Prescription for Disaster

Friday, 29 August 2014

Like the bedpan incident, but with a bed.

Wednesday night nearly destroyed me - to the point that on my way home from work I got off the tube at the first outdoor station to lie on a bench in the rain to try to reign in my overloading immune system. I then got back onto the next train and called my husband - he would need to pick me up at the station, I was clearly dying. 

It got much worse as the night wore on, but I didn't want to seem a hypochondriac. You know how it is. When I awoke at 3am without the use of my right arm I felt that maybe I should call 111, the non-emergency healthcare line in the UK, for some advice. 

Their advice, given my medical history and all, was to get to the nearest hospital A&E within the hour, or she would send me an ambulance. 

Feeling that she was just being unreasonably alarmist I went back to bed until around 5, when feeling returned to my arm with a vengeance. I woke Paul - yeah, we would have to go to the hospital.


Getting to the hospital and triage itself was an adventure worth writing about, but perhaps for another day - I'm bagged already and just had to share this part of my very bizarre last two days. I was seen extraordinarily quickly, brought into a small cubicle in A&E and was visited by a parade of doctors and specialists until my Rheumatologist was called down, who immediately drugged me up and made arrangements while I promptly fell asleep. Narcolepsy certainly has its' perks at times.

You know when you're sleeping, and then suddenly you wake up because things are horribly wrong? First off, the A&E had become eerily quiet. Also the room was somewhat different. Secondly, I had to pee like a race horse and thirdly, the blood in my IV line was going up the wrong way... a long way up the wrong way.

I sat up in a panic, seeing the air bubbles that had also formed in the IV line. This was not good. Murky memories of junior high science class and learning how spies can kill people by stabbing an air filled needle into a vein, any vein. Clearly I was going to die. Whether or not that was at all accurate was completely beside the point, the last  thing a person ever wants to see when they take a glance at their IV line is the whole thing full of bloody air bubbles. Something was clearly not right. 

And I really had to pee. 

I looked around frantically for the nurse buzzer but couldn't find one. In fact, I seemed to be in a different room, though I could still hear the buzz of the A&E a little way down the hall behind my closed curtain. I was in a larger room, the bed was placed directly in the middle and nowhere near any kind of buzzer. Or anything else for that matter. The side rails of the bed had been raised and I was sat there in my flimsy hospital gown, kind of wondering where I was and what the hell time it was. 

Okay, maybe Narcolepsy does suck.

I needed help, and I needed it now. So I did the Canadian thing and waited patiently for someone to come help me. Except that for about 10 minutes of siting up nicely and attentively in bed, nobody came to check on me. Nobody even walked past my curtained room with cement walls. Okay, this was a bit weird.

So I had to commit the ultimate rudeness, and call out. 




Still nothing.

A little louder now. "HELLO? Excuse me? Is anybody out there?"

I swear to God the lights gave an involuntary flicker and I had a mega flashback to the first episode of the Walking Dead, emitted an 'eep!' and started hyperventilating, still very concerned about the blood filling my IV tube.

Okay, this was ridiculous. I would just have to get up out of bed and go find a nurse to help me. No big deal. Except for these stupid rails - how do you get them to go down?? I gripped the rail with both hands and peered down the side, looking for some kind of lever, but finding none. The other side - still nothing. I shook them. I tried pushing them back and then flipping them outward. No movement. I kicked one. Still nothing. 

I debated skooching down to the bottom of the bed and just getting out there, but was worried that if I did the imbalance would tip the whole bed up like a teeter-totter and I would be found days later face down on the floor and having been crushed by my bed-contraption.

I gripped the rails and tried skooching forward rather violently to jerk the entire bed forward with the momentum. Nope, the breaks were on tightly. It might tip, but it wouldn't roll. Damn.

Okay then. The blood kept going up the line and the bubbles kept creeping closer to my vein - I had to get out of this bed! There was no other way, I was going to have to climb out over the side. 

Despite what it sounds, this is not an easy task whatsoever. First off, I was already tangled up by my bloody IV line and the loose strings of my flimsy hospital dress-gown that was really just getting in the way. I was sitting up, but couldn't get over the side from that position for fear, again, of flipping the bed completely. So with all of the careful precision of a beached whale I flailed and flopped and rocked and turned until I was eventually on all fours facing the back of the bed, now very well tangled within my dark red IV line.

