I hate the process that is now a regular feature of my life of going for my ‘checkups’.I found them hard before when each time I had the all-clear; typically I’d be able to not think about them and distract myself one way or another but there would be the date and time of the next appointment in my diary. The prospect of getting bad news begins to gnaw away until dread day arrives and we (as Kate usually accompanies me) hold our breath for what seems like hours until we’re sat in the consulting room, the consultant has stuck the camera down my nose, stuck the metal things in my mouth the better to have a look and felt my neck and say “all looks well”. We breathe again and feel the need to go off and celebrate life. For a while the routine begins to become routine and, at least superficially, the anxiety seems to lessen.
Then I see the consultant my crabby confreres rave about for the first time, I feel comforted that I’m being seen by her but suddenly the routine is shattered as after the camera probe she’s booking me in for a biopsy, saying she’s sure it’s nothing serious but as I’m a ‘high risk’ best to be on the safe side. Such a mixed message; nothing serious and high risk.
I go in for the biopsy a few days before our Rhodes trip. In the past I’ve quite enjoyed going under with a general anaesthetic and tolerate sticking sharp things in different parts of my body. Don’t know what it’s like for others, suspect as with most human reactions we all differ, but I am developing a deeper antipathy to being pierced (no way am I having a tattoo, although I may yet have a piratical earring) and I have to steel myself beforehand. Duncan, you’re just being a fucking wimp you pathetic apology for a human being. And this time the experience of being anaesthetised is very unpleasant. For the first time I wonder about not waking up and a little panic sets in. When I’m injected it feels deeply unpleasant, probably caused by the mild panic, but I ‘go under’ quickly and soon find myself still alive in the recovery room.
I’m ravenous and very thirsty. Only having had water that morning and despite arriving at just after 7 I was the last of that morning’s cohort to be done at 3.15. Given some water then wheeled back to the ward for tea and toast. There are others around me who’ve had biopsies like me or minor operations. The bloke next to me has had something done to his nose, he starts to suffer a nosebleed, a little at first then it’s flooding out. He doesn’t ask for help but I call for a nurse with my hoarsened biopsied throat. Oh the English stiff upper lip, don’t make a fuss just bleed everywhere. Don’t make a fuss just vote fucking tory even though they’ll continue to stiff you.
Kate arrives, we ask if the consultant who did the biopsy is around, she soon appears and says there’s nothing untoward, Kate looks at my clipboard and it says nothing clinically concerning. We’re relieved and toddle off to Rhodes. Has anyone else experienced leaving Rhodes airport on a busy Saturday night? Tuesday arrives and it’s off for my ‘checkup’, despite previous assurances we both hold our breaths again. There’s a 30 minute delay, always helps, a nurse calls me in, we wait for a consultant; it’s rare you see the same one twice running. Kate and I chat in that slightly anxious way, I look at the camera probe that I know is going to be pushed down my nose again until it gets to my throat and causes my eyes to water and the gagging to start. The consultant enters, this time it’s the boss consultant, he asks how I am, I say anxious as I’m waiting for biopsy result. He expresses some surprise that I don’t know and tells us it’s fine. We breathe. He sticks the metal spatula type things in my mouth, the camera down my nose and feels my neck for far longer than any doctor’s done before. Why? I worry. Kate says he fancies me. He goes off to double check biopsy notes and confirms result. I ask what it could be, he says just some inflammation adding that he could look down anyone’s throat at any time and there’d probably be some inflammation.
We go off and celebrate life, this time with a particularly lovely bottle of Venetian bubbly. That night I start falling asleep earlier than usual, anxiety and worry once relieved allow the tiredness.
I wake, or half-wake as is usual now with my throat demanding relief and the rest of my body saying piss off we need sleep. After making coffee I feel flat and write this blog. The writing as ever helps but I know that in 8 week’s time the cycle will repeat.
I will make no flippant judgment on myself, no dark humour as we often use, just finish my coffee and do some work in the ravaged garden.
Need a Kliban to cheer me up.
Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.
PS haven’t yet decided which soccer team I’ll be supporting next season.