MarySmith’sPlace ~ Radiographers Rock! Cancer diary#18

Monday 05, January 2021: I fully intended writing this update yesterday – fully intended doing a Zoom Pilates, class, too, and had packed my mat and the baggiest tee shirt I could find – but by the time I was checked into the hotel, and the DH left, I was done in. Leant back on the pillows and woke up too late for Pilates.

Last week I came up for three treatments, staying for two nights. I had my weekly meeting with the specialist nurse – a different from the previous week. Basically, they go through a check list of side effects from nausea to tiredness, from skin problems to appetite problems. So far, I’m glad to say I can say no to almost everything – except that the heartburn has returned. I was prescribed an antacid with Oxetacaine, a local anaesthetic – which I was assured would be helpful in easing the pain when my throat gets worse. It is described as peppermint flavour, a description written by someone who has clearly not swallowed it.

By then, tighter restrictions were in place and the hotel restaurant was closed, though they did offer a reduced room service menu. On my first night I received a call from an NHS Manager to apologise for how things were at the hotel. I said it was fine but she said someone had complained the previous night about the room service food and she was going to try to find alternative accommodation. I said I was happy with the location as I can walk to and from the hospital easily and didn’t really want to move so far away taxis would be involved – or, worse – be admitted to a ward. That last might not have been a terribly diplomatic thing to say to a hospital manager.  

I did try the room service food and it was horrible. Next day, I went to the filling station across the road which has a small but well-stocked Waitrose and filled a basket with lots of lovely tasty things for a picnic in my room.

I was asked to report to a different room and machine on Thursday because a paediatric patient who had to be under anaesthetic needed my room. My first thought was for the child’s mother who wouldn’t be able to stay in the room and must surely be beside herself with worry.

When I arrived for my radiotherapy on Thursday, a message came through from an NHS manager (a different one) to say on Monday I’d to report to the hospital and not check in at the hotel. This was on Hogmanay and I couldn’t imagine how alternative accommodation could be found over the New Year holiday weekend. I went home wondering and worrying about where I’d lay my head when I next went up for treatment.

Yesterday – Monday – the DH drove me back to Edinburgh for an 11am treatment session. A paper with a booking for a self-catering studio room was in the changing room. After the session – first time I’ve met a male radiographer! – the DH and I went to take a look. It’s in a very central location – central for the sights of Edinburgh, that is, but a long way from the hospital. If I was here on holiday and everything was open it would be perfect but it would take about an hour to walk to the hospital so I would need to depend on a taxi picking me up and taking me back. Now we are in full lockdown and this new strain of the Covid virus seems to be so much more virulent, I don’t fancy getting in taxis. Well, I could walk one way but I think a two-way walk might be too much, especially if it’s raining. And, Edinburgh is cold.

Fortunately, The Village was very happy to welcome me back. I feel bad the NHS never got in touch with them to explain why they had not made any bookings for patients this week. Perhaps if they had explained about the problems with the food, the staff could have done something to address them? They are certainly very happy to do anything they can – including installing an extra heater in my room. Did I say Edinburgh is very cold?

I’ve now had nine radiation treatments. Tomorrow I’ll reach the halfway mark. I’m still in awe of the technology. When I said I’d been watching YouTube videos because I couldn’t visualise how the machine revolved, the radiographer picked up the remote control and demonstrated how it revolves round me and under the table. Their patience and willingness to answer my questions is a delight. I think it’s because they are so proud of their work and their skills, they are keen to share their knowledge and give people a better insight into how radiotherapy works. Whatever, it is – as far as I’m concerned radiographers rock!

