Yesterday, my watch stopped at 3 pm for no apparent reason. I didn't notice until nine o'clock last night, then the thought crept into my mind...oh dear, I hope this isn't is a bad omen for tomorrow? But I reset it, and it was still keeping good time when we went to bed and woke up this morning. Relief - time is back on track - a good omen!
Over breakfast, the phone rang - it was the nice computer lady from the Environment Agency telling us that the flood warning we have been under since Christmas Eve has now been lifted. Hurray - another good omen!
However, shortly afterwards I heard Steve let out a gasp - he had just checked the letter from the hospital. Instead of his appointment being at 10.30 as he had thought, it was in fact at 9.40 - in about half an hour's time. Instead of leaving the house calm and collected, we found ourselves in a mad rush....bad omen?
For a change, the traffic lights worked in our favour. We whizzed through town with few delays, arriving at the entrance to the hospital car park with minutes to spare - good omen! However, the parking ticket was rejected and the entrance barrier wouldn't lift. Steve pressed the button to talk to an operative, to be told that the car park was full. He explained that we couldn't back up as there was now a long queue of traffic behind us. When he asked for the barrier to be raised so that we could drive through, exit at the other end and go to look for a parking space elsewhere, there was no answer. Bad omen....
After sitting there for a minute or two longer wondering what to do, a vehicle eventually left the car park and a space became available near the entrance. We tried the parking ticket again and this time it worked! Good omen!
We entered the day clinic right on time. Another good omen! And then waited, and waited and waited. What was the problem? Surely the clinic couldn't be running so late, so soon after opening? Bad omen?
About an hour after he was due to be seen, we found ourselves sitting in the consulting room with a doctor. Not Steve's regular consultant, Dr T, but a new doctor and one who clearly had not had time to read Steve's file thoroughly, in detail....oh dear again...bad omen.....
After introducing himself and having a rummage through Steve's notes, the next thing he said was "so you have now finished your chemotherapy?" We looked at each other in surprise.
No, said Steve. I explained that we had been told that Steve's case would be reviewed after four cycles of chemo. The results of the scan taken before Christmas would be assessed to see if there had been a response to treatment. If the response was positive and Steve was considered fit to continue, then he would have two more cycles of treatment. That is why we were there today, to find out the result and what would happen next...
....more shuffling of papers and searching on the computer. More puzzled looks. "Did you have chemo on 31 December?" asked the doctor. No said Steve. He explained that he would have had treatment on 31 December, had the three weekly cycle continued without interruption. However, there had been no slots for an assessment appointment between the scan and New Year's Eve because of Christmas in between. Steve wasn't allowed more chemo until assessed by a doctor, which was why we were there today....Then, at last, it felt like the penny had dropped and the doctor was finally up to speed with Steve's situation!
The doctor turned to look at Steve's scan results to see whether there had been a response to chemo. And the good news is that there has been a positive response to treatment! The pleural thickening has reduced from 16 mm to 11 mm, which may not sound like much to you. However, it is a 25% reduction after four cycles of treatment, and may well have taken the meso back to somewhere close to where it was in 2009. We must have been grinning like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland! What a relief....and the omens were looking good for two more cycles of treatment to knock it back even further!
After spending some time talking to Steve about how he was managing the side effects, the doctor confirmed that he would agree to two more chemo cycles. Then followed a long wait trying to get through to the Chemo suite to fix an appointment. I got the impression they were a bit annoyed with Steve for not turning up on 31 December, but when the doctor explained (again) that further treatment had not been authorised until today, an appointment was fixed for Monday lunchtime.
So there we are. Things really are moving in the right direction! And the battle continues for another six weeks or so, starting next week. It won't be easy, we know, but it will be worth it in the end.
Such a relief!
Raise a glass to celebrate with us tonight!