“Are you back from France yet?” The Tinder message flashes up. It’s a chap from a few weeks ago – we chatted before I went on the Writing Retreat. He’s a 36 year old historian – as in he actually works as a historian. So we’ll have something to talk about. And he lives in Richmond and I like it there. We can talk about deer and I can show him my herd of deer in the park.
“I’m back,” I reply. “Didn’t we exchange messages last week?” Could’ve sworn that we did, but never mind.
“What are your plans over the weekend?” He says.
“Busy Saturday and Sunday day and Sunday evening. Am free Saturday evening.” Am sure any dating manual would frown on my readiness to offer a chap a Saturday night date on a Thursday, but I’m free so why the hell not. Left to my own devices I’ll just watch Foyle’s War and cook myself an omelette, after all.
“I’m free Saturday night!” He replies.
We arrange to meet at my pub at 8pm Saturday night. So that’s something to look forward to.
PET scan today, back at the hospital where I had my chemotherapy between May and October last year. Walking down the interminable Victorian corridors, dark wood lined with green tiles, I shudder as images come flooding back.
I remember shuffling to and from my bed to the loo, head aching from the painful nitrogen cap. Lying in bed, exhausted, hooked up to my chemo drip with my head strapped into the cold cap. The pain from the freezing nitrogen: the worse headache in the world until my head became numb after thirty minutes. Fingers crossed I don’t have to go through all that again, I think as I approach the scanner centre.
At the scanner unit, first I’m given an injection. Then, I wait in a room alone for 90 minutes. With no phone or company I can make a good start on my Agatha Christie autobiography. It’s quite brilliant and unexpectedly funny so far.
Then I go in for the actual scan. Lying on my back, a pillow under my knees. My arms are strapped to my sides.
“Clasp your hands in your lap, tightly, and don’t move them,” the nurse says, bustling around in that way that nurses have – straightening things and fiddling with other things.
“Please may I have the blanket over my feet,” I ask. It’s freezing and there seems to be a cold wind blowing through the room.
“When I’ve finished setting you up,” she says. “Your head isn’t straight. You’re not allowed to move at all during the scan.”
Eventually she seems happy with my position.
“There’s a microphone inside the scanner,” she says, “so if you need to say anything to me, you can. I’m going to start the scan now.”
The scanner itself is a small arch-shaped tunnel that moves, slowly down my body, starting at the head. It’s not too bad at the beginning but as my morning painkillers begin to wear off my right arm starts to ache and the pain builds. Not being allowed to move makes my whole body twitch. After what feels like a hundred years it’s over.
“Was that OK?” I ask the nurse as she unstraps my arms, half-expecting her to say “no, you twitched, we have to do the whole scan again.”
“Yes, it was fine,” she says. “Is anyone picking you up?”
“My Dad is here,” I say, feeling very weak and hungry: it was a fasting scan so I’ve had no breakfast or even coffee and it’s now 12.20pm.
“You’d better sit in the back of the car as you’re radioactive,” she reminds me.
“Is it really true that I can’t go near my kitten for 8 hours?” I say.
“You can’t go near him till the injection has worn off, that will be 8pm this evening,” she says as we approach the exit and there’s Dad and at last I can go home. Until my next scan this evening anyway…