England Again

Post12 copy

Dad changed jobs once more so we moved back to England and settled in Billingham. Initially, I went to a Church of England School there, but didn’t like it much because the reading was all based around religion. In one lesson, a teacher showed us cards demonstrating jobs with pictures of a teacher and a policeman, things like that. We had to pick a job we would like to do when we grew up. I considered two pictures for a long time. One was of a binman and the other a wigged and gowned barrister. I chose the binman. Continue reading

Kid In America

Post11 copy

I’m awake and think about the early influences in my life. My parents met when Dad was a University student. They married young. Big brother, Marky, was born in Scotland and, two years later, I was born in London. Not long afterwards, Dad landed a job in the USA, so we upped sticks across the water. First, we lived in New York State and then moved over to Massachusetts. Home was a town called Plainville and, in time, I went to kindergarten there. My recollections are hazy. Continue reading

Defiant

Post10

With the scan appointments booked, we collect the kids and make our way to the car. I will have to let some people know what’s going on. And I’m supposed to be going out tonight for some beers. As Michelle gets the kids in the car and closes the doors, I telephone my mate Rick from the car park and tell him I can’t make it out this evening because I have cancer. It’s a surreal and brief conversation. I keep it together and drive home. On arrival, I’m dazed. Michelle sorts the kids out for bedtime. Continue reading

Natterings

Post9

Michelle and I leave the room. I feel spaced out. I don’t remember talking as we make our way back to the kids. I think Michelle must have asked the receptionist to mind them while we arrange the scans. I’m numb as we walk to the scan reception area. Every step feels like my last. We wait behind an elderly woman who’s booking an appointment. Continue reading

The New Normal Is Not Normal

Post8

We turn right and go to the end of the corridor. Mr Hogan leads the way to his room. Still no one speaks as the blue carpet drifts by. He stands holding the door open and clicks it shut as we take a seat. The atmosphere is tense. Mr Hogan sits behind his desk and looks at me for an uncomfortably long moment. Continue reading

Goodbye To Life As I Know It

Post7

Michelle and I enter the waiting room as Lucy and Jack run to the play zone in the corner. I let a receptionist know I’m there, while Michelle gets the coffees in. We sit down, chat and watch the kids. There is a glass atrium over the central reception. I look up at the yellow, white and turquoise triangular sails that flow down from left to right and then upwards in a gentle arc. There are white zen-like pebbles lining the floor by each wall. The waiting room is about half full of patients. Our kids are excitedly playing in the plastic house, which they turn into a fort. Continue reading

Morphine Is Good

Post6

I arrive for the consultation a week later and Mr Hogan performs an endoscopy. A quick spray of anaesthetic and the fibre optic tube is inserted into a nostril. After a few moments, I’m asked to sniff and it goes in deeper. I close my eyes and try to control the urge to retch. Afterwards, Mr Hogan sits behind his desk and looks serious. The silence is uncomfortably long. Continue reading

Most Important Call Of My Life

Post5

During the summer, we go on a Spanish villa holiday with a secluded pool. Behind the villa, a mountain towers high with wisps of cloud contrasting the vivid blue sky. To the right, seemingly at its highest point, a single tree overlooks the valley below. Beyond the pool, steps flow downward toward a dry riverbed and, on the other side, a small hill rises up. The kids and I sneak around the spiky plants, the rhythmic buzz of the cicadas overhead, and hide whenever ‘Baddies’ drive past until we make our way back to the pool. We’re having a great time. The kids play in the water during the long, hot days. Michelle and I read by the pool, cooling off with a dip every now and then. Continue reading

Something Feels Wrong

Post4

A few days later, I have another consultation with the surgeon, Mr Hogan, who explains his take on what’s going on. Continue reading

How To Catch A Superbug

Post3

I wake up around an hour later in the recovery room and my head feels like it’s exploding. With pain relief administered, I’m wheeled back to my room where my wife, Michelle is waiting. I’m kept in hospital overnight and discharged the next day with co-codamol and tramadol for pain relief. After a day in bed, it’s Michelle’s birthday. I manage to get up and have some cake, but feel really ill. The room spins. I rush for the bathroom, lean over the sink and projectile vomit. Looking down, I see pebble-dashed blood, both fresh and congealed. I call for help and Michelle does her best to clean me up. I spend the rest of the day in bed. Continue reading