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!!
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.