So here it was round 3, Sunday 8th June 2014.
This was the day I was being admitted into Walton neurological , for brain surgery the following morning.
As per usual I had only had about 3 hrs sleep that night before, but my thoughts were …..I will sleep most of tomorrow , so who is the winner now.
Feeling slightly nervous and anxious , we carried out the morning ritual of medicine , tablets , juices , breakfast.
Once done, we all set off , to New Brighton to watch my lil sis and brother in law Ray, running the Merseytunnel 10k.
My sister was doing 4 events this year, which also included Tough Mudder & a few half marathons.
This was all being done to raise money for Claire house, in the name of our beautiful cousin Eve.
Eve sadly passed away in November last year aged 9 .
She bravely fought a 5year battle with neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer.
Both Ray and Viv finished the event , with their running partner baz.
Ray looked like he was on his last legs and to be honest I didn’t even recognise him as he ran past me to the finish line.
But it was hot and he was running at a quick pace. clearly the plan to stick with my sister had failed.
10minutes later my sister finished.
Barely a hair out of place or a bead of sweat on her brow, quite the comparison to ray.
I was very proud of both.
From the finish line I rang the Walton centre, confirmed my attendance and my bed, which I was informed was to be on cairns ward.
Admission was from 2pm , but I asked if I could attend a bit later .
The thought of sitting around the hospital all day waiting , being left with my thoughts , really didn’t sit well with me.
Admissions confirmed that this was fine and they would expect to see me around 4ish.
After the race, I said my goodbyes to the family and handed over the kids to my mum.
Sam and I went home to finish the last few bits before we left.
I shaved my head to the grain to save the hospital a job .
Last-minute, as always I packed my bag , then loaded the car.
Sam and I then set off for Walton.
This was singlehandedly the worst car journey, I have ever been in.
Yes….Even worse than the 4hr trip back from Cardiff with the lads. This was after a 3 day bender. The journey involved us stopping ,so I could hurl in a field , while a donkey mocked me….
The car journey was deadly silent, neither me or Sam spoke for the majority.
I looked out the window as nerves began creeping in.
Stupid thoughts of ” THIS COULD BE THE LAST FULL DAY ALIVE” or “I MAY NEVER SIT IN A CAR AGAIN,” Ran around my head.
This was like the green mile (Again another reference to death row.)
The green mile was an inmates final walk ,to be executed.
As we approached I broke the silence with “WELL THIS IS THE WORST CAR JOURNEY IVE EVER BEEN ON”
Sam laughed and agreed, saying she was just thinking the same thing.
We parked the car at Walton and made our way to the ward . I started to feel sick at the thought of what I was about to go through.
We were met with smiles from the team and I was shown to my bed on one of the bays.
Sam stayed, as I had all the usual pre op medical questions, stats & observations taken.
I waited for my anaesthetist then “the Prof”to come see me.
I ordered my tea, obviously I picked the Sunday dinner as my last supper.
The prof was first at my bed. He went through all the potential complications, highlighting death as a prospect first, then the high risks of brain damage, strokes, clots, infections & haemorrhaging ……
Well that’s cheered me up and eased my nerves , cheers for the chat prof.
He then drew an arrow on the back of my head and covered it in a clear sticky plaster. I joked ” IS THAT SO YOU KNOW WHICH WAY UP TO PUT ME”
he replied “NO , ITS SO I KNOW WHERE YOUR HEAD IS AND WHERE IM OPERATING”
He said it so seriously, didn’t even crack a smile, I thought …
I hope your joking, you’re suppose to be the best brain surgeon in Britain.
He then went on to explain, the surgery should last for a total of 5-6 hrs.
Once complete, I would be moved onto the high dependency unit (HDU) for the night and if fit, return to cairns ward the following day , to continue my recovery.
He informed me I was 2nd on the list and should be going down to theatre around 11ish.
The prof discussed the results of the MRI , which I stated I hadn’t had yet . He stated the results had confirmed his original diagnosis of a grade 2 glioma. A piece of the removed tumour, will be sent off for histology,to see what exact type of glioma tumour it was.
This usually takes 2 weeks to come back.
It was now getting late and Sam had to go home to pick up the kids up, as they had school in the morning.
I walked with her to the end of the ward . We said our goodbyes and I watched, as she walked away.
I made my way back to my bed, where I ate my roast dinner, if that’s what you could call it?? not quite your classic pub roast but i was hungry so ate it.
I settled down and pulled out a pen and pad of paper.
Right I’ve never told anyone this ….. but I spent the rest of the night writing letters to Sam, my family and to both Josh and Halle for there 18th birthdays.
Now, as most of you who know me, will know, I am very positive and i was confident that I would survive this major operation.
But you have to face the facts sometimes, there was a real chance I wouldn’t .
So instead of being unprepared and the thought of not saying goodbye, leaving unfinished business playing on my mind.
I wrote those letters .
Now I know I am very open in this blog, but I will never tell anyone what was in those letters, not even the people they were meant for.
