Wednesday 27 August
As you can see, I’m carrying on with this after all. Might as well. It’ll all be over in three weeks’ time. Say it quickly and it might go away.
Our occasional conversations with the ex-soldier, ex-fruit-and-veg-man, ex-farmer and his wife help to pass the time as we sit and wait for our names to be called. Yesterday he’d had a round of golf in the morning. Did he play by himself or always against someone? He looks slightly shocked. ‘No, never on my own. There’d be no point in that. Golf is a social game.’
Dot remarks that at least it’s good exercise. ‘I suppose you must walk at least a couple of miles,’ I hazard. ‘Far more than that,’ he replies. ‘The course itself is 6,000 yards. And the way I play …’ He reckons a round of golf takes him five to six miles.
His wife, who’s the patient, doesn’t say much, but smiles across at us as we sit in the waiting room where the receptionist eventually calls out our names. Not so punctual these days as they were a couple of weeks back. My bladder fills up from ‘comfortably full’ to something more extreme. Not good news.
At last I’m called in, more than half an hour late. ‘Haven’t seen you lately,’ I say breezily to the radiographer in charge. ‘I’ve been on holiday in Dorset – in a tent,’ she tells me, as I stretch out on the bunk. ‘Dorset’s nice,’ I say. ‘In a tent,’ she meaningfully repeats. ‘Oh,’ I say, thinking of the weather we’ve been having. Turns out that the tent collapsed in heavy rain in the night, they put it up again and then the pole snapped. ‘So we came home,’ she said, with a brave smile. Ah, the pleasures of camping.
I slip on my shoes afterwards.
Twenty-one down. Sixteen to go.
Two blokes in white coats were in the treatment room yesterday. From the hospital’s physics department, I was told. They’d drawn up the diagram from which the radiographers work. It’s held up to me briefly. ‘I charge for spectators, you know,’ I say, with a pallid attempt at a jest. It falls on stony ground, the two boffins looking at me suspiciously. What are they doing there? Checking up on the radiographers? Anyway, the team seem to take a bit longer than usual getting me in the right position for the rays.
Afterwards, I ask if I might look at that diagram. ‘Of course,’ is the reply. ‘This is a section of your body.’ Pretty gruesome it looks too. I’m told what it all means – those coloured lines running here and there. And lo and behold! There’s my prostate gland – looking ridiculously small. How can something so insignificant cause so much trouble?
‘This will take a bit longer today,’ Jenny the radiographer told me brightly yesterday as I stretched out on the bunk. ‘We’re starting the second phase of your treatment.’ What’s that mean? ‘We’re concentrating on a smaller area, which means taking some images before we begin the treatment. Rather like the first time,’ she added, ‘but it won’t take quite as long as that.’ She smiled to reassure me.
I lay perfectly still, as I must, as they took the images, examined them, came to and fro to line me up, asked me to wriggle down a little, called out numbers and, at last, were satisfied.
The rays came at me from different angles this time. I was in there about twenty-five minutes.
‘What have you been doing?’ Dorothy asked when I eventually emerged.
‘Playing cards,’ I replied stupidlyShe’d been worried, of course. She’s with me there every day. She’s with me all the time. She’s pure gold. I adore her.
© Herbert Williams