I slowly woke up , my eyes still closed and for a split second. everything was normal. I rolled over to say good morning to Sam. But suddenly reality hit me like a steam train, everything wasn’t fine, I was alone in bed , in hospital, with cancer.
Seriously……a brain tumour!!!! but I’ve had no headaches, no warning signs.
I am fit, healthy, I’ve trained all my life and eaten fairly clean.
This shouldn’t be happening to me. All these thoughts consumed my mind.
But before I could dwell on it to much, the morning hospital ritual began. Breakfast , showered, observations , bloods , medication, consultants & nurses, all continued with their great work.
Say what you want about the NHS, but in an emergency they are exceptional.
Where in the world would you get that sort of care and attention for free.
This wasn’t the first time they were saving or trying to save my life .
10 years earlier, I had been involved in a horrific near fatal bike accident, being crushed under the front 2 wheels of a HGV. 6 operations, pins , wiring ,blood transfusions and 3-4 months in 4 hospitals, I started the road to near full recovery. This incident happened only a week after we found out, Sam was pregnant with Josh
Sam commented “is this your thing, every 10 years you get bored and try kill yourself …….” Seems that way …
Before I had to much time to think , Sam was back visiting me at the hospital.
I had my suitcase full of medication. I had taken my anti seizure tablets (keppra) & a high dose of medical steroids, (dexamethasone) Plus the other tablets and capsules that accompanied the steroids.
The steroids were to reduce the swelling around the tumour, to help prevent any further damage to the brain.
I was soon leaving the hospital, as quick as this nightmare had begun I was being released back into wild & normality, but it was anything far from normality.
I had mixed feelings about being allowed home.
I had been given the worst news possible and sent home to carry on as normal “YOU HAVE CANCER, TRY NOT TO WORRY ,ENJOY THE BANK HOLIDAY”
I now had to spend the next 3 days trying to live my life as normal. Would I have another violent seizure? But the real question and massive dark cloud over me and and Sam was …….
What were we walking into Tuesday?
I had a colleague, work for me the previous year, during the Everton v man city game . He seemed in good health and fine spirits , we chatted, I took the mic out of him and jamo as they were blue noses, typical merseyside banter everything went fine , job done.
I heard a couple of days later , that the following day after the game, he had a stroke due to a tumour. Unfortunately he never recovered and sadly a few months later passed away, leaving a young family.
Was this to be my fate? is this what I was going to walk into on Tuesday at Walton?.
“SORRY DAVE, THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO, YOU HAVE 6 MONTHS TO GET YOUR AFFAIRS IN ORDER” that’s all I could think.
The next few days I was inundated with messages of support, well wishes , visits from friends, family. It was hard to feel down with so much support and positivity around us. Although I didn’t feel upto replying, it was a huge boost. I remember running into a friend, he said I didn’t text or call as I thought you would be inundated and not want to be bothered. But he was wrong, although I didn’t reply to most, as i would still be texting now, they did help, they were a great comfort and help. It let me know I wasn’t alone.
A few months down the line I ran into another good friend who apologised for not contacting me. This had annoyed me a few weeks back .He said I just didn’t know what to say to you. I told him that he didn’t have to say anything , he could of just spoke to me as normal, we didn’t have to discuss my condition or diagnosis , sometimes it nice not to talk about it, have a normal chat , laugh then continue as normal. Sometimes it’s like I have a label stuck to my head. CANCER PATIENT HANDLE WITH CARE.
I stayed off social media and refused to google anything about my condition. I didn’t know what I had so what was the point in scaring myself.
That’s one of the things you are repeatedly told in hospital and at every appointment . “DONT GOOGLE IT”
The big difference at home was, I didn’t want to have time to think about anything. Be left alone with my thoughts. So I was happy to plan visitors with my closest friends and family , go for coffee, lunch in hickories, bbqs, go the pub , watch the footy (although I couldn’t drink, becks blue is not worth buying, just a side note ).
Basically do anything , but face the cold hard facts of the matter .
On the other hand, Sam wanted to hide away , take time to take it in , be alone just us. But she understood where my head was at, so the next 3 days were very chaotic to say the least.