110 thoughts on “MarySmith’sPlace ~ Radiographers Rock! Cancer diary#18

  1. What a mixed experience you have had this time… Did you stay at the nearer hotel to the hospital. As you say it makes you wonder if the NHS have discussed the state of the meals…..it seems such a shame to make you move to a hotel so far away in these difficult times. I am so glad to hear the radiologists are so nice and helpful… Like them you rock Mary. 💜💜💜💜

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Full marks to the radiographers. During all the Covid-inspired appreciation of the NHS ITU staff and front line medics, so many other specialities get overlooked. You have done them justice, Mary, and rightly so.
    (I think I would settle for Waitrose over shaky ‘room service’ too.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m so glad to hear you had a similar experience, John. In pre-Covid days they sometimes held open days for patients, 6th form students wondering about career opportunities and other staff and people were even able to see how they along with the oncologist and physicists do all the planning. I won’t know how well it has worked for a couple of months so just keeping my fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can only say what a palaver you had to put up with, Mary – and thank goodness for the radiographers. On the homeward stretch from now on. Look after yourself and stay away from people if you can. We’re on lockdown as well, in Wales. Our daughter, who works for the ambulance service has been tracked and traced so is in isolation – so we wave through the windows. ( she lives in the flat attached to our house – so at least we can see her – but boy do I miss the hugs!)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I do feel sorry for you having to stay in a hotel while you have your treatment, I only had a 25 minute drive to my local hospital. I had fantastic radiographers too though I wish it had been the same people each time. One young man was a particular favourite and in between explaining everything he was a great gossip.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m two and a half hours from the hospital so travelling up and down every day really isn’t an option, Liz. I’ve had a few different ones but I think that was mainly because of the holidays and I think I’ll see the usual ones more regularly. Good to know yours were fantastic too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So glad the radiographers are HUMAN beings with skill as well as heart, sooo important in the healing process. Thank goodness for Waitrose, and really, if the chocolate rolls make you happy, I say go for it! Halfway through, may the home stretch go as smoothly. ❤ _/\_

    Liked by 2 people

    • I could just eat the peanut butter straight from the jar, Annette. Although my throat hasn’t yet been as bad as I feared, bread is becoming more difficult to swallow – but peanut butter should slide down nicely. I already bring a jar of honey in my luggage to stop me coughing when I have the mask on. The radiographers are wonderful.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What’s a ‘Waitrose’? … congrats on getting over your immanent hump (half-way point) which, given that I’m half a world away, has probably already happened. 😀
    I wonder how simple it would’ve been if the hospital had just contacted the hotel and straightened the food issue out, rather than move people to other accommodation – people who could least afford to be moved around … ah, the bureaucratic mind.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Glad that treatment is progressing well, Mary. Sounds like the radiographers are compassionate, caring, and skilled at their profession.

    In this time of Covid, take extra good care of yourself. Stay at the closer hotel and picnic in your room. Hope the food improves. If not, gorge on those chocolate rolls. You deserve it!

    Prayers & hugs.🙏🏻💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • The radiographers are great, Linda. Today, I had a question about my medication. They didn’t know the answer but checked with a specialist nurse and took me to see her when I’d finished. I have a quiche and some coleslaw for tonight’s picnic. The hotel food is not going to improve.

      Like

  8. I am pleased to read your praise of Radiologists, Mary my niece is a Radiologist at the Mayo clinic and she has trained for years to reach where she is and so dedicated to her job and patients I fully understand your praise at their dedication they certainly do rock…Halfway through your treatment and going strong I think you can pat yourself on the back Mary you are an inspiration to us all Hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, how great your niece is a radiologist, Carol. You must be very proud of her. I’m glad to be half way through, especially as the tiredness and painful swallowing is starting now so fingers crossed it won’t get much worse.

      Like

    • Happy New Year, to you and yours, Kim. I may start to feel less positive if the pain in my throat becomes any worse! It’s been really hard today to drink as much liquid as I should. I have to keep reminding myself I’m half way through 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Mary. If you are able to gargle, try gargling with water in which whole cloves have been steeped for a few hours. Put the cloves in newly boiled water, use a clean coffee mug, allow to cool to room temperature and then strain out the cloves and gargle with the clove water. Let me know if it helps. xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the tip, Kim. I’ll try it when I get home tomorrow. How many cloves should I put in one coffee mug of boiled water? If it works I’ll bring some to Edinburgh for me to use during next week.

