up my drawing pens and then oil paints. I had to learn as I went along and it was mostly an exercise in frustration. 

Dave lost patience with me and strong-armed me into signing up for a day's course in Oil Painting for Beginners. He also suggested that if I like the tutor, I should ask if they are available for private tuition. He then hit me with the line he used to use on the PhD students in his care: why spend an afternoon in the library, when you can spend six months in the lab? Umm...yeah...okay. 

I really liked the tutor and he seemed to get where I was coming from. We arranged for him to come over and have a look at everything I'd been working on. After he left, I felt quite nauseous. My little shapes, my little obsession spoke to him. He gave me lots of technical advice and his questions made me take myself, my creativity and my art seriously. I'm into the abstract. Shapes and colour in their purest form. Partly because I don't have the skill to do representational art, partly because I'm not terribly interested in representational art. Much of the art scene around here is still life and landscapes. I am booked to do another day's course, this time it's oil outside. I want to know how to draw and paint, if only for when I move on from these shapes. 

Yesterday, I started my four-week mindfulness course. I've never had formal meditation training and I figured this is the perfect time to address this. My mind is like a barrel full of monkeys which is mostly fine during the day, not so great when trying to get to sleep. The past few weeks sleep has been a precious experience. Given sleep deprivation makes me cranky and more vulnerable to daily stresses, anything I can do to help myself right now, has got to be a good thing. Also, because I'm doing this as a course and there are exercises and homework, I have to do it. There are no excuses. Last night, I drifted off to sleep without any difficulty. 

So that's pretty much it darlings. I keep putting one foot in front of the other. I'm pretty sure the Words will be back, so if you could be patient with me, I'd be grateful. I don't take your friendship and support for granted. 

Sunday, July 03, 2016

July, who'd have thought eh?

Hello lovelies. How's it going?

It's been a busy time what with one thing and another. Writing hasn't been terribly high on my To Do List that seems to have a reproduction system akin to a rabbit. 

The last scan Dave had at the end of Cycle 4 showed no difference in the main tumour's size. Given the side effects have been getting worse and the damage to his right kidney after a consultation with his oncologist, Dave decided to call a halt to the chemo and go for the radiation treatment. We are waiting for his appointments to come through. After that course, there will be another scan and hopefully, a long period of inactivity on the tumour's part. 

Dave however, will be very busy. He's really looking forward to going back to work at Strangers Roastery. Although, he's been popping in and doing tastings and the odd bits of work, he's missed it. 

I've managed to get a few days in the garden with Dave's lovely sister and we are beginning to tease the shape of things to come out of the mass of nettles and ground elder. She has promised to come visit in the autumn for a mega planting session, but in the meantime, I've got a lot of work to do. 

My application to do the MA has been turned down. It's a "no", but not a permanent no. It was felt that I had too much to deal with emotionally and the training would be distracting and too demanding at this time. As disappointed as I am, I realised that they are absolutely right. I need my energies focused in my life right now. I have other things to do and the training won't be going anywhere.

The chickens are nuts as always. While I was away for my training, the little tinkers treated Boy and Dave like substitute teachers. They played up so much, I was embarrassed. Jenga in particular was a right dick about coming home at night. He thought he'd continue his disobedience on my return. It earned him a few days in the hen house while the hens played. I think he realised the shortness of my fuse when I ran him down twice. I picked him up and carried him home in the end. Since that time, he's behaved reasonably well. 

Boy has his results and now has a BA in Marketing and Advertising. He's spending the summer having fun, working in various music festivals and intends to do his serious job hunting based with me, come the autumn. The job market for graduates sucks so incredibly much right now; it seems like an uphill struggle to get a foot in the door. He's got a good work ethic, oodles of determination and mad skillz, so I'm not worried about his future. 

And then of course, there has been farce and catastrophe of Brexit. I've spent enough time rating about it on other social media and if I'm sufficiently moved, perhaps I'll throw my tuppence worth on here next week. 

I decided to do some mindfulness training and learn to meditate properly, that will keep me out of mischief for a bit. There's also the arting that continues in dribs and drabs. I wrote a poem the other day and there's still my novel to get stuck into. One thing is for certain, Life is all about Change. Some within this woman's control, most not at all so. At the moment, I'm going with the flow.  

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

It's June? Really? How?

Darlings, I'm sorry. I've neglected you dreadfully. It's just been a bit of a tough time and social media seems filled with enough doom and gloom without me adding to it.

This cycle of chemotherapy has knocked Dave sideways and as a result, me as well.

