My eye a few days post op. It was worse for everyone else. I didn’t have to look at it unless I looked in a mirror. So I didn’t
Hilariously I’m a nurse and my husband is the most squeamish man you could meet, but with me being unable to look and just wanting to cry he took over drops duty. He took over the running of the house, the school runs, the homework, dinner. Phoning and making my cardiologist appointment, arranging my full body CT and my post surgical follow-up. Plus keeping his job going and the money coming in to pay the bills. He has no medical training at all but learnt very quickly how to counteract any concerns and worries I fired at him constantly. We survived by being practical. And by not spending a single moment alone together. We couldn’t give each other any space for our fears to come tumbling out. We needed to fill the day with the ‘normal’ stuff. And the kids kept things normal as only children can. They didn’t know what emotional turmoil I was in so had no sympathy for me being tired or needing time out. They bullied me into a normal existence and that was how we survived. I remember someone saying that my husband and I should go out for a meal together. Just the two of us so we could talk. They didn’t understand that this is what we didn’t want to do. Talk. It was too painful. I couldn’t sit opposite him in a restaurant and look at the fear in his face and think about what I could potentially lose. So we didn’t.
Cardiology was next on our list of practical jobs to do. The cardiologist was a wonderful man who alleviated my fears straight away. He listened to my marathon feat and gave it the huge significance it deserved. He even asked my time! Four and a half hours if you’re interested. Very difficult to do with a heart condition, I would have experienced symptoms, palpitations that lasted a few minutes. Yes I have an abnormal heart beat and yes everyone that listens to my heart over the years always asks if I have a murmur, but it’s just me. A little anomaly that about 1:400 have and as long as there are no symptoms it is of no concern. Hurrah! First bit of good news in a long while. “Plus” he said, “you have bigger fish to fry.” Yes let’s not forget the cancer. I was to have an ECHO (ultrasound of the heart) and was taped up to a 24 hour ECG. If the results were all normal I wouldn’t have to see him again. And I’m pleased to say I never have.
Then came the full body CT. I would quite happily trade my MRI’s that I must have every six months for the CT. It is a calm and serene experience. There is no noisy banging going on. I actually could have fallen asleep if my stupid brain wasn’t in overdrive worrying about what it could see. My thigh had been aching for about ten days. These was bone mets I had convinced myself. Welcome to the world of life post diagnosis, where every headache is a brain tumour, every cough is lung cancer, every sore throat is…you get the picture. However reasonable you try to be it slowly creeps into your subconscious. Just lurking there. Waiting for you to close your eyes and drift off into a peaceful slumber so that the fear and shock is worse when it grabs you and shakes you awake at night. There is no one else awake at night so you can’t whisper “I think it’s spread, I think I’m dying” And would you want to say that to your loved one anyway? As he is also thinking “I’m scared it’s spread. I’m scared you’re dying.” So you lie awake, frightened, waiting for morning to come and relieve you with slightly more reasonable thoughts.
I was waiting for my CT results. I had a few more days to go. The days are endless when you are waiting. I wanted to fast forward time but would then start to think if I don’t have much time I want it to travel at the pace of a snail. An e-mail arrived from my jolly oncologist, the liver mets guy, ‘just to inform you the pet scan results are normal. see you in six months.’ I stood in my kitchen and cried. Suddenly these little bits of good news seemed to be coming my way. Luck appeared to be on my side. Maybe through all of this I would be O.K. It was these little bits of hope that slowly repaired the damage and trauma I had been through. I just needed them to keep coming.