It’s been quite a long time since my last “proper” post here – over a month, in fact. A lot has happened in that time , some of which I’ll try to catch up, and some of it will simply fade quietly into history. Our experience made bikes and trains rather less important for me for a while. The big news for me, though, has to be that we now know that Sue’s health is potentially much better than I believed it might be. If you haven’t been keeping up, Sue is my wife.
I’m not sure how much of the gory detail you want to read, nor how much Sue wants me to share with you, but it started with one of Sue’s routine visits to the doctor’s surgery. We both seem to have a season ticket to that place these days; maybe it’s our advancing years and various bits of both of us starting to show some wear and tear.
Anyway, they found some blood in Sue’s urine sample and referred her straight to Nottingham City Hospital for what sound to me like a pretty dreadful test that involved looking at the inside of her bladder with a camera, using the access route that normally serves only as an exit and they found some abnormal growths inside her bladder.
We both started to think the very worst and our fear wasn’t allayed very much when the medical people started talking about how the effects of bladder cancer weren’t as bad as some other kinds of cancer. Sue has been very quiet about the whole thing and really hasn’t said a great deal in the last month. I have been very worried for her. We’ve had lots of those odd conversations when I say “How are you feeling?” and she says “Fine”, while all the time I know that she isn’t anything like fine, but have no idea what else to say.
My dad died of cancer a few years ago after a long time when we hadn’t really been in contact, so I also had a lot of bad feelings about this.
The hospital decided to book Sue for an overnight stay in hospital . The appointed date duly arrived and she went into hospital to remove these growths and to find out exactly what they were. The surgery took place using much the same kind of access as those tests. Frankly, it makes parts of my body contract with horror when I just think about what they put and where.
The ward where she stayed after the operation really highlighted the state of the NHS to me, with overworked staff having to prioritise the most seriously ill patients and so having to leave ones like Sue who may not have had the same level of physical needs for long periods. When I went to visit, She had been left for several hours in bed dressed only in one of those most unflattering operating theatre gowns; the ones that are open all down the back. She had also been given lots of water to drink and told that she had to pass this water to demonstrate that her bladder was still in working order.
We waited for ages for a nurse or member of staff to come to ask if she could get changed into her own nightdress before Sue decided to wait no longer, but to go for it on her own. Worse still, she needed to get rid of all that water and didn’t feel able to walk down the ward to the bathroom on her own. eventually, the call of nature was so strong that I had to help her to walk down the ward myself.
On a more positive side, Sue loved the hospital bed, telling me many times how comfortable it was.
The following morning I picked her up from the hospital, by when she had been promised the results of the biopsy in “two to three weeks”. The longest two or three weeks in recorded history dragged on towards a fourth week with no word. Sue phoned the hospital and talked to a secretary who would tell her only that a letter was on the way, but would give her no idea whether they had found cancer or not.
A letter from the hospital arrived, but this simply gave her an appointment to attend a clinic in October. We were both beside ourselves thinking that we wouldn’t have an answer for another three months.
Sue phoned the secretary again who would still tell her nothing, except that there was another letter on the way.
I was out when this letter arrived on Friday morning so Sue had to give me the best news of my entire life on my mobile phone while I was standing just outside a lift with a trolley full of CDs and disco equipment.
The tests had showed only some inflammation.
I suppose we should have celebrated, but even this wasn’t possible because we were in the middle of getting ready for a Harley Davidson weekend away.
I am writing this two days later on Sunday night and we still haven’t really had a chance to talk properly about this. If ever there was a need for a bottle of wine it’s today, but I don’t even think we have any in.
The biggest lesson that I can take from this whole scare is just how much Sue means to me. The prospect of some illness taking her away from me, whether cancer or anything else, is too dreadful to consider. I already knew that I love her. In the last month, I have started to realise just how much.
Being married can sometimes feel like a comfortable T-shirt. You like having it around, but don’t think about it very much. But the whole T-shirt anaolgy breaks down as soon as something like this turns up – a T-shirt will end up as a cleaning rag for the bike with it’s space in the drawer filled by a new one. There’s no way to ever replace Sue.