Sunday, 18 January 2009
Part 18 - Hospi Tall Tales
Hospitals are giant, awful misery magnets. Like big sick moths to a dettol-endrenched flame, thousands of ill and unhappy people can barely help themselves from turning up to these hubs of doom and gloom, desperate to discuss the worst thing about their lives with anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves trapped in a conversation with them. Usually me, your favourite cancer-stricken blogger, forced to smile and nod as a 93 year old man tells me about his dry back skin.
Yesterday in chemotherapy as I took a short break from my Arrested Development DVD - I had become worried that laughing at something that no one else could either see or hear in such a quiet room would cause people think that my diagnosis had finally hit me and had kick-started a nervous breakdown - I tuned in to a conversation between two old men opposite me. When I say conversation, I actually mean one man explicitly detailed his stomach-turning chemotherapy side-effects whilst another, a visibly-stunned gent, remained in a tense silence - his eyes desperately scanning the room and screaming ‘help me’.
“Sometimes I get such awful constipation that I have to take pain killers.”. What in shitting crikey do you say to that? Does he have no shame? If this happened to me I don’t think I’d even have the courage to tell my doctor, never mind amplify it throughout a massive silent room full of already slightly nauseous strangers. The context of being in hospital seems to remove any inhibitions from people about divulging deeply personal information to anonymous others that, literally anywhere else, would see them end up with a legal caution. Twenty minutes later, fourteen pairs of suspicious eyes tracked his awkward limp towards the toilet cubicle - each person starting their own mental stopwatch.
However, later on, I responded with an overly-vocal faux-pas of my very own. I was discussing various papers that had shown interest in this blog with my Mum, comparing and rating each of the staggeringly gargantuan list of two. I boldly proclaimed that, although The Scotsman is a very prestigious paper, it’s only Scotland-wide whereas The Sun is Britain-wide but for “huge idiots“. One minute later, I clocked a rather dispirited-looking old man opposite me lowering his open copy of The Sun and discreetly attempting to hide it behind his seat. I saw you old man, I saw you and instantly judged you.
I realise that that elitist little paragraph will probably be the death knell of any interest from The Sun but, as of yesterday, I care not. In somewhat ridiculous news, I discovered that it looks like I’m going to be the subject of an interview and writing five pieces for The Scotsman in a similar vein to this blog in the not-too-distant future. However, I’ve probably boastfully announced this all too prematurely in an embarrassing Neville Chamberlain ‘peace in our time’ episode, it certainly all seems far too good to be true and the details are all still very vague.
However, this hasn’t stopped me from considering listing ‘Scotsman Columnist’ as my occupation on Facebook. The only problem is that that would be a bit of a giant lie. It’s not technically a job as they’re not paying me, they’ve said that they’ll donate some money to a cancer charity of my choice instead. This was a clever move on their behalf as I now can’t really negotiate a personal fee with them without potentially denying some cancer-stricken children a slim chance of life.
I jest of course, a fee would have been a nice bonus but it would be amazing of them to show such faith in an entirely unproven writer. I’m sure it doesn’t happen too often at my age, and the experience will hopefully turn out to be more valuable than any silly money that I’d have just spent on Wham Bars and shoes. It’s going to a far more worthy cause, and they’ve given me a fantastic opportunity. Anyway, I’ll obviously keep you up-to-date with any developments of this, probably to the point of tedium, and, assuming it all goes ahead, I’ll give you plenty of warning about dates and so on if you fancy picking one up. If you do, remember to email The Scotsman and tell them that it’s probably the finest piece of literature you’ve ever read.
But isn’t it strange how things work out? If I had never been diagnosed I doubt I’d have ever even started writing for my student paper, never mind a national one. I’d say that God moved in mysterious ways but that expression has always made me imagine the Holy Father slinking across a room through the medium of an enigmatic interpretive dance or on a massive pogo-stick.
Also, speaking of the student paper, the latest edition of Glasgow Guardian is going into print this weekend and will scattered around campus during the week. Aren’t I a busy little invalid?
Anyway, as always, thanks for reading and take care cancer fans.