Chemotherapy involves rather a lot of needle-sticking. Blood tests every week, so it does seem like a lot of blood-letting.But Wellington Hospital gets quite a few things right and one of them is the blood testing department. It may have been thought out with sophisticated time-and-motion studies in mind.  Then again, it may just be a lucky co-incidence but all the same, it really works. The blood testing dept is right by the entrance, so no traipsing all over the hospital trying to find where you are meant to go, and for people who can’t walk too well, these things matter. Then there are clear, big signs telling you what to do. So you take a seat on the (blood) red chairs, take a number and wait. Wait for about one minute, and out comes the friendly and proficient nurse, in with the needle, out with the blood, all done in three minutes. The hardest part is the drive over to Newtown. Well, for me it is, of course, there are some scaredy cat, sissys like Brian who are scared of needles but even he is getting pretty sanguine about it all. It is a utilitarian, efficient service - who could ask for more?

Actually, there are lots of things right about the place. Another thing is the way the wards are all the same, so no matter where you end up, you kind of recognise it and can find your way round. All the beds have the same curtains, I think they are meant to be soothing, sort of seashore-like with grey and aqua-ish bands like stripes. Unfortunately for Brian, after the brain surgery he had hallucinations which made him think that there were rats crawling round in the grey bits but the sea theme worked because he also thought that he was on a ship and each night they would sail away. He said later that he thought, well I must tell everyone, that is something no one in Wellington knows, the hospital becomes a ship at night.

All in all, it kind of works and there are benevolent touches. When Brian had the surgery, I drove the car into the underground car parking, then stepped into the lift straight up to the ward in a jiffy- fab - but returned to my car about 20 hours later with my credit card in my hand expecting the worst, (in those days of salaried life of course, my credit card was like an Excalibur, cutting through every problem), but found that after about 8 hours they don’t keep on charging. There is a top fee and it doesn’t just keep on clocking over. Assuming I guess, that if you are there for a very long time, something very bad is going wrong. It felt like a gift to me.

We notice these things these days, and don’t take anything for granted.