Wednesday, December 01, 2010

C.’s test results are out, or in, or whatever. Yesterday morning, she stopped the man who started to tell her about them, reminding him that she wanted her daughter present for that conversation. She got the impression that the news wasn’t good. At any rate, he certainly didn’t smile and say, OK, but tell your daughter not to worry – it’s good news.

Our niece couldn’t get in yesterday. She thought conditions would be better today. They’re not – more snow has fallen in the night. Wait and see.

Mercifully, I have very little experience of this scenario. My impression is, even in these days of up-front frankness, that this is the moment when drs tend to pull a few punches, predicting a longer life for the sufferer than is in fact likely, or understating the odds-against. Maybe my cancerous friends have just been the unlucky ones.

Meanwhile, of course, life goes on. I’ve got my new credit card – it arrived at a quarter to six last night, out of the darkness. I’ve celebrated by ordering Meg’s round-the-bend DVD. This is going to be fun.

Today’s task – I don’t expect it to be easy – is to secure one of my husband’s insulins. The system is that I email repeat-prescription requests to the dr’s surgery, they send the prescription by mail to Boots the Chemist, we pick up the stuff. Splendid, when it works.

Last week, one of the insulins was wrongly prescribed. I’ve looked back at my e-mail: I asked for the right thing, the dr got it wrong. No doubt there, but being in the right doesn’t butter any parsnips. I phoned the surgery on Friday when we discovered the mistake. They promised to put a corrected prescription in the post right away.

But no post has been delivered in Edinburgh since then. And Boots told me yesterday that their fax machine is broken, thus ruling out a possible emergency solution. And in a situation like this, it’s no use just having the prescription anyway, we also need to find a chemist who’s got some of the stuff. “We’ll order it in for tomorrow” won’t do with the city paralysed.

I realised yesterday that the only thing to do at a moment like this is to make some baked beans. That’s just about the only recipe that sends me back to my American books these days: Mrs Rombauer and the slightly-preposterous Gourmet Cookbook my father gave me as a wedding present.

The black-eyed beans have been soaked overnight, and are currently being simmered. This isn’t a thing I do very often, but I remember that the current phase is critical. Too crunchy, and they’ll stay crunchy – why? – during the long hours of subsequent baking. Too soft, and the whole thing will be a mushy mass (although still tasty).

And as for knitting, not much. I did another pattern repeat for the scarf, and finished the fourth ball of yarn. I’m currently engaged in one of the twists. I think one more after this one will be enough.


  1. Oh - thinking of you all. It does sound uncertain.
    It also looked so icy, dark and cold. I suppose this is why my ancestors left Caithness. We had rain here today and have had a very wet year - for Adelaide!

  2. Re. the beans, do you season after the simmering, before baking? I know that with dried peas, if you salt them before simmering them, they will never soften.

  3. There is post in Edinburgh. I got some yesterday and today.

  4. Wow- what a trial. My doctors use a new system with the local pharmacy. They type it into their computer, which knows what pharmacy I go to, and about an hour after I get back from the office I get a text saying the prescription is filled. No paperwork, no problems- its wonderful.

    I am sorry about C- I hope, that if it is bad news, that they at least can keep her comfy for a while. That is, of course, the least they can do. But keep in mind that doctors (especially the specialists) are not the most socially adept people- my best friend (who is a pediatrician but she started out as a pathologist) says that some doctors handle telling patients bad news pretty well, but the most tend to just be awkward about it. As she puts it "the best people-people in the medical professions are often pediatricians and veterinarians. And that's because they have to deal with small kids and pets that cannot explain what is going on with them." I have found that statement to be true.

  5. Anonymous2:03 PM

    Re doctors pulling punches: I often wonder if they are overly optimistic on their own behalf. I don't mean this in a nasty way - just that in order to keep going at their jobs, they have to believe that their are treatments, that the treatments will work, that patients will improve, that their work has some beneficial effect.

    I hope the waiting game ends today and your SIL, niece, husband and YOU get a plan for proceeding.


  6. Anonymous3:03 PM

    Jean, Here Canada it used to be doctors were more like C's doctors .. but, now because they are fearful that if they try to give you hope and things turn out badly,they will be sued (and they are!). So they tell you the worst case scenario ... which doesn't help healing. Holding you all in the prayer,

  7. As jeanfromcornwall said, salting will keep the beans from softening, as will acidity. So the softness of the beans when they get mixed with the seasonings (both molasses and mustard are fairly acidic) is where they will stay.

    Having lived with a (US-trained) physician, I would say that their training tends to inculcate a sense that losing a patient is a failure on their part, so they feel that if they don't set out to "win", they're setting themselves up for failure. Working in (veterinary) emergency medicine, I have to deliver bad news on a very regular basis. While I give clients all their available options, I also try to be very realistic about expectations.

  8. argh, and I thought living in the countryside means we are the only ones with such problems:(( I feel with you - have to try to get to town for my own stuff as well - though my tablets are not quite important as your DH's insulin! had to laugh about the buttered parsnips though - I love to learn new expressions like that:))