Waiting game…… (part 4)

So I was now back at home and having to face up to the nightmare I found myself in.
I felt in limbo, I had no date for my MRI or surgery.
I felt as though I was caught in between no-mans land in a battle of survival.
My big fear was….. “what if the Prof had got it wrong and it was a stage 3 or worst case a 4.”
As he said, he was only guessing and would need an MRI to confirm his initial thoughts. Even then, until a piece of the tumour was sat under a microscope at histology , you can never quite tell.
In the early days I battled hard with my emotions.
I found I had to go into a deep, dark , morbid state of mind , imagine death, to suddenly snap out of it and start fighting back.
The first initial 2 weeks from diagnosis were the darkest and hardest .
The out pour of support via texts, social media, visits from family and friends made it hard for me to stay down.
I would often when low, during moments where I thought I was at rock bottom, read back all the messages and kind words of support. They really did lift my spirits.
For all of you involved in that stage … Thank you .

In those 2 weeks I even tried going back to work, stupid I know. But that’s what I did. I lasted 3 hrs before a severe migraine kicked in, my brain felt as though it was shutting down. I felt sick . My concentration was shot and any sort of stress made me melt down. Time to start putting myself and health first.

Right what do we tell the kids?
They obviously new something had happened. We decided to be open with both of them and told them everything. We left out words such as cancer and brain tumour , replacing them with lump in head and dads poorly.
Josh is very switched on and listens to every word being said, even when you think he is doing something else.
Sam also had to explain , that I was on tablets ( steroids) that may make me shout more than usual and I could get very irritable. Unfortunately this happened a few times. I had no control over it , but instantly new I had snapped once it was over.
A time that sticks heavy in my heart, was when we were having a stroll along New Brighton front. I asked josh not to do something and he carried on, I repeated it and he answered me back , being cheeky as 9 year old boys do.
I instantly snapped, grabbed hold of his jacket , shouting at him “DONT EVER SPEAK BACK TO ME AGAIN” I can stil picture the fear in his eyes as he burst into tears. I suddenly realised what I had done as he ran off . Sam looked at me in disgust and said “THERE WAS NO NEED FOR THAT”.
I explained this wasn’t me , I didn’t want to be like this and feel that way. I had no control over my temper. It brought a lump to my throat. Steroids were a necessary evil. Not only did it alter my moods , it also gave my a massive appetite I just couldn’t stop eating. I hated being on steroids it effected who I was how I ate, and I couldn’t even go the gym…..what’s that about. I took milk thistle supplements to protect my liver and kidneys.
Anyway, I caught up with josh, apologised and explained that it wasn’t me and to bear with me during this part of the treatment. O and next time just do as you’re told.
I am no longer on steroids, but even know, Halle while being told off for being naughty will say, “DONT WORRY DAD, I KNOW ITS JUST YOUR TABLETS” ha ha NO Halle you’re just being a pain.
The kids & Sam also took to writing me letters when I was in a grump, to try and cheer me up(see pics below)

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I didn’t like to be left alone with my thoughts and liked to be busy. My bed, at times was the worst place to be .
I found falling asleep not to bad, but as soon as I woke , 4am on the dot , I was awake and my mind raced.
The first few nights I battled to try fall back asleep and failed.
I began to hate the thought of bedtime, but new I needed that rest for my brain to heal itself, after such a large seizure.
After a few nights of waking up at 4 am, I started just Getting up making a brew and began doing the house up.
I would put my headphones on listen to music whilst decorating the house.
Sam would come down in the morning, doors would be off the hinges while I glossed them. Walls would be wall papered and painted. Then I would have the odd nap in the day. I just started having to listen to my body.
In those 6 weeks I transformed the house.
It was a form of therapy, a way of focusing my energy and keeping my mind off the situation at hand.

