Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The final over

Less than three weeks ago I wrote of having a bit of a headache. Since then, a lot has happened. I went to hospital in Newcastle, where it was discovered that I have a brain tumour. I was going to write about all of that in a bit more detail but things didn't turn out quite as I hoped they would.

The surgeons operated on Thursday. Post operation was not a pleasant experience but I started to feel better. I had some vision impairment and felt unsteady on my feet, like I had had a couple of drinks too many. But I felt that the worst was over and I was on the road to recovery.

Then on Monday, yesterday, came the moment I just didn't expect. Two doctors arrived to give Olga and I the results of the tests on the tissue the surgeons had removed from my brain. There are two types of brain tumour, benign and incurable. They found that I have a fast growing incurable tumour growing from inside my brain. It cannot be stopped, only treated to slow its growth and maximize quality of life for as long as I have. The grave, male doctor gave me from a few weeks to a year. His female colleague said that sometimes people survive up to five years, but I think she was just trying to soften the blow. The only plus side was that I am physically fit and healthy, so there is a better than average chance treatment will work. Then we were left alone to digest the information and arrange a taxi back to Cockermouth.

There are no words to describe what it feels like to be given news like that. Tears didn't even come. Olga said she felt frozen inside. I think I must have felt it was just a bad dream and not real at all. I just sat there, looking at Olga and shaking my head in disbelief.

Why me? Why us?

The last nine years since I met and married Olga have been the happiest of my life. She became not just my wife but my best friend and my soulmate. She tolerated my geeky hobbies and never questioned why I needed a new radio. She has been a perfect wife.

Life has been great. We were starting to unwind towards semi retirement, planning to take more trips away and do more things together than we had the time or money to do in the past. Now the opportunity is lost. I feel so bitter and angry at being parted from her, leaving her a widow, with so many things we wanted to do yet undone.

In the taxi back from Newcastle Olga and I decided on two priorities. First, the treatment. We will do anything and everything the doctors say to give it the best chance to work. Second, we will live life from now on putting the two of us first. We will do what we want, if I can, to extract the most joy out of the time remaining, if possible, subject only to being available for the treatment. That, apparently, will consist of a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy and will begin in Carlisle in two weeks.

One of my first "practical" thoughts was that I should sell my radio gear, to help Olga get the best price. But she has said that I should keep it in case being able to use the radio gives me some pleasure during the time I have left. Of course, I don't feel much like using the radio right now. But I can't tell how I will feel once I have come to terms with this. Perhaps I'll beat the bugger, live until I'm 80 and be eternally embarrassed about this post!

What I do know is that my mind is slower. Typing is becoming more of a trial than a joy. I needed to tell some of you out there what has happened to us because I know some of you care. But I feel that now is the time to give the computer a rest.

Perhaps I'll want to write about the treatment, post updates on how I'm getting on. Who knows? But I think this is probably going to be the final over.

Thank you to all who sent their good wishes in response to my previous post. I'm sorry if I am unable to reply personally. From now on, written and spoken communication are easiest for me to deal with. Our address is on my website. Signs that some of you out there are thinking of us will help lift our spirits.

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