I took a moment to catch my breath before again peering down the side, trying to figure out how I would do this. The bed was surprisingly high off the ground. Surely much higher than it should be. Also there were no decent looking footholds. Spurred on by the slow flowing bubbles of certain death I lifted my left leg up into the air and behind me as though I was in some sort of downward facing dog yoga pose, trembling the entire bed with my effort and carefully raised it up and over the rail, gripping the opposite rail for fear of tipping the entire thing over. I had visions of a flying hospital bed and my IV being yanked out and exploding - like a scene from Carrie.

OMGOMGOMG I just needed to get out of this stupid bed. Thank God I'm so freakishly tall, as I was able to lower my left leg completely over the rail and down toward the floor - nearly reaching the cold cement with my toes but alas, not quite there. The bed was still shaking violently from my twisted balancing effort (how could nobody hear all that squeaking?)  and I made a leaning-jump for it - my left foot now planted firmly on the ground and the rest of me now riding and gripping the bed rail like a Quidditch broomstick, expecting the whole bed to take off at any moment.

Okay! Whew! I was out of the bed and stood straight to untangle myself, getting a good look at the now really red IV line and wishing I was back in the bed as a new wave of nausea washed over me. Alright, alright. Keep going. I was out of the bed, I just had to walk over to the curtain, stick my head out and call for help. No big deal. 

Except that my IV line wouldn't reach that far. I was literally tied to the bed. If I stretched I could get a good three feet from the flimsy blue curtain separating me from the rest of the world. I tried calling for help again. Still nothing. A little louder and more forcefully this time - still nothing at all. Maybe something visual would help? If I could move or pull back the curtain maybe? Okay. I can do this. Not a big deal, I usually have excellent balance. Well, for the most part. I crept toward the curtain to the very end of my IV line's allowance of distance, stretching out my IV arm toward the bed to give me that little bit more distance. I couldn't reach the curtain with my other arm, but I could do it with my foot, surely. So, like a freaking ninja yoga master I stood there in a position of one arm stretched out toward the bed and leaned, raising my right leg perpendicular to my body and Chun-Li kicked at the blue curtain, pulling it away from the wall and to the side. I had an opening!

I kicked at the curtain some more, calling out a strained "Nurse! Excuse me!" to nobody. 

Alright fine, this wasn't going to work. I stared out the curtain but still nobody came by. How could this be? The A&E department had been hopping for the last six hours! Where the hell was I?

This was dire. I was about to bleed to death, have some sort of bubble-heart aneurysm and pee myself. There was nothing to it, I had to go get help. And I would have to take the bed with me. 

I pushed. I pulled. I heaved. That bed wasn't moving and I would have to figure out where the brake release was. The first lever wasn't it - I pressed it with my foot and the bed shot down to just above the floor. The second lever wasn't it either, but I could lift the bed back up to an unnatural and nearly comical height). I walked around it again, careful to hold my IV line like some sort of leash. the next lever I tried wasn't it, but at least I could now get the bed rail down. Finally I hit the right lever and the brake released, shooting the bed I was leaning on into the wall with a bang.  

Still nobody came. 

And so there I was, slowly pushing a large hospital bed with a bloody bed sheet (was that my blood?) across the room and slowly peeking it out into the hall, not sure if I was going to encounter medical staff or zombies, but tied to this beast on wheels by my IV pole. I pushed it out further into the hall, still nothing. I pushed it through the blue curtain and all the way into the flickering, darkened hall and looked around, my first foray into a world of other people in what seemed like hours. 

I was at the far end of the busy A&E, in what seemed like a fairly empty and disused 'wing' of sorts. Down the hall I could see the busy nursing station and medical staff darting from room to room in their blue scrubs, attending to the wailing and yelling of patients and their families. There was a set of police in one open cubicle, barring an irate woman from leaving, and a grown man crying over an IV in another. Crying babies and a drunk guy yelling - no wonder nobody had been able to hear me. 

But they could clearly all see me, as they all turned to stare in shocked silence as I calmly and slowly pushed my empty bed down the hall and to the nurses station, my open gown flapping in the breeze behind me and clutching my bloody IV line. I pulled up and parked my bed in front of the nursing station, to the staring silence of about eight doctors and nurses, held up my bloody IV line and asked if this was something I should be worried about. Before anyone could answer I then declared that I had to pee quite badly and would someone be able to unhook me or should I just take the bed with me to the loo as well?

