Changing gear

A bit of a life statement, given there’s some fascinating speculation on my well-being, only some of it accurate.

Just checked out of hospital after my 3 month cancer check-up. Cystoscopy show the bladder still clear but there’s an 8mm anomaly in the liver. Doctors think it’s a glitch or reflection on the CT scan, so there’s no cause for anxiety (they say). Seem to be making small progress on my big question – “If all the signs are good, why do I feel so bloody ill all the time?” I’ve come off bladder drugs and now use self catheters 4 times a day. We’re trying to make this routine minimally intrusive rather than dominating and structuring the day. Have to be so careful as re-infection risk is very high. After the gastroscopy I’ve got new treatments for the stomach damage caused by months and months of antibiotics & other rampant drugs.

It seems I have depression, triggered by nearly a year of illness and surgery and an inability to see any real hope of improvement. I’m on Xanax for a while. At first I didn’t like it, it was as if I’d been photoshopped out of the picture, erased from the surroundings. But they gave me the least terrifying taxi ride into the Bangkok hospital ever, with me just sitting in the back staring slack-jawed out of the window. Pretty neat. The CT scan shows that the constant blinding headaches are not brain-damage but probably stress-related. Yeah right.

Going with the depression, I have retired from the business. “Ousted in a boardroom coup” might be nearer to it, but Helen is right. I’m just not fit to deal with constant Thai lies & deceit, lunatic tourists and their inane questions, and the day-to-day grind of a job I now hate. It’s not good to be permanently furious over minor things. The business is up for sale, lock stock & barrel. Helen’s plan is to find a house to rent and get me off-site as soon as possible. It’ll help me for sure, but also her if I’m not around going Supernova every time a Thai gets her head stuck down a toilet or puts noodles in the tumble-dryer.

We had a short break by the sea in Hua Hin and I thought “Helen really needs this”. I was shocked to discover how much it was me who needed it. I just loved being “Somewhere Else” and was most unsettled about having to go back after it. I even felt the same when I came out of hospital. Now that’s not good, hence the plan to move me out.

Helen has stood by me every inch of the way. There are times when I’m possibly not the most co-operative patient (screaming ‘You vicious bitch’ at gormless nurses and hurling water bottles at them.) and I must admit that I’m pretty demanding with rapid mood changes, hourly plumbing problems, nighttime megabelching, almost total memory loss and almost total memory loss. I have to admit that I would be helpless without her and have to take my hat off to her for putting up with nearly a year of this, yet still striving daily to make things better in many ways. She reminds me of the areas where I’m making progress – I forget or just don’t see it – and she sketches out nice glimpses of our future life once the business has been sold and entirely new options and vistas become possible. She’s played a blinder, over and above the call of duty.

[Actually I was so proud of her in the last hospital stay when she lost it with a thickoid nurse and yelled “You mad cow” at her. This is the strongest language I have ever heard her use to someone (apart from me) and I’m delighted that in some small ways she’s coming round to my point of view. The nurse was asking for it & got off lightly, in my considered view.]

So that’s about where I am. I’ll need these 3 monthly check-ups for life and it seems clear enough that self-catheters will become a regular feature of my day. I think the depression and associated blights will subside once I can get away from the business (and of course Helen too). I am finding it so hard to be positive but I’m getting glimmers and have to hope. I have a new doctor who looks at the whole person rather than the mechanistic view of the specialists and surgeons and she’s actually co-ordinating between these disparate actors to find all-round cures. Amazingly, she even phones me up to see how I am (and tells me off if I’m not being a good boy). I like her a lot.

So it’s life changes, slowing down, snipping away unhelpful control freakery and stressing over things that just don’t add up to a hill of beans. Time to sit back and enjoy the sunshine, reach more beach, and just let it all go. I owe it to Helen to make every effort to make sure I keep at it & succeed.

Published in: on September 16, 2011 at 11:29 am  Comments (29)