Monday, 3 March 2014

So, what exactly is wrong with me?

What happened next? Well initially, I was sent home on the Friday night with some crutches.  But early the next morning we had a phone call from the A&E Registrar, telling us to get back to the hospital to get in the system to enable an MRI scan first thing on the Monday.  So we did!  I had a couple of interesting nights in the ward, still pretty much unable to walk anywhere but sitting up, reading my book and just waiting really to see what was happening. But Monday morning, it all kicked off following the scan (or scans; there may have been a CT scan too).

I was laid flat and told to not move.  Turns out I have tumours in my spine which were pressing against it and compressing it, so it was becoming less and less able to support me - hence the fact I couldn't walk.  Without additional support, by bending the spine, it was making everything worse and - worst case scenario - if it all went wrong, I was risking paralysis.  From here, it's a bit of a blur, but I was bundled flat into an ambulance and taken to a bigger hospital with a large oncology department, the same one where I had my chemo all those years ago, so at least I was familiar with it!

While I was there, I spoke to my oncologist who gave me more detailed results of my scan.  As well as the bone and spine cancer, there is some in my liver.  There was possibly a spot in my lung as well but that hasn't been mentioned since, so it may have just been a shadow on the scan - fingers crossed.

So I had five bouts of radiotherapy to reduce the tumours, which seemed to work as well as reducing the pain.  Additionally, I was (and still am) on pretty heavy duty painkillers.  I was also started on hormone treatment to see if that would help to keep things at bay - the cancer, especially in the bone, is manageable for a time, hopefully years.  I also had to lie flat permanently while they organised some sort of back brace for me.  This took about two weeks.  Thank goodness for Smartphones and 3G which kept me in touch with the world!  I must confess, the whole lying flat experience was a nightmare for so many reasons but the love and care I received from friends and family - in person, online, phone etc - kept me sane and positive.  I cannot thank you all enough for that and for the ongoing support since.

This particular hospital experience ended with the finding and fitting of the brace.  As you can see, it was a solid plastic piece of armour!  But it meant I could sit upright and begin to think about being mobile.  So my next step was rehabilitation and so it was back to the local hospital to get walking again...

My original back brace

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