I had nodded off again after waking to take my tablets and imbibe the usual cup of black coffee in the morning. My level of consciousness is directly related to how interesting the guests on The Wright Stuff are. Nodding has become the norm due to a) continued disturbed sleep during the night, and b) the constant parade of Home and Away and Neighbours actors as guests on TV. Considering the alternate choice of viewing that time of the day I opt for The Wright Stuff, particularly as Matthew Wright is an advocate of bowel cancer charities. I had reached that point of alertness where you can hear sounds but not immediately relate them to reality. I had heard the banging on the door a number of times before I jumped to my feeT, and clambered, no fell downstairs trying to put a pair of trousers on and rap a shirt round my body. I reached the door just as the postman was writing out the red card and about to scamper up the hill with my special delivery item. I’m sure he thought he’d awoken the house of horror as he viewed my battle scarred chest before I had time to pull my shirt around me.
I obliged to the request to “sign here please”. I’m sure even I would not recognise the signature on the hand held device as I had one eye (yeah my only eye) on the envelopes resting under the edge of the window boxes next to the door. I could clearly see the postmark of The Christie on two of the envelopes, but I wasn’t interested in these as I cast them aside as the postman departed through the gate. I was only interested in the one white envelope I had signed for. No ripping open envelopes here, I had to be sure not to tear the contents as I pulled gently at the adhesive flap and revealed the beautiful multi coloured piece of paper I had been waiting for, bearing those immortal words ‘Glastonbury 2013, festival of contemporary performing arts’. Yeah ! Tickets have arrived.
So here we are,a few weeks to go. I had always thought that by the time I set foot on the sacred ground of Worthy Farm again cancer would be a distant memory. Of course, the last time I was there I wasn’t aware of the spread of cancer throughout my body. It was very early days then, not even a confirmed diagnosis.
Two years later and I have to admit that I am probably in a worst state now than at any other time of my treatment. I always expected the second (open) lung operation to be the hardest to recover from, but it has exceeded my expectations by far. The first few weeks were as expected, although the exhaustion and fatigue had crept back to it’s worst. The Macmillan nurse came to see me the other day, and she said out of all the effects of cancer it is probably the worst, and the one that other people have difficulty in understanding. She is certainly right on that, no matter what I say it will not convey how it destroys your life. I am sure there are many other cancer sufferers who are reading this breathing sigh of relief that someone else understands how they feel. We could not possibly expect anyone else to understand just how debilitating it is. Since surgery I have also been experiencing further problems with my digestive system. X-rays on each of the last two visits to see the oncologist have highlighted the problem, but not the cause. It’s difficult not to assume the worst in such circumstances, but hopefully a CT scan in a couple of weeks will put my mind at rest.
As if that was not enough, I now have another spanner in the works. As I said, recovery was progressing much as expected- difficult but manageable. That is until last weekend. I had planned to go out Sunday, but it had taken me almost all morning to get showered, dressed and ready. The fatigue was again overwhelming, accompanied by increasing pain and shortness of breath. I did eventually manage to get out though, I wasn’t going to be defeated. On my return I was even more tired, and the pain in my chest was increasing by the hour. I managed to prop myself up in bed such that the pain was kept to a minimum. I drifted in and out of sleep all night, dosing myself up with liquid morphine every two hours. As much as I joke about it, I don’t like to take extra morphine on top of my normal dose unless it is absolutely necessary, and to be doing it two hourly is an indication as to the amount of pain I was feeling. By morning I was seriously concerned and in increasing pain.I rang the out of hours doctor (bank holiday). After listening to my chest she immediately called an ambulance, ‘blues & two’s’, and I was in A&E at the Royal Oldham. The doctors and nursing staff were brilliant, and did all they could to reduce the pain I was in. A chest x-ray soon revealed the problem.Not the collapsed lung as suspected by the out of hours GP, but pleurisy and broken ribs. WHAT? Yep, broken ribs!
I hadn’t fallen into anything and my thoughts were that if it was as a result of surgery, surely it would have come to light by now, six weeks after my operation. Luckily, I had an appointment to see the lung surgeon on Wednesday. A further chest x-ray confirmed the diagnosis, and the surgeon informed me that this was not unheard of, even six weeks post op. Apparently it’s not unusual for broken ribs sustained during surgery to come to light, as swollen tissue reduces and the muscles relax. He was most apologetic,and he did look rather remorseful as he explained everything to me. The ‘dullness’ heard by the GP is as a result of the original collapsed lung back in December. The layers of my right lung remain ‘sticky’ and have not separated. It is unlikely that this will improve or heal further. As the situation is at the moment, I have to grin and bear it, there’s not much that can be done for broken ribs other than continue with the painkillers. Today is the first time in weeks that I have been able to sit down with the laptop for anything more than a few minutes. So that must be progress, yes ? The last couple of nights I have managed a few hours unbroken sleep with the aid of a mountain of pillows, which is at least some relief.
And so Glastonbury plans change again. The ‘one bag one tent’ plan has gone out of the window as the realisation that I won’t be able to carry anything sinks in. So I’ve invested in a trolley. You’d be amazed at the number of broken trolleys you’ll see abandoned on the track side as the tiny wheels and flimsy frames collapse under the weight of 6 days supplies. I’ve learnt from that mistake and am now the proud owner of a strong, sturdy, super wide trolley with big pneumatic wheels. Experience of previous years goes a long way. Not that I’ll have the benefit of it as I’ll be leaving the pulling to Lewis. He doesn’t know that yet. I did have lots of other news to update you on but once again my health takes over. The final line up has been released and I’ll be looking it over and letting you know which artists I’d like to see……………and probably won’t.