Sep 27 2010

As the weeks ticked along we have now reached the final few days before Camille goes to Alder Hey for her operation. All of this time it hasn’t seemed real and now all of a sudden we are just days from the most important moment of Camille’s treatment.

Hayley has been clearly upset at different times in recent weeks but on the whole she has handled the situation very well. She, like I, go through waves of emotion where we can feel exceptionally low for long periods and then get a flood of strength and determination that tells us that she is going come out of this operation OK and we will still have our little girl the way she is. It’s strange, I think we’re both of the opinion that the surgeons will not be able to resect all of the tumour and that we are not going to risk her mobility and quality of life by pushing too hard in this first operation. It does of course mean that Camille will need to go back to surgery at some other time, without getting a full resection the radiotherapy is nowhere near as effective and will inevitably result in reoccurrence at some later date.


I have had another busy week with work, having to go into London Monday to Wednesday for meetings that I really had no drive to go to but had to. My boss was with me on Wednesday and took me for a coffee after the meeting to have a chat about what’s going on and how I was feeling. He’s been pretty good since Camille was diagnosed and has always been there for a chat if I’ve needed one, not that I’ve taken advantage of the offer very often. I said that the last few weeks I’ve been driving from one meeting to the next, not really knowing what I was talking about or what the meetings were about and what I needed to follow up on. I feel generally vague about life; perhaps this is a coping mechanism.


On Thursday I made the trip down to Bournemouth, where my office is, to host a day with my clients. This was to be my last appointment before Camille’s operation. At the end of the day I stood up to finish off the presentation and had to explain who they could contact while I’m away. I was very close to just breaking down there and then in front of everybody, but apart from my voice wavering and my eyes welling up I managed to just hold it together. That wasn’t the case on the way home; as I crawled around the M25 the tears began to roll and didn’t stop for some time. For weeks I had been hiding behind work, been able to blank out any of the reality that faced me, but just there and then the veil was drawn and exposed the harsh truth that Camille was facing within the next seven days.


When I arrived home, Hayley noticed that I was feeling low (she’s good like that, it would have taken me weeks to have come to that conclusion if the shoe had been on the other foot. Hayley decided to arrange for me to go out on the Friday night with her brother and brother-in-law for a few Shirleys. It was a good idea, and a few beers certainly enabled me to relax just a little bit. It probably didn’t do the other two much good as I managed to completely depress them before the night was out.


The weight of the beer sat heavy on Saturday as I battled a wave of nausea and headaches from the previous night’s alcohol. It wasn’t until dinner time that I managed to face the world as we went to Pizza Express. It’s hard to know who loves Pizza Express the most, the girls, Hayley (with her diet Pizza that looks like a big Polo) or me with my jalapeno covered extravaganza. Our waitress was a French lady who Hayley recognised straight away and was quick to refresh my memory. This same French waitress used to work at the other Pizza Express in town and just over five years ago served Hayley and I while we enjoyed our final night before becoming parents. Lucia’s birth was a planned c-section and the following day we were Mummy and Daddy for the first time. The reason we remember this waitress is that she drew a little Stork holding a baby on our receipt that night, a receipt that we have still got somewhere in the house. That was the last time we saw her, perhaps she is our lucky omen.


On Sunday we enjoyed the company of two other couples from the C2 ward at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. I remembered during the first few months after Camille was diagnosed that my mother said that we would probably find some salvation in some wonderful friends that we meet at the hospital. At the time I was quick to dismiss the idea as all I wanted was to see Camille get better. Hayley’s coping mechanism was slightly different and she in fact did find strength from the other parents. Both Mark and Emma and Steve and Elaine are wonderful parents of great little girls who have been through the mill over the last year or so. The afternoon and evening were lovely and once again I finished the night on the sofa snoring my way through a film that I really should have paid more attention to.


Work is now complete, tomorrow morning we arrive at Addenbrooke’s for some final tests before we head off to Addenbrooke’s. Both Hayley and I still feel numb, but the fear is setting in; I just dream of her waking up from the operation the same wonderful little girl that we have in our lives now.