Wednesday 13 August
I’m getting used to this now. I lie on the bunk, wriggle about, am told to move this way or that, and final adjustments are made. Ready for blasting! The two ladies, plus the tall chap who was with me at an earlier session, leave for their hideaway and I am alone with LA6 – the machine I’ve grown to know and love (well, not quite).
It buzzes, whirrs, hums, clicks, makes other strange noises as it does its stuff. I stare up at the ceiling, check that the blue fish are behaving themselves, shut my eyes and lie still. Today I have a heavy cold and try not to cough. Don’t want to upset LA6. At one stage I feel a sneeze coming on and fight it back. Please, please, sneeze, go away. Don’t want today’s session to be ruined.
LA6 comes to rest. The girls return (girls, ladies, women, what’s it matter?). I adjust my dress, slide my feet into the slip-on shoes I always put on for these sessions, exchange a few words. ‘See you tomorrow then.’ Another one down. Twenty-four to go.
10 a.m. I feel wretched today. Absolutely drained. Over breakfast, I had the strange feeling that all that had happened since my time in the TB sanatorium meant nothing. I thought that if I could reconnect with that ghastly-thin sixteen-year-old walking the icy corridors in 1949 it would make me better able to cope with what’s happening now. Ill as he was, he was made of stern stuff. Against all the odds, he meant to survive.
Yesterday went well. In and out of Velindre in half an hour – amazing. Why those long delays in my first week of treatment? Have holidays something to do with it? Obviously some of us have to come in every day, but what about others? The waiting room is certainly a lot emptier these days. Maybe August is the best time to come here – if ‘best’ is the right word. It’s still pretty awful.
The tall chap plus two women did the business for me. Friendly enough but I didn’t like the way they scuttled out without a word when the machine was set up. Even a ‘back in a minute’ or some such would be better than nothing. I know it’s routine for them but not for us it ain’t.
After today’s session I have the first of my ‘review clinics.’ All to do with side-effects I may be having. Anything else? We shall see.
Later: Review clinic went well. It meant talking with a senior radiographer who asked me about side effects and I told her all the things that were bothering me. She was very nice, friendly and reassuring. Also gave me a prescription for the dreaded squits.
Sunday 17 August
Ghastly day. Woke up wondering what the point of it all was. ‘I’ve got no real prospects,’ says I. ‘Why not just send us all to the gas chamber and have done with it?’ Felt guilty right away. Isn’t it bad enough for Dot without me whinging like this? After breakfast, had the runs with a vengeance. Serves me right. Took the pills I’d been prescribed at Velindre. Calmed things down but felt rotten all day.
Another week begins. On time again with the appointment. Nice couple of ladies doing the necessary. Well on our way now, I tell myself.
Sixteen down, twenty-one to go.
© Herbert Williams