Having someone ill in hospital is hard enough without having to find your way to the appropriate ward, work out what you can and can’t do as a visitor and then, having got all that sorted, you have to think of interesting, uplifting things to say. Parking the car is yet another problem. Our hospital has an almost permanent queue of cars attached to it. With Rod undergoing a stem cell transplant this is affecting me on a daily basis. But here’s the twist. The queue has become a source of fascination and a useful discussion point. Before I explain I’ll give a brief Rod Report for those of you who have kindly been asking after him.
Rod Report: He’s now in isolation as the high-dose chemo (Melphalan administered on Wednesday) has upset his digestive system badly and his blood count is dropping. I’m allowed to go in and see him but I must wash my hands and gel them before I go into and when I come out of his room.
They reintroduced his stem cells on Friday but the doctor did warn that this procedure would feel like an anti-climax. Three bags were removed from a huge tank with liquid nitrogen floating around (as I had imagined). Each bag was placed in a warm bath and as soon as it reached body temperature the liquid (red with tiny white dots i.e. the baby stem cells) was fed in through his drip system. They are helping him to fight the chemotherapy but he won’t feel the benefits for some time.
He’s very uncomfortable and is on a saline drip because they’re concerned about his lack of fluid intake and the condition of his kidneys. He’s likely to be in the unit for at least another two weeks. We’ve been warned that during this week the symptoms will get steadily worse. I’m trying to busy myself with writing so I’ll get back to my blog now.
Talking is making Rod feel sick. I’ve never had a problem generating idle chatter so as soon as I arrive, I start chatting to him... but I keep mentioning food. This is not good. Fortunately I’m sitting on a chair beside the window overlooking the queue of cars for the car park and I can give Rod a running commentary about the many and varied quirks of queuing drivers.
Here are just a few:
‘Swap the driver’ These people must be first-time visitors. The regulars know that the one with the appointment needs to be in the passenger seat so that, after inching along the road for half an hour, they can jump out of the car and run into the hospital (health permitting) to avoid being late.
‘The crawler’ Some drivers won’t pull forward when a car goes through the barrier. They try to play the ‘let’s see if I can keep moving very, very slowly’ game. Please don’t. For those people behind you it’s highly irritating.
‘The entrance blocker’ Most drivers leave the orange box areas free for delivery vehicles to enter other hospital gates, but just a few steadfastly don’t. It causes chaos.
‘Alternative pick up point’ I’ve done this for quick treatments like blood tests. Rod gets out of the car as I join the queue. I crawl along and before I reach the front of the queue he’s finished and rejoined me. We pull out and the driver in the car behind thinks I’m great.
‘The ignorants’ Every so often a car speeds down the outside lane and swerves into the car park when it reaches the front of the queue. This has happened in front of me on several occasions and it’s infuriating. There’s nothing you can do about it because they’ve got through the barrier by the time you’ve decided to get out and tackle them and you’re left with high blood pressure. At least the hospital has an A&E Department if it all becomes too much.
I know that the official line about hospital parking is that it’s preferable to get the bus but it isn’t, truly it isn’t. When I get out of that hospital all I want to do is to climb into my car and drive myself home. Hospital visiting is exhausting.