Saturday, 31 December 2011

Me, me, me

I hope your Christmas was better than mine. Dr Karmen was worried about further complications from my catheter and wanted to remove it. We agreed this was for the best, although it meant all further treatments would have to be done intravenously - more needles.

Consultations with her cardio-vascular colleagues raised concerns that my blood clot could dislodge during the procedure. I would need to kept under close observation near the emergency room for 2 hours incase it slid down into my right lung. When I asked what symptoms I should expect, she said 'you don't want to know' and advised that I just sit still. The stitches were cut, and the pipe waggled before my eyes before being bagged for bacterial analysis. The various chemicals are now administered via a 3-way tap into my arm, or the back of my hand if they can't find a suitable vein.

I finished 5 days of chemo on Christmas eve, and went directly to bed expecting a rough detox. I underestimated how bad it would get. My body had been poisoned to the absolute limit and, for the subsequent 3 days, it felt like I was inhabiting a corpse. The Dutch enjoy Christmas dinner on the night of the 24th. Moniek and Ilse cooked a gorgeous traditional meal which resembled my family's fare, plus some weird sauces. I gratefully joined the table and ate well, but had to retire as soon as I put my cutlery down.

Time zones gifted me 7 hours to build myself up for a call to my family on the 25th, but it wasn't enough. My horizontal 'merry Christmas' greeting was utterly exhausting, and I felt depressed and ashamed at my weakness. The 26th combined extreme lethargy with anxiety about getting to the hospital for more tests on the 27th.

I'm a regular at the blood test lab and have become friendly with the staff. Their previous chirpy welcomes have been replaced by compassion bordering on pity. The analysis was prepared for my penultimate B-chemo on the 28th. It was only a 2 hour session, but I had reached my threshold. I wanted to rip the tubes from my arm and just walk out.

Dr Karmen had given me 'every reason to celebrate' Christmas with the news that my cancer appears to be on the retreat. Words cannot describe how relieved and grateful I am, but I can barely raise my head to smile. My condition also cast a gloomy shadow over Moniek's birthday celebrations on the 29th. It's now new year's eve and I'm slowly recovering. The girls have organised sushi and some alcohol-free beer. Things are looking up.

I realise this blog is all me, me, me. Here's an aria from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. It's dedicated to Dr Karmen Wong and her staff, with 'happy new year' wishes for everyone from the Swedish tenor ...

There are upsides to spending all day in bed. I've spent endless hours educating myself musically in Beethoven ... jazz classics ... and, as a tribute to my dad, Irish folk songs Close the office door.


  1. Happy new year Rick. Will be thinking of you this evening (for as long as I can think). Next year we'll have to do something special. Which does not mean you get to dress up in drag again. Oh, and I thought of some quotes for you: 'Never ever bloody anything ever', 'Escorts best courts, no job too big, door to door, we are on the phone' and of course 'Who dares gins'!

  2. The cancer appears to be on the retreat is absolutely BRILLIANT news. If that isn't the best news to start 2012 with, then I don't know what is.

    I cannot begin to understand how bad the chemo is for you but I've seen your mum, my mum and Sue after one of the parties and checking out your picture above, you look a lot better than they did the morning after. :-)

    The chemo sessions will come to an end and then you can start living your life again. Start planning what you will do now. Whilst Ian was having chemo we popped over to Portugal and bought a house so the plan for the end of chemo was all about completing on the deal, furnishing the house and spending time in it. It really gives you a boost to have something exciting to plan, talk about and look forward to. I would wholeheartedly recommend making plans.

    On the other hand, if you want to sit on a potty, and hallucinate it could be just like NYE events in the past.

    Best wishes to you. Roll on a fabulous healthy and happy 2012.

  3. Nicholas bloody Parsons31 December 2011 at 22:35

    The Dorchester ...!

    If you don't understand what all this nonsense means, watch "Mr Jolly Lives Next Door" (starring Peter Cook, Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson and myself) on YouTube. There's some lovely music by Tom Jones, too.

  4. Happy New Year!
    If it makes you feel any better, tomorrow I will probably look in a similar state that you did on Christmas Day. You looked great today though - hope you enjoyed your dinner.

    Great choice of music... The rendition of Danny Boy is possibly the most touching I've ever heard.

  5. Mr Parsons,

    Mr Jolly Lives Next Door was your finest hour. Remember the only thing better than living above an off-license is to live in it!

    Rick, you may not agree with this sentiment right now, but as soon as the non-alcholic period is over I suspect you'll embrace it as fully as ever. Fond regards for a fabulous New Year, which due to the wonders of time zones you are already well into 2012. An Olympic year so time to beat Chorio into 2nd place.

  6. Son I appreciated the tribute. I laughed till I cried. Then clicked the link again, and again.
    Happy New Year.
    Whatever happens to you in the new year nobody will ever be able to say you lost your sense of humour or humanity.
    God bless for next year.Dad.

  7. Happy New Year Rick!-Pokhara missed you. B. Bee is not the same without you!

    Hope 2012 will bring you all your wishes and a speedy recovery!