Everyone then came rushing around the desk to help me at once, someone fastening my gown, another person clearing my IV line, someone making the bed that I had pushed there with clean sheets and another person unhooking to guide me to the washroom - all asking why I hadn't just used my buzzer.


It turns out that I was being admitted, but until a private room was ready for me on the ward I had been moved, while I was sleeping, into an isolation cubicle down at the far end of the hall. So no zombie apocalypse, nobody had forgotten me. I was just being quarantined. Like the guy upstairs with Ebola but without the armed guards.

Wait, what?

Yeah. And to think that was just the start of my two day hospital stay of weirdness this time. 

Granted, the isolation and quarantine was to protect me but still. I hate private rooms.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Chemo, Sunshine and the Cackling Hyena

It’s nice that so many people want to genuinely be helpful – just not when you are trying your best to remain inconspicuous.

You see, there has been a change at the Royal Free Hospital and now, in addition to the world’s most amazing noodle bar in the basement there is now a Marks & Spencer’s on the ground floor – and they have an in-store bakery with fan-ovens. This is fine, except that when you walk past it on your way to the main elevators in the early morning the soft yet rich aroma of warm chocolate and sweet bread reaches out into the hall like the welcoming embrace of a warm friend on a dark day.

Oh my, they have chocolate croissants.

I resolutely continued past the Marks & Spencer’s to the elevators and went up to start my day, forgetting completely about this new delight for a time.

My first visitor was, I think, a fan.

A lovely woman with her daughter, she had heard online that I was going to be at the Royal Free today for an infusion and, being there for a 3 minute appointment with Dr Beynon herself and having greatly enjoyed my book, she came to the PITU unit to seek me out – commenting to me how surprised she was that all of the nursing staff seemed to know me by my first name and were so pleased to direct her right to me.

We then sat for a while, laughing about Sarc and the content of my book like old friends – which was, when I think back on it, extremely cool. A fan! AMAZING!!

Excited fan

It must have looked cool too, because as soon as she left the patients around me, spurred on by the American woman sat beside me, asked me who I was and if I had really just met that woman. I told them about my book and for the very first time in my life when they all asked for its’ title with pens in hand I handed them my book’s business cards – which somehow made me look infinitely cooler than they already thought I was.

Or like a shameless attention whore.

One of the two.

Things calmed down and my impromptu fans dropped off as their drugs kicked in, and in walked Helen and her son Marvin – here for a much welcome chat and distraction. They even sat and had a laugh with one of my doctors that had come by to check on me, crying with laughter at his story of trying to give me an IV nearly three years ago in which there was blood everywhere (he was new at that then) and I was begging for a pediatric team to come do it with their magic freezing cream. He was then howling with us remembering how I would lie to them about how many days my cannula’s had been in to avoid getting new ones, and how far I’ve now come. (only two stabbings today!)

Helen joined me to the noodle bar of awesomeness in the basement, leaving intuitively once she saw me start to nod off.

“Were they fans too??” queried a passing nurse – apparently I was the talk of the ward today, lol.

“No, better. Good friends.”

The drugs kicked in and so did my narcolepsy – and I woke 2 hours later having dreamed about chocolate croissants.

I couldn’t do it. My dietician would slap me. They are sooooo bad for you. It’s not worth it. They are probably cold now anyway. So not worth it.

But everyone else on the ward was eating treats. Nice, chocolaty treats.

Alright look. If you can’t treat yourself on a damn chemo day, when can you?

So I unplugged myself from the wall, took hold of my IV pole and told the nurses I was just going for a walk around the ward, I’ll be right back.

And as soon as someone buzzed open the security door for a delivery I booked it out of there.
People are always surprised to see you hooked up to an IV pole in an elevator, like it’s pretty obvious that you’re not supposed to be up and about. People are even more freaked out to see you standing in line at a Marks & Spencer’s holding a big bottle of water and a fresh, warm chocolate croissant… and an IV pole with a pink bag labelled CHEMO on it. Especially since otherwise I look fine, it’s not like I was limping or grimacing in pain or anything.

Like you’re not supposed to be there or something.