          Like

  9. I can relate to one facet of this post. Edinburgh in Dec/Jan is bloody parky. Glad you’re indulging your middle class instincts by hoovering up waitrose finest offerings. And fingers firmly knotted that it’s paying off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Others have commented it can be pretty parky in August, too! I never get to shop at Waitrose – our nearest one is 100 miles from where we live! – so finding this one in a filling station (not particularly classy) has been very exciting.

      Like

      • When we were schlepping to and from my Mils every two weeks we’d stop at the services on the M11 at Stansted mostly because of the waitrose concession. We dont have one within 5 miles of us here in south london – Tesco and Sainsbury have a dual hegemony on the supermarket provision. Odd how that seemed to be a treat!!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m pleased to hear the side effects aren’t quite as bad as you had expected but sorry to hear about the many hurdles you have experienced. It is difficult for people not in your circumstances to imagine how complicated some things can get. I was talking to a young woman who has been experiencing health difficulties from well- before the pandemic, and she was telling me about how much more complicated it all had become now, and in her case, at least she lives in the same city where the tests are taking place. Do take care, and I do agree about radiographers and all staff. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I rather tempted fate there, Olga. Today, swallowing has been more painful than before! The radiographers – and nurses and doctors – seem unperturbed by this as it is what they expect. At least I’m half way there now.

      Like

    • They really are, Katy. Yes, ten done, ten to do. I’m looking forward to the last one. I think I might sleep for a week following it. I’m going to need more soups as my swallowing becomes more painful – but I’m sure I can always manage some chocolate.

      Like

  11. How lovely that the radiographers showed you how everything works, Mary. It’s lovely when people give you their time to explain things and answer any questions while showing no pressure. I’m so glad they give you their time.

    You made me laugh about the person who made the peppermint flavoured antacid with Oxetacaine. It reminded me of eating an ice cream that claimed to be Earl Gray flavour. Needless to say that I’ve never drunk Earl Grey tea since.

    Take care, Mary.
    xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So many complications to wear you out. I really admire the way you handle them. I got anxious because my eye appt was first thing Monday, and I didnt know whether it would be postponed because of the new lockdown, whatever they want to call it. But no, it went ahead. But my niece had to pull out of the taxiing for me, because her girls were stressing mightily about going back to school and covid and everything. I can’t imagine how people with school age kids, old enough to understand and worry, but young enough to panic unnecessarily, are coping. But she recommended a taxi lady and she was great.
    But then came news that a friend I’d not seen for ten years, but we still exchange cards, needed hospital treatment just before Christmas and contracted covid whilst she was there…
    Not to worry you or anything. Keep up the good work, keep safe, and lie back and think of Roscoe. He’s quite smug about his girlfriends now. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Was this a check up on the op you had or a pre-op check for the next one? Covid does add further complications on top of life already complicated. I’m glad I don’t have school age children – it must be really worrying whether they are at school or at home. Everything seems to be such a mess. And I keep hearing of people who contracted Covid in hospital, which is really worrying, although I’m sure my radiographers are very careful.
      Cuddles to Roscoe – though I’m not sure I like being one of many 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, you are the only one. Roscoe corrects me and says the others are aunties.
        This was the check-up for the cataract op and the laser treatment for the other one! Quite a set up, my consultant has. Little laser machine in one part of his room, and bli , blip, blip, just like editing a picture pixel by pixel! Five minutes and all fixed. Wish yours could be as quick and painless. So that’s all done. Just have to wait a few weeks now and then go to the optician for a check up.

        Liked by 1 person

    • It was really icy this morning, Marje, and I forgot my hat so I was pretty cold by the time I arrived at the hospital. I think I’m going to have to move on to soups to ensure both nutrition and keeping up my liquid intake as my throat is really becoming sore now. Hugs back. x

