Today, 21 January 2017, marks 12 years since my brother was admitted to North Tees hospital with a brain tumour. A same-day referral to hospital from his GP in the morning resulted in scans in the afternoon/early evening. The results were relayed to Graeme and my parents that day as “shadows” on his brain that shouldn’t be there.
This retrospectively explained why he had been struggling with a weakness in his left leg for several months and why he had lost his balance outside work and fallen into a bush earlier in the week. It also explained the headaches and nausea he had been suffering from for several weeks.
I had known that he had been referred and was being checked at the hospital. I was naturally concerned but never (for even one second) imagined the seriousness of the situation. That’s one of the many things that changed for me after Graeme’s diagnosis: I worry more about things than I used to and am inclined to fear the worst in any situation.
I distinctly remember receiving a call from my Dad on that fateful Friday not long after getting home from work that evening. I felt shocked and upset by the news and yet responded calmly on the phone.
I fell apart immediately afterwards. I had a session of wailing and screaming around the flat for an unknown length of time (it could have been anything from less than a minute to half an hour). Time was possibly relative by that point and might well have slowed down because my brain was responding to the news by frantically but unsuccessfully trying to plod through treacle in the wrong direction. I eventually (or perhaps quickly in the real world) decided that I would make my way to King’s Cross Station and travel home.
I therefore grabbed a bag and left the flat and cried all the way to the station. To give you an insight into my state of mind before leaving the flat, I discovered the next day that I had packed little of practical use. I had taken no change of underwear, a change of trousers but no clean tops and, most importantly, none of the thyroxine tablets that I take daily. Nevertheless, I got myself to the station in time to catch the 9pm train, which got me home to my parents’ house at around half past midnight.
During the journey back up North, I remember one of Graeme’s and my closest mutual friends ringing me several times but I texted that I was too upset to talk. She texted back that, after my parents had left the hospital, her and her husband had been with Graeme as he was given morphine to ease his severe headaches; he had fallen asleep mid-sentence as his pain had eased.
That night, my parents and I “slept” downstairs on the two sofas in the living room. We went to the hospital the next morning to visit. I braced myself as best as I could with the intention of being strong and supporting him and I warned myself not to cry. Yet I walked into the room and immediately burst into tears. It seems like that happened to someone else a lifetime ago. It was certainly a defining moment from my family’s perspective and that of those around us.
Happy Almost- and Actual- Birthdays!
Today also marks four years since Jennifer’s due date. By then, she was already 12 days old and we were experiencing the joys and sleep-deprivation of newborn parents. Happy almost-birthday, little lady!
Today also marks the Xth birthday of Leo’s Godfather. Happy birthday young man!
I have remembered over the last few years that Uncle Vito’s birthday was Jennifer’s due date. I don’t remember connecting the two birthday dates with Graeme’s hospitaversary until last week when I doubted my memory and actually triple-checked all three dates.
This seems highly unusual for me and my pattern-seeking brain. Perhaps I can blame the Squatter for that information disappearing down my Brain Drain? Or perhaps it is a sign of memory loss that can be a side effect of radiotherapy?