Happy New Year!
Okay so I’ve glossed over parts of the story and now it’s time to fill in the gaps, starting with my recovery time in hospital. I have very little recollection of the days following my surgery which I guess is not surprising given they spent four hours messing with my hat holder.
I was confined to my bed for the first four days while the effects of the surgery wore off and the strength returned to my left hand side. I had one week to wait for the pathology results of the monster they removed from my head. During this time I was surrounded and cared for by Nikki, my parents and Nikki’s parents, not to mention the amazing nurses in the Molly Lane Fox Unit of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. I had enough bandages around my head to make me look like an extra out of The Mummy Returns and there was a drain coming out of my skull to relieve the pressure from the build-up of fluid. When the drain was removed and I reached out for a reassuring hand to squeeze, I found myself holding hands with my father-in-law rather than Nikki. She had fled the room before the sentence "we are going to remove the brain drain" was finished, as she is about as good as dealing with blood and guts as I am at dancing (as anyone who has witnessed the Browny "skinny" dance can attest). There were four other patients sharing my room who were at least twice my age – their list of ailments made me think twice about wanting to live in to old age (one had a bladder made out of his bowel, or the other way around).
In the days following the surgery a special delivery arrived – a giant treat-filled hamper from my friends back in Australia. My father-in-law Siri didn’t need to be invited twice to sample a triple choc muffin.
|The spirit-lifting hamper, less the triple choc muffin|
It arrived at just the right time to inject some culinary variety into the vegetarian hospital “menu” (comprised of three dishes – I tried all three and I don’t recall having sighted a vegetable) – and to boost my blood sugar levels / spirits.
On day five Nikki was able to take me to the park in a wheelchair - this meant I was able to get some fresh air and escape the cycle of the grey and yellow pastes that pass as hospital food. I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was just a pawn in a bigger game which I’m going to call ‘dog baiting’. Russell Square is overrun with the well-bred pooches of London’s inner city and it was next to these unsuspecting hounds that Nikki would wheel me while urging me to take off my beanie to “show a bit of wound” to the owners. The plan worked wonders both in terms of trapping dogs/owners in to some sympathy pats and in making me smile. One handsome poodle, Benson, and his owner deserve a special mention for their story of chasing deer through Richmond Park which reminded me of one of my all-time favourite YouTube videos “Jesus Christ in Richmond Park”.
Back in hospital I started to break the news of my illness and surgery to friends and work colleagues. Here are some of the responses that made me chuckle (a bottle of wine for anyone who guesses the identity of each of the following):
“Now that the little bastard is out, here's a list of things you can do with the tumour:
1/ frame it
2/ burn it
3/ eat it (gross)
4/ squash it
5/ waterboard it”
Me: “I haven't made progress on the two pager I promised you...over the past two weeks I have been diagnosed with brain cancer.”
Colleague: “Cam, WTF?!?!?! Man, come on! I can't leave you alone for a minute!”
“I never put you down as an attention seeker but I was obviously wrong ;-)”
“When they took out a bit in the surgery did they manage to remove that pesky vegetarian gene that's been plaguing you since college??”
Wheelchair adventures and gift hampers aside, I was recovering from the surgery, but anxiously awaiting the results of tests on the tumour. The uncertainty and waiting was hard - I just wantd to know what I was dealing with so that I could move on.