It’s been almost two weeks since the operation to remove part of my bowel and the left adrenal gland, and generally I’m feeling OK, getting a little less tired every day. Having said this, I haven’t had any exercise, other than going up and down stairs, so there’s not really been much to tire me out physically. I suspect if I went for even what I would have previously called a short walk, I would probably be pretty tired afterwards. I also have to inject myself with blood-thinning stuff once a day, which makes you quite light-headed for a while, and you really have to lie down until the effects go down a little. The scriptwriting is of course tiring, but that’s a mental thing, not physical – believe it or not, it’s very tiring inhabiting a fantasy world for a few hours at a time, no matter how much fun it is at the time.
The main reason I haven’t been out though is because I’m still not able to wear anything with a hard waistband, like jeans, as two of the keyhole surgery scars are at the bottom of my waist, underneath my stomach, and anything other than loose loungers or pyjama bottoms rubs against the scars. They’re healing, slowly but surely, but I guess it will be a while longer before they’re not irritated by close contact. That said, I intend to try a pair of trackies later, and at least take a little walk up our lane, to see how the hedgerow is progressing. The field behind us is full of glowing yellow dandelions, and I am desperate to get out and photograph them in this glorious sunshine, but that involves walking up the lane, through the gate and back down to the back of our house. I’ll give it a go, but what wouldn’t I give for a gate at the end of the garden right now!
Things seem to be behaving themselves in my newly truncated bowel, although things aren’t quite as predictably regular as before, understandably. I’m not experiencing any of the horror stories you read about on the various bowel cancer websites though, so I’m grateful for that.
I’m grateful for a whole load of things right now to be honest – I know I’ve had bowel cancer (hopefully in the past tense!), and a fairly major operation, but I can’t help thinking about the string of lucky coincidences that have got me to this point. If I hadn’t had piles, then the toilet bowl full of blood incident might not have happened, nor the subsequent blood test that showed up an area of concern in the bowel. If the self-administered enema had worked properly before the initial sigmoidoscopy then they wouldn’t have had to do a full colonoscopy, during which they found Bernard, as I called the cancerous lump. The ‘luck’ continued, in that the PET-CT scan also showed up the lump in the left adrenal gland, which meant I had to have the double operation at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, which is currently completely coronavirus free, as opposed to the ‘simpler’ bowel operation, which would have been done at Yeovil District Hospital, which isn’t. It was ironically because of the coronavirus that my operation was prioritised early, before the expected onrush of coronavirus cases. If it hadn’t been for the virus, my operation might not have happened for another month or two, giving the tumour time to grow, and potentially need chemotherapy beforehand. I haven’t yet heard definitively that I won’t need post-op chemo, but the doctors at Southmead were pretty hopeful that I wouldn’t – again, if the op had been delayed, it might have given the cancer time to spread, and thus need the chemo.
So all in all I feel extremely lucky, and very glad to be alive. I have read so many stories of others that have gone through bowel cancer and not been so lucky. OK, yes, I have seven scars on my stomach that are quite restricting right now, but they’ll go. I can’t walk the dogs yet, but I will be able to soon enough. I can’t go back to the part-time day job for at least another four weeks, as there is strictly no heavy lifting, but as that day job is in a co-op mini supermarket, I’m very thankful not to have to be on that particular front line, especially as we’re shielding my wife during her immunotherapy. I do miss my colleagues though, and the regular customers. To be fair, the manager there has been nothing but supportive during not only Julie’s cancer treatment, but also my own, as have my colleagues. I am further fortunate that the current scriptwriting job started just before the operation, which is making up for the drop in income, and actually increasing it. My thoughts are very much with all those that are still on that front line though, it’s a tough, dangerous job right now, and they are understandably very scared.
So to the amazing NHS, and to the gods of intertwined coincidences, I give you my heart-felt thanks.