Bedlam continued…

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3rd October 2014: Sydney, Australia

The initial days of waiting in hospital left me wondering why I was still there, especially with frequent reports within the media about the lack of hospital beds. Surely, I was taking up valuable space needed for people who really required attention and were actually unwell! The collection of other men in the ward consisted of two beds remaining occupied whilst a revolving process of inpatients for the others. There was one guy, a recovering alcoholic from South Africa, in the bed opposite me who remained in the hospital throughout my duration. A very good guy, and together hours of backgammon were played to pass time. After four days of staying in the hospital, I was finally collected and taken for the first of many scans. I have to come to consider it the hierarchy of scans as it was just an ultrasound. Easy! I lay there, had a warm gel placed on my stomach and was able to see the insides of my anatomy. Neither intrusive nor uncomfortable but fairly interesting, especially as I could see the screen. Sure enough, I curiously watched the images, wondering if I would be able to see the wormlike creature causing havoc within my body. Between the games of backgammon, samples of blood taken and the food trolley alleviating a hunger possible fuelled through routine and boredom, I had occasionally been flicking through a book detailing the anatomy of the body. In some ways, I could be referred to as outcome focused, thinking I had to take something from the days in hospital.Therefore, the scan was a place to test some of my learned knowledge.

The screen was showing the insides of my body, a narration of the images by Sir David Attenborough would not have seemed unusual. It wasn’t till the scan passed across one area of my body that quickly my brain switched to thinking about what organ occupied that specific area. Nothing came to mind, so I asked, ‘what is that’. The response, ‘I’m actually not sure… It’s not unusual for us to have differing anatomies’ would usually cause concern and maybe subconsciously it did, however, I was able to overlook the seriousness of this obscurity. I departed the room back to the my bed, j aware the whole game had now changed. Almost immediately, the doctors came into my room, closed the curtains and told me the findings. two points were known. Within thirty minutes I would be transported by ambulance from Bedlam to a specialist endocrinology ward within St Bartholomew’s hospital. My new own room was in the centre of London, with a view overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral! Again, I blocked out the reasoning for me having my own room, and thought that I would be closer to some of my mates who worked in the city, could pop out to grab some decent food and would be able to get a good night of rest. Stupidly, the thought didn’t occur why these arrangements were in place.

New aged Bedlam

2nd October 2014: Sydney, Australia

Yesterday I made reference to a new aged Bedlam. An interesting point to my story is the complete contrast in how I spent the week leading up to my hospitalisation. It is almost surreal life to think in the space of three weeks I went from snowboarding in the French Alps to being a passenger in an ambulance to then wearing stockings on a last minute booked flight bound for surgery in Sydney. I recall arriving into Sydney airport, loaded with images of all the testing completed, with an oddly feeling of having an overwhelming appreciation of life. In hindsight, it was the emergence of my completely unfounded confidence and certainty in knowing I was able to overcome the situation.

Recently, I have been reminiscing on the sleepless and bewildered nights on the ward when first transported by the ambulance into hospital. The date was 12th January 2014. The question could be whether a midlife crisis of sorts came early or just an example of the many of obstacles to be faced within our lives?
To give a balanced view about the hospital. I am forever grateful to the treating doctors, one in particular whom seemed to take an interest in me. She endeavoured to discover the cause of the stabbing pains in my stomach and neck, flu symptoms and the diarrhoea experienced for approximately six weeks. The original hypothesis was based on the cause deriving from a parasite laying dormant in my body for seven years since my trip to South America. Ultimately, the treating doctors did exactly as their job description entailed by conducting the appropriate investigations to test their hypothesis about a parasite. In this instance, they were incorrect. Yes, there was something causing havoc to my system, however, it wasn’t a parasite. Rather, the large mass of tumour that was thought to be growing within the right hand side of my torso.

I recall numerous blood tests and hours of waiting leading up till this point with no real progress on pursing their diagnosis. It was throughout this period whereby the conditions of the hospital were challenging to say the least. Sleepless nights, tormented by the moans and screams of fellow patients were intolerable to the extent of me attempting to check myself out. On another occasion, the raucous of the ward left the night doctor with no other alternative to prescribing each of us with sleeping tablets. I woke out of the heavenly induced sleep to hear the same noises from 8 hours previously. Thankful for the rest, I was better able to empathise with what the man must be experiencing, and ended up helping him with basic tasks. The noise from the ward combined with the requests to assist in providing basic tasks, such as giving him water was much more tolerable during the morning. It was a different story at night, especially when alone in hospital, with my mind ticking over about what was causing such pain and discomfort. The reason for being alone resulted from my deceitfulness with everyone, partially telling information about my circumstances, straight-up lying or avoiding all contact with family and friends back home. For instance, I would be saying to my colleagues that my house-mates were with me whilst saying the same thing to house-mates and other friends. In reality, I was lying in bed, waiting to discover the massive changes that would soon change the very world I had come to live. Why did I do this? It may have been a thought to not cause worry for others, however, this all changed once the mass was detected. Firstly, I needed time alone to cry. Secondly, it was essential to have people around me, and finally, I called my brother and best mate from back home to tell them about what was happening. Even with the knowledge of a large mass growing within me, I still made it clear to both my brother and his wife that my parents were not to find out. I did not want them to know till I knew exactly what it was, so in the slight chance it was nothing, then I wouldn’t have cause unnecessary worry. My approach obviously highlights the fact of me not having children as the very matter of being in hospital alone on the other side of the word is typically sufficient reason for any, well most people to advise their parents.

Will I be one of the 30% who survive?

1st October 2014: Sydney, Australia
The flu symptoms are still continuing to have a firm grip on my mind and body. I can only describe it as what I imagine a forceful wrestling movement deployed by trained military personnel would feel like when being dragged into submission. My body is immobilised, throat gagged, mind numbed and aching from head to toe. Yes, a massive over-exaggeration, and simply just the common symptoms felt when struck by a cold. It is testing my will though, particularly as a churning in my stomach and a whisper of the fear lingers in my consciousness. The fear derives from thoughts about the likeness of the current bodily sensations compared to the period leading up to being placed in what I deem a modern age Bedlam.

Modern age Bedlam! Details won’t be disclosed about the location of the hospital nor will criticism follow, yet, the sharing of a ward with five other men, two of which who had dementia are just the beginnings of a picture built to portray the surroundings of the hospital I was first admitted to after last experiencing a sore throat, bodily aches and fatigue. It should be mentioned that a stabbing sharp pain in my stomach also was factoring into the decision to be hospitalised, and I recognise this is not present, however, an uncontrolled mind can entertain the possibility of certain signs holding much greater significance then just a cold or flu.

The certainty believed in knowing it is just the flu is an underlying feature of my Sunflower framework, particularly the focus on a clear and directed mindset. The question to be posed though would entail the degree of hypocrisy attached to only knowing I am ok when the MRI scheduled for next week produces these results. Is that not a contradiction to having a certainty built in my mindset? I had a feeling of invincibility when approaching my last scan, with a certainty of my body not under any attack, however, the flu and shoulder problems have both placed me in a position whereby I am looking forward to the MRI next week. A positive result will enable me in the future to have the knowledge to normalise certain circumstances whilst reinforcing the positive belief held that I will fall into the 30% of people who survive the type of Cancer previously inside me.