Reviews PERSONAL VIEW

The finger, the foot, my bone cancer

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7514.463 (Published 18 August 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:463
  1. Nick Taffinder, consultant colorectal and general surgeon (Nick.Taffinder@ekht.nhs.uk)
  1. William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, Kent

    “If you don't put your finger in it, you'll put your foot in it”—this is an odd thought to have at 4 am, when you're waiting to have operation number three for your bone cancer. At first glance it was a bit of an imposition. A male nurse was asking for my professional opinion on his mundane rectal symptoms—at 4 am. I was awake and anxious about my own operation in a few hours' time. He was supposed to be looking after me, not the other way round. I was on sick leave.

    On the other hand he was one of those nurses you value: professional, polite, caring, and helpful. And I liked him. He was my age, just over 40. He had turned a blind eye to my using my mobile phone to stay in touch with my family. In return I had lent him my charger when his mobile ran flat. These things matter when you are an inpatient for three weeks.

    I had been back at work since then. My brain had shrugged …

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