The round-trip to the clinic.

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Table setting. Hand coloured etching.

 

Today we drove for the 7th time to a special clinic for radiation. There and back is around 140KM. We drive at around 100km an hour. The car has speed control. However, the use of it gives my foot a cramp. I prefer to keep working the pedal. There is also something frightening of a car going on its own volution. I am not sure about sitting in a self-drive vehicle. In any case we will be driving for many days yet, with a total of 25-35 radiation treatments.

The clinic itself is a jolly experience. This is surprising. Most or all of the patients have some kind of cancer. Perhaps the fear of getting cancer has at least been relieved by the certainty of the patients’ diagnoses. There is no more doubt. Still, jolliness and having cancer seems an oxymoron. The clinic has two waiting rooms. One has a TV which is always on, droning on a commercial channel most of the time.  The inane dribble on channel 7 by incessantly smirking presenters will do no good to any patient, not even those that are jolly and in remission. I change it over to the National Broadcaster’s news, ABC, channel 24. This gives News. Even there, the announcers seem to be laughing all the time too. I wonder what do they suffer from? Is the news from the Trump’s US or Syria so hilarious? Perhaps the TV bosses tell the announcers to be cheerful despite the carnage shown.  It surprises me that no one protests when I change the channel. Mind you, no one watches it much. They prefer to talk.

The other waiting room is a better place. They have bookshelves with many books to either read while waiting or take home in exchange for books patients might like to swap with. In any case, both rooms have patients waiting for treatment. Most have a specific given time and as the treatment only lasts a few minutes, many are in and out quickly. The undressing and re-dressing takes more time. The atmosphere is of geniality. I suppose there is a solid common bond. They all have cancer. The radiation perhaps also aids with a kind of warming glow. Shared problems together is a great binder and the laughter in the waiting rooms reflects this very well. Each time we leave the clinic we are both in great spirits.

Maarten is one of the patients whose time of treatment coincides of that of Helvi. He is Dutch born and 82 years old. He arrived here with his parents in 1953. I did in 1956. His Dutch language is still fluent and so is his brain. His parents settled in Wollongong with his father building a house there. He told me he created a Dutch choir in Wollongong which is still ongoing. Maarten also plays a recorder  and when well enough attends courses run by U3A. http://sohiu3a.org.au/   I think he likes classical music. I will ask him next time.  I am a sucker for classical music.

We meet each day at the clinic together with many others. Many arrive by Community buses with carers. Some are in wheel-chairs. We met a couple. The wife gets her nose radiated. She suffers a melanoma and hopes the treatment will prevent losing her nose. Perhaps in total, we spend at the most 45 minutes at this clinic.  We drive home and sometimes take a lunch at the Sushi take away in Mittagong or the Thai place back home in Bowral.  The daily trip means we have to put travel on hold. But, the experience each day at the clinic is a good compromise. Perhaps not a holiday but a good unexpected bonus of joy with strong people on the edge. The snippets of social exchanges between other patients is very exhilarating.

We  like the daily visits.

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35 Responses to “The round-trip to the clinic.”

  1. lifecameos Says:

    I hope the treatment is being effective for Helvi.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Carrie Rubin Says:

    Best of luck with everything. I hope Helvi continues to do well with the treatment. Positivity is a good weapon to have against illness, and it seems you two and everyone else at the clinic has it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The clinic is well designed with waiting rooms with coffee and tea equipment including Gumtree biscuits. It doesn’t take much to get a conversation going. And then there are books for those that want to read. I don’t know who turns the TV back onto the commercial channels but I just keep changing to the National Broadcaster. (ABC) without inane prattle and endless advertisements.
      I mean elderly people with cancer are not into buying giants SUV vehicles that get driven through raging rivers or up giant boulders.

      Like

  3. pethan35 Says:

    I must say when I went for treatment at Wollongong Hospital I had a good experience too. There wasn’t any interaction with other patients put the hospital staff provided a friendly and positive atmosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The staff are fantastic, mainly young and cheerful. I think they must be handpicked. One young girl must have studied in China for her qualifications. It turns out she is actually Irish and speaks broad Irish. When I told her I thought she looked Irish, she laughed heartily. Everything is now possible, even being Irish with a Chinese exterior.

      Like

  4. Big M Says:

    Mrs M had a similar experience. I went with her once, or twice, as she was well enough to drive to the radiation oncology centre, which was about seven minutes away. Hope you are both starting to feel like it’s a downhill run.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We both feel fine. Helvi has no symptoms at all. She is forever lighting up and cheering others, even those sunk in gloom.
      While the drive is a bit monotonous she does a crossword or we just talk. Often both. Time flies.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. leggypeggy Says:

    Good to know the clinic is a welcoming place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Peggy. It is almost worth just dropping by. Very cheerful people and one gets a ticket exempting one from a parking fine!
      I stick it on the dashboard. ( drunk with power)
      I enjoyed Brussel and its comic murals!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Julia Lund Says:

    Thinking of you both as Helvi’s treatment is on going. I guess that travelling for treatment must be a strain, but am glad for you that it the clinic is a positive place.

