Dressing for the occasion

Early November 2017

I had been in hospital for a number of weeks now and unfortunately I seemed to be in a much worse state then when I arrived. There was still some uncertainty as to whether I had an infection or the immunotherapy drugs were attacking my body. My parents and Ste were obviously extremely worried at this point, especially after they had witnessed a few nights at my bed side. It was after the incident with the bank nurse that I remember my dad coming into the hospital wearing a shirt, pants and smart jacket. Now I’m not saying my dad is scruffy but since he’s retired I reckon he wears a track suit more often than Mo Farah. Exceptions to the sports attire rule have been weddings (my own) and funerals. 

It was whilst wearing the suit that he had decided he wanted to speak to someone ‘senior’ to find out what was going on. I’m not sure if he did or not to be honest I can’t remember. See my dad is of the generation where you should always dress smart for an interview, work or a meeting. He always made me iron my shirts and polish my shoes for school or church parade. It’s something that is slowly filtering out of society, more people dress down for work and I’m not totally sure if it’s a good or a bad thing.

On this occasion  I was led in the hospital still in a bit of a state. I laugh about it now and a few days later but at the time all I remember thinking is ‘shit’ I must be in a bad way if my dads not in his track suit pants. I genuinely thought am I dying? In his defense he wanted to make sure the consultant or whoever he spoke to would take him seriously I suppose it all comes down to his preconceived perceptions. On the flip side if my oncologist came to work wearing a shell suit I’m not sure I would have valued her medical opinion quite as much as I did when she was wearing ‘work’ clothes. I think I may have been more inclined to ask her if she had any ‘alternative’ medicines.

It’s worth baring this in mind should you be visiting someone who’s quite unwell in hospital.  Maybe ditch the trench coat and black suit if it’s not your normal attire to avoid suspicion. Alternatively if you think they might see the funny side bring along a tape measure and maybe measure their height and width whilst telling them your just curious to know.

Finding some answers

A few days later a number of doctors had come to the conclusion that my reaction wasn’t an infection it was the immunotherapy drug that had caused me to be so unwell. My immune system had boosted itself so much that it was not only attacking the cancer but my internal organs as well. The confusion and uncertainty had also been due to the issue with my gallstones as this wasn’t a known side effect with the two combination drugs I had been given (hopefully now it is). 

As soon as they came to the conclusion whilst consulting my doctor who was still on holiday my medication was changed. I was given a high dose of steroids and gradually things got better each day. My rash started to die down, as did the pain and the swelling.

Each day I was feeling much stronger and made a conscious effort to do my laps of the ward and the lift area. It was great on top of that my oncologist returned from holiday and straight away I seemed to be on the right medication. Things were looking up.

A couple of days later I spoke to her she was very honest with me. She had seen some photos of me and was quite shocked to see how I was then to how I was currently. The good news was that they had found out what was making me ill and it was the treatment. The bad news was that she said it would be highly unlikely I would be given anymore treatment at this stage.

I was devastated 2 treatments in and I couldn’t even finish the first 4. I didn’t want to be a  failure. In my mind I could take another dose. If it meant improving my chances of survival I would have gone through it all again. I’d been through the worse and come through the other side surely they could see that? 

I was so upset I felt like I had lost my golden ticket. Up to now I had felt like I was sort of in control now I had lost all control. I had my treatment and all I could do now was wait. Wait until Christmas to see if the doses that I had been given had actually worked.

Facing Fears

Sat in my hospital room I was devastated then something switched again. What was the point wasting my energy and time dwelling on what might be in the next few months. I shoved that thought to one side and I just concentrated on what I needed to do next. I need to focus my energy and get up and out of hospital back with my family.

See sometimes we know in advance when tough times are coming. Unfortunately we can’t always control the inevitable. You do have a choice though you can build up thoughts, worries and fears on what might be or you can choose to deal with these tough times and fears only when you need to but still living in the moment.

I chose to put my fears at the back of my mind. I wasn’t ignoring the fact that in a few months I possibly had some big potentially frightening decisions to make. I accepted that but until that point in time, weighing up the options in mind, trying to determine if the treatment had work would only waste my energy. I had to carry on and believe that it had worked.

I started to focus on the here and now. I was lucky enough that I was here, now I just needed to get strong enough to get back home to Ste and the kids and spend some time with them. So  I picked up my resistance bands waddled down the ward and got on with my exercises for the day.

1 Comment

  1. Dad
    14/03/2019 / 14:18

    Happy birthday x. Sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do,any way I have’nt got any designer jeans, the nearest to that are my M&S jeans, obviously with stretch!!
    Love Dad XXXX

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