I’m just going to take a moment out from the timeline to talk about some acts of kindness.
I’m also going to tell you – it’s my birthday today. Yay! December 4th! And I want to pause broadcast to let you all know I am actually home from hospital now. I obviously couldn’t write on the blog for a while so I’m a bit behind with updates but I just got home, after 9 nights in hospital. I have to go into clinic for a check up today (and apparently they’re going to remove two stitches FROM MY EYE! ARGH!), and also for a scan with my teeth people. Then in the afternoon my amazing friend (for UK people – my support bubble) is coming to cook me a big batch of soup and we will drink some Prosecco and mulled wine. What a treat! So it’s a day of work and play. I’m wearing my party dress.
On my birthday, I would like to share with you some amazing acts of kindness I have experienced through my hospital stay. We already heard about Angel Glenda bringing me tea. So let’s get into a few more.
On the second day, the day after surgery, I was in PACU. A paper bag turned up with my name and my bay and ward written on it. Inside was a bear. An amazing little bear. With an eye patch. A little bear that matches me, with only one eye. The left eye. It was from two of my wonderful friends in Australia who got it custom made in a toy shop near the hospital and delivered to me. It was just so amazing to get it. It made me smile and feel ok. Like everything is just fine, fine, fine. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. What an amazingly thoughtful gift. The note said that she is named ‘Toa’, meaning Warrior. She and Clarence got along very well immediately.
I always like what I wear in hospital to show my personality. I don’t want to be seen as a number, I want to be seen as a person. I know my dear friend Alexia because she used to be an anaesthetist, and I love the anaesthetists, they’re my friends. Yes, all of them. Alexia sent me a card and a bracelet just before I went in. The bracelet is lovely and I will save it for a later date when I am dressing up. I actually already wear a bracelet she gave me, a good luck charm from Cyprus. It is the last thing I take off before surgery and the first thing I put on when I wake up after. Well, on the card she gave me, it had a necklace that said ‘Sass’. I wore this in hospital as well. Even when I was still in my gown. I love it.
3. Eye patches
Amazing people have offered to make me eye patches! In fact, a few have arrived from someone in my amazing Twitter Family. She offered to make them before I even went in. And I can’t tell you how much better it made me feel to know that I would have that option ready to go if I needed it. They are so beautiful, and reversible, and super cute! I’ll show you at some point.
A lady in my bay gave me a little portable fan to borrow to cool my face down, in case it helped. It didn’t really help because it just dried me out and triggered my trigeminal neuralgia pain… But I used it for a little bit to cool down. Anyway, it was absolutely an act of kindness.
5. Friends stopping in
When I announced that I was back in hospital again, it felt like all my UCLH friends rallied around me. They stopped in to see me, asked if there was anything they could bring me… I didn’t feel alone, I didn’t feel like I was in a scary place, I felt like I was going in to visit my friends. And there they all were, dropping in where they could before or after their shifts. I appreciated it so much. Unfortunately I couldn’t convince any of them to smuggle me in some wine….
This is less about me but I will eventually get to talking about the amazing bay I was in once I got to the ward. But I just wanted to mention the person with a brand new stoma and the person who had had theirs for months and the advice and the support. There’s black and white ‘do this’ support in hospital but there’s never someone there to discuss the finer points or to tell you it’s ok and perfectly normal, when you mess up your first stoma attempt. And I think the kindness of sharing perspectives and knowledge is just beautiful.
Ooh what did I forget? Any number of things. The kind nurses, the kind doctors, the kind patients. All of you kind, kind people who sent, and keep sending, love and good vibes. The person I mentioned previously who has one eye and found me through instagram and gave me loads of tips and information. My other friend with one eye who has given me lots of useful hints. Everyone who has taken time out of their day to help me. Life is RICH with kindness.
I’ll leave you with a story. On the day I was rediagnosed, I was walking in to the hospital and I stopped in a Starbucks to treat myself to a Toffee Nut Latte (my fave festive treat – not Christmas treat, because Christmas can’t start until AFTER my birthday), and I found £5 on the ground in the store. I was going to give it into Starbucks but then I remembered they’re a HUGE conglomerate and this money isn’t theirs, it fell out of someone’s pocket. So I put it into mine. I wondered if I would just keep it and treat myself to a coffee the next time. Money is tight at the moment, I’m not working etc. Then I thought no, it came from the universe, I will put it out into the universe. So I figured I would give it to the first homeless person I saw. I’m not telling you this story to try and say that I am the kind one, not at all. It just seemed an obvious thing to do.
When I got near King’s Cross, there was someone angrily heckling all the traffic on the main road stopped at traffic lights. He was trying to get money. He came over to me and I got the £5 out and gave it to him. He thanked me profusely and told me his girlfriend managed to get into the hostel but he couldn’t and he had only two bags to his name and was just trying to find shelter for a night. It was his fifth winter of sleeping rough. He had no top teeth, I noticed. I know what that feels like.
After I had given him the money and listened to his story, I asked him if I should say ‘good luck’ and he said ‘no, I don’t think so, maybe just ‘best wishes”. So I did.
Then he asked what was wrong with my eye. This was post biopsy and your Jen looked like she’d been fighting. I said ‘Ohhhh I have cancer’. I knew even then really, didn’t I.
He said he was so so sorry and asked if I was ok. I said ‘yeah, I think so, gotta be, don’t you.’ He nodded.
He asked if he should say ‘good luck’ and I said no, and smiled at him. ‘Best wishes?’ he asked. I nodded, ‘Yeah, I think so’.
He asked if I walked that way a lot and he said he hoped he would get to see me again. I said ‘yeah, sometimes’, and smiled, ‘I’ll look out for you’.
Then, in the middle of the main road at Kings Cross, we fist bumped and left saying ‘I hope you’re going to be ok’ ‘no, I hope you’re going to be ok’.
He went back to shouting at cars and I went to find out that yes, I do in fact have cancer.
I’m not saying you all have to go give money to homeless people, I know that discussion is fraught, and I usually don’t. But just know that there is kindness everywhere. And even if you’re really finding things hard, there is still space within yourself to be kind. Even if you’ve only got two bags to your name and nowhere to live, you can have compassion.