    I love the artwork.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Glad you liked the etching, Julia. Thank you.
      I think that the clinic works very well being staffed by great positive people. It makes such a big difference. Helvi is also a very positive woman and that makes others respond with enthusiasm and cheerfulness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Julia Lund Says:

        Not the same, but when my mum was receiving end of life care in the local hospice, I was bowled over by the love, care, sensitivity and positivity of the staff. Good nursing is a gift.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Curt Mekemson Says:

    My thoughts are with you and Helvi, Gerard. And I am pleased to hear that is is a positive experience. My brother went through extensive treatment for tongue cancer and has recovered, with his tongue. His doctor told me that Marshall was one of the most positive people he has ever met, and attributed his attitude to being an important factor in his recovery. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Glad Marshall recovered with his tongue intact, Curt. Many say that being positive helps a lot.
      You, planning a 1000 mile hike would have to be the most positive adventure, especially at 75 years.
      You look out for those giant black bears, Curt!

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        The power of the mind can be pretty amazing.
        And one definitely have to have a positive attitude to start out on a thousand mile hike at 75. Either that or be slightly crazy. 🙂 I plan on keeping a sharp eye out for the bears, even the smaller ones! –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

  8. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Uplifting camaraderie is a positive thing too. You two are amazing. Being in a situation with other sufferers keeps everyone looking forward to good results. Good thoughts Gerard.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. janesmudgeegarden Says:

    It always amazes me that in waiting rooms, surgeries,some cafes, and other similar places, the TV channel always seems to be tuned to Channel Nine, and those waiting subjected to inanity. I’m glad you were able to change the channel! It’s also wonderful that the clinic is a positive place and I hope all goes well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Jane.
      In the local cancer hospital here in Bowral, the TV is always on a commercial channel. I can’t find the remote and the TV is high up the wall. The patients are directly subjected to all sorts of drivel, mainly hair products or make-up re-hydration products. Many cancer patients don’t have hair and don’t always look fully hydrated.
      When Helvi had her chemo therapy there, she was glad to escape that TV.
      The radiation clinic at least leaves the remote so that it can get changed.

      Like

  10. Master of Something Yet Says:

    With such a long journey to the clinic, I am glad it is a positive experience for you. It sounds like it is a treatment for both the body and the spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Oh, my gosh! I love your Dinner Setting etching, Gerard! The colors are so cheerful! It makes me think of many positive times around tables, with loved ones, and good food and good conversation, and laughter! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your artwork!

    I’m glad the clinic is a positive experience for Helvi and you. I know you two must bring joy to those you smile at, and talk to! 🙂 I continue to wish Helvi healing and the very best as she endures these treatments! I think of her and she encourages me.

    Oh…I wish Maarten well, too.

    In my cancer journey these past almost-3 years, I’ve meet some amazing, positive people! Sitting in waiting rooms, I prefer talking to other people, and reading…I do NOT enjoy a droning television.

    I like asking questions, hearing people’s stories, and sharing a joke or a tease with them to make them laugh. I always go armed with a silly story or joke I can tell the doctor and medical personnel. 🙂

    In your comment on my blogpost today, you mentioned your book. Have you thought about sharing some copies of your book with the clinic? To put in their waiting rooms?

    HUGS!!! for you and Helvi and Milo!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Glad you like the etching, Caroline.
      The copper plate is still in a box somewhere on the farm where we lived till ten years ago.
      I did drop two of my books so far to the clinic. They were promptly snapped up and have disappeared, which pleased me no end. I might also give them to the book exchange here at the clinic in Bowral where we live.
      The Bowral clinic gives Chemo therapy while the other clinic does the radiation.
      I suppose that having cancer focusses people on the time left and what is essential.
      I hope you are doing alright too, Caroline.

      Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. bkpyett Says:

    What a long daily journey, Gerard. It’s good to hear that you can find the uplifting side to this, as it must exhaust you both travelling so far.
    Thanks for sharing your delightful etching! Sending best wishes and strength to keep up your positivity and enjoyment of life!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      There is a wonderful short story written by Virginia Woolf, Barbara, ‘The death of a moth.’
      It describes life from the viewpoint of a moth that only lives for one day. It concentrates on life and death, with death being inevitable for the moth (and all of us), but not without putting up a good fight.
      The moth flitters around happily for the day which is its entire life. It then dies.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. bkpyett Says:

    I shall look out for this short story, the subject appeals to me.
    Thanks Gerard!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Andrew Says:

    Wonderful positivity Gerard. Finding jollity alongside cancer would never have occurred to me. I’m very happy it’s going well for Helvi.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Andrew.
      Getting ready for another trip to radiation. I shall take another copy of my book ( almost there) to replace the ones that have been taken from the hospital’s book exchange.
      In some Sydney suburbs, residents are installing boxes on the footpath specifically designed to leave and exchange books.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. shoreacres Says:

    I’m so glad to hear that Helvi is doing well with her treatments, and that the experience has been eased by the presence of attentive and skilled staff — not to mention the cheerfulness of other patients. I know several people who are going through cancer treatment just now, and a common thread in all the stories is the importance of attitude.

    Just so you know, I’m not one who uses cruise control on a car, either. I enjoy driving, and I’m convinced I’m much safer when I’m in control. I certainly can’t control what others do, but as long as I have my vision and my reflexes, a little road trip will give me pleasure.

    I enjoyed your mention of the little libraries, too. That seems to be a more and more common practice. Anything that puts books into more people’s hands is a good thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, Linda. The book exchanges are popping up in many places now together with neighbours getting together and organising planting boxes on he footpaths in which herbs and vegetables are growing for whoever to pick and eat.
    A great idea.

    So are the Universities with all sorts of courses being run for the aged. No diplomas or certificates but lots of ideas for the old to keep plugging along. I mean learning Chinese or Cryptic puzzles, Spanish and table tennis or Schubert or chess. It just goes on.

    http://sohiu3a.org.au/?page_id=1004

    Like

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