What follows is a section from the diary I have been keeping all this year.
Aug 23: Feel terrible.
Aug 24: I was trying to get out of bed, when Marika came – our gem of a cleaner – and berated me; I just needed to get up and go for a walk. But I couldn’t. The pain is too much, like peeing acid.
Aug 25: Rang PRI and told Dr Gowan that I could not come. He talked with Dr Evans at the surgery in Dunkeld, and told me to go to Ninewells in Dundee where a bed was waiting. Heather drove us, and I was admitted into single room with bathroom. Can’t remember much, beyond a sea of faces and names, multitude of tests and an x-ray of chest. Chest?
Aug 26: Bad night. Dr Gowans comes with a convoy of cohort doctors. Asks for a stethoscope as his daughter has pinched his; just heard she had got into Edinburgh to study to be a vet. I must drink, I am told, but peeing so painful. Akii brings a few things. Ultra-sound reveals a shadow on bladder or colon.
Aug 27: Another bad night. So weary. Non-stop saline drips. Antibiotics. Blood. Lovely day outside, so go on an adventure, taking my drip stand with me like a pet on a leash. Just into the next room which is empty and has the most incredible view of the river; I just sit and look. Guy moves in later; feel envious. Chat with cleaner Kevin whose marriage just split up; felt he was most likely gay. So ready for sleep but worrying about the letter I promised Viv I would send for David’s funeral; he died of tongue cancer ten days ago. What a terrible thing! I was their bridesmaid in 1962.
Aug 28: Akii comes at 11 with toothbrush and pyjamas. Drafted a letter in my notebook. Finished the Kazue Ishiguru book, When We Were Orphans; I now see the themes more clearly that have haunted him throughout his books. Peeing non-stop, pretty miserable. At 8pm suddenly pushed into a bay with three other women. No warning. Lights not off until after 11, as very noisy and busy. Julie next to me seems grounded. Alison a complaining cow. Whoever is behind the curtain, very ill.
Aug 29: Slept reasonably until 7.30. CT-scan at 10.30. Weird or what; I am full of dye. Shower and change clothes. Then peed my new Plumo pants. Back in bay now. Cold. MRI discussion continues … (to have or not to have). Alison has gone. Hallelujah! Angry unhappy woman.
Aug 30: Woke in tears. Very low. Mists over the landscape; I am by the window which is lovely. Couple with an umbrella, must be raining. A young man running, taking his body totally for granted. Pyramids atop buildings with glass and reg and green struts. Curtain opposite drawn to reveal Jessica a young Ghanaian woman with sickle cell and studying to be a forensic anthropologist. She wear a huge red snoody-type hat; we never see her hair. Spend all her time huddled in bed with her mobile, even takes it to the toilet with her. Her mother comes to visit, resplendent in animals prints and bringing baby pyjams for Jess that leave little to the imagination. Julie’s husband Gary comes every day after work.
Aug 31: More in balance today. Shower. Gout pill seems to be working; foot back to near normal, and no side effects. Internal probe at 4pm tomorrow. Caroline came into fourth bed but already packing to go back to hospital in Arbroath. She seems to be fading fast. Julie goes Friday. Long talk with Jess last night about God. Lost the plot when she began quoting scriptures to me. Patsy mailed. Kara is on the M25 with Tom driving to Italy. How lovely.
Sep 1: Rabbits. Aching and diarrhea all day. Camera up the fanny finally at 4. Zaiheb took me in chair down to urology, where I was laid on a bed and then curtains drawn back to reveal an audience. Very Handmaids Tale, I thought. My bladder looked good, it was decided, so problem had to be bowel. Another CT-scan planned, then camera up the backside seem to be on the cards. Feel very despairing, distressed. Caroline leaves, Jess leaves.
Sep 2: Julie goes home at 2. I still not cleared. I shall miss all the lovely staff – junior doctor Carly, nurses Rosie and Urooj (rouge), student Morpeth etc. who all come to chat at various points. Dr Gowans pointed out that I was so ill due to infection and nothing to do with the cancer, but I was his patient so he was keeping me close.
Sep 3: Reputable night’s sleep. Doctor came and discharged me. Pharmacy sorting out drugs. Came back from shower and graduate nurses Zaiheb and Courtney were standing by my bed, grinning. When I approved how neatly they had made it, C said, “If we had had a iron , we would have ironed it for you.” Brought tears to my eyes. Akii came and Zaiheb found a chair. Wheeled out to Graham waiting by the car; he drove us back. Feels weird to be back home, here. Felt safer there.