Mint Sauce Anyone?

Mar 21 2010

There’s nothing quite like getting up at 5.00am on a Monday morning to drive the 220 miles to Bristol through rush hour M25.

I spent most of the journey contemplating the World Cup without David Beckham and wondering how many more traffic jams I could get caught in without flipping out in Michael Douglas – Falling Down style. I arrived at our Bristol office about an hour late and sat down with my colleague for a quick chat. He’d been feeling pretty rubbish all morning and had to call time on our meeting as he was about to keel over. I managed to fill some more time down there dealing with a few of the other guys in the office, including a guy called Dmitri who could not have been more Russian if he’d tried. In fact Dmitri did look like he wanted to spike my coffee with polonium 2:10, so I was glad to bid him farewell and get back on the road. On the way back I began to realise that my body was beginning to flag, after the early morning I was less than surprised but with 150 miles to go before I got home I had to keep wide awake. A quick pit-stop for a spicy chicken Ginsters and I was back on the road making my way back West to East. My flagging continued to flag and by the time I hit the M25 for the second time in the day I was ready to park up on the hard shoulder and curl up into the foetal position and suck my thumb until dawn. I had come down with the bug that had caught the rest of the family the previous week and when I finally arrived home all I was good for was curling up on the sofa looking like a wounded pony; by 7.30pm I was in bed.

On Tuesday Hayley had to take Camille for her next dose of chemotherapy, but this week’s was the hour push so wouldn’t be there for too long. During the afternoon the phone rang while I was on my mobile on a business call; after I had finished I went upstairs to listen to the message. Beeeeeeppp!! “Hi it’s me, call me back NOWWW!!!” Beeeeeeeeppppp!! Holy Bejesus, that sounded serious, perhaps there’s something wrong, what if they’ve given her the wrong chemo, what if the car park attendant refused to give Hayley a discounted ticket and she’d nutted him? The possibilities were endless. I called, and I called but there was no answer, I tried the ward, the day unit, still no answers. What could have happened? After twenty minutes or so, Hayley finally answered the phone. It turns out that that she had seen Amos and had asked him whether he had seen Camille’s scan. He hadn’t so he went and had a good look; afterwards he discussed his thoughts with Hayley. He was extremely pleased with the results and suggested there was a reduction and weakening of the tumour. He could see that the tumour had moved away from the Cerebellum which controls balance amongst many attributes (hence the walking); he also commented that the tumour was moving back from the brain stem but not yet away from that particular structure. There were other things to see, such as dead patches within the tumour itself. Amos went on to explain that he would now discuss with Mr Garnett the possibility of surgery and also start looking towards radiotherapy, probably with Protons. As Hayley later put it, the inoperable tumour has now become operable. The meeting between Amos and Mr Garnett is due to take place tomorrow morning, Hayley and I will see them in the afternoon.

As Hayley was telling me all of this I think I disappointed her with my reaction as she was positively brimming. I was of course overjoyed, relieved, but there was also feelings of anxiety, confusion and disbelief. The last eight or nine months has gone by without a huge amount happening, suddenly we were being faced with brain surgery, trips abroad, uncertainty after uncertainty; it took me back to those early days when I didn’t know what would happen the following day let alone the following week. It still hasn’t stuck in and actually I’m looking forward to meeting with Mr Garnett on Monday to understand where we are in more detail just so that I can get my head around the next stage of Camille’s treatment. Nevertheless, the leaps in progress that Camille has made in recent weeks are there for everyone to see, she is getting back to being the normal, bright and mobile little girl she was before that fateful trip to Disneyland Paris.

After another trip to Bournemouth this week for a meeting I was glad to see the end of the week arrive and on Friday night I was looking forward to sitting down with a cold beer or two. Just as my bum cheeks dared eclipse the sofa, a bellow was sounded from the bathroom: “You couldn’t go to Sainsbury’s for me could you, I’ve run out of drink and I’ve just remembered”. Damn and blast, I thought to myself as I walked out into the showery night. Forgetting to wear any garments over my t-shirt I set out to the supermarket. As I walked across the car park I looked down to notice that I really had to throw my legs forward to actually be able to see my feet past my belly; only wearing a t-shirt was over-exposing my extra tyre or two to the world, so I did what any man would do, I sucked it in. Five minutes later as I queued at the till my face began to turn blue from all of the breathing in that I had been doing since arriving at the store, by the time my Nectar points had been added my face was brighter than the big neon sign outside. I stumbled for the door and burst into the open air and let the breath out and as soon as I did, my belly flopped out to its original position with so much force that it caused a mini sonic boom that made puddles ripple and car windscreens flex.

This theme was to continue on Saturday night when our neighbours came over for dinner. The topic of my weight came up and as we converted kg’s to stones I soon realised that I have become a porker. I had turned from a sub-fourteen stone six footer to a fifteen stone plus, fatty. It was time to whip out my tennis racket, sweat bands and spandex top and get working out. This time next week I will have been on the court thwacking around a few balls in the name of weight loss, and beating my brother in law.

This afternoon we visited my sister’s for dinner as my little niece turned one last week. On arrival we gave Camille a feed through her NG tube. She has been quite sickly all week after her chemotherapy on Tuesday and we were trying to give her little and often during the day to give it the best chance of staying down. Soon after, we all buttoned our coats and slipped on our wellies (I was wearing sensible shoes, when will I learn?) and headed across the green to a farm where they have got new baby lambs, some only a day old. Twenty-seven steps into our journey Camille stopped, leant over and vomited her feed back up and with it came her NG tube. So Hayley took the tape and tube off of her cheek and stored it securely to take back to the hospital. We’d already been to hospital on the way there to have bloods taken and we really didn’t want to have to go back to have a new tube put in, so in true hero fashion I stepped up to the plate to reinsert the little blighter that had popped out half way across the green. Gallantly I stepped forward, NG tube gently placed between forefinger and thumb on both hands, Hayley holding Camille’s arms so that she couldn’t beat me away. I inserted the tube and began to feed it in; surprisingly it went in with little issue and I immediately confirmed it was in her stomach (and not her lungs) by extracting a nice big globule of acidic stomach juice. Hoorah, stomach juice!! “Brilliant, you can do that every time now then?” Hayley exclaimed. Gee, thanks.

Camille and Lucia slipped underneath their sheets tonight and were asleep within minutes, perhaps they will dream of little lambs jumping over gates made of NG tubes, I know I will.

I would just like to mention that Hayley and I were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Holly Calenti, the young girl who occupied the room next to Camille when we were first admitted to Addenbrooke’s back in June. I think for me, Holly’s death was a sobering thought after we had received our good news earlier in the week.