Bye Bye Tumour
Later that day, I think about the shock of being told I have cancer and the best possible result of my scans. For a bad situation, it doesn’t get any better than this. I’m lucky. Then I think about something that stays at the forefront of my mind for a long time. It’s better that I have cancer and not Michelle or the kids. Forty-two is not too old for a clash with cancer. And I’m best placed to deal with this – fit, strong and pig-headed enough to be convinced I’ll get through. Anyway, I really wouldn’t know how to handle it if someone I loved got this terrifying illness. I’m up for the fight.
Only a few days later and it’s the night before the operation. I try to watch a film on the sofa downstairs, but lay awake. My thoughts are focussed on the malignant tumour that has invaded my head and is trying to infect the rest of my body to kill me. I can feel the pulse of the constant throbbing inside my nasal cavity. I know now this is the tumour. I have a letter beside me with the words “Diagnosis: Squamous cell carcinoma” in bold print. It’s a lonely night with little sleep. Just me, the film, a tumour and that letter.
In the morning, I’m weary and get a lift to hospital with Michelle. This is the big one. I do the usual procedure: Sign the consent form; put the hospital gown on; cannula in my left arm; see Mr Hogan and Bill the anaesthetist in their green scrubs; and now it’s time to say goodbye to Michelle. I have no idea how she keeps it together. I lay on the bed and am wheeled down the corridor, into the lift and to the operating theatre. This is REALLY serious. Bill is straight-faced and decides to give me the standard anaesthetic, so that’s some comfort. He pushes the solution through the cannula and I feel drowsy. The square ceiling tiles above become blurred. The drugs hit the back of my throat, I cough and am about to go under. One last look at the clock on the wall above the operating theatre doors and I float away.
I come to just over an hour later and the pain is excruciating. The male nurse in the recovery room assesses the situation quickly and gives me a shot of morphine. Everything calms down into a hazy sensation and life seems a lot better. My bed is wheeled back to the room and I’m so happy to see Michelle that I feel the tears welling up. I stay in hospital for two nights, resting up, talking to Michelle and quick visits from our kids. I’m getting used to hospital now, but realise I shouldn’t get too comfortable as it’s easy to become institutionalised.