We are doing fine, all things considering. Dave is fricking amazing the way he continues to cope with the chemo and the side effects, as well as me worrying and fussing. The last two cycles are in sight. Yes, there will be the radiation therapy...but we are counting down the sessions now.

The weather this Spring has been diabolical. Truly vile. To the point where quite frankly, I was considering putting my heating back on. And then suddenly, on Saturday...after 10 days of cold, damp and grey...there was sunshine!

Dave's sister and niece came up over the weekend and brought with them loads of warmth and enthusiasm. Just what the doctor ordered. They got me in the garden; got me digging and thinking and planning. When they left Sunday lunchtime, I continued. 

It turns out all my hard work last Autumn with the chickens digging out the roots of the perennial weeds wasn't wasted. Although I haven't eradicated the ground elder and nettles and they've sprung up again with great enthusiasm, they haven't got quite the hold that they've previously enjoyed. 

Z gave me some lovely plants for my birthday. I'd been scratching my head wondering where even to begin. Dave's sister pointed me in the right direction, got them all in and looking fabulous and I've carried on ever since. Following her good advice, I've broken down the gardening into mini-projects and I've been focusing on one area at a time. 

My scatter gun approach wasn't really making a visible dent in things (even though it was) and now after roughly four days work, I can really see the difference. There was a pond, and while it could have been again (or a bog garden) I decided to keep the structure and create an homage instead. We'll pop in little alpines in rocky crevices and it should be quite fun.

Scrabble and Polly are in their second broody week. I'm getting a bit bored of them hanging out in the greenhouse now. It's put Canasta right off laying there and I'm having to chase around after her to make sure I find her laying places. She's also quite lonely wandering around by herself. Jenga...well...he's swanning around making loads of noise as usual. No change there.

Have some pix darlings.


 Look at my magnificent cock! Isn't Jenga gorgeous?
 My birthday plants from Z (except the oriental poppy that gatecrashed the party) 
 The Pond Homage
 From another angle
Teeny Tiny Very Smelly Roses

Saturday, May 07, 2016

From Chickens to Gardening, via Bullocks

It's been a bit weird and crazy and nuts round here for a variety of reasons that will ensue further on. To bring you up to date as quickly as possible, I've decided to bullet things. 

Chickens
Polly wondering when Canasta would stop being such a dick
  • Well, it's been a bit fun around here. Canasta decided to go broody and determinedly sat in the greenhouse outside my kitchen door.
  • Broody hens are grumpy-as-fuck hens. 
  • Polly thought it looked like fun and tried it out for a few days. But then she realised it was not very much fun at all and went back to normal.
  • Jenga played fast and loose with two of Z's pullets to the point that they were escaping from her coop to go play with him.
  • He became a very wilful cock and began refusing to come home at night. 
  • I caught one of the hens trying to be broody and immediately popped her and Jenga in my coop.
  • They were as happy as anything until Scrabble and Polly realised what was going on.
  • I returned the little hen suitably chastened and kept Jenga in for a week or so.
  • He has behaved since.
  • Canasta eventually got bored sitting on a clay egg and is now back to normal.
  • My little flock is happy again.
Canasta wondering why she can't be left alone