You know the whole ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ thing? What would be the point of taking my warm chocolate croissant back upstairs to eat it in the sad chemo ward with Crazy McMental Pants the ASBO wardmate when I could, in fact, eat it outside in the sunshine instead? I was already down on the ground floor – may as well make an afternoon out of it, no?

And so I rolled my IV pole outside, lifted it over the bumps and myself a little sunny bench outside the ambulance loading area to drink in some fresh air, cyclophosphamide and a chocolate croissant.

Like a boss.

I ended up getting really comfortable and sat out there for a good 20 minutes (the nurses had started freaking out a bit upstairs by then) having pulled my feet up under me in comfortable defiance. Deciding it was probably time to go back to the ward, I stood up without a problem, took a swig of water and slowly rolled my IV pole back into the hospital foyer –

Where I stopped dead in my tracks, pins and needles having suddenly taken over my entire right leg. I couldn’t move, not even an inch. I was stood there just inside the doorway, far enough to be inside but too close to the door for the sensors to allow the door to close. I was directly in the way of people trying to get into or out of those doors (although they could have used the other doors!)

Now when a person is hooked up to an IV pole labelled CHEMO is standing motionless in a hospital doorway looking like a deer in headlights people are not just surprised but they feel the need to intervene.

“Are you alright dear?”

“Oh! Yes, I’m fine, thanks. My leg is asleep.”

Cue shock and side-eye from everyone around as they scurry out the door and away from the crazy person.

“Do you need some help Love?”

“Nope. Leg’s asleep. I’ll be fine in a moment.”

“You’re blocking the door.”

“Yeah. I tried to move, but I can’t. I’ll just be a minute.”

“Do you need a wheelchair?”

“I’m good, thanks. Just enjoying the view.”

“Would you like us to call someone?”

“Oh goodness no, I’ll be able to move in a minute.”

When I saw the security guys start toward me from the far end of the hall I knew that was time to move it, pins-and-needles leg or not. This was going to have to happen. I took a step forward and my dead-leg nearly buckled, causing me to grab my IV pole with both hands and laugh out in pain and at the absurdity of it all. I had to continue - lurching forward gripping the IV pole like I was paddling a canoe, dragging my dead-leg behind me and cackling madly away.

So when I initially went outside for some sunshine and fresh air I had stood tall and walked out, pulling along my IV pole like a normal person.

Yet when I made my way back through the hospital to my ward I was pulling my IV pole, limping, grimacing, crying and yip-laughing like a cackling hyena.

Like The Usual Suspects, but in reverse. I’m starting to wonder if I can buy my collective footage from the Royal Free’s security cameras. I could make a lot of money on youtube with this. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Night of the Laxative Curry - with twins.

Well, the day started out nicely. It was just the last 30 minutes or so that descended into complete and utter parenting bathroom chaos. 

Once more, again, Katy and Anna we are SO SORRY!

WARNING: If poop and children is 'not your thing' just stop reading now. It gets BAD.

So our kids turned 4 a week or so ago - you would think that we could have moved on from this stuff already. But alas, they've got my genetics. 

We had gone over to our friends' place for dinner and to hang out... pretty much all day...and had a great time watching movies, drinking in the sunshine at a pub with live music and eating the most delicious homemade curry that Katy and Anna had just 'thrown together'. It was heavenly - with a mix of chickpeas, cinnamon, garam masala, sweet potatoes and apparently Exlax.

We had finished dinner, enjoying the chat and rare freedom from the kids as they quietly played upstairs when my stomach gave an involuntary rumble. I was doing okay, but then the cold sweats started and I knew it would be best to make my way upstairs to deal with that.

I could also check on the kids while I was up there.

I started up the stairs and was welcomed by the sight of Lochie sat on the loo, bare legs dangling in the air, calling me in her sing-song voice;

"Mummy! I need your help! I've had an accident."

What do you mean you've had an accident? And why are your underwear bulging over there on the floor?

Sigh. Okay, Lochs had an accident. It happens. I closed and locked the door to help her to finish up and deal with the mess, having a talk with her about maybe next time heading to the loo a bit earlier and just bringing a book with her. Or an iPad.

I'll admit, once she was all cleaned up I used the opportunity to go myself - then came a desperate banging on the door. Kaitie needed to get in there too. 

Awful parent that I am I told her that she needed to wait (she always does this to Paul), assuming that she just wanted to come join the party. The knocking persisted, getting a bit more frantic but I couldn't reach the door from where I...erm... was.

