Tuesday we went to the hospital, not King George, but Queens in Romford. Laing had already made the journey there alone when he had the bone scan. He didn’t want me to be with him for that, and I was pretty much not in agreement with that, but it was his decision, his choice, and I was not going to contradict him over that. I wanted to, but all the years together, I knew sometimes he preferred to go it alone.
We were booked for 10.50, but I remember it didn’t happen on time because of some problem or other. Laing took it well enough. When he was seen, he asked if I could be with him and was told that was not possible. He said he would want me to help him up after as he had great problems moving from the horizontal. Again this was firmly, but politely refused.
After what felt like an eternity I suddenly heard him yell out in pain. I wanted to rush out but I stayed put, mindful of the restrictions, imposed. Elf Anne Safetee. I heard him a few times more. Then one of the nurses came into the waiting room and asked me to come as he was calling for me. Reading between the lines, he was refusing to get up and off the table without me there. If there was one thing that I both admired and detested about Laing was his cussidness and stubbornness, both of which could be endearing or infuriating depending on the situation.
I saw a very frightened man, semi naked on the table surrounded by various nursing staff. I immediately took over the situation in some way or other. I asked Laing where he wanted me and manoeuvred myself into position. I knew moving him was not going to be easy, and he would be a pain in the arse while trying to do it. I wasn’t ready for his loss of control, verbally, and the flow of “fuck” uttered. I knew he was not in a good way, but I was putting all my faith on the radiotherapy and was ready to share in his enduring a week of pain to get the desired result.
He yelled out to one nurse to move away. She stood there looking bemused. Again he told her to move. I looked at her and calmly asked her to move to where Laing could see her. I had experienced Laing having panics a few times before, but this was serious. How the hell we eventually got him off the table I don’t know. I had to help dress him. I was getting to be adept at that.
Somewhere along the line, Laing had complained about the pain killers and medication he had been prescribed by the oncologist when we saw him on the previous Friday. We saw another doctor at Queens who prescribed Oromorph and explained that yes, it was morphine, but no, that didn’t mean anything more than it would help him through this period of pain and he wouldn’t need it after the radiotherapy, which we both thought was happening that day, but apparently wasn’t going to happen until Thursday, kicked in and relieved the agony. Neither of us was in much of a condition to argue or kick up a fuss about it, but Laing was, to put it mildly, totally fucked off about the whole thing.
Anyway, we put in the prescription to the pharmacy at the hospital, then lunched at the hospital canteen. Laing, bless him, bought lunch and walked about bringing everything over on the tray. How I miss that fierce independence. He was so damned good at not giving in. We got the drugs free with his cancer card. It’s like a loyalty card, except cancer patients have the loyalty shown to them. Just a pity we didn’t manage to screw more money back out of the system flowing our way after everything we had paid in.
He went to bed. I stayed in the office and let him sleep. He was so tired. Later I got a text from him “Shall we think about eating?”. We ate, I’ve no idea what, but I do recall he was impressed of the (simple) technique I had picked up from the web of chiffonade with the lettuce in salads. He took the Oromorph I remember sometime before we ate.
I had suggested he sit up in bed rather than lie down as it was easier for him to get in and out of bed, and it would help relax his chest. When I did that, I have no idea, but I’m very sure it was after we returned from our Christmas in Venice. We rarely threw anything out (he always said I hoarded, but so did he), so there were somewhere between 4 to 8 pillows in various states of degradation we used to prop him up. I will never forget the gratitude he showed me as this made bedtime easier for him.
He was violently sick in the night. The details are fuzzy to say the least. But we managed to get some more sleep in. I didn’t realise the man I loved was dying. You don’t learn that at school. No, it’s more important to recite the Kings and Queens by rote than to learn practicalities.