Cows
  • Well, bullocks actually.
  • While Z was away, a very nice man brought seven of them to over-summer on the Ups & Downs field.
  • Which was fine, except bullocks aren't cows (yes, I know. I'll explain. Give me a minute).
  • The cows last year were quite content to mooch around the field, eat grass and sunbathe.
  • Not so these young lads.
  • Within days they sabotaged their drinking tank and started playing with plastic pots stacked on the other side of the fence of the kitchen garden.
  • They liked to play "It" with the cats and chickens. The chickens and cats didn't find it as much fun.
  • The little buggers tried to eat the roof of the chicken coop with a mum and her youngsters. The tin with the chicken food was always covered with bullock spit every time I went to feed them.
  • When Z got back she moved the coop, sorted out the water trough and generally got the youngsters to behave (because she brooks no shit from no one, no matter how much bigger they are)
  • A couple of weeks ago, she came through slightly apologetic saying one of the bullocks escaped and was currently standing on the drive.
  • It took three of us to get the damned thing back.
  • It escaped again within 10 minutes of being put back.
  • While we waited for the dairy farmer to send a man to fix the fence, as I sat there watching it, it tried three times to get out. Little bugger.
  • Herding chickens was good practice for herding cattle. The only difference was the bullock was bigger and had more legs. Seriously. No difference. Attitude problems. 
Dave
  • Pamela (who is totally lovely and awesome) sent Dave a pressie, all the way from Winnipeg, Canada. A blankie in his favourite colours.
  • He loves it to bits and for days wouldn't even let Rummy share.
  • The chemo is beginning to bite and Dave is getting more easily fatigued these days.
  • Thankfully, we are nearly at mid-point. 
Cats
  • When Z was away with LT (Lovely Tim, her SO if you don't visit her blog), I looked after the menagerie, including Eloise the cat.
  • I've given up shutting the doors between our respective abodes.
  • Eloise likes to come and visit. She says she comes around because there's never any food at hers. We know that's major fibs, but she's now got her own bowl here.
  • She will come round and will greet Rummy with a nose sniff, closely followed by a thump and then there's Ball of Cats rolling around the floor.
  • Rummy gives as good as he gets.
  • They chase each other around the garden like mad things.
  • Rummy will often go visit Z and LT in the evenings.
  • It's very sociable around here.
Chickens
  • After Canasta stopped being broody, Scrabble decided she didn't want to lay in the greenhouse anymore.
  • I knew she was laying away, but hadn't got it together enough to follow her.
  • Dave found she was laying in some nettles (always the bloody nettles) on the other side of my fence.
  • That was fine. I took the eggs away and put one of the clay eggs there, so she'd keep laying in the same place.
  • Unfortunately, I forgot to tell Z's gardener not to mow over that spot.
  • When Scrabble discovered she couldn't lay in secret there anymore she was very put out.
  • She spent the afternoon looking for places to lay.
  • Dave and I were having a cup of tea at the dinning table when we glanced up and there she stood in the living room, on my carpet. She'd come in through the front door.
  • As gently as possible I shooed her out (I didn't want her to crap on the floor in protest).
  • A little while later on, I come up to Dave who is still sitting at the table. "There's a chicken on the kitchen counter," he says. I look and see my chicken mug on the kitchen counter. "OMG the chemo has rotted your brain," says I in my usual caring fashion (call me Florence). "No, not the chicken mug" he says slightly annoyed. "Chicken on the counter!" There's a little burble, I go to investigate and sure enough, there's Scrabble.
  • Z pointed out I could have got a large pan out for her. It would have been efficient. 
  • This is why I love Z so much.
Art
  • I'm painting again. It's brilliant (no, not my painting - that sucks) being able to be creative again.
  • I am now okay with the fact that it will take many years for me to suck less at my art. 
  • Dave bought me a proper painter's smock to go over my clothes. He doesn't want me to use his jumpers any more. Fair enough.
  • I realised that the sketching easel I was using wasn't robust enough. Dave brought me a studio easel as a birthday present (because he is awesome).
  • The great thing about working with oil paints is I can put down my palette (okay, plastic plate) and brush and walk off when I've had enough. It also means I can pick them up again just as easily. 
  • Dave came through and saw me painting in my onesie, covered by the smock. He thought it was really funny (I don't see it myself. He has a strange sense of humour). 
The Meaning of Life
  • I am pursuing my training in Core Process Psychotherapy.
  • I went down to Devon for the first in two weekends of foundation training.
  • It was bloody brilliant.
  • So much so, I've applied to do the MA.
  • I will need to complete the foundation training and attend an interview.
  • Please keep everything crossed that the Powers that Be look upon my application favourably.
  • It will be a few weeks before I know (I have to have the interview before they offer me a place).
  • It will be a huge commitment in time and money, but one that will be worth it.
Gardening
  • It seems this is the week of British summer. 
  • I've already carted three barrow-fuls of nettles and other weeds out of my garden and it doesn't look any different. 
  • At least my work of last autumn was worth it. The nettles are coming out a lot easier this time round. 
  • It also helps that my beloved bought for me a pair of leather gauntlets that the nettles can't sting though to get my hands and wrists. 
  • Unfortunately, I still got stung on my legs as I moved a bundle of the damned weeds around my body. Bastards. 

Apart from my still ranting about the state of hospital parking, we are still here, breathing in and out regularly and happily. Much love darlings.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dear Jeremy Hunt - The Difference a Week Makes

I'm sorry I haven't posted here regularly Jeremy, I'm sure you've been wondering where I got to. Last week, for the first time since December, Dave and I had some good news. Last Friday, we went to see Dave's Impossibly Elegant Oncologist. 