Lochie and I both finished the effects of Katy's laxative curry, I finally opened the door but Kaitie was nowhere to be seen. I peered around the corner, straining to hear a muffled "okay now you wipe my bum".

Wait, what?

And then the smell hit me like a wall of music festival outhouses, having permeated throughout the entirety of our friends' second floor. Kaitie came around the corner completely naked from the waist down and holding a poo covered wet-wipe, looking for a bin to put it in.

They... they don't have another bathroom upstairs.

"PAUUUULLLL!!!!" Helppppp!!!!

I was laughing far too hard to deal with this on my own.

He and Katy came up, their eyes tearing from the smell and realization of what had been happening upstairs. Kaitie turned around and was absolutely covered in smeared poo. There was no wet-wiping this away, so I picked her up and popped her into the bathtub, getting on my knees to shower her off, trying to see through my tears of laughter at the whole situation.

But it got so much worse.

I could hear Katy laughing now as the full scenario unfolded, Paul rushing into the bathroom holding two COMPLETELY FULL potties of poo. It had been nearly two years since dealing with this type of thing but he still handled it like a total pro. We could tell which one was Kaitie's - as one potty looked like it had been dominated by a grizzly bear that had eaten a porcupine whole and, well, of the two kids she had the bigger smile of relief on her face.

While Lochie and I were in the loo, Kaitie and our friend's daughter were dominating the twin potties - together. Like some sort of bonding thing, I guess. 

Too bad the tandem wiping wasn't as effective as they thought it was.

So in the span of only 30 minutes or so we went from perfectly normal friends and house guests to having not only completely dominated their bathroom but also their children's bedroom and the more or less the entirety of their upstairs.

We are terrible, terrible people. But even worse than that?

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

And after tonight? Just further proof that our kids are doomed.


Sorry guys. If you don't want to invite us over again we won't take it personally. 

We're used to it.

Friday, 15 August 2014

My mother in law's parting gift. And I'm disgusted.

My mother in law (who is actually lovely, by the way) has been here for the summer. 

It has overall been a fantastic trip and we loved having her here. We went camping, to the safari park, to Birmingham, to the beach, bike riding, walking... it has been a great summer. It has also been a healthy summer - loads of veggie stir fries, spiralised vegetable pasta, fresh fruit and all of the things that we typically have as a vegetarian family that avoids processed foods.

But then Grandma showed up, with her 'Grandma Ways' of giving the kids pretty much whatever they wanted, as Grandmas typically do. Chocolate, daily treats, ice cream, Yan-Yan's and juice. I had to step in and put my foot down once they bought the kids Apple Jacks and it came with an actual warning label above the ingredients stating that this cereal causes hyperactivity and slow brain development.

I'd more or less gotten used to Grandma going shopping and the house then being stocked with weird things, different brands than we are used to and stuff we wouldn't normally have around. But this was okay. I'm still on my Prisoner of War Steroid Diet and was more or less continuing to hold strong.

So at some point I just stopped paying attention, and used whatever she had bought as it was in the house. The cucumbers she picked, her brand of eggs, her type of brown bread, her brand of butter in the fridge... whatever. It had to be used up anyway.

The butter tasted funny and I didn't really like it, it also seemed very 'bright'. I wasn't using a lot, just a smidgeon here and there on my whole wheat toast, a bit with my scrambled eggs, a scoop melted onto popcorn one night, a little bit in making refried beans, a wee bit on a whole wheat cracker...

It was cold the day that my mother in law left to go home to Canada, and I threw on my jeans for the first time in weeks to go to the airport to meet my cousin... but there was something wrong. They didn't quite fit. They went on, but they didn't quite go up.

What the hell? How was this happening?! I was stood in front of the fridge staring at the grapes completely dumbfounded when Paul walked in to make his coffee, noticed the crumpled package of butter on the counter and burst out laughing. He turned to me, "Honey, have you been using this?!

"Yes, your mom bought that butter. I was trying to use it up."

"This isn't butter. It's shortening. For the cake icing."



Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Well that was unexpectedly violent!

Those of you that know me well know that I loathe Wednesdays. It’s ‘hump day’, getting us half-way through the week. It is usually a mild day at work and on Wednesdays my husband usually makes a really nice vegetable soup for dinner.