That’s where this conversation ends.
Surprisingly I fell asleep quiet easily . I woke at 5am, (so bit of a lie in for me.lazy I know)
To take my mind of things , I posted an update onto Facebook , thanking everyone for their continued support , as messages of support continued to flood in.
I got showered and changed into some sexy surgical stockings and smock.
I Lay down took a selfie (as you do) and tried to relax listening to some music on the ipad.
I had been bumped up to first on the theatre list, as I had already had all the CT and MRI scans needed for surgery, which I was happy with.
I was getting nervous and was also nil by mouth, so the sooner I got this round out the way, was down and put to sleep the better.
I called Sam just before I went down at 07.45.
I told her I loved her and the kids , that everything was going to be fine , that I was ok and confident,in high spirits, (which was a total lie). I don’t mind admitting I was scared and bricking it.
I told her , although I would see her later, I would know nothing of it .
I would speak to her properly in a few days.
The porter arrived to my bay, you Dave Bolton? , “UNFORTUNATLEY FOR TODAY I’AM” I replied.
I sat on the trolley as I began the journey to theatre .
We passed down the busy corridors, as the hospital went about its daily business. I started to breath heavy as my nerves started taking hold. “THIS COULD BE MY LAST MOMENTS ALIVE, WOULD I BE THE SAME PERSON IF I WOKE UP” “IS THIS MY GREEN MILE” these thoughts clouded my mind. The last 6 week nightmare had come to this “BLOODY HELL THIS IS IT, IM HAVING BRAIN SURGERY.” I held back the tears as I breathed deeply.
I was wheeled into the operating theatre prep room.
As I have alluded to before , I was no stranger to surgery or hospitals, in fact
I had got quite used to it and strangely enjoyed being put to sleep.
Surgery has never worried me.
I would usually see how long I could fight the anaesthetic, as the cold icy sensation travelled round my body.
But today was different, the room swarmed with people.
Introductions were made. I had 2 anaesthetists , 3 medical students , consultants , junior doctors, nurses, Surgeon assistants and “the proff” wasn’t even there yet .
The rooms are small.
The hustle and bustle as everyone checked off there part of the prep, was all abit overwhelming.
The anaesthetists started talking across me. ” DOES HE NEED THIS”
The second one looked me up and down “ERRRR NO HE IS A FIT LAD, HE SHOULD MAKE IT THROUGH THIS”
WHAT!!!!!!! I’m still here I’m not asleep yet , have this conversation behind my back, not over me I thought.
I took a few deep breathes and one of the anaesthetists asked if I would like a pre med to relax me. I replied “HOW ABOUT YOU PUT ME TO SLEEP, AND I CAN GET THIS NIGHTMARE OVER WITH PLEASE” she quickly replied “GOOD IDEA, YOU WILL FEEL A COLD SENSATION TRAVELLING ROUND YOUR BODY NOW”
I new that she had already given me the anaesthetic. There was to be no fighting it this time, I needed this to be over quickly, I felt the cold sensation moving up my left arm……
I slowly opened my eyes and I was extremely groggy, it’s hard to recall details clearly. I was dosed up on morphine & steroids. I drifted in and out of sleep.
“SO I AM ALIVE” was my first thought but I felt like I had been hit with a sledge hammer.
I quickly went through a check list in my head.
1- Speech- “HELLO” , CHECK
2- Memory- “. I am in Walton , had surgery, married to Sam , I am Batman.”
3- Movement- legs moved , arms moved, nod head …head is now killing. CHECK.
I then remember a female voice pushing my bed down a corridor . “DAVE IM CHRISTINE, JACKIES MATE , IM TAKING YOU BACK TO THE WARD” Christine was one of the sisters on Cairns ward and was under strict instructions from jackie wild to look after me.
I was a bit confused so tried to work out what was going on…
I was going back to the ward, so it must be Tuesday.
I would of spent the rest of the monday following surgery and then the night in HDU.
I started to chat to Christine, where she told me, it was still Monday and that I hadn’t needed to go to HDU, I was recovering very well and that I was surprisingly chatty and alert considering I had only just had surgery.
As I arrived back to Cairns ward , I saw my mum , Sister and Sam waiting anxiously.
To be honest I had the easy job That day. As a wise cliff bar text me from Spain the day before . You have done your bit relax you can’t do anymore ,you will have to go again to recover but it’s now over to your surgeon.
The prof and his team did their job and did it well , my family had to sit around the hospital and wait anxiously for news , worry if I was going to make it, if there was going to be any complications . All I did was kick back, go to sleep for 6 hrs , and wake up with a load of bolts and plates in my head… Easy .
Surgery consisted of a square window, being cut from my skull. Then as much of the tumour was removed as it could. Bolts, screws and plates were used to hold the piece of skull in place, to help it eventually fuse back to the bone.
I think the fact I avoided HDU and that surgery was only 5hours, was a relief for them.
I had survived the 3rd round, I’d taken a beating, but I was still standing at the bell.
Time to face the next round, seconds out round 4 .