Have I told you about Dave's oncologist? He was the first one to give it to us straight. No hedging, no soft words. Bad news, delivered gently. You have no idea how much I adore this man. He is gentle, straightforward and has a very cheeky sense of humour. We trust him. He is also the first consultant I have ever seen borrow a pen from a nurse and go out of his way to return it! Jeremy, would you ever return an underling's pen? Their normal, note-taking biro? I've had to rifle through my manager's desk many-a-time to retrieve my pens that they'd absent-mindedly picked up when hovering over me and walked off with. You have no idea how much that used to piss me off. 

Anyway, Dave's Impossibly Elegant Oncologist asked how he was coping with the treatments and then gave us the results of the CT scan. The primary tumour has shrunk from 20mm to 5mm, the secondary tumours on the lymph nodes can't be seen! 

This Jeremy means that the treatment is working. As Dave goes through Cycle 3 and the cumulative effects start to grip, this news makes it all worthwhile. 

This means that perhaps we can have Christmas dinner this year without fear.

It may mean a few more birthdays to celebrate.

This is the gift of time. 

We don't know how long and I can't think of that yet, but it means Dave will be cooking a turkey dinner for us and I will eat every morsel with gratitude. 

Jeremy you seem to have painted yourself into a bit of a corner. It seems you have no right to impose such an unfair, unethical and unsafe contract on the Junior Doctors. You my man, are on very shaky political ground. The legal challenge to this contract is going ahead and has a huge amount of support from the BMA and the public. I think it's beginning to dawn on you that you've been a complete and utter cockwomble (damn, I love that) and because of your antagonist rhetoric, you haven't left yourself a way out of this mess. You are going to have to accept you won't save face and it's your own doing. I am going to try hard to feel sympathy for you, but I think I'm not that good a person. 

You have ground down good people for your own political means. Good people whose daily working lives provide enough of a grind.

Dave's treatment had to be postponed. We got to the ward on time. Dave had his kidney function test, but the oncologist and the nursing staff had to deal with a difficult patient who was kicking off and was kicking off in such a spectacular fashion and created so much drama, that the test results and treatment could not be reviewed before the end of shift. 

The oncology ward is staffed by specialist doctors and they work twelve hour shifts. The night shift has specialist nurses on hand to administer the chemotherapy over night, but given Dave's reaction to the first regime, they wanted a doctor on hand, in case anything untoward happened. This meant Dave was there for 72 hours, rather than 24. 

Have you ever been bullied? The behaviour of the patient, kicking off was truly appalling. He was a man who was accustomed to having his own way. Life it seemed, revolved around him and he wasn't going to have some youngster tell him otherwise. The doctor who dealt with the patient, was polite and firm. At no point did he rise to the veiled insults and threats. He remained calm and professional throughout. And this wasn't just a one-off, five minute confrontation. This drama played out over the afternoon and early evening. I wanted to hug that doctor, I really did. His concern throughout, no matter what that awful man said, remained with the patient's best interests. The nursing staff did what they could to de-escalate the situation, but he was having none of it. Eventually, the situation was resolved, but time had disappeared, wasted on needless drama.

That's what this fight with the Junior Doctors has been Jeremy, needless drama. As a politician you've shown yourself to be incompetent. Smarter politicians would know you catch more bees with sugar, than with vinegar.. Instead of working with, you've worked against and history will forget you as just another rabble rouser who was faced down with professionalism that has the welfare of the NHS on their side. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Dear Jeremy Hunt - Service Users

Is that what we are these days? It seems we're no longer patients. Your language is all hip, management speak, about accessing a service that's designed for us users. Well, here's the thing, successful entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson (you might have heard about him), is credited with saying "look after your staff well and they in turn, look after your customers." 

These two NHS customers service users are currently a little bit knackered. Me, because 3 o'clock in the morning is prime worrying time, and Dave....well Dave because he's going through the new treatment regime and yes, it's as hard as he was warned. Scan tomorrow morning to see how everything is going and I think it's more important for our morale, than for the actual clinical information. We are living from treatment to treatment and trying to anticipate good and down periods where we can do stuff. Fun stuff. 

Spring has sprung and it's truly beautiful here. Living in this part of the world uplifts my spirits in ways you can't imagine. The chickens are a constant source of amusement and exasperation. Jenga, my rooster is doing his absolute best to add two of Z's flock to his own and they are desperate for this to be so. His problem is that the coop we've got is too small. I might be able to squeeze one extra in, but two is a step too far. I will have to disappoint them.

