So it is day 9 of treatment and in true marathon-fashion there has been a series of peaks and troughs. I feel a sense of relief having started chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The medication causes a range of side effects mostly affecting my bowels. I can often be heard going into the loo saying ‘Pray for Poop’ which the Funny Boy has found very amusing. Similarly after having my car washed at the weekend I was furious to find the local seagulls had chosen to redecorate the exterior. Not furious at the mess they had made but furious at how easily their bowels were functioning in comparison to mine! For the first time in Conor’s little life I find myself competing with him as he has recently started potty training! So yes, my bowels are not happy and overall I simply feel shattered but race day is here! The start gun has been shot and at mile 5 I have started at a steady pace and I am feeling strong!
Over the past six weeks I have had countless hospital visits involving a range of doctors, nurses, receptionists and more. Although I am becoming more accustomed with the daily ritual of radiotherapy and weekly sessions of chemo I still find myself with butterflies in my stomach as I approach my next appointment. Very little can help with the nerves. Monday night this week i was up until 5.30am analysing my appointment from the day before and trying not to worry about the day ahead. However there is something which makes each day easier and that is the people who are treating me. I have been amazed, and at times overwhelmed, at how personable and genuine the staff are. My initial diagnosis came from a straight talking Irish lady called Hilary. She was a tower of strength during those initial weeks for me and my family! Upon being referred to my Oncologist I was again pleasantly surprised at how patient she was at explaining the treatment and answering the questions posed by me, Iceberg, Buggernuts and Funny Boy. At chemo I was greeted with two lovely ‘Louises’ who not only made sure I was comfortable but took the time to ask me questions about my engagement. Across the road at radiotherapy there are a team of girls who go beyond the ‘how are you?’ to ask about plans for the wedding. At my first review meeting on Monday I met another friendly nurse who allowed me the time to ask a whole host of questions about my treatment. When I finished she took the time to ask the Funny Boy if there was anything he wanted to ask and acknowledged that this situation affects him too. All of the people above have helped me feel like Heather and not just a patient. Unfortunately this has been a stark contrast when I have had to deal with receptionist staff at my GP clinic. Wether it be over the phone or in person I have been continually disappointed at their curt manner. On one occasion at the waiting room I overhead an elderly lady sign in for her appointment. Initially the lady, who was using a walking stick, was kept standing for at least 5 minutes before one of the receptionists left their computer to come to the desk and take her details. The lady was greeted with a ‘Well, you’re 50 minutes early for your appointment!’. The elderly lady looked a little embarrassed and responded with ‘I was worried my bus wouldn’t get me here on time’. I was disgusted when the receptionist replied bluntly with ‘You won’t be seen any sooner. Take a seat.’ My personal grievances with the GP receptionists are somewhat similar – I feel like I am being an imposition whenever I call. When trying to order a repeat prescription, sick line or change of address it has been met with a series of questions in an impatient tone. I appreciate they are busy and I know they cater for a wide community but they need to remember that everyone is individual and for the majority nobody is out to waste their time. People call the GP when they NEED to – not because they want to. Everyone has their own challenges and the difference a smile can make is huge!
As previously discussed the staff beyond my GP clinic have (in my opinion) gone above and beyond the call of duty which has made the power of difference to me and my family. This is a lesson for everyone and something I am increasingly more conscious of. Everyone has their own personal battle – it could be cancer, it could be heartbreak, it could simply be a crap day at work – but sometimes all it takes to improves someone else’s day is a smile!
So my challenge for you today is:
1. I read once that the things you take for granted, someone somewhere is praying for so take the time to ask yourself: What am I thankful for?