The long trek.(Part one)
I was prompted in some way by Mike Verdl’s cancer diary to write about my long journey about a different cancer,to give some hope to fellow sufferers.This is an account of not only my Lymphoma, but also of my role as a carer for my wife for four years prior to her demise.
Looking back over the years I feel I have had a good long life.Having survived the war as a soldier,Prisoner of War camps in Belgium, Scotland and England I had a long successful career in Nursing, and a very happy marriage.During those years I have experienced many scary moments,but none of them were quite as frightening as the one in 2008.
During the early summer of that year I was experiencing abdominal discomfort,which I thought was a simple upset of the stomach.However as the discomfort persisted I decided to see my GP who thought that I might have eaten something that disagreed with me.His advice was to wait for a couple of weeks,and to return if the situation did not change.
As the situation had not improved after the two weeks I made another appointment with my doctor. The result was a course of antibiotics,as his diagnosis was a possible infection.I was told once again to return in two weeks time if there was no change.
After a further fortnight ,and worsening of my symptoms I I was finally able to request an endoscopy.Three weeks later I had an appointment at a local hospital.Having spent a lifetime in nursing I was aware of the procedure and really not looking forward to it.
By now three months had passed since I first went to see my doctor.October had arrived with its usual stormy weather. The seventh day of the month was no exception, it was pouring with rain and there were strong gusts of wind.
I had decided not to drive myself as I did not know if I would have an anesthetic.The driver whom I had hired could not find our address.After a number of phone calls he managed to find us.I had to stand outside before he arrived.We were getting late for my appointment,and my anxiety level was rising.
On our arrival at the hospital I was reassured by the nursing staff that I was not to worry about my late arrival.I was ushered into a small four bedded area and told to wait.By now my anxiety level was at its zenith.
Finally a nurse came, introduced herself and took down all my details as well as checking my blood pressure.I was told that the doctor performing the endoscopy would see me shortly.when he arrived he told me that he was not prepared to undertake the procedure as my blood pressure was too high.This was of no surprise to me ,considering the stress I had undergone that morning.
He wanted me to go back to my doctor to have some medication to lower my blood pressure.At this stage I blew my top and told him in no uncertain terms that I would not leave until had had my examination.I waited, and after a further check of my blood pressure two hours later he decided to perform the endoscopy as my blood pressure had fallen considerably.What a relief.
Following a further wait I was called into the examination room,where after the necessary preparation a tube was passed down my throat into the stomach.A number of biopsies were taken.It was not at all to uncomfortable.
I asked the doctor if I was right in thinking that I had an ulcer. His reply was that I had not, and that I had a cancer.My initial reaction was one of shock.He asked me if I wanted to talk about it,but my reply was in the negative, All I wanted to go home.
This was the biggest scare of my life,as all I could think of ,was that this was it.I had nursed others and seen what could happen. My next worry was what could I say to my wife? All the way home my mind was wandering.What was it to be? Chemotherapy?Radiotherapy?Surgery? Or,???
My driver was about my age,and trying to ease my mind talked about the war.we discovered that we had probably been fighting each other in the Ardennes.This helped a little to take my mind of things,but morbid thoughts kept returning.
We finally arrived home.Edna was anxiously waiting at the door.What to say? I just burst out that the diagnosis was cancer.We hugged each other and cried into each other’s arms.Edna put on the kettle,as a cup of tea seems to be the remedy of all ails.
The discussion that followed,was not easy,but I followed my mother’s principle by saying:”I will.I will conquer this problem by believing that I shall survive” . Tears dried followed by small lunch we set out for a lovely walk in the rain ,admiring our beautiful Devon countryside,and trying hard to forget