Hospital is becoming a too familiar environment

2nd August 2015: Sydney, Australia

My eyes opened this morning to the type of pain I have come to understand requires immediate attention. I opted to attend the local hospital, opposed to being naive, and simply numbing the pain with medication. Luckily, to my relief scans revealed the pain stemmed from a small collection of fluid and internal bleeding, a fairly typical outcome for the surgery. On reflection, I possibly overreacted, however, the peace of mind is priceless. Furthermore, the circumstances reinforced the need to cease current attempts at weaning off my pain-relief medication.

As noted yesterday, I commenced a course of Cannabis Oil as a means of working I’m conjunction with my Chemotherapy to ensure I remain Cancer free, and currently it seems there are other advantages in taking the oil. Most notably, the alertness remaining in my thinking and interactions throughout the day. Moreover, I am not feeling heavily sedated or having a sense of loosing a degree of control over my behaviours and actions. Obviously, I acknowledge it is very early in my three month trial, and the primary goal will be difficult to gauge, however, admittedly, I am very pleased with the outcomes thus far, and hope for similar feelings to be experienced over the coming months. To conclude, I would encourage those to comment on my recent decision, regardless of whether they agree or disagree. Personally, the most important aspect of this is to connect with others to hopefully support others who are yet to face the battle some of have already encountered.

How I thought this was all a joke till…..

image

12th January 2015: Sydney

It was exactly a year ago when the above picture was taken of myself lying in a London hospital with a drip attached to my arm. The purpose of the pictures is evidently a sign of the seriousness seen in the admission to hospital as it wasn’t an alert about my well-being, rather an attempt of humouring a friend back in Australia.

The news of having a tumour was obviously a revelation, crippling my emotions, however, strangely some comfort was felt when tears unfamiliar to my face commenced pouring from my eyes. The significance of the photo is consistent with the continuing story to unfold in the time leading up to discovering I had Cancer, especially considering my attempts at discharging myself from the initial hospital due to the noise within the ward, and the fact of being locked out of the second hospital on the first night after meeting a friend for dinner. Also, the bizarre ambulance ride arranged to transport me to a specialist hospital adds a further dimension of uniqueness to my story. The ambulance ride entailed a nurse from my initial hospital using the driver and vehicle as a mode of transport to a different hospital to where I was needed to be delivered. Still not thinking about the seriousness of the circumstances facing me, I advised the ambulance driver I was happy to allow the nurse to accompany the journey. The circumstances almost lead to a crash, with the disbelief on the face of the ambulance driver an indicator of his shock when the nurse asked to be dropped at the hospital before my arrival at the other hospital. Admittedly, I shared the shock of the request, however, expressed my approval to the driver of agreeing to the request. I did say the circumstances were bizarre, and the second request lead to a chorus of shock from both the ambulance driver and I following the nurse asking us to either wait or to be collected from the hospital after she had finished dropping something to a colleague. No words were needed from me as the ambulance driver clearly advised the nurse a massive favour had already been completed, and she was in an ambulance, not a taxi catering to her needs.

Upon reflection the somewhat relaxed approach to certain circumstances with the inclusion of humour may have contributed to the position I am in today. Furthermore, the stories from above, particularly the odd inclusion of the nurse using the ambulance as a taxi bring a smile to my face at the journey faced over the past year. In saying this, I know the humour has not been shared by others around me, and the use of humour in appointments with medical staff when talking in a jovial manner about possibly cutting out some of my liver and where other incisions will be made were difficult for my mum to understand. Again, on reflection, further sensitivity to her needs should have been shown, however, the approach also demonstrated the self-belief in overcoming whatever was to be faced, and ultimately I feel this has placed those close around me in a position of greater confidence in my recovery. A position, important to me as it aligns with the emphasis placed on creating a positive narrative about myself and future situation.

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.