Tuesday, 7 December 2010

A small victory

We came back from hospital about an hour ago, both of us absolutely exhausted. It is very difficult to explain why, but Southampton General is not a relaxing place and you always have to be on your guard about something. It is such a contrast to the Marsden where, although the journey is tiring, we have absolute confidence in the medical personnel.

First there is the joy of parking and once parked, trying to extract yourself from the car without damaging the neighbouring car’s paintwork. What larger people do or those with walking and movement difficulties, I can’t imagine. Today I had a mask fitted. As we usually wait a long time for our appointments I was well through my sandwich lunch when I was called.

The purpose of the mask is to ensure the neck remains rigid and in the same position for treatment each time. It is made of mesh, the holes not being dissimilar to those on a tennis racquet. The mesh is heated and placed over your face, neck and shoulders. The radiographers were very good and talked me through the whole procedure. The warm, wet material is a slight shock, nevertheless, but much better after they make a hole for your nose and mouth! Then they mould the mesh to your face and neck by pressing down firmly so that it forms a good fit as it contracts. I was quite glad when it cooled and it was unbolted.

Then we had a wait before I had a CT scan – not mentioned on the telephone to me. Once again the mask was put on and the resulting scan will enable treatment to be planned accurately. Marks were made on the mask so that it can be lined up perfectly for treatment.

Then they made an error. They asked me if it was all right to tattoo me. The last time it was done, I wasn’t consulted at all. This time I had asked the consultant whether it was necessary before today’s appointment and he had said no, so I declined. They really piled on the pressure and I can understand that it makes things quicker and easier for them but why a permanent mark? So they are only dots, not a crown and anchor, but still they are for their convenience not mine. For once I won the day which shows just how vital it really was. I have had enough really appalling things done by medical personnel to my body and even a small victory was good.

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