A makes me promise I wouldn’t Google brain tumours. Dr Google is renowned for his shit bedside manner and extreme preference for worst case scenarios, so just this once, I’m happy to do what I’m told. The first thing I do Google is the stages of acceptance. No idea why though. The five stages we generally go through when taking in bad news or grieving are:
- Denial – a natural protection mechanism, denial allows us to feel numb, and take in only as much as we can cope with initially;
- Anger – starting out directionless, anger provides some structure to grief, whether it’s directed at a single person or everyone. It’s a bridge to action and starting to move on;
- Bargaining – a phase full of asking what if? – from the the profound e.g. if I can live just 5 more years, I’ll be the best mother ever and treasure every second, not just the good ones; to the ridiculous e.g. if I get this ball of paper in the bin on the first throw, then the tumour will be benign. Ultimately, we know the bargaining is all useless, which leads to…..
- Depression – we all know what this involves, yeah?
- Acceptance – this doesn’t necessarily mean being OK with what’s happening, but you come to accept it as fact, and that you have to crack on with it.
I look at all those tiresome stages and think “Meh. I can’t be arsed with any of that. I’ll just skip straight to acceptance.” Oh puny human. Even that decision is indicative of some fairly impressive denial, carrying on the sterling denial work in the previous post. We’ll see in future posts how well I got on with simply refusing to have any truck with established psychological processes. (Spoiler: it’s not very well)
The GP surgery calls with the happy news that the CT scan I had on Thursday has come back clear. Lol, no. I bring them up to speed whilst standing outside the hospital entrance in my pyjamas, like an inveterate smoker, to catch the best of the 4G.
Steven, A and I decide that I’ll stay at least one more night in hospital. As the diagnosis gradually sinks in, I’m scared the shock will set off another seizure. There’s no reason not to stay if it feels safer, and up until now, I’ve been sleeping fairly well in hospital. There’s nothing like counting your chickens before they’re hatched, is there?
Naturally, when night comes, I can’t sleep. It’s obvious with the benefit of hindsight that it’s natural, but at the time I became fixated on it all being down to a bright light that had been left on in the bay. It was purely shining RIGHT IN MY EYES. If anything is guaranteed to break down my beautifully cultivated veneer of niceness, it’s people mucking about with my sleep. I ask the night nurse if the light could be turned off.
NN: Can’t. Health and safety.
NN: No. What if one of the other patients gets out of bed and has a fall? We wouldn’t be able to see them.
Me [thinks]: well they wouldn’t be fucking getting out of bed if the bastard light wasn’t keeping them awake, would they Sunshine? No one was bothered about having the light on over the weekend were they? A thousand million curses upon you and all your descendants for all eternity, you evil, illumination-obsessed fiend.
[What I actually say]: ok.
Lying awake, a lot of strange thoughts come to me. I think of Victoria, the charming Polish Geordie dental hygienist and epitome of iron fist in a velvet glove. Nuclear armageddon would be a very flimsy excuse for not flossing in her book. She will have my absolute guts for garters if she finds out I’ve not used interdental brushes in four days. I think about not being around to find out what happens in Game of Thrones and am significantly less bothered than I expected. I think about my 3 year old niece, M. We have similar temperaments, but she’s not quite ready yet to take over my role of bossing everyone else in the family around. Maybe once she can read and write.
Finally, the thought that has been percolating slowly up through my consciousness all day finally reaches the surface and explodes messily. I’m going to have to tell my kids I’m dying. How do you do that? My mind is filled with images of their faces crumpling in tears. Their confusion, anger and loss. (Some pretty heavy assumptions about how much they love me going on there.) I burst into tears. Big, snotty, noisy, ugly crying tears. You have to understand, I’m fairly emotionally incompetent and just don’t do crying. At all. I’ve cried perhaps twice in the last 20 years, so it came as a bit of a shock. Night nurse hears my snot-wracked burbling and he comes over.
NN: What’s wrong with you?
Me: huhhuhuhuh I’ve got a brain tumour huhuhuhuh and I’m thinking about how huhuhuhuh to tell my kids I’m gonna dieeeeeeee. huhuhuhuh
NN: That’s understandable. I’ll get you a cup of tea.
A cup of tea goes a long way towards making everything alright in virtually all cases, but to be brutally honest, it didn’t quite cut it in this scenario. It was, to give the night nurse his due, the best cup of tea I had during my entire stay in hospital. He may have a glittering future as a tea barista, but I’d like to suggest he’s not completely cut out for the caring professions. Unsympathetic git. Even a brief pat on the hand would have been appreciated. What I really wanted him to say was of course the one thing he could not say. “Brain tumour? Oh ho ho no! Is that what you think? You couldn’t be more wrong. You don’t have a brain tumour, you’re *fine*!” He couldn’t lie, so he may be a great nurse and I’m unfairly maligning him, but I still think he’s a shitehawk of the highest order.
When morning finally comes, I’m raring to get out and back to my own bed, fits or no fits. Steven hunkers down in his favoured crouched position and explains to A and I how to deal with any more seizures I may have – clear the area to avoid me stotting myself off things, don’t try to restrain me. Bung me in the recovery position once it’s over. Time them – under a minute, call the GP, over a minute, call 999. Double the dose of Keppra if I have another one. No booze, it lowers the threshold for a fit, get a good night’s sleep, that helps [hollow laugh]. “You definitely will have another one” he warns. “It’s just a matter of time.” Bless his pessimistic little soul.
And with that, we venture out of the ward in to the big wide world. Or straight home, anyway.
Reasons to be grateful today:
- None for this day. They’re still there, I just couldn’t see them because of sleep deprivation.