Friday 29 July 2022
I was in such a daze the date of the first transfusion that I can no longer remember it. But roughly a month ago. It took six hours, with time spent awaiting delivery of the bags … it had all happened, been organised quite fast, which may explain? I do recall that each time the nurse hooked them up, I said thank you to whoever had been the donors. Blood is a precious commodity, and potentially life-saving.
I am on time today, 9.30am on the dot, having driven 25 miles. But am then confused (and irritated) by the new-style mandatory mask, that has ribbons to tie behind the head. Such a palava! Fortunately Akii finds an one in the car. He then leaves to catch the 10.08 bus into Dundee.
Everyone is now calling me Angela; seems I have become a regular. I take a chair on the back row. Only four others patients so far. A dark-haired nurse with gothic eyebrows and loads of tattoos offers me coffee, tea, water or lemon water. I accept the latter, which proves very refreshing. Unpack my backpack while laughing that the guy next to me just ordered a Guinness. Cancer and a sense of humour!
The floor is coral coloured. Walls pale apricot. Chairs dark blue. Nurses’ station, grey.
9.40: Nurse finds a vein for the canula. Ouch, ouch. I am such a wuss. What is a wuss? A pathetic weakling, responds Google. Sounds about right. My blood type is 0+, as is most of Scotland. Blood pressure slightly down.
10.00: Bag in place and dripping into me nicely. Feel okay, just very tired.
10.05: Brought the wrong glasses. Can’t read. BP100/62. Two new patients: an Indian man in his 30s, and a woman in her 50s wearing a turban. Nurse notes: “Most are creatures of habit and always head for the same chair.” A woman with long blonde hair is being told gently that she is likely to lose it. Susan talked with her for over an hour; amazing patience and empathy.
11.15: Eight of us. Unplugged to go to the toilet. Plug myself back in on return. Peeing is painful.
Times passes, staff constantly on the move; they never stop for a minute. Man in his 60s waiting for pills has “two grandsons waiting outside in the car”.
11.30: More lemon water. An older woman asks for a cushion. “For your wee bum?” responds Susan. The seats are not as comfortable as first imagined. My nurse, Lorraine, has loaned me her reading glasses; read a few pages, heading towards the end of The Man Who Invented Infinity.
12.15: BP 122/72. Now my ‘bum’ is hurting. Sitting too long.
12.20: Second bag. Jolly conversation about urine infections. Choose an egg sandwich for lunch, the package stating ‘Handmade in Scotland with passion for over 25 years’. Also a yoghurt. “Late today”, commented Lorraine’ Food usually here at midday.” I ask her what she had planned for the weekend, and am told with a gleeful grin: “A Roxy MusicTribute Band, and if the sun comes out, a nice round of golf.”
13.00: William in the next chair is reading. Not a social creature. Our ‘bags” are level pegging. Everyone else is sleeping or on mobiles. People drift in and out collecting meds. A tiny Asian woman. An obese woman in a wheelchair. As I watch nurses changing plastic aprons and gloves every time they approach anyone, I am horrified to think of the waste …
14.00: Bags are empty, flushing with saline begins. Canula removed. Gather myself and leave. Outside, waiting for Akii on a bench, William passes and nods. “See you next month?” I ask. “three weeks for me”, he replies and is driven off … No idea if and when I will be back. Duncan (Dr Gowan) was talking about six months of transfusions, “to see where we go”. Back on August 25 for another consultation. Wish I felt better. Tomorrow, maybe.