When I phoned Eastwood Priory, I was told that the Old Man had drunk about five litres overnight. I could hardly believe my ears, but the nurse confirmed that I had heard her correctly.
At Eastwood Priory, a carer told me with delight that the Old Man had eaten some Vienna steak and potatoes, and had drunk some milky coffee.
Part-way through my afternoon visit, Dr T arrived to examine the Old Man. For one phase of the examination, the Old Man had to stand up from his wheelchair — he needed help from two nurses.
Immediately after the examination, Dr T took me to the consulting-room to have a word with me. He broke it to me that when the Old Man had passed blood in his urine, this had resulted not from any problem in his kidneys but from a lesion in the p*n*s — this might be a metastasis, but more likely a separate primary cancer. I agreed that to have this investigated would not be in the Old Man’s interests: “Maximum distress, minimum gain,” I said. Dr T would be prescribing stronger analgesia in the form of a “sentinel patch”, and eventually a “syringe driver” — a subcutaneous drip which could deliver diamorphin. The Old Man had only weeks to live.
When I got back to the Old Man’s room, he asked me what the doctor had been saying. I told him that the doctor wanted him to be more careful, so that he did not get such bad bruising on his hands. (That long weekend, the bruising was probably the worst I have ever seen; one hand showed serious dark bruising, and the back of the other hand seemed to be just one big pale bruise.)
The Old Man signed the rest of the Christmas cards, with something resembling his first name — except on one card, where the word he wrote looked nothing like his name.
[Original posting 13 December 2011]