Saturday 8 February 2020

For friends and things we can't forget

A yesterday like today
It feels like yesterday, but it was 10 years ago today, a cold wintry Monday in Amsterdam where I had two things to do. First, it was the funeral of Dick van Galen Last, my dear friend who had passed on 6 days before and then I was booked in for my 7th session of chemotherapy in the afternoon.
The funeral service, which was well attended, vibrant and redolent of the amazingly outgoing personality that Dick was. I then followed the procession to the place of internment but never got to witness the committal to earth as I had to leave for the hospital.
Back to chemo
At the hospital, the cold had in natural preservation conceals all my veins that it was impossible to find a point into which to insert a cannula for my session of chemotherapy. Washing and soaking my hands in warm water could not tease them out. Eventually, the cannula was placed so high up on my arm close to where a phlebotomy would be done.
The 8th of February 2010 did become more significant as when I when in for the blood test preceding the 8th session of chemotherapy, I noticed a 10th session had already been scheduled. My chemotherapy sessions were on a Monday, 21 days apart, however, in the Friday before the next session, I have a blood test to determine the efficacy of the treatment and what further courses should be taken.
My voice considered
I did not know that the more you tolerated chemotherapy; they had a tendency to heap on the sessions rather than reduce them. We had gone from a session to two, then four and now eight. The eighth was to be on the 1st of March 2010.
On seeing one scheduled after that date, I began a discussion with my consultant. I was hoping to get on with my life after the 1st of March and I did not think I had the mental capacity to accommodate another session of chemotherapy. At the back of my mind, I remembered a nurse telling me that some patients have endured up to 14 sessions of my kind of chemotherapy.
My consultant listened and opined that he had been thinking about the situation too, my immunity was so shot up, he needed to see it begin to rebuild itself. He promised to have a word with the oncologist. Afterwards, I received notice that my 7th session of chemotherapy taken on the 8th of February would be my last. I was in clover.
Life goes on
The prognosis after that was, I needed at least 6 months of recuperation after the ordeal of my treatment. I, however, did not have that luxury. I sent out an email to my LinkedIn contacts explaining my situation. I started work on the 22nd of March, but the week after seeing how exhausting the activity was, just because of my lack of strength, we agreed that I could have the Wednesdays off.
Yes, it seems like a long time ago, it is one to celebrate for the memories of that time and the passage of time to this day.
It was another year before I returned to St Barbara Cemetery to visit Dick’s grave, for the good friends we’ve lost, there remains more than a memory and a fondness for the times we shared. They are never forgotten.

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