I'm still doing my best to keep a clean and tidy house. I had a bit of a lurgy issue that had me ringing my new GP for advice. Technically, Dave is the patient. I'm down on record as his carer, but that's because as his non-domiciled significant other, it gets a bit awkward as far as patient confidentiality and treatment is concerned. My surgery has bent their rules into a pretzel to enable both Dave and myself to have as much support as they are able to provide.

I knew towards the end of last week I was cooking a low-grade sinus infection. Normally, I'd just take to my couch with a massive mug of tea, knock back the over-the-counter drugs and wait until it buggers off. However, two things. One, as I'm looking after things, I can't be out of commission for the three weeks it normally takes my sinus infections to resolve or deteriorate and two, Dave's immune system is getting the shit kicked out of it. I was worried that he'd get this and it would strike him down in an Old Testament stylee.

Like all good and sensible people, I rang my GP. My new surgery is desperately short of GPs. They are now running a system whereby they triage calls and a GP or nurse will call you back with advice, or invite you in if necessary. Why are they short of GPs Jeremy? Well, they've had a doctor retire and a couple go on maternity leave and it seems locums are hard to come by. Why is that Jeremy? No really, why do you think that is? 

My new GP called me back within half an hour. I explained the situation to her and she issued me with a prescription for antibiotics in case I got worse. She trusted me to work with my body and my health. She also reassured that having this wouldn't put Dave at risk, just not to get too close and be sensible. She made it clear that I could call back if I had any worries at any time. Happily, my sinuses are playing nice and everything seems to be clearing up fairly rapidly. The ABs are here just in case. 

This brings me to the main point of my letter today. I'm not the one with cancer. I'm not the one going through chemotherapy. But every time I've gone in with Dave, I've been warmly greeted. My questions and concerns are considered and answered. I am looked after as well as Dave. I'm not the service user, not the customer. I'm treated like a person, whose wellbeing is taken into consideration. Not just the addition or carer of Dave.

I wish you could see the Oncology Unit in the way I do. The nurses greet their patients with warmth and smiles. Today, I saw some of them greet their long-term service users with hugs and genuine affection. Tea and biscuits are offered by volunteers before the serious business happens. Have you ever tried to get a cannula in? Not as much fun as you'd think. After awhile veins become scarred and it gets harder and more painful. Oh yes, the nurses can't ever go "that'll do" with chemotherapy drugs. Nasty things happen. You're the Minister for Health - look it up. 

Today, I amused the nurse while she tried to get the cannula in, by trying to pronounce the drug names, even after her patient schooling I still couldn't do it. My Caribbean heritage has me putting emphasises in the wrong syllables and it comes out horribly wrong. I don't think I have a career in the medical profession waiting for me because of it. 

But I think of those who are able to pronounce those disease names, the drugs needed to save the lives of the service users and are able to give a little of themselves to make the experience bearable. Jeremy, I implore you. 

I need these people. All of them. From the auxiliary to the staff nurse, from the heavily pregnant junior doctor and her ridiculously young colleagues all of whom look like they should be drinking Diamond White behind the Sixth Form College. I need the oncologist to be on best form, the GP to be able to hear me when I need reassurance. I need them, because I need Dave. I need him to be well. My happiness depends on this. I'm not ready to give Dave up to the cancer yet. It's the NHS that will do this for me as long as you leave it well enough alone and let the service providers to their jobs, their best and their most, for us service users.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Dear Jeremy Hunt - The Beginning of Cycle Two

...did not go well. We were asked to come in for 2 o'clock which is the beginning of visiting hours on the wards. I couldn't find a parking space. In the end, I dropped Dave off and drove around the carpark twice. On the third try, I had to pull in, to ring the Great Ursus and promptly burst into tears. You see Jeremy, this is why I go to therapy I can't afford on Fridays: I look like everything is okay (or at least I try to give that impression) and then something slightly untoward happens and I have a meltdown. 

It was a fairly unspectacular meltdown as far as meltdowns go. I howled in my car until I stopped. Dried my tears, drove to the Casa del Ursus not five minutes away and burst into tears on their doorstep. I was given a massive hug, a cup of tea and driven to the hospital.

The thing is, it wasn't just me. There were about twenty other cars filled with desperate people negotiating the obstacle race that the hospital car park turns into at visiting time. People park on double yellows, on curbs, anywhere they can find. And then Jeremy, you know what happens? Some dude goes around with a wad of paper advising people not to park there! 

