Today I received a clear sign that things are starting to get on top of me.
And that sign was this…
This morning, I had a planning meeting about my radiotherapy at Preston Hospital. If you read my recent posts, you may recall that details of this appointment were somehow sent to my parents old house, where I grew up.
Once we’d fixed the address mix-up with the unit on the telephone yesterday, they told me to come in today and park in Car Park ‘L’, right outside the cancer centre.
So, after dropping Sam at school, Kirsty and I drove to Preston, and found Car Park ‘L’. But, there was a vast lorry sized scanning unit covering almost all of it. These travelling scanners and clinics are, of course, essential to many people – so I couldn’t really complain.
Yet, for some reason, I found myself feeling quite staggeringly upset about not being able to park.
I figured I must just be nervous about the appointment.
So, I waited in the car while Kirsty nipped in to ask where we could park.
“You’ll have to find somewhere else,” was the reply. “But, whatever you do, don’t park illegally, or you’ll get a ticket.”
For the next hour, we drove around the hospital grounds, from car park to car park, looking for a space. They were all completely full, and most had cars queued up to enter just as soon as someone else left.
One in, one out.
Now, this was nothing more than a busy hospital having a limited amount of parking space for staff and visitors. Many, if not most, of the hospitals around the UK have similar problems. It’s no biggie.
But I was really starting to get anxious.
And my mood didn’t improve when we eventually found a spot, and I went to check in for my appointment. Once again, the receptionist had the wrong address. My old childhood address – a house I hadn’t lived in for over 30 years. I corrected the mistake, again.
And, again, felt something bubble inside.
Then a thought occurred…
“Why am I being treated in Preston?”
“Because this is the nearest cancer centre to you.”
“Yes, your address is just six miles away.”
“But, that’s not my address, remember? I haven’t lived there since I was 18 years old.”
“Oh, that’s right.”
“I live 30 miles away now. It’s a 60 mile round trip. Is there anywhere closer to me? Somewhere that might even have parking spaces?”
“There’s a cancer unit in Manchester, and they have a satellite unit in Oldham.”
“Oldham? You mean, the Oldham that’s about 13 miles from my house?”
“I have an Oldham postcode.”
“That’s NOT my address!”
“Can I be treated in Oldham instead?”
“Is that what you want?”
“We’ll arrange for an appointment to be sent out in the post.”
“To which address?”
“What? Oh, hahaha!”
So, we left the unit and set off for home.
As we drove away from the hospital, Kirsty called my Macmillan nurse in Blackburn to explain what was now happening.
She was confused.
“You can’t be treated in Oldham. Oldham doesn’t deal with head and neck cancers…”
“They’ve never treated head and neck cancers. You shouldn’t have been told you could go there.”
Kirsty asked where I had to go for my treatment, in that case.
“But, we’re just leaving Preston.”
“Then, you’ll have to turn around. I’ll call them and say you’re on your way back.”
At this point, I pulled over and took the phone. I explained about the parking situation at Preston Hospital and said that I didn’t relish doing this five days a week, for six weeks.
“How about if we arrange patient transport for you, then?”
“OK,” I said. “That would work. “Would they pick Kirsty and I up from home?”
“Kirsty can’t travel in patient transport, I’m afraid. You’d have to go by yourself.”
And that was it.
Right then – everything hit home.
The last three months slammed right into me. The lump, the pain, the worry, the doctor’s appointments, the blood tests, the biopsy, the scan, the diagnosis, the effect it’s having on my kids, the loss of work, the lack of sleep, the impending treatment.
All at once.
I’m slightly ashamed to say I completely broke down.
I thrust the phone back into Kirsty’s hands and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
In my car, at the side of the road, in the middle of Preston.
It took Kirsty almost half an hour to calm me down.
I was a mess.
But, I had to pull myself together. I had to drive back to Preston Hospital, presumably abandon the car somewhere, and go back to the cancer unit for my now long over due appointment.
Which I did – and will tell you all about in a further blog post later this evening…
EDIT: The keen-eyed among you will notice that I have edited this post since first uploading it. That’s because I didn’t make myself clear in the original. The problem today was with me – not a single staff member at Preston Hospital.
I let the events of the past few weeks simmer just under the surface until such trivial issues as a lack of parking spaces and an address mix-up were enough to push me over the edge.
The staff at Preston hospital are wonderful, and they are not to be blamed in the slightest for my inability to cope with life’s smallest of obstacles.
The cancer is starting to mess with my head.