Laing’s appointment with the radiologist wasn’t until the early afternoon. We took our time getting ready. Now remember he hadn’t been out and mobile since Tuesday, so I wasn’t prepared for the old man who could barely walk more than 50 metres without stopping to catch breath and rest. Somehow or other we got to the hospital in plenty good time. As he walked from the bus he and I had the same idea, but he suggested it first. I’m sure if I had he would have been furious and bloody minded and walked the whole way to radiology. He asked if I would get one of the many abandoned wheel chairs that decorated the exterior of Queens hospital. They were thrown about in such a random haphazard manner, one could have been excused the thought Tracey Emin had created an installation.
The wheel chair was crap. I was pushing him, but it had a determined will of its own to veer off left or right as the mood took it. How the hell can inanimate objects be imbued a with a life of their own seeming with sole intention to frustrate and infuriate mankind? We were both very frustrated at the way the object went where it wanted. I more so than he as I couldn’t believe manoeuvring a wheel chair could be that difficult, could it?
I got him to the reception and let him do the talking from his chair. I was very mindful that people in wheel chairs are usually treated as though they were not capable of thought. I allowed myself a wry smile as I remembered John Mortimer recalling, in his wonderfully witty manner, how people would lean over and shout at him once he had become chair bound.
Laing got out the chair and I took his coat and scarf. We waited a while and he was seen more or less at the appointed hour. This was a result! The first occasion, other than his chemo sessions, that his treatment or appointment took place on time. He wanted me to me nearby but this was more firmly refused this time. He had his 10 minutes blast of radiotherapy. Poor bastard. He came out eventually smiling weakly at me. I asked how he got on and he was OK, he said. I got him back in the chair and was then told by a member of the nursing staff the best way to use the wheel chair was to pull it and not push it. Thanks for that. Why have something that “works” counter intuitively? Maybe this explains a lot of the waste in the NHS. Management buy something that isn’t quite right.
We got home, thankfully the buses met up pretty well and we got home. Laing again retired to bed, tired and exhausted. I looked on the web for wheel chairs, making choices that would give him independence and style (as much as style applies to wheel chairs). It may not have been Gucci style, but a couple of hundred quid for something decent was a small price to pay.
Laing was so apologetic about having to be wheeled about. I responded with my usual mantra that if it were the other way around he too would be doing the same thing for me. As ever, he chose not to acknowledge that truth. I also added this time I was only too happy to have done what I did. Then I added, with a wicked grin on my face, “It’s the first time I’ve got to push you about and you couldn’t complain!”