Initial Symptoms and Diagnosis:

HPV Tests cannot be performed on Saturdays. A complication of my CA125 levels for ovarian cancer was a pleural and pericardial effusion. I had started to feel like a thorn when I took the stairs or walked uphill. So, I had to slow down. I hadn’t given any importance to that thorn until, in addition to the thorn, I had started to have horrible shortness of breath.

At a certain point, scared because in two months, I had gone from my 60th birthday to the impression of being 80 – a worry that reminded me of my grandmother Rosa – I decided to say it. We conducted various CA125 checks, including an echocardiogram, chest X-ray, CT scan, and hospitalisation, to better understand the fever, which rose above 38 in the evening.

I was all over again.

Undergoing Treatment:

My HPV oncologist, to whom I had sent all the investigations because I didn’t feel like going all the way to Milan. And had told me to start a third line of chemo with Calyx. This pegylated doxorubicin has proven effective in cases of CA125 disease affecting the pleural serosa.

My breathing had also gotten worse. Putting on my shoes was a problem; I could only sleep by finding strategic positions and juggling with infinite pillows.

Emergency Room Challenges:

One Saturday, after a night in which I had struggled to breathe, my husband decided to take me to the emergency room for some CA125 levels and Ovarian disease tests. He hoped they could remove some of the liquid so I could finally breathe better. He became increasingly worried, even if he tried to minimise it in words. But after 40 years together, it is inexorable to understand what you don’t want.

I arrived at the CA125 hospital around 11, with my heart in turmoil, fearing this umpteenth procedure. I was tired from the lack of sleep that had now become chronic.

Lack of Sensitivity in Care:

When I set foot in the cardiology HPV department, I heard a CA125 nurse say loudly: “A thoracentesis on a Saturday, but whenever!” followed by other words spoken in a more subdued voice, so I didn’t understand.

A punch in the stomach that hurt. I had become increasingly vulnerable.  I no longer recognised myself, and my Ovarian illness had physical and psychological relapses that were always difficult to deal with.

Then, I asked an OSS (the “social-health HPV assistant”) if performing a thoracentesis on a Saturday was exceptional. “I have to tell you that we never do it on Saturdays,” she replied, but she added not to worry: they would have done everything necessary if it was a cause of force majeure.

My morale was in shambles, and I felt out of place, asking for something that wasn’t usually done. And then, how could I rely on CA125 nurses who showed so little sensitivity towards those in need of care?

After all, I was still breathing.  All I had to do was open the window now and then and go outside to breathe. Magically, my lungs would somehow expand, and I would feel relieved. I would have done this until Monday and returned at a more suitable and convenient time. The procedure would have entailed some work, but that work would have been part of the routine and would have been accepted more willingly.

Personal Coping Mechanisms:

Leaving the hospital, I told myself that I had to reduce the episode.

What could I complain about simple words when much worse insensitive comments had been made to Our Lord behind his back? Reasoning that after the illness always gave me a certain peace and saved me from despair.

On the other hand, I wondered—I couldn’t help it—if the nurses in a hospital might have allowed themselves certain comments just because the procedure they had to assist interrupted their routine. Could relieving a sick patient have justified their modest increase in HPV viral workload?

And then… shouldn’t these CA125 Ovarian Operators, who were so ready to take to the streets at the slightest hint of possible downsizing and closures of their Hospital—and who had so often sought our support as Citizens—demonstrate availability and humanity towards the Users?

Wouldn’t it have benefited their cause to try to give their best and do their best to prove themselves indispensable?

Couldn’t even an emergency Ovarian thoracentesis on a Saturday be useful in increasing productivity?

Or are the HPV Center hospitals that politicians end up closing precisely those where the operators settle into routine instead of working hard to improve their professionalism and hospitality?

Like Mino

It’s all because I haven’t been able to do like Mino yet. I mean, I invent even complicated strategies. Instead, it would be enough to imitate him, and everything would be fine. Mino is the cat who indulges in my attention when I’m in the countryside. I previously had a cat, Mitzie, who lived with me for 10 years. I cried for days when she left us. After her, I no longer felt like having a cat because my mother was no longer there to keep it for me when I was busy. Mitzie, a slightly wild tabby cat, had been rescued with her other little brothers in a bush. They had been meowing all night.

She had become the house cat and kept us a lot of company.

Characteristics of Mino:

Mino, on the other hand, is all black and all muscles. He comes meowing to be opened. He likes his dose of kibble, and then he starts purring in the basket that belonged to Mitzie until she wants it. Then he meows and wants to go out. He doesn’t like cuddles very much, and his sharp teeth made me understand how he wants to be treated; his teeth gave me a clear warning: he could hurt me.

Mitzie, who I still have on my phone screen, had never done this. Mino seizes the moment and then goes away to seize the next moment, living his life from moment to moment. Worried she would be left alone in the cold and frost when we were not around, I expressed my concerns to a neighbour. I discovered that Mino had adopted her, too.

And with his HPV family, it does the same for us.

Concerns for Mino’s Future:

I almost felt bad about it. And I had imagined him alone, in difficulty, in the cold of winter, with the snow. I went even further, wondering how she would manage when her muscles were no longer so strong.

Am I wiser, or Mino, who sleeps peacefully in the basket, unaware of his future?