I have been a fighter all my life and fought back against the odds before.
10 yrs earlier after the bike crash I mentioned, I was being told I wouldn’t walk again and to “just get on with my life, try and adapt Dave” . My options, I was actually given, were to either, 1-have my leg amputated below the knee or 2-get a rod placed through my leg to lock it out ???
After the initial brief down period, This only spurred me to prove the doctors , surgeons & physio’s wrong.
who are you to tell me to lie down and give up. Roll on 5 years later.
I had won a British kickboxing title , been selected to fight for team GB at the world championships in Italy. where after 5 days of competing against fighters from all over the world. I won gold in the final against an Italian on his home soil and added the world title to my collection.
I had snowboarded all over the alps, played rugby for the force , managed and played for an 11 aside Sunday team (Shaftesbury FC) , ran a half marathon hell runner course, sky dived from 15,000ft…….
Sorry thought I wouldn’t walk again?? Just try and adapt hey……..

So my mind set had turned similar to after my bike crash. It had gone from the initial ,misery and woe is me . I said to myself you have 2 options,
I could either sit at home , hide away from everyone and the world. Feel sorry for myself. Waste what life I did have left or, live for the day, See my friends , family , stop worrying about something I couldn’t prevent, I had no control over of it.
If anything, worrying and getting stressed would make it worse.
I needed to treat this situation as 1 of my fights .
I had to get myself in the best shape possible, both physically and nutritionally.
Ready to go toe to toe with cancer, this tumour.
I decided to name the tumour Terry. Well my opponent needs to have a name?

Now here came the hard part , I had been ordered not to exercise and to just go for a gentle stroll. I found the only way to come to terms with what’s going on, was to get out on my own,where I can face reality .
Sam was off work and watched me like a hawk.
At night I would often wake up to her just staring at me, watching.
Every time I moved, she would jump up thinking I was having another seizure .
It got to the stage, I wouldn’t even open I my eyes when I could feel her gaze, I would just mutter ” YES I AM STILL ALIVE”
But I understood why she was like that. Sam had to witness her husband that night have long violent seizure , not knowing what was happening and waiting for over 10 minutes for the paramedics to arrive.
She said it one of the worst experiences of her life. I can only imagine the fear she must of gone through.
So I decided one morning I needed to escape be on my own, I needed to face what lay ahead.
I put my training gear on at 5 am , took my steroid user details card, with all my details on it, just in case and went for a gentle 5k jog . Just me and the road.
My thoughts and battle in my head , went pretty much like this …The first mile “O CRAP THIS IS HAPPENING,WHY ME, I AINT GOING TO SURVIVE THIS AM I” as tears rolled down my cheeks. I got the odd funny look off the one or two dog walkers.
The second mile was “WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT , SORT YOURSELF OUT , START FOCUSING ON THE FIGHT, WHATS WRONG WITH YOU, BLAME THE MEDS, MAN UP”
The final part would be “YEAH!!!! COME ON THEN ,LETS HAVE THIS, LETS DANCE YOU AND I. I AM NOT GOING TO BE BEATEN BY ANYONE, LET ALONE TERRY”
By end the end of the run I was back positive ready to face the day, back to being the strong positive dad, husband , son, brother,friend I usually was.
What I wasn’t ready for was the wrath of Sam.
I got changed jumped in the shower and in came Sam. “MORNING, WHY ARE YOU IN THE SHOWER AT 6am” “O IVE BEEN FOR A RUN” replying thinking nothing of it ……. BOOOOOM. “ARE YOU STUPID ” she then proceeded to point out in very fine detail, why going for a run at 5 am, in the dark, down country roads, with no one around , not telling anyone and the risk of seizures having been told not to do exercise , was crazy stupid and dangerous. (4 hours later…lol) I explained why I did it and how it helped clear my head. I felt I could let down my guard, this face I put on to be strong in front of everyone.
She understood why I did it, but I could tell she wasn’t happy.
I must of done that run 6 or 7 times again and every time I got the same lecture and stern look. I did tell josh that I was going out , as I snook passed his room.