      Like

  13. I’m glad you were able to go back to the original hotel. Nothing like a picnic in your room! I’m so pleased the radiographers have people skills. This all boils down to communication skills. So many people are good at what they do but lack the necessary communication skills. (Like not letting the hotel know about the poor room service food or explaining things to you). I love your attitude. Keep smiling, you are on the home stretch now. 😍💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I’m back. I feel relaxed here, which must be a good thing. I’ve always said people skills can’t be taught – you either have them or you don’t – but I’m wondering if that’s true as all the radiographers (perhaps with one exception) seem to be excellent communicators. It must be something in their training. Whatever it is, it works.
      I think the second half is going to be a lot tougher but I just have to get on with it. I think I’ll be going for soup rather than solid food.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s good to hear you have reached the halfway stage in your treatment, Mary. Radiographers are special ❤ I am glad you were able to stay in your original hotel and here's to Waitrose picnics and mini chocolate rolls. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Mary, I’m glad you could move back to the original hotel closer to the hospital even if it means Waitrose picnics! Oh yes, Edinburgh is cold – even in the middle of a heatwave in summer! I’m happy you had positive experiences with the radiographers and they must find it rewarding to talk about their work and equipment to someone so interested. hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’m glad to be in the original hotel, where I feel I can relax. And I have been enjoying my Waitrose picnics – though I’m going to have to look for soup rather than solids as swallowing becomes more painful. It was really icy here this morning. I remember bringing a friend from Afghanistan to Edinburgh in the summer – by the time we’d visited the castle we were frozen to the bone!
      I guess not everyone is as fascinated as I am about the radiographers’ work – some people may prefer not to know what happens. Hugs backxx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Michael. I’m now half way through the radiotherapy sessions. Lockdown and the new strain of the virus does complicate life. The virus seems to spread so quickly and easily. Stay well, Michael and keep safe.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kim. I think I was tempting fate a bit because the side effects are staring to kick in now. Swallowing is becoming painful. I think it will be soups and smoothies for a while. Keep your fingers crossed it gets no worse.

      Like

  16. The halfway mark, that’s good as it’s downhill from here (in the nicest sense of the word!) Sorry you’re having probs with accommodation, seems a pity that the food issue can’t be sorted. On the plus side – chocolate mini rolls, you can never have enough! Keep your chin up and the kick ass boots on!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Had my usual read of the comments Mary and as always heartwarming. Glad you decided to go back to the hotel, apart from the convenience it sounds like the staff are doing their best.. and who doesn’t love picnics.My father had to go in on a regular basis for transfusions and they kept trying to change his regular Friday to another day and he was adamant that it was that day or nothing.. They asked him why and it was because the hospital served fish and chips on Friday.. the good old days when they still did their own cooking.Congratulations on being half way through and wonderful that you are getting five star treatment..♥♥

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Dear Mary, I know from other’s experiences that things might be getting a bit more difficult for you at this stage but as usual in the face to turmoil on top of the actual treatments, you’re sharing your journey. And again I can’t help thinking these posts will make a wonderful book if you have the energy somewhere up ahead. Wishing you loads of nourishing soups and a good blender, wish I lived nearer. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • The side effects are definitely making themselves felt now, Steph. Soups and smoothies are very much on the menu as swallowing becomes more painful (and burping!). Thanks for cheering me on.

      Like

  19. You said ‘no’ to all on the checklist except for heartburn, you must be pleased, Mary. And you’ve had 10 radiations and are halfway through!! What an encouragement for the long journey you have taken so far. You’ve tried all you can to keep moving on, try to exercise. It was understandable you were tired and skip. Take care! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Miriam. I hadn’t expected to feel quite so tired – though I’d been told it was a common side effect. I think I’m going to be a bit lazier over the course of the next treatments. Counting the days now.

      Like

  20. It is good to hear even under so much stress and concern, you are doing well and also it seems you have a great support team around you. You have remained strong and understanding through this process, and it is inspirational. One line made me want to hug you, as it reflects your character and the type of people who make this world special and that is your comment regarding being moved to a different machine: “My first thought was for the child’s mother who wouldn’t be able to stay in the room and must surely be beside herself with worry.” Wish you well, Mary, take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Randall. I’ve just posted a new update and I fear it’s less positive than this post was – the side effects are beginning to make themselves felt now.
      I can only imagine the anxiety of the mother (and/or father) of a child who is so young they have to be put to sleep for the radiotherapy.
      The team of radiographers are really fantastic and do make me feel supported. If they make all their patients feel like that they must be magicians.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s