Attempting Normality


I hear a familiar voice through the haze. It’s Michelle and she has a hand on my shoulder and says it’s time to get ready to go to The Royal Marsden Hospital. My latest appointment is the monthly clinic I attend to check on my progress. Sluggish, I get up. In the bathroom, I stand in the shower and try to wash away the tiredness. It doesn’t work. I walk to the tube station and am on automatic all the way to the hospital.

I see Dr Gavaghan for the results of the CT scan and he tells me it is “Probably okay.” I’m not sure what this means, so I ask for more information. After a wait, I see Dr Gavaghan with Mr Harker, a surgeon. He is tall with greying hair, looks fifty-something and has a busy, but friendly air about him. He sprays local anaesthetic up my nose and asks me to sniff while he inserts the nasendoscopy tube into my nostril. He has a good look at the nasal cavity and down my throat and says everything looks fine, but he needs to operate to be sure. There are lots of nooks and crannies in my nasal cavity following the radiotherapy, so he can’t tell by just a nasendoscopy if the treatment has worked. I have no hesitation in agreeing to the surgery, as I want to know for sure if the cancer has gone. I need it for my own peace of mind.

As the surgery approaches, I go for a check up with my GP and I’m signed off work for another six months for further recuperation. I’m able to stay out of bed for longer periods now and, although the nausea remains, I can go out with Michelle and the kids sometimes. We go to the cinema to see a film one morning. As soon as we pay for the cinema, however, everything begins to spin and sweat trickles from my brow. But I can’t spoil the day out just because I feel sick.

About halfway through the film, it all gets too much so I nip out to the toilets. I make it to a cubicle and violently throw up in the toilet while I’m on my hands and knees. I can’t help but notice how clean the toilets smell while I vomit. Pleased no one else is in there while I’m puking, I clean myself up and gingerly make my way back to finish watching the film. Michelle looks over and knows what’s happened. I try to smile back at her. Jack is on her lap as the film’s getting a bit scary. I sit down next to Lucy and she holds my hand as I watch the film. I have palpitations and a cold sweat on my face, but feel a little better.

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