Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Now.. and Then.

In fact, I was awake at about 5.45am - and not sure how much I slept really. Grandson is so lovely though, that I don't mind, and he did sleep soundly from 6.30 last night. I lay there for as long as I could, making up stories and games which could keep me under my warm duvet for a few minutes longer. We actually got out of bed at about 7am, so that wasn't bad at all.

Daughter turned up at about 10 o'clock, looking lovely and rested! So I was able to scoot off and have a reviving shower. Then we went to feed the donkeys and the goats at a local farm. It's a regular treat, and on the way there we drive past fields full of sheep and cows. Grandson now delights in making the noises we used to make before he could talk. So we drive along making baaing and mooing sounds like mad. I wonder how long it will be before he realizes that his Mumma and Nana are quite bonkers?

As we sat in a Garden Centre having some lunch, I thought that Grandson, at three and a quarter, is not far off the age Son was when I was whisked away with a brain tumour. I had been having scary headaches for quite a while, and knew that there was something wrong. The local doctor, however, told me that I was suffering from hypertension headaches. He added that, as I was a single mother left alone with two small children this was not surprising, and I should more or less get on with it. Luckily, I didn't accept his diagnosis and went up to London to see my lovely London Doctor (he really deserves the capitals), who examined me and promptly sent me off to see a Neurologist friend of his in Harley Street. I suppose I should have known when this specialist gave me exactly the same examination, that something was up. Anyway, I didn't guess and was completely freaked out when I was told that the scan results clearly showed that I had a brain tumour. His exact words were: "There's good news and bad news. The good news is that we know what's causing your headaches. The bad news is that it's a brain tumour."

To cut a very long story short, I had to go back home for a week (because they couldn't wait any longer to operate), make a will and make arrangements for the care of my children in case I didn't come back. It was the worst experience of my life. Looking now at Grandson (who looks exactly like Son did at his age) I can't bear to think that I might never have seen my children grow up. And at the time, Son knew that something was wrong, although he was too young to express it fully. I can't bear to think of the terror he must have felt - after all, I had never spent a day away from my two before that time. Son was three and three quarters, and Daughter was only 18 months old - a little scrap who delighted in carrying her potty around everywhere and opening the front door stark naked. (Two things she grew out of quite quickly.) And I was almost surgically removed from their lives. I was away for three weeks, which must have seemed like an eternity. And as I was driven away to the hospital, I looked back to see them standing on our doorstep, waving goodbye to me, with balloons in their hands...

Thankfully, I survived. I was determined to live. I was not going to leave my precious children to the not-so-tender mercies of my ex-husband and his new partner.

I remember much of what happened during the next couple of weeks, but most vivid is the moment when I woke up in Intensive Care after the operation. At first I thought I was at home in bed. Then I remembered what had happened, and I felt an enormous surge of pure joy. "I'm alive!". I couldn't move, but at that moment I felt as if I could have leapt 12 feet in the air. I could see, I could hear, and I could wriggle my toes. Never mind the pain, in fact I can't remember any pain, just the joy of being alive and kicking.

So my London Doctor saved my life. We still exchange Christmas cards, and have the occasional telephone conversation. I am understandably very fond of him, and I regularly bless his name. Lucky me. So I just gave Grandson another kiss, for luck.

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