The alarm goes off at 6.15am, time to take four of the fabulous Abiraterone pills which have done me so much good and which I feel lucky to have been prescribed. Although it seems a bit inconvenient, I have to avoid eating for at least two hours before and one hour after taking them: since my prostate problems usually mean a trip to the loo around that time, it’s not too bad since I usually manage to get off to sleep again for a while.
The alarm goes off again at 8.10 am, and it is Tuesday again, which is good news because I am off to the Day Hospice at Telford. I need to get up straight away, get washed, dressed and have breakfast – and a few more pills. I need to get myself organised because I shall be picked up sometime after 9.15am, the timing depending upon where the other folks live whom the volunteer driver is taking. Today I have plenty of time to shave, clean teeth and make the bed, as well as washing up, because I am picked up just before 9.30 am. I have my bag packed with my flute, some medicines and a few other things ready for the day.
One of the fascinating things about travelling to the Hospice is that I have discovered parts of the Telford area that I had not previously visited as we usually collect a couple of other people along the way. The aim is to reach the Hospice round about ten o’clock, it is usually quite noisy for a while as we say hello to each other and to the staff and volunteers.
It has been easier getting ready today because I am feeling quite good. Maybe that is partly because I saw my consultant yesterday, who confirmed what I already suspected, that things are still going along reasonably. I have been experiencing some pretty good periods over the last few months and I consider myself fortunate to have been given this particular hormone therapy. So for now the treatment will continue which is good news. This was a new consultant for me and hopefully he is now my regular guy. For over a year I have been seeing a series of locums whilst the hospital sorted out its staffing problems.
We arrive at the Hospice and get settled in with a drink and a biscuit as we chat, and the nurses take the opportunity to say hello and to see how we are feeling. It’s a chance for me to say that I’d like to see the doctor today which I usually do every four weeks after seeing my specialist. It is important to keep the doctor and the nursing staff at the Hospice updated because they provide such a comprehensive overview of my health and are very instrumental in things like advising my GP about pain control and the level of medication which is appropriate for me.
Today Maureen takes me along to see the doctor fairly soon. I always write up notes of my meetings with the specialist straight away and I send them to my daughter for checking since she accompanies me to the specialist. That makes it easy for me to show the doctor my summary of yesterday’s meeting and then to say how I have been feeling for the past month. Today I have brought along my comprehensive file of my cancer history because I had it handy, having taken it along to the hospital yesterday to show the new consultant, which he did find helpful.
We then discuss the implications of my test results and my talk with the specialist. As always, I find that our discussion is very relaxed and very reassuring, which is great. It also seems to be the case that we often talk about other, non-medical, topics. That is one of the great delights of life at the Hospice: people have time for such things, and there is never any feeling of pressure.
In a week or so I shall have a chance to talk things over with Marilyn, the consultant clinical psychologist. She is another great support for me and we have quite a bit of fun talking about all sorts of things. However, this week I leave the doctor and almost immediately go along to the foot practitioner who looks after my toenails and feet.
Afterwards, back in the day room I start chatting for a while and then the creative therapist, Helen, has a word with me. Helen is beguilingly insidious and in no time at all I find myself doing something that has never crossed my mind, namely helping to make a Christmas angel! It is quite fun and for part of the time Helen and I have some interesting and fairly deep discussions about developments in China and about religion. Then we are offered a drink before our lunch. I have an apple juice as I finish off. Then it is time to move over to the dining tables for lunch. I’ve already chosen the home-made soup, to be followed by lasagne with vegetables (chips if you want them) and dessert is jam sponge and custard. There were other possibilities but these choices suit me fine and the lunch is excellent, as usual.
After lunch, I have a cup of herbal tea, a couple of pills and a brief chat, and then I set about playing my flute for twenty minutes or half an hour. I’ve brought along a fairly eclectic selection of music including some Elgar and Mendelssohn, as well as more modern tunes like “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. I have not really been practising these at home recently, but I am not performing in a concert it’s just background music, and I manage to get by quite reasonably. I usually try to make it quite gentle and soothing as it is just after lunch-time. In fact, I managed to put four people to sleep a week ago! To be fair, three of them were not feeling too bright, so I cannot really claim all the credit.
By the time I have finished playing, it is around two o’clock with only an hour to go. I have chance for a bit more work on the angel and to look at the quiz. There are two or three people missing today because they are not feeling well, and that means that I can have my finger nails trimmed and hands creamed as the manicurist has some spare time.
Then just after two thirty comes a pleasant interruption as a cake is wheeled in to celebrate the birthday of one of us. After the obligatory singing of “Happy Birthday” and the blowing out of candles we are able to enjoy a slice of cake and a cup of tea.
But all too soon our volunteer drivers are arriving to take us home, and three o’clock has come too quickly as usual. Farewells and hugs all round, and then off we go. By the time I reach home it is just after three thirty. I realise that it will be sensible to rest for a while on my bed, as is often the case after my day at the Hospice. Then I can come down for a little food and more pills, check my computer and start getting ready for bed. As normal I have really enjoyed being at the Hospice today. Thank you, everybody!