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Saturday, October 2, 2010

That First Seizure, Part 3, Saturday fare


Why did I not think the worst? Here I have to tell another short but important story. Roll back a decade, almost exactly.

  Late in November 1999, when I was living on a 25 acre block 10 kms from Armidale, I got a phone call to come immediately to a doctor’s surgery in town.

  My daughter Sylvia, then aged 19, was with the doctor as I was ushered in. Brain scans were on the light screen. Sylvia's face was flushed and her body shivery, her voice shaking, but her concern was really for me. ‘It’s going to be all right, Daddy. I know it will be OK.’ Her desire to spare me was touching, but I knew it wasn’t OK.

  Sylvia, who was living in town, had been having headaches and balance issues for a few weeks. On Tracey’s insistence, if I remember rightly, Sylvia made an appointment with her GP.

  The doctor took me to one of the brain scans in the light box. ‘Sylvia has a brain tumour,’ she said. The words seared through me like a hot knife. ‘We’ve arranged immediate surgery for her in Sydney to remove it.’

  I looked at one of the scans. A globe of tissue that seemed the size of a walnut sat at the very back of her brain cavity, close to but clear of the spinal column. Although I was in a state of shock, I immediately took some comfort from this location. If the tumour had to come out – and it certainly did have to - it seemed the best possible place to get at it with the minimum of risk.

  What happened the rest of that day was something of a blur. I went back to my house and let the full import of it all wash over me. It was devastating.

  My marriage had disintegrated two years before, in 1997. I had met Tracey in 1999 and she was coming from Queensland to live with me. I rang her as soon as I had composed myself a little and she drove down to Armidale immediately. Sylvia was put on the plane – amazingly, comparatively untroubled by the prospect of a dangerous operation or the terrible danger of malignancy of the tumour. It was going to be all right, she said. Stop worrying.

  I followed her down to Sydney while Tracey held the fort for me in Armidale. The operation was performed, and the post-operative scans and biopsy revealed that the tumour was not only removed completely, but wonderfully, gloriously benign.

  There was no good reason why she should not make a full recovery, but it was far from plain sailing for her. We spent several days at the hospital, my reading her The Red Tent nightly – a story she never forgot.

  To this day, she seems to have had no enduring ill effects from the experience, but it convinced her to make something special of her life: to become a teacher and seek out the most difficult, challenging children to teach. And she has done that, with great success. I am very proud of both my daughters!

  So, the reason for this tangential story is to explain why, on that Friday morning, I was somehow used to the idea that even with a brain tumour, the result could be nothing more than an inconvenience – a considerable one, but something to get over and move on.

  How easy it is to believe what we want to, especially based on a sample of one! Tracey was more realistic, especially having had to deal with something far worse some 17 years ago. But that’s a story she should tell. 

Fast forward….

[continued] [Back to Index]
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Saturday Fare, 2 October 2010

Here’s my brief Saturday news.

1. I have discarded my sling. Yep. Refuse to wear it. I am going to get my right arm back instead. So there!

2. We’ve increased the blood pressure dosage. Doing that might be bad for my health in about ten years. Do I look worried? [Right now I am sure that the increase will do good things. Leastways, my headache has gone.] And I don’t use paracetamols if I can avoid them - they just mask symptoms. I’d rather know that something was not right and take a hit of pain. Well, low level pain anyway - I’m not THAT brave.

3. The fire Tracey set last night has taken the chill off the house. It feels good.

4. Thank you, Julie and Jackie. You know why. For Tracey not to have to think about cooking so much right now is great.

5. Rich and I will watch the RL Grand Final tomorrow. Isn’t there some AFL thing on today? **I jest!** Best news is that Rich’s wife Chrissie is recovering from some serious surgery and we look forward to seeing them both tomorrow.

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