It’s also the day he stabs me in the stomach each week.

But with a needle.

Part of my massive drug regimen is a weekly injection of Methotrexate, a mild chemotherapy drug that comes in a pre-loaded needle of bright yellow poison and that was disturbingly easy to sneak into China that one time. Despite his own reservations and heebie-jeebies Paul dutifully prepares this needle each week at his computer desk, flicking it for air bubbles like a pro and swearing under his breath when a drop of it shoots out of the needle and lands on his hand as though it were sulfuric acid. That he’s about to inject me with.

He then beckons me over and I hold my breath standing in front of him with my belly button exposed and my eyes fixed on the giant spider web in the window while he says ‘sharp scratch’ and lovingly jabs it in. I usually let loose a few tears and whimpers, he wipes down the stab-site and it is over.

But not this Wednesday. Holy hell.

So he begins preparing my shot this morning, collecting the prescription bag of needle boxes from the fridge (right next to the cheese), opens up a box and stops.

“Uh, hun? You’d better come see this.”

Well that can’t be good, right? These were not my usual needles where you screw a stabby bit onto a glass plunger bit and gently push it in, releasing the bright yellow poisonous mixture slowly and gently.

These were epi-pens.

Spring loaded, God-only knows how long the needle is or how violent this was going to be freaking epi-pens. Just without the fun of an adrenaline rush immediately afterward.

Panic burst forth as I told him that I couldn’t do this. There was no way I could do this. He told me that it would be fine, they wouldn’t have given them to me if they didn’t think I could handle them. I assured him I couldn’t do it, and had visions of him chasing me around the house wielding the epi-pen like Conan The Barbarian until he could jab it into my leg like he was tranquilizing a rhino.

“I can’t do this.”

“What do you mean you can’t do this? I’m the one that has to stab you!”

Cue long and heated debate about whether or not it was worse to be the stabber or the stabbee in this situation. He also declined my suggestion of “stab one into an orange first to see if the orange explodes”. He thought the NHS would be upset with me for having wasted chemo on fruit.

“Alright, come here.” said Paul, “give me your thigh.”

“MY THIGH?!?!?!?!”

“Well yeah”. He pointed to the 3ft long fold out instructions. “It says here to just put it on your thigh and push the button.”

WHAT?!?!?  What do you mean JUST PUSH THE BUTTON!?!?

Fine. It had to be done. I had to get to work and I needed this shot. There was no way around this. Fine. Just do it, fine.

We went upstairs and I sat on the bed in my underwear, exposing my bright white thighs to Paul and his violent epi pen. I remembered my high-school boyfriend that had a peanut allergy and his mom teaching me to use his epi-pen should he need it. That grapefruit was destroyed. She told me that you had to jab it really hard in the meaty part of his thigh because you only get one go and if it is too gentle the needle won’t go deep enough. You’ve got to really get some momentum behind it.

Oh my God. This was going to be horrible.

“Are you ready?”

“No! Wait! I need to put some music on first. To distract me.”

“Are you ready?”

“NO! Wait! I need to put a pillow under my head.”

“Are you ready?”

“NO! WAIT! I need to hold on to Huar Huar while you do this.”

“No you don’t. We’re just going to get it done and get it over with.”

He grabbed my thigh – “sharp scratch!”, pinched a big chunk of the muscle together, stabbed down the epi-pen contraption and pushed the button on the top down with his thumb.

It made a ‘chlunk’ sound like the dropping of gears as I felt it shoot into my leg – Paul held it steady until it was finished – and it was quick. The bright yellow liquid fired down the needle and into my leg like it was being pulled in. It was finished and he pulled it, out – though I couldn’t look at it to see how long the needle was. He advised me not to.


As soon as it was out I let loose the scream I had been holding in.

It was over, and I immediately let out the pent up wail and sob as Paul darted to the bathroom, his bladder ready to burst, while I let loose crying into Huar Huar. Owwwwwww! It stung a little at the stab site and there was blood oozing out onto my leg.

And then the burning started – like I could feel the drug expanding through my thigh in all directions – across to my bum and down to my knee. I’d never felt this when we injected it near my belly-button. I was still sat there whimpering when Paul re-entered the room, bright and cheerful that this part of our day was finished.

“So,” he mused, “soup for dinner?”