Monday, 18 June 2012

The Scan

I'm currently waiting for a CT scan. It's a time of heightened anxiety. This scan is the only way of knowing that you are clear of the disease.

I'm scheduled to have a CT scan every six months for the first three years.

I had a review with my Urology consultant last Tuesday (delayed from the previous month). He marked my scan requisition as 'urgent' and sent it to the CT Department. Today I rang them to find that I will get this scan in 3 weeks time.

I wonder how long 'urgent' is in other parts of the NHS?

Friday, 8 June 2012

One Year Old Today

A year ago today I was opened up from neck to groin, my heart was stopped and the tumour inside my vena cava (along with my left kidney) was removed. Four blood transfusions, three teams of surgeons, several machines and my own spirit kept me going throughout the seven hour operation.

I came round a day later to bright lights, pain and morphine. My new world was filled with noise, faces (some familiar), injections, indignities, sleep and survival. Three days later I was moved from intensive care to the ward. After another week I was sent home.

At the time it was all desperate and bewildering. I felt I was just hanging on.

Now I see it as a rite of passage.

I struggled, crawled, tottered, stumbled and began to walk – taking the first of thousands of tiny steps (that got bigger as I went). I don't remember a nappy stage and I always could talk.

I was finding my way through a world that I recognised, a world that appeared to be the same. But my situation felt radically different. It took me quite a while to understand that I had become estranged and the life that I had known was changed for good (see this blog, especially April 2012).

My huge thanks go to all the many friends and family who've helped me over the past year. I was so caught up in surviving that I don't think I was able to say how much I needed your help along the way. To each and every one of you, thank you from the bottom of my restarted heart.

And to the few that ran away: you have only your own inadequacies to blame.

On my desk stands a little man. He's nine inches tall. His face is covered by a mask, painted with red, white and black zigzags. The mask is fringed by a long white beard and extends to a tall, rectangular, black and white striped hat. His torso is painted with red and yellow lozenges. He wears a grass skirt. His arms and legs have red and yellow stripes.

I bought him in Zambia in May 2010 because he appealed to me. I knew he was called Mwengo, but I had no idea what that meant. Little did I also know that the tumour was then growing inside of me.

I've since learnt what an important man Mwengo is. He takes groups of boys away from their homes in the village to the ritual place. Here they go through many days and nights of ordeals and ceremonies. He then leads them back to the village as men.

Mwengo looks at me and I at him. I know I've grown so much over the past year.