oncology nurse

Karen has started another week incorporating multiple hospital visits. She had her consultation with her oncologist on Monday,  undertakes her four weekly treatment today and undergoes a physio session tomorrow.

Sat in the waiting room, my fatigue levels are heightened following another inadequate nights sleep. I’d woken early from a dream and couldn’t get back to slumber prior to reveiller.

Although the dream was weird, it was by no stretch of the imagine a nightmare. Unless you are freaked out by buying a shirt with defective buttons, which you can’t exchange due to losing the receipt!


buttons 1

I wasn’t best pleased at waking early. My disorientation of exiting deep sleep further exacerbated when I found the shirt receipt (from the dream) in the pocket of my pyjama bottoms!

My mum always taught my siblings and me that “A man will always be judged on the quality of his shirt buttons!” …….. Well, apart from to my sister who she taught “Never worry about your shirt buttons! Ensuring clothing fasteners are fit for purpose is the responsibility of men, unless it’s Velcro which is a bit of a grey area!”

My sister Helen was briefly disowned in her late teens by our mum for not following this advice. She was the subject of her mother’s wrath after becoming unnecessarily anxious about a defective press stud on her blouse.

It was only when my brother Ian highlighted to my mum that a blouse isn’t technically a shirt so the rule shouldn’t apply, that she agreed to take the dispute to arbitration.

The independent arbiter, old Bert who collects the shopping baskets at our local Boots the Chemist, adjudicated in our Helen’s favour. Initially mum wasn’t happy at being overruled, but was placated when old Bert promised her increased tea breaks, luncheon vouchers and private health insurance.

The Boots basket collectors impartial judgement that a blouse wasn’t a shirt thankfully ended my sister’s ostracisation. However, the Velcro responsibilities weren’t settled at that meeting and still remain a grey area!


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To celebrate the new found family unity my parents held a house party, where old Bert regaled guests with shopping basket anecdotes. He wasn’t invited, although no one seemed to care after his riveting story about how shopping baskets got their name!

As I write this narrative, my mentally resilient and robust spouse is in a treatment room receiving her ‘four weekly treatment’.

It’s called ‘four weekly treatment’ as she has it every four weeks. If she had it every three weeks the procedure would be named ‘three weekly treatment’. In the event of her wanting to keep the the frequency secret, it would be called ‘It’s got bugger all to do with you how often I have this treatment!’

Bearing in mind her former fear of needles, Karen is wonderfully pragmatic and untroubled these days by the injections administered during the ‘four weekly treatment’.

It’s heartwarming hearing her in the treatment room laughing with the nursing team who provide her with such splendid care. Despite these individuals have a real calling, it must de motivating them to read the constant unjust criticism of the NHS; very little of which is their doing.

My observations, from the hundreds of hours in hospital waiting rooms in the last 5 years, are that most of the confrontational situations are provoked by unreasonable patients.

For example, yesterday we were in the breast clinic waiting room, when I heard a woman behind me waxing lyrical about the chirpy demeanour of a nurse who’d just taken her weight (which is standard at these consultations).

Her husband responded by saying “Yes, but she wont mean it. it’s all a front!”

No one has to tell me about how hard it can be when your wife has secondary breast cancer. However, that doesn’t give us carte blanche to behave unreasonably.

My thoughts about this man’s cynicism was that the poor nurse couldn’t win. Be miserable and receive criticism, exhibit a friendly front and be accused of insincerity! ….. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t!


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Whether it was meant or not was irrelevant to my mind. The main thing was the patient (ie his wife), who after all is the person on borrowed time, was happy with the nurses treatment.

In a waiting room of some terminally ill people it can be heartwarming to see the comfort the very poorly patient receives from nursing staff. Individuals who generally undertake the role as it’s their vocation to look after sick people.

It’s certainly not for the buttons they’re paid to carry out the role; which I hope aren’t as defective as the ones on my shirt in last nights dream!

Karen’s leaving the treatment room now, I best go. She is smiling as she walks towards me, I hope its not a front!

Right, I’m home now. I best close this monologue and go see what Karen means by her recent shout from upstairs of  “When did you buy this shirt, Gary? The buttons on it are flipping useless!…… Have you still got the receipt?!”



buttons 2

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