The fight of my life (part 5) #myjourney4survival

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.
PHEW……
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 .

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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.
Up next an MRI & the simple matter of brain surgery to survive.IMG_0900.JPG

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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.