Friday, 6 November 2009

Having a small attack of the Green Eyed Monster

I'm feeling a little bit resentful today. This is probably an ugly post, so avert your eyes if you want to maintain the illusion that I am a saint.

Ok, still with me? Right, so here goes.

Actually, I would like to precursor this with an introduction:

I was sitting with a friend a few days ago who said that her father had eosophogial cancer and she was reading my blog and ticking things off her list of how she felt, as the process was very similar. I was comforted by this and was really glad to have spoken to her. But here I am about to stray into a problem that most people probably don't have:

I am jealous of my parents. Not the cancer, of course. I am jealous of the fact that they only need to say "go" and tests are done and results obtained. The nurse who did my smear test said it would take 4 weeks and then they would send me the results by post.

I am jealous that my father got authorisation for a blue badge (disabled parking) last week simply because his doctor said so. Ok, so I think that the criteria are weird out here, and I am not saying he does not need one. But why did it take us 3 months, including an aborted trip to an inaccessible GP's surgery to be given the same consideration?

I am jealous because my mother wrote an email to a famous surgeon about my father's case on Wednesday at 7pm and by 8pm had a response from him saying that he would be happy to meet with them. And all because they had had an introduction from a woman whose husband was already a patient of his.

I am jealous because my father does not have to fight for the medication he needs with doctors who don't think that a particular drug is "necessary" and therefore refuse to represcribe it. He gets what he wants and needs without argument. Maybe that's because it's cancer and therefore my dad gets what he wants, when he wants because we may have many years to battle the system after his system has given up.

But, in short, I am jealous of the ease with which my parents seem to be navigating these waters. That's a terrible thing, because I would not wish their situation on anyone, but, on the other hand, it's not like my partner's impairment is a "nice" one which gives her or me all the energy in the world to ring government agencies 20 times a day.

Sometimes I tell Nay, "you know what? Sod the government. Let's throw money at the problem, because that will save us the aggro". But she soldiers on on principle, because it's important that people like us pave the way for people who are less able and less vocal. But sometimes I want to have a friend at the Department of Work and Pensions, at University College Hospital, at JobCentrePlus. Because what I am really jealous of is the grease that has been put my parents' wheels, the fairy dust that makes their passage through this seemingly blessed.

My mother complained that the blue badge was going to take a week to arrive. I laughed, then thought "now you know" and then almost strangled her. Wow, that's really ugly.

So remember, boys and girls, Cancer is not nice. But money and connections help. And always, ALWAYS, remember the poor sod struggling next to you and give him a hand up the step, if you at all can. And if you can't, you can always blame the DWP.


  1. I know your Girl (how does one refers to The Girl's Girl, now that I think about it? ;-) ) and while I'm not in the exact same situation as you, as I told your Girl a few days ago, I'm at a time where cancer is intersecting my life in a bunch of different ways (my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer about the time your dad was diagnosed, a good friend from childhood is at an icky point in her ALL treatment, even my parents' dog has tumours, etc.) and I'm really aware of this phenomenon as a result.

    In my experience, too, it's not just the "who you know", but the word "cancer". I have a mystery condition (somewhat similar to what your Girl has, but not the same) and for any sort of treatment or quality of life stuff, I have to fight. For the people I know with cancer, they don't even often have to ask. They get offered the pain medication and at least some of the help they need, often before they actually need it. And, like you, sometimes I get jealous.

    I don't have any good solutions for you, but I wanted to let you know that you weren't the only one. It's not that I don't think they deserve the help, but that it doesn't take away from them to make it easier for the rest of us as well. And I can't imagine how magnified this might be in your case when so much has been about who your father knows so he gets it even before.


  2. I waited years to be given painkillers that work.

    When my uncle was diagnosed with cancer he got given so much morphine that when he went into remission he had to take several carrier bags full back to the chemist, unused.

    My parents' local hospital is only a small little place with limited resources. They freely admit that they don't have the resources to treat cancer and send patients to larger hospitals. I know/know of 2 people from their area who've had cancer, my uncle and my dad's PA's niece. He was sent to Chelmsford, she was sent to Cambridge.

    But other conditions they claim they can do even though they don't have the resources. I'm not going to claim "my mum would still be alive if they'd only acknowledged that they don't have the resources to treat someone as sick as her and transferred her to Addenbrookes or Papworth". But the chances that she'd still be alive if only they'd give cardiac patients the same honesty and respect as cancer patients is much higher.

    Someone frequently posts on the Ouch boards that in her area District Nurses only provide certain services for cancer patients. In my dad's area DNs only provide appointment times for ppl with cancer. If you need a DN for any other condition you have to sit at home for weeks never knowing when the nurse might show up.

    I think you have every right to be jealous.

  3. Thanks guys. I feel like a bit of a shit, but I want everyone to get the best possible care, not have some illnesses favoured over others. To each according to their need. Or something equally Marxist. :-)