I wonder if you've ever experienced the kind of frustration I felt on Tuesday afternoon? Knowing if you don't hold it together, someone also having a pretty shitty day would be on the receiving end of a disproportionate reaction that might just require physical restraint? 

You see Jeremy, things are kind of "interesting" with Dave's treatment. The Saga of the Blue Bedding turned a bit nasty. Dave wasn't allergic to the laundry detergent or even to the blue dye. Dave is allergic to one of the drugs he needs to prolong his life. The nurse called the doctor when we went in for his Day 15 top up, and the doctor withheld the treatment, Dave's rash was so spectacular. When the oncologist had a look at it, he changed the treatment regime. If Dave's body reacted like that after two doses, it would continue to ramp up the heat. Let me tell you, I have no wish to deal with anaphylactic shock living out here in the wilds of the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Intubating my beloved is not high on my list of the nasty things I'd still like to do with him. 

The oncologist has changed the regime to an older treatment method. This treatment regime consists of four drugs, instead of two. This treatment should be just as effective as the other, it's just no one likes using it because the side effects are guaranteed. It's quite ironic in a way, Dave worked with one of the drugs in the lab, so he knows quite a lot about it. Me, I've gone for wilful ignorance this time around. I don't want to know. We've got puke bowls dotted around the house and in the car. 

It's also meant his immune system is shot to hell. This was true for the previous regime, but with these drugs I've had to give him injections into his stomach over the past five days to help boost his platelets. I've also been cleaning everything like mad. Or as mad as I'm able.

Oh yes, should Dave be allergic to any of these drugs, he'll have to accept the less effective treatment. 

Take a moment with that statement and then perhaps you'll understand why I fell apart in the car park. 

Tuesday was the big hit, overnight stay. He was on the infusion for about 14 hours. Before and after each chemotherapy drug, he had a litre of saline solution put through. As he was on the ward, I was allowed to stay until 8 pm. Which is just as well, there was a gin & tonic and a bed waiting for me at the Casa del Ursus and I wouldn't have coped being on the ward for much longer.

Did I tell you I've worked for Local Government? That I've seen the sneaky tricks pulled by top level management to undermine a service or project? That it's so effective I've also seen it in action in the Art College I attended for my Creative Writing degree?

First off, remove some of the funding needed to deliver a service. It's only a cost saving exercise. What happens is the people delivering the service work much harder to keep up standards. Then you keep removing the funding so they work longer hours, get tired and start making mistakes because they are stressed and tired. You hire an overpaid consultant to tell you some old bullshit about the right way the job should be done because standards are starting to slip. Then you make out it's people doing the job's fault and reprimand them, put them on special measures and then either you break them or they leave, broken. Of course the real knife in the back with a quick twist, is the fact that they feel it's their fault! They are made to feel that if only they were more competent, stronger or actually just more robust they could have made it. 

You Machiavellian shit.

You are playing with people's lives and their deaths. 

In the bed next to Dave was a man who was clearly not long for this world. The cancer had eaten away at him until it wasn't possible to guess his age. He was alone, in pain and confused. While I was there, whenever he was awake he called for help. The nurses came to him when they could, but he was so confused he couldn't tell them what was wrong. 

In the morning, when I came back he was gone. No, I didn't ask the nurses what happened. I didn't know his name, he was of no relation to me and actually, there wasn't anything I could do. It would be easy to say the nurses should have sat with him, talked to him even though he was drifting, but how could they? They didn't have time. They weren't just looking after him, they were also looking after seven other men in the block of the ward, including Dave, not to mention the other patients in the other sections. There just aren't enough nurses on the wards. 

When are you going to recognise that health care also means end of life care and that needs time and commitment? You can't say to me that I don't know what I'm talking about because I do. No one should spend their last days/hours on this earth calling for help because they are in pain and scared. 

You absolute absolute bastard.

Don't give me some bullshit that there isn't the money. Because I don't believe you. If this government can spend the billions blasting Syria back into medieval times, then you can bloody well find the money to pay for someone to go and sit and comfort our dying. 

Dear Jeremy, you might think that this Machiavellian game is going to leave you untouched, but here's this universal truth for you: you are also going to die. This isn't a veiled threat from me to your person. This is statement of fact. All of the money you will earn in your lifetime, all of the hours you spend in the gym, all of the cakes and treats you refuse over the years; nothing will prevent your eventual death. Illness, genetics, accident or old age, death comes for us all. It is the great social and economic equaliser and nothing will protect you from it.

Knowing that you and this government dismantled and sold off the NHS, who will want sit at your bedside and comfort you?