Wednesday, 10 January 2018
The End of an Era
Back in 1991 I was a skinny pert breasted single mum to a wee girl, working my arse off and paying a mortgage and filling my spare time with netball and improvised theatre. I was learning to date as an adult because all my other dating had be teenage romping which I very soon discovered was not at all the same thing. I met blokes who I have now long forgotten, but by far and away my very favourite fella was Dr Geoff.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer as a youngster is very confronting, and my wish for women in that situation is that they stumble across a Dr Geoff, not the wanker at the Mater Hospital who shouted at me through a closed door that no further tests were necessary cos he could see clearly that I had cancer and so had better get onto a surgeon. Yeh he wasn't a prince!
So I cracked on with the help of my Darling Dad's medico mates and found a wee team of people who were gonna help me out. And all these years later Dr Geoff is the only one I still see.
We have grown up together. Our children have become adults and we have now got the odd grey hair, well Ok, Geoff has more greys than me but then I have put on enough weight for 3 people and he is still at his racing form, so we are different but the same.
He is the standard I set for all doctors. He always runs to time even though he is literally dealing with life and death. He has always taken my frantic phone calls and has always always offered pragmatic sensible advice because he knows that's the way I like it.
When I first met him, it was to discuss the course of Chemo I was gonna endure. The meeting lasted more than an hour and he recorded the whole thing on a cassette player so I could play it back if I couldn't remember it all. - Yeh that's how long ago it was - a cassette! He talked numbers and percentages and then TOGETHER we decided and moved ahead.
Every time I fronted for the Chemo, which was no picnic, he'd pop his gorgeous head in to see how I was going. I reckon I was the envy of all the other baldies cos my doctor fella came to visit me and they suffered along on their own.
Usually people stayed in hospital the night after their first jab just in case there was some problem, but I was young and impulsive and perhaps a little in denial and wanted to continue my normal life which meant getting dressed in something silly and being part of an Impro performance. Geoff wasn't best pleased when I said I wanted to NOT stay but with a bit of argy bargy, we agreed to the offskie with a bag full of 'just in case' drugs and phone numbers to call, from a landline you understand, cos indeed it was that long ago.
So there was the intravenous shit every fortnight, followed by 2 weeks of oral truly awful shit. And we tracked along for 3 and a half months. I had just barely managed to hold it together at work for the 2 weeks of shit and then enjoy the 2 weeks off, until one morning I woke up, took the oral green pills and was just rendered fucked. I had a little cry and a vomit and another vomit and then I called Geoff. He just calmly said he thought it was time to give it a miss and we laughed cos I had already taken the dose for the day - BUGGER!
The next visit, he reassured me that the very latest research seemed to indicate that 3 months of the regime might well be enough, so since then we have just cracked on together.
I have seen him every 3 months then every 6 months then every year for the last 27 years!
We have laughed that I must be one of the oldest or longest or something patients cos, you know most others have died. I think he likes it that I am tenacious.
He was my advocate when 'My Case ' was being discussed by rando hospital doctors who knew me not at all, when they were making an argument for extra investigation and research which would help them but provide me with nothing. He voted NO to all this extra shit cos he knew ME not just 'the case'.
His pragmatism and honesty are my doctor bench marks, and the fact that he has always treated me, not the disease, makes him my Patch Adams.
Anyway Geoff told me yesterday at our annual 'Get your Tits Out' sojourn, that he is retiring and no-one could deserve a happy stress free retirement more than this wonderful man. He has tried in his inimitable fashion to find a suitable replacement who of course is medically knowledgeable but who also is interested in treating people long term. His concern yesterday was that I would be OK with someone new.
I am very happy that he will be able to spend time pleasing himself as he has been enabling people to do exactly that for more than 3 decades.
I wish him ridiculously well.
I wish him joy.
I thank him for all he has done for me.
I will miss him badly.