I once had the honour to supervise a student whose subject of graduation was to make an inventory of what a group of patients thought to be the most important object in their room at the hospital. To our surprise it turned out to be the clock.  

In my improvised temporary bedroom at home there is a very large clock on the wall. It was the first thing we bought in 1992 when my love and I decided to stay together for the rest of our lives. A large, sturdy clock for a great and decisive moment. During the last few days my focus was on this clock.

To counteract possible side effects of the chemo (nausea and a decrease of white blood cells) I have been given additional medication. It works, I have an appetite and even gained a kilo or so. But alas, in its turn this medication can cause side effects. On Saturday afternoon I started a blinding headache. My dear carers saw my eyes go hazy, I could only utter short sentences, apps stayed unanswered. The daily routine was gone: in the night I lay awake because of the pain, in the daytime I stayed in bed dazedly till late afternoon. I was glad to know this headache is only a temporary side effect. 

We kept to a strict schedule: 2 tablets of Paracetamol every 6 hours, plus a more heavy painkiller every 12 hours. With an even stronger one on hand if need be. The large clock ticked away steadily and helped me to keep time: it indicated day and night the hours and minutes until the following pain medication. 

In the past we sometimes had a guest who had to sleep under the same clock. I often took away the battery, for the clock has a rather loud tick every second, which can be quite annoying. This time the battery was allowed to stay. With its loud ticking the clock made itself heard every second in a hopeful way: time goes on and the clock will help me to pull through. 

Meanwhile the pain level is decreasing. The level of energy however is rising, and with it the anticipation for the small symposium and my birthday of course.