Time passes so quickly and before we know it, we are back at Charing Cross. The hospital rings on Monday to leave a message telling me I must go in and have more fluid drained on Tuesday. As we will already be there on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, this is a little frustrating but we duly turn up. We cannot park in the car park so park instead on the road behind the hospital. There is a lorry on the corner from which horses are being unloaded. This is an unusual occurrence in almost-central London but then we see a sign on the front of the lorry which says ‘Funeral service’ so we guess they will be harnessed to a hearse. I would like at this point to show you a photo I took of the horses but for some reason, although it is uploaded to my laptop, it will not allow itself to be uploaded to wordpress so you will have to imagine 2 large, white horses standing around on the pavement.
Yet another x-ray and then up to the ward where I am shown to my usual bed, a bit like a favourite restaurant. This one has views over London and even shows a bit of the river. Again, I can’t show you what it looked like as, yes, you’ve guessed it, wordpress won’t allow me to upload the photo. So even the selfies I took with a winning smile on my face will have to be imagined. Mr Mason hangs around for a while and then goes home to continue with his decorating frenzy. After he has gone, Ms Marsden arrives with Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes and a pile of canvases. She has the art bug big time and is painting anything that will sit still long enough. We discuss various ways in which the cupcakes could be divided which is anything from ‘share them with Mr Mason’ to ‘eat them all yourself, you greedy pig’. After a while, she has to go and I busy myself with my e-reader and a hospital luncheon which ended with jelly. It’s years since I have eaten jelly and I’d forgotten exactly how nice it is, especially if you’re having trouble swallowing, like I am. Back in the dim mists of time, we used to make jelly in a variety of moulds. There was the racing car but my favourite was always the rabbit. I suspect they are long gone from my kitchen but I would quite like to resurrect them.
While I wait to be taken down to ultrasound, a doctor pops her head around the door to ask if she can see me. She tells me she is from the 11th floor and is having an exam but has heard I have a pleural effusion which she would quite like to listen to. Would I mind? Absolutely not. As long as her hands and stethoscope are warm, I am all hers. She taps away on my back first then looks at my chest, noting bits that are there and bits that aren’t. She has asked me not to tell her which side the effusion is on but then sees I have had a recent drain which rather gives the game away. Then she listens again with a stethoscope and then more tapping during which she asks me to say “99” each time she taps. I wonder momentarily if I should say it in a variety of voices or if anyone is listening and thinking me deranged. I want the final “99” to sound like the final 99 but I can’t tell when she is going to finish so give up. She says she doesn’t think the lungs sound different to each other giving me a rather suspicious look as though I have been a medical stooge, placed in her way. I suggest she goes to look at my last x-ray which will tell her exactly where the fluid is and will suggest how much.
At 3pm I am wheeled down to the Ultrasound department. While I am in the waiting area, I am rather distressed to see an elderly lady sitting in a wheelchair with a hospital gown on which doesn’t even cover her knees. I want to ask someone to cover her with a blanket or sheet but I am whisked away into the darkened recesses of the department. It is quite strange being wheeled about in bed by a total stranger. I feel a little like a parcel being delivered. The doctor is all ready for me and is pleased to see I have brought some Mepilex with me, the only adhesive dressings I am not allergic to. She decides to go in through a different rib and while she is putting the anaesthetic in, she hits a nerve which is the most peculiar feeling. It hurts but it feels as though the nerve is jumping all over the place. I have already asked for strong meds to be prescribed in case I have as much pain as last time when I thought I might be having a heart attack. The nurse looks at my available meds and reads them out, saying she doesn’t think I’ll have much problem controlling the pain with all that lot. The procedure is not very painful or even uncomfortable, apart from having the anaesthetic, ironically. As soon as fluid starts to flow, my oncology registrar appears and scrambles about on the floor, getting samples which she is going to deliver to the lab personally, the last lot having gone walk-about. Not having the cytology report means there is no proof that there is cancer in the lungs but I personally have no doubt it’s there and the oncologist doesn’t, either.
After I get back to the ward, I am given a dose of ora-morph to deal with the pain in my shoulder and, apart from observations being taken every 30 minutes, I am left to relax and doze off. There is some slight anxiety as to whether I can go home or not but the registrar appears and decides there will be no more fluid to come out so she removes the drain and asks if I will have one last x-ray before I leave. It is almost more than I can bear, so much do I want to escape but she arranges for us to have one done in A&E and we are whizzed through in record time. She takes my phone number in case there is something wrong on the x-ray so although I didn’t want to have it done, I appreciate her diligence. Mr Mason and I stroll back to the car and we are soon home. A cup of coffee and a Hummingbird cupcake later and I feel almost normal. Almost.