Archive for February, 2019

Rehab at the Christie

Thursday 28th January.   The weather is in synchrony with the season.   Snow has somehow managed to penetrate the ever- present mantle of Manchester’s polluted air.  The mercury hovers around zero. Vehicles are stranded, abandoned and on the pavements (sidewalks) people tread according to their age.  The elderly with caution.   The young progress regardless of the fact that there is absolutely no friction ‘twixt foot and the compacted, trodden snow. I also see the occasional T- shirt and shorts. What unaccountable science is going on here?


I am bound for the Christie hospital for the first of nine treatments of acupuncture which might, hopefully, ameliorate the debilitating effects of the hormone therapy, which, in conjunction with radio therapy, is being employed to keep The Alien at bay. I find my way to the Re-Upholstery Department and, after only a short wait, am called, beckoned, welcomed and led into a small room.

Anna has entered into my life.

She sets about the chore of assembling some kind of patient profile. I can anticipate the questions, Anna cannot anticipate the responses. Allergies? Salads and children. My subsequent answers are equally informative. The profiling is quietly abandoned for the day, put to one side.I am already becoming aware of the fact that Anna has a natural calm, a serenity about her even to the pitch and cadence of her voice. Her persona, her profession a seeming perfect fit.


And now it is down to the business. Within a few minutes twelve needles are growing vertically from my feet and legs. An extraordinary sight. Anna dims the lights and leaves me lying prostate(sic) on the bed. I am aware that on the other side of the door there is animated conversation, laughter, an energy and vibrancy which is acting as a counterpoint to my still, quiet room. I examine the shadows, the strange shapes from the dimmed lights which are now painted onto the walls. And the minutes glide seamlessly, imperceptibly by.
A gentle tap on the door. Anna enters, my eyes adjust to the sudden brightness and the room becomes animated,filled once again with her practiced dialogue.In some strange way she has never left the room. The needles are removed, carefully counted. Am I supposed to feel any different? I take a quick inventory of myself. No, I don’t think so. But, during the following week, I experience half my usual number of hot sweats and, for several nights, sleep for more than my usual 4 or 5 hours.


Seven days later I am in the same tiny room. Anna needs to know how I have reacted to the first session of acupuncture. The response, however, is not straight forward. The improvement on the frequency of hot sweats might be due to the fact that the week has been the last in the thirteen week cycle of Prostap (H.T.) injections which is my regime. I usually feel better at this stage. Or  could it be that the acupuncture is already having beneficial effects? It is supposed to be an accumulative treatment. This line of enquiry is laid to rest.


This week 16 needles sprout from my feet, legs, hands, brow and head. Anna is upping the game. A routine is already becoming familiar. Dimmed lights, a disappearing Anna, a sudden silence. Again, I am alone, insulated, surrounded by mute silhouettes drawn for a short while upon the walls. My environment at such variance with the energy and vitality that is just a short distance from me.Time feels to be suspended, somehow it takes on a different characteristic, felt rather than rationalised.


Time drifts by, neither fast or slow. There are few references, no measures, hardly any delineation.And, as last week, I am keenly aware of the juxtapositon between my silent, still chamber and the animated bustle of the hospital. The gentle tap on the door, Anna materialises and brightness and normality are restored. She begins to explain some of the techniques that are involved in the mysterious art of acupucture whilst the needles disappear, one by one. This week we both count together. She begins to teach me some techniques which will hopefully help me manage the hot sweats which plague me each day and night.She refers to these as tools.


I exit the Christie into the cold, dark chill of an early February evening and soon become part of the endless, slow- moving line of commuter traffic. Will those sixteen needles have any favourable effect upon the fresh injection of the Prostap? I usually feel quite below par for some days after an infusion of this powerful cocktail. Let’s see……………

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