See me? See true romance? That's me all over, by the way. This is a day for lovers, so obviously, I took my partner up west.
Yep, today I and my beloved have spent St Val's at no fewer than three centres of medical excellence around Glasgow's leafy G11 and G12 areas: the epilepsy clinic at the Western ("you're fine, see you in six months, keep taking the Keppra"), then to Gartnavel to the Clinical Research Unit at the Beatson for bloods, and to the Tom Wheldon Building – effectively part of the Beatson – for the daily head-zapping.
Makes you pure poetic, so it does.
Blood samples are red,
Except when it's green.
And it quite possibly comes in other colours too. I think it depends on the dose.
After weeks of dotting in and out of Gartnavel, with its huge campus and (mostly) shiny-shiny modern buildings, the Western is a bit of a come-down: scary traffic access, little parking, and a general sense of cramp and dilapidation. Which is why, I assume, they moved the Beatson up to Gartnavel.
There are some shiny buildings at Dumbarton Road, and some lovely old ones – not least the magnificent Maggie's Centre in the gatehouse, although I can't help feeling the double-helix statue out the back is rubbing it in a bit under the circumstances – but the poor wee epilepsy unit is stuck in a peeling wooden shed that wouldn't look out of place in war films. The people inside are exceptionally nice, informative and very professional, and you'd think the NHS could at some point stretch to having their hut painted.
Anyway, Clare and I are now back at the Beatson's CRU for the longer part of the day, which comprises the now-monthly double whammy of nippy-itchy intradermal jags I get into the same well-worn hole in my leg as part of my vaccine trial, followed by a four-hour sit-about just in case I go into anaphylactic shock. It isn't likely, but if I'm going to do it, it's much nicer to have medical emergencies in well-equipped, comfortable hospitals than most other places. Take it from someone who's done the full fally-jerky-cracky-ribsy thing in the office; this is a lot better.
So it's been a day of wine and roses throughout. Apart from the booze and flowers part, obviously, both of which are frowned on in hospitals these days.
And we did get to have a wee picnic, once I'd been bled, zapped and jabbed: bottle of something fizzy (water, sadly), king prawns, chicken legs, wee sausages, nice cheese. Quite pleasant, really, if you ignore the fact that it was all in the middle of a cancer ward.
Adding to that general sense of well-being is the knowledge that, after tomorrow and Thursday's sessions, I will have no more radiation blasted through my head ever again, and no more chemo to stomach for nearly five weeks.
I am being constantly warned that post-radiation tiredness will set in at some point; maybe immediately, maybe two or three weeks later. I'm already shattered for a period in the middle of the day, so I may already be experiencing it. It varies according to the individual, and there's no real way of knowing how it's going to hit.
But I'll deal with that as and when. I've been in one hospital or another almost every weekday since the beginning of December, and while I have always had the utmost respect for our health service, and that has only grown since this whole episode began, I'll be delighted to see the back of it for a while.
I'm not giving up on the fundraising, though; this little blog has so far generated in excess of £2500 for the Beatson (including gift aid and a generous bung from the Herald & Times Group Staff Benevolent Fund, which might not be showing in the total yet) and I'm keeping it going. The NHS supports treatment, but this money goes to research, development and extras for patients – the stuff that will keep saving lives and making them more bearable. They can't really get enough, so if you like the blog then show your appreciation to the Beatson on my JustGiving page.