Sunday, December 8, 2002

Brain tumour

Hi all!

As a Christian, Christmas, for me is a time for celebration as well as looking forward to eating everything in sight! However, I'd like to share with you a little of how I felt when hospital loomed and I knew I had to have a serious operation to remove my very own brain tumour!

It isn't morbid or gory or frightening - maybe amusing and funny and moving - stay with me and decide for yourself!

My first venture into the ward was frightening and to say I was nervous is an understatement! There were all these women, some in night-clothes, come dressed, and they were trundling around as if in a silent movie - all at what seemed a hundred miles an hour! They were talking nineteen to the dozen and had food everywhere - in bags, on their lockers and in their mouths! I thought I was having a hallucination!

After a few days, I discovered I was doing exactly the same thing - we were all on those beloved steroids! Most of you will know what I mean - the steroids seem to speed up your whole metabolism and the world passes you by at a much slower rate! I won't bore you with the tests and pioneering treatment I had - suffice to say I am still in awe today and will be for a long time to come!

The day of my operation came and I had my bath and was ready emotionally but an emergency case meant it had to be cancelled so, as my surgeon only operated on the NHS two days a week, I decided to go home where I could be more 'normal' until the next slot for my operation came around.

This happened a further couple of times but these emergency cases could have died had it not been for the skill shown to them at Addenbrookes Hospital.

Well! Now it was my turn and a clutch of medics in their green gowns suddenly descended on me and I was whisked off to the operating theatre. My husband Arf was speechless and the last thing I saw was him being comforted by a nurse as I descended into a black nothing!

When I woke up, I felt marvellous!

You have to bear in mind that much of what happened during the next few hours is a blank and I was on another planet so Arf has filled in the blanks!

I felt so good that I couldn't believe that I'd had the operation, not seeing all the tubes and wires that made me look like a puppet! As I became agitated, they called down one of the surgeons who had been involved in the operation, to try and talk some sense into me. Fat chance! I remember his face, though! But! On his way out of the High Dependency Unit, this man, who had just an hour before performed such delicate surgery on me, WALKED INTO THE DOOR!

My Arf burst out laughing (he was in a state of pure relief at this point!) and the surgeon just rolled his eyes towards Heaven and grinned! I never looked back and was home within a week! The hard part was yet to come, but I was alive!

As I said at the beginning, Christmas is a time to be thankful and I am! Jesus Christ's birth was the miracle of all time but my miracle came in small shoes. Happy Christmas and a wealth of happiness for 2003.

See ya next month!

Saturday, November 2, 2002


Well! Would you believe it? A whole month has gone by since I introduced myself!

How are you all?

The weather here has been a mixture of sunshine, rain and storms and I think I heard that a hurricane hit some of our friends in America. Never mind, soon be Christmas!

My thoughts began to veer towards this festive time as people have begun to be more impatient when shopping; haven't the time to stop and chat for very long; lots of feet tapping and tutting!

I have to admit to shopping for Christmas presents well out of season now. There are quite a few favourite places where we find little treasures - gifts we know will please friends and family.

The other Sunday, my Arf and me decided to brave the crowds and went on the hunt for something to add the finishing touches to our newly decorated bathroom. We found just what we wanted and were coming out of the shop when a gentleman, well dressed and around middle age barged right in front of me and nearly knocked me over (I was using my crutches at the time)! Arf, ever protective, tapped the man on the shoulder and told him he'd almost made me lose my balance - to which the man said absolutely nothing.

Arf said an apology wouldn't go amiss but the man insisted he had already apologised so Arf left it at that. Then the man's wife decided to add her two pence worth and said that she'd just finished using crutches and that her husband would never be so thoughtless!

No harm was done but her comments hurt me because I knew I would never finish using my crutches. In fact, most of my time out is spent in my sassy wheelchair! She never gave a thought as to why I was using them - but then, why should she, except through common courtesy? It's not as if I had 'MS' tattooed on my forehead!

This is not the first time I've felt almost invisible. However, I can also tell you of so many times when I've had the utmost kindness shown to me. Once, a lady offered to take me to the disabled loo in my wheelchair should Arf need to go to the 'gentleman's' cloakroom. She assured us she was a nurse and understood the awkwardness I might feel.

We are all vulnerable in these situations but one bad experience is nearly always outshone by small acts of kindness such as this. No-one sets out to upset us 'slightly impaired' folk. We don't have a right to all of the good things in life.

As the busy season draws near, we too have to have patience with those able-bodied people from another planet who are simply too wrapped up in their own little world to notice our plight. We are special! We have to cope with our MS and everyday chores as well as dealing those people whose brains have gone to live in a hotel!

Three cheers for us!

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Hi everyone!

Hi everyone!

You'll never guess who is going to be your diarist for a while! Oh! You already have! Yes! It's Ginge! Some of you may have gotten to know me a little through JJUK. I know I have enjoyed and learnt much from you all!

Thought I'd let you get to know me a little. Unlike many of you clever people out there, I haven't got degrees or mind-blowing qualifications.

My mum was dying of lung cancer and my dad had already died by the time I was 6 years old. My my brother wasn't cut out for 'emotional hospital stuff' even though he was 7 years older than me. Despite all this, I managed to get the princely total of 7 GCE qualifications (as they were known then).

But that's not all! Let's not forget my 25 yard Certificate for Swimming; my certificate to say I could measure and fit children's shoes; my trophy for winning 'Give us a clue' when I was in the management team in Debenhams Department Store, and numerous bottles of champagne for high sales in my retail days!!

What we often tend to forget is that it's the hard work we put into achieving anything that counts. We probably all know our limitations by the time we get to my age. Just stopping beating ourselves up over what we can or can't do seems an achievement in itself!

Having a brain tumour put a whole new face on the world for me (more of that in a future diary). Then being given MS - PP MS at that - turned even the smallest accomplishment into a glittering prize.

What these two 'gifts' have shown me is that human compassion, empathy with those in the same boat, sympathy for those who struggle but never seem to achieve are 'Oscars' in their own right. And don't forget the importance of laughter, lots and lots of laughter.

Without a sense of humour, however wacky, each day could consist of 24 hours of misery. When confronted by such a massive shock in knowing you have an unforgiving and relentless disease, a 'smile' can become just a word, laughing your socks off is what other people do, and your day can drag by, filled only with tears, rage, self-pity and hopeless despair.

These feelings are OK, you know! But to get your smile back, I think you have to fight your way through all those negative thoughts and fears. When you finally make it, and suddenly find yourself chuckling at a silly joke on TV or feeling joy at realising that you can still manage to have a night out with friends or a partner, that's the best prize of all.

For me, having a husband who is at home to care for me is the icing on the cake. We didn't plan early retirement - although he is on the old side! Just knowing he is there, somewhere around, to make me up a 'vodka cocktail' (just vodka and orange really!) or to patch me up when I fall over in the garden or just to hold me when tears find themselves streaming down my cheeks (and my mascara with it), then I thank God for my life, warts and all!

Keep smiling, lovely people! I need you!