Support from NHS

How is your experience with the NHS? That’s a question people often ask me.

Mostly it’s good – they acted quickly, were very supportive, and while things felt in crisis they were a reliable crutch. And mostly it’s still good. But this past week has been rather frustrating. I had wanted a picc line put in before my next chemo and tried calling to and arrange an appointment with a doctor. Maybe one week was too short notice and couldn’t be done – I don’t know. How could I know? I only spoke with an answering machine. And it wasn’t very chatty.

Tomorrow I go in for my blood, and will finally speak with a doctor. I realize it’s a very busy unit – but this week I felt hit-my-head-against-the-wall unsupported. It’s too bad they don’t have  a ‘chemo nurse’ like the breast care nurses. The breast care nurses are a touchstone for women (and men) who are trying to cope with the trauma of breast cancer. Losing a breast, realizing your life is at risk – it’s difficult to manage sometimes. But so is chemotherapy. It would be nice to have contacts who aren’t receptionists, aren’t giving treatment, aren’t juggling so many obligations that you feel bad for interrupting. It would be nice to have that support.

It’s been a head-shaking week. I’ve felt somewhat cog-like . . . fit into my slot; if I try to jump out of place the entire system breaks down. Did you know that England only has 12 chemotherapy facilities? Twelve for all the people who may get cancer. I wonder how many Canada has?

There are a lotta people (the waiting rooms are stuffed full of patients and their significant others) and a lot of demand. But I still want my picc line. Friday is coming – my veins will have to suffer the ache of another round of AC treatment. It could be worse. I do realize it could always be worse. And I’m happy in knowing that eventually it will be better.

Another round. This past week has been a bittersweet vacation, with its ups and downs, much like all the other weeks this summer has offered.

Next up – blood test and consultation. Here we go again.

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