When diagnosed I started looking at what I ate. I suddenly became very aware of what I was putting in and on my body.
I ate clean , but I ate a lot of meat and mostly chicken . sometimes 3 times a day. I had to keep my protein up, 50grams every 4 hrs and 70grams of carbs. I ate fruit and veg, but looking back not enough.
I thought I ate clean, but compared to know I wasn’t even close. I didn’t eat meat 1 day , and I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I had not had some sort of meat in a 24hrs period. I started fazing it out and would only eat meat that was fresh , grass fed and organic.
I would only eat organic veg and researched the benefits of food diets on cancer .
Que my good friend Vicky, on hearing my diagnosis she was texting and calling round all the time.
Vicky runs a juice and health business called raw-some.
When I first got released from hospital , she was straight round to my house with 3 -4 days worth of juices, soups, curries for me and Sam.
She Started messaging me with what to eat what not to eat . She also got me hooked on juicing , took me to by my first juicer and is still currently dragging me to yoga at every opportunity.

When you are faced with a death sentence and the struggle of coping for your family and kids sake. You really find out who your friends are.
My support network was vast. From messages from my outer circle, of friends offering lifts to pick the kids up , take me shopping , to my most trusted family and friends who without, I would of crumbled. Nick, Jamo,cliffy were constantly on the phone and round mine keeping me focused.
One day Sam said , “mat and Gary ( oldest friends ) have arranged a surprise for you I am taking you there now.”
We got in the car, drove through Liverpool and arrived at Anfield.
They had paid for a tour of the ground , then any meal at the boot room restaurant, which was attached to the ground.
Whilst eating our lunch, the manager came over with a bag. Inside contained the new home shirt, with just the number 8 on the back. This was a reference to the saying I always used, 7 times down 8 times up. These are the type of amazing friends, I am lucky to have. I could go on and on about my great family & mates being taken out , gifts in the post ,collections , visits but I would be here all night .

On the flip side, I had people I thought were friends , who found it to hard to speak or text. Saw me as an awkward inconvenience and distanced themselves from me as much as possible . It was to hard to speak to me…
But I am better off without them.

2 weeks after my meeting with the prof, I still had not had my date for my MRI and this had started to really stress me out. This in turn made me ill . One day Sam got on the phone and rang several times walton , eventually getting through to the Proff’s secretary. The secretary said , the profs held the MDT (a meeting between surgeons, oncology, radiologists physios ,where they discuss your case and treatment) and my surgery was penciled in for 9th June , my MRI would be the week before.
With that I felt some relief , a weight lifted, we had a plan , something was finally happening.

I wished the days away, moving from one day to the next, wanting to get to my surgery as soon as possible.
I tried to look for the positives all the time , spending so much time with my kids, Sam and family. Being off for the World Cup and the England tour of newzealand. Having time to go fishing with Ian and lunch with the wilds. We spoilt the kids when ever possible , went to watch the lion king . My boss arranged for us to go to the Lake District , to escape and try to relax. The kids loved it.
Suddenly it was the night before surgery, time to try sleep……. Ha ha who was I trying to kid.

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Being on death row….part 3

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.
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The day my life span upside down….. (part2)