The nights were the hardest for me, no distraction or hustle and bustle.
I couldn’t sleep, I lived the next 6 weeks on 3-4 hrs a night . Whether it was the steroids , stress, lack of exercise due to being banned from training (this almost killed me alone) the gravity of the situation, or a mix of all of it.
But at 4 am every morning, without fail , I was awake and my head would go into overdrive. “I AM GOING TO DIE.I WONT WALK MY DAUGHTER DOWN THE AISLE, I WONT SEE MY SON GROW UP TO BE THE FINE YOUNG MAN I KNOW HE IS GOING TO BE. I WILL LEAVE SAM ALONE. I FEEL GUILTY FOR BEING ILL AND BEING A BURDEN ON MY FAMILY. I DONT HAVE LIFE INSURANCE, HOW WILL SAM COPE WITHOUT MY WAGE, S*** THE DEBTS, THE HOUSE ” arrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh, my head felt as though it was going to explode.
In those first 4 days I would get up, go sit on my own with a cup of tea in the conservatory and often find myself shedding a tear.
I didn’t want Sam or the kids to see me weak or upset, I needed to be strong, like the man I was supposed to be.
So this was done on my own out of sight and I am not sure many people know that.
The only way I can put into words how I felt those 4 days, was it felt like I was being placed on death row and I was to be executed Tuesday.
All I was waiting, hoping, praying for was a call or news I’d been given a reprieve by the governor.
So this takes me to Tuesday and the drive to walton neurological centre. My sister Viv and Sam drove me the 25 minute trip.
Both I would describe as my absolute rocks through this and without them I would be lost.
O I forgot to mention, I was being driven as I now couldn’t drive, my licence was withdrawn for 1 year, after my last seizure . so the next time I can drive is my daughters birthday 2nd may 2015.
I felt sick in the waiting room, we had got there early as any sort of stress knocked me really sick. We grabbed a coffee in the canteen .
Walton Neuro buzzed with people from all over the u.k. All were attending their own appointments and receiving there own news.
After a 45 min delay, my name appeared on the t.v screen, David Bolton room1 professor Eldridge .
I took a deep breath took tight hold of Sams hand and walked into the room.
In front of us was a desk ,Sat down was the lead oncologist nurse Anna.
She was and still is my key worker/support type person through all this. Introductions were made and in walked a man in glasses, wearing a tweed jacket and cord rowed pants. This was my surgeon professor Eldridge .
The proff took me by surprise at how laid back he was and how uninterested he seemed. He had been doing this for 30years and was on the board for NICE guidelines for neurosurgery. One if not the best surgeon in the uk , so I felt lucky, But in the same breath this was my life and my situation so look interested, I thought.
Anna said “WE SHALL GET TO THE ISSUE, WE BELIEVE FROM YOUR SCANS AT ARROWE , YOU HAVE A GOOD SIZED GLIOMA TUMOUR, DONT GOOGLE Although I probably had a glioma, there are still a lot of different types of gliomas with different life prognosis, so again I wasn’t googling anything.
I asked what that meant and does that mean you can do anything.
“YOU CAN NEVER TELL EXACTLY WHAT GRADE IT IS, WITH OUT A PHYSICAL PIECE OF IT, BUT WE BELIEVE IT IS A GRADE 2 TUMOUR, SURGERY IS THE NEXT STEP , YES YOU DO HAVE OPTIONS”
Now I would love to tell you what else was said, but all I heard was “the phone call from the governor” yes you have a pardon. It’s all a blur from there on, I sat there tears rolling down my face with relief , “I HAVE A CHANCE” I thought . I explained the feeling of death row all weekend, why I was a bit emotional, and how hard it has been , both said we can only imagine.
I felt lucky to have the lead oncologist as my nurse and the prof as my surgeon . this was going to be a long hard road ahead, it wasn’t getting any easier from here.
Suddenly I was outside in the fresh air, hugging my sister and wife, relieved that the grim reaper wasn’t quite upon me yet. he would have to wait that little bit longer.
Up next an MRI & the simple matter of brain surgery to survive.