Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Chapter 2: Some Kind of Continuation

Some Kind of Continuation

In which I spend time in three hospitals on four occasions,
The wind is removed from my sails,
And I spend my time waiting.
Please see My Declaration of Life at the bottom of this post for “Wisdom According to Me”.  It applies to all of us (even if I’m the only one who says so...).

Although I started to come around in the ambulance most of memory was wiped out in the short term; I had no idea why I was in the ambulance or any idea of the symptoms that my family had just seen me display.
Moving from the strange tightness in my throat and the flustered feeling I was having apparently I started to complain about pains in my arm and chest which triggered my wife to call an ambulance immediately.  This move appears to have improved my immediate prognosis – see, I knew I had invested those thirty something years in her wisely!  Paramedics and then the Ambulance people turned up and stabilised my position as best they could.
I was told that for around ten minutes I was having some kind of fit/seizure which locked most of my muscles rigid, including those in my arm and hand which I used to grasp my wife by the hair so tightly that she couldn’t escape*.  My youngest brother who is a little bit larger than myself assisted my wife to escape the painful grip I had on her – I still have the bruises**.  I bit my tongue very severely (really, I truly hope it was actually me and not my brother!) and also bashed my head against the brick wall behind me during the spasms I was having.  Afterwards it felt like I had played a full rugby match inside of five minutes; I used to enjoy this kind of abuse but must be getting on a bit now as I felt a touch rough!
The next few hours in the Sunderland hospital seemed both to flash by and to drag at the same time with memories stopping and starting almost randomly.  I recalled being off work for two weeks but no idea why that had been.  I asked my wife and she not realising I couldn’t remember, replied bluntly “your brother died”.  This gave me a huge stab of pain as I relearned the memories; the pain fortunately lasted only a few seconds as sharp “new” ones.  This kind of memory return happened periodically over the next few days (and weeks if you listen to other people!) and seemed to be an area of concern from the medical staff.  They asked me a few times whether there were any memories I couldn’t recall.  I’m still puzzled by this question today – if there was something I can’t remember how would I know that...?
Over the course of the next two weeks I was in and out of various hospitals, medical facilities, etc., having various tests including ECG’s, EEG’s, CT’s and MRI scans.  From what I have been told only the MRI scan has shown up any anomalies so far – the temporal lobe on the left side of my brain is giving off some kind of different signal to the other side which the Consultants believe is indicative of a problem typical of a tumour of some kind. 
A tumour – what a horrid word and impending prognosis, the impact of which seems to me to be anywhere from potentially large to  absolutely huge; for a while there didn’t seem to be any kind of upside to this until I realised the biggest benefit I have remaining in life – I’m still here, any negatives are really outweighed by this single point!  Every morning I wake up and think “ah good, I’m Still Not Dead Yet!”  What a lift this gives me; so, turn things around on life or change the rules if you don’t like them; be positive and smile.  #SNDY
After getting out of hospital after one short stay we needed to get on with other important parts of life.  My wife and I needed to pick up various things, perform errands, assist other people, etc., things I had missed doing whilst being temporarily incapacitated.  One of the things we needed to do was to recover my brother’s ashes from the Funeral Parlour who had held on to him.  Interestingly whilst we were in the Funeral Parlour the Director Lynn found out that I had not been very well and she was exceedingly keen to be helpful and arrange anything I might need.  I’m still hoping that I won’t need her assistance in the short to medium term however.
We picked Glen up and he was held in a largish box inside a carrier bag.  Rather nobly, we put him in the boot of my wife’s white car as we visited hospitals for more tests and did other errands.  Several hours later we had to visit the city centre to sort out some issues; things having moved on we had mentally retreated to a more, umm, “normal” position and decided to make use of the car cleaning service available in the multi-storey car park.  Leaving the keys for the guys to provide this cleaning function I am not currently allowed to perform (#benefit!) didn’t immediately trigger any unusual thoughts but after thirty seconds I did run back to the car to retrieve my brother in case he was going to be thrown out! 
So, one final time, my wife and I got to go shopping with Glen.  Amongst other shops, we got to wander around the men’s department in Debenhams looking at the clothes – all of the stuff he used to love when he was with us as he was always very well styled.  We also went into one shop which, unbelievably, was playing a song by The Hollies that had been a hit in the late sixties; I can now deny the famous claim from them – he was blooming heavy even though he was my brother! 
These last few weeks have been more than a little fraught for my wife and they have also had some impact on my sleep patterns and restfulness.  During the nights I have been told that I have taken to sleeping very quietly, even stopping snoring on occasion.  On these quiet occasions my wife has taken it upon herself to prove I was SNDY by prodding me until I either made a noise or made a move.  Strangely I currently appear to have a larger number of bruises than I usually bear***.
The medics aren’t sure what type of problem I have and so have had to take a sample from my head in order to try and grow stuff from it to determine the problem.  This process is even less fun than it sounds.  I was put under a general anaesthetic and the surgeons had to make an entry point via the sideburn on the left hand side of my head, move the muscle aside that you need for controlling the bottom jaw for chewing and similar motions and, although it is hard to believe, in the process they have managed to damage my good looks!  The sample was then drilled from under this and sent to the boys and girls in the labs who are charged with trying to develop the sample and grow whatever is in there to prove what may be wrong with me.
The sample was taken on Wednesday 7th December and I’ve been told that the analysis will take at least a week as the process is gone through.  Waiting for confirmation of the type of problem I have to face is like having a huge anti-Christmas looming – there is a bad present coming for me but we just don’t know how bad it may be.  This situation imbues everyone with deep joy obviously but I’m waiting to work out how I can change the rules and adapt the position to be as positive as it can be for me and my family.  Someone’s life will go on...****.
* Use every opportunity to exact vengeance is what I now say!
**Use every opportunity...
***Use every opportunity...
****Forgive me if this seems a bleak moment, I hope it is understandable and I don’t really mean it inside; “Hope springs eternal” as Alexander Pope put it. 

A Stapled Kevin
My Declaration of Life:
I have been on this planet for a few years and have managed to narrow down the meaning of human life to a single phrase.  We can sum up our purpose with “Live Life, Love and Laugh”; I can offer you no better advice than this.  We can apply further meaning to this, if we want, in analysing how we should undertake these actions and to what level, but it isn’t really necessary.  We can see how just about any religion also reflects these tenets; let’s skip the rigmarole and get to the point - Live Life, Love and Laugh!


  1. There's always a reason to hope. Wish you hope in these testing times!

  2. "They asked me a few times whether there were any memories I couldn’t recall" perhaps they meant gaps ? Or did you say "I don't remember being a world famous singer, but it feels right".
    Great-looking pic btw.
    Best to all Olivers.

  3. I'm a friend of Kayleigh's and I lost my husband Brian to pancreatic cancer in January 2011. The diagnosis in June 2010 came as a huge shock (he was only 44) but he was an inspiration in how he dealt with such a difficult situation. He was a firm believer in the "I'm not dead yet" approach, and bought the T-shirt when we went to see Spamalot. It's yours if you want it, let Kayleigh or Rory know and I'll get it to you. Keep your sense of humour and stay strong - you can't change the hand you're dealt but you can choose how you play it.