Now you never know how you’re going to react, when faced with the news you have cancer and to make it worse a brain tumour.
I remember when I was younger , imagining being told such news and how I would deal with it.
Well years later, here I was sat in hospital, facing that very news, it was as though I new one day it would happen.
I stared at my consultant , her name I couldn’t tell you. I paused for a moment taking it in, it was as though time had stood still. I turned to Sam, looked at her, thinking right……s***.
I was numb. I always thought I would instantly break down, but here I was facing this news and nothing.
Then it hit me like a train , a tidal wave of emotion washed over me.
I couldn’t stop it and I started to sob.
Sam hugged me , as she cried with me.
I looked at the consultant and asked what was next.
She replied ” I WONT LIE TO YOU, I AM NO EXPERT WITH BRAIN TUMOURS, I CANT REALLY TELL YOU ANYMORE , BUT IT HAS BEEN CONFIRMED BY WALTON.” Now here came the kicker, it just so happened it was a bank holiday weekend and it was now late Friday. I couldn’t get an appointment at Walton , till Tuesday .
The consultant said she didn’t want me staying in for 4 days, as I could take the required medication at home. If it was ok with me, she wanted to discharge me in the morning , to walton neurologically, at the first available appointment. Obviously I agreed, it was baking hot outside and forecast for an amazing weekend. It was the final game of the season on Sunday and I needed to escape the confines of the hospital.
So what do I do next , who do I tell, what about work, family friends.
All these thoughts flooded my mind.
I can’t really remember my family coming back in, how I told them or their reaction, I just know I did and it happened.
Now remember, unfortunately it was my daughters birthday, so Sam said she was going to go home, freshen up ,pick up the birthday cake and bring the kids back so we could have a mini party for her in my room.
Bang… like that I was alone in the room , as quick as they had all come, they had gone, the day had flew by. I sat there looking out the window “WHY ME”I couldn’t be alone with my thoughts.
I rang my mate mat, who I have been close with since 15years old, He new I was in hospital with suspected meningitis, all I said was ,could he come to the hospital as I needed to speak him. As quick as a flash he replied “ON MY WAY”.
I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts, which were dark and upsetting, I didn’t want to deal with them now.
I rang my close friend wildy, we had worked with each other for 10 years , been away together and went from start to finish with each other getting promoted. He had been through a rough few years, tragically losing his son to leukaemia. His wife jackie was also recovering from surgery, following a brain tumour as well. If anyone could calm my nerves stop me cracking up he could.
On the phone his usual happy go lucky voice answered, as the conversation continued this changed to sadness and anger , as I explained what had happened and the prognosis I was facing . But like a flash he switched “RIGHT SORT YOURSELF OUT, WE’RE UP FOR THIS FIGHT. I WILL TELL WORK IF YOU WANT.IM OFF BUT I WILL GO SEE MIKE AND ALL THE LADS, THEN I WILL GO SPEAK TO MARK HARRISON FOR YOU”. Mike was my old sergeant and a massive help with my promotion over the years, some one along with my former boss cliff Barr I respected tremendously, cliff Barr I owed my job and success to, but we will address that later .
I had a close bond with my old block and unit within the tactical team. we had been all over the country together on operations, events , tours, worked unbelievably hard with ridiculous hours, got amazing results , had partied far and wide , but most of all we had each other’s back , when our backs were against the wall on the street. We had literally faced life and death situations together . You can’t not help feel like family in those situations.
Mark Harrison was a chief superintendent and my area commander, I had worked under him 6years ago when he was chief inspector on the wirral, he had risen through the ranks and rightly so, he shared my philosophy of first in last out.
The fact wildy was going to sort this was a massive relief, apart from my close family and friends I didn’t want to speak with anyone. Every time i Said the words , I have a brain tumour it reduced me to tears.
To this day wildy & Jackie are still a massive help, shoulder to cry on and ear to chew.
I phoned my closest friends and work colleagues in the job , jamo and nick. Jamo failed to answer ,which is no surprise.
Nick answered I asked him to come visit me , he told me he would tomorrow as he was just on his way out for the night. I only said, I need to speak to you. He replied ” YEAH , SORRY , IM ON MY WAY NOW”.
Both nick and matt came at separate times and both times , I went either outside or off the ward to escape.
I needed air, I felt like I was suffocating on this poisonous news. Both times as I said the words, tears rolled down my cheeks and they both struggled themselves. My god, does this get any easier talking about it, admitting my death sentence I kept thinking.
Soon Sam was back with the kids and cake . Kids being kids, Halle quick as a flash…”YOUVE RUINED MY BIRTHDAY , YOU OWE ME A HUGE BIRTHDAY NEXT YEAR” I am still now reminded of this weekly if not daily ..
We all sang happy birthday and made a fuss of her. she confessed to having a good birthday and she was secretly happy….because I had got her and josh the day of school .
I had also received a few texts from my staff in Huyton saying, sorry sgt, heard you are in a bad way, hope you get better soon , but thanks for the day off.
My unit, as a precaution, had all been sent home still thinking it was meningitis, they didn’t know the true horror or battle that lay in wait for me.
Suddenly it was 10pm I said my goodbyes, kissed my kids and wife and was again alone . This was to be my only full nights sleep for the next 6 weeks. Strangely I slept like a log , well I had been up for nearly 48 hrs with only the 1 hrs kip before the seizure, what do you expect.