I feel like an angsty teen again. The last time I started writing a blog was on livejournal, probably getting on for 10 years ago now. It was meant to be somewhere I could voice some of my most intimate thoughts and feelings or more unsavoury comments, but livejournal was a bit of a fad amongst my school friends and it was an unspoken rule that you would share your livejournal address with each other. To not do so would have been some huge betrayal of trust so you ignored it at your social peril. Consequently, I never felt I could use it for the reason I truly wanted and needed it for, in case I wanted to have a moan about them or friends of them, so I ended up having to vet everything I wrote in it and, not surprisingly, it turned into self-indulgent, vacuous adolescent fluff. This will probably turn out the same way except it will no longer be adolescent and is unlikely to be as fluffy. I don’t feel QUITE as self-conscious about it being as self-indulgent or vacuous as I did, but that doesn’t bother me so much anymore. Funny thinking back about how much I analysed every word I put in there, so I felt like it created MORE of me. More intelligent, more funny – just a better version of me in every sense. Yet with all of that agonising, it couldn’t escape the fact that everything in it screamed adolescent, as it was indeed written by an adolescent. Not quite in the league of Adrian Mole, but slightly uncomfortable to read some years later. Ah well.
Besides, I don’t have the expanse of time that teenagers have to think and worry about anything and everything anymore and for the times I really can’t get away from the upset or anger or paranoia, I have a very nice boy I can talk to to get it all out of my system, which helps immensely. No, the main reason I want to start a blog is because of my mum. I don’t quite know why. Maybe I want to catalogue her illness to keep important dates and facts and memories about it logged somewhere. Maybe I hope that someone who is going through a similar thing can find this and share with me or help me through it. Maybe it’s a way of mentally preparing for the worst and recording all the things I love about her. Whatever it is, I had the overwhelming urge to do so.
On Sunday July the 3rd I noticed a missed call from my dad the night before. My dad loathes talking on the phone and only does it out of necessity, so I only tend to communicate with him whenever I go back to the family home or occasionally we will send e-mails of youtube links for songs we want to share. I’d sent him a text earlier that day about a musical dream I’d had, so thought it had caught his interest. He’s normally busy with work on a weekend morning, so waited until later to talk to him. It was a beautiful day, so S and I went for a walk, sat in the pub beer garden and then later as it got cooler I did some marking in the sun, so I could cling onto the last bit of the day’s warmth. I completely forgot to look at my phone during it all, so later that evening I found some more missed calls. Thought he might be trying to check details for the next weekend when I was going back home for a family wedding.
Turns out my mum had been admitted to hospital. She’d been working hard finishing off costumes for the junior school production of Alice in Wonderland. She’d volunteered to make them as she’s a dab hand at sewing. Her mum used to be a factory machinist and mum’s made plenty of curtains for all the different houses we’ve lived in over the years and various dressing up outfits for me as a child. She’ll always do something to help other people out, even if she kills herself in the process, so she’d had to have lots of late nights to get all the costumes ready for the dress rehearsal, as she’d lost time to finish them with moving house a few weeks before. Dad had put her clumsiness and forgetfulness as being tired and stressed, but then she started losing the function in her left arm, which culminated in her dropping scaulding water on herself and the left side of her face started drooping. Stroke came to mind. Maybe a slow bleed. But the initial CT scan showed “anomalies” that didn’t fit with the image of a bleed. Her mum died over a decade ago from brain cancer, so the worst case scenario all jumped into our heads.
Took quite a few days for her to get the MRI scan they had then scheduled her in for. Nothing much seems to get done in hospitals over the weekend and for some reason, she got temporarily lost in the system as they got confused about her address. Not fully sure what that was all about, but I had to try and distract myself at work until the results came through. Multiple lesions in the brain. I rushed home Thursday night – thankfully it was a bank holiday so I had a long weekend to spend at home with my family. My younger brother and I went to see her in hospital the next morning. My dad was already with her in the ward. He’d told me on the phone just before we got the bus in that they were debating whether or not to do a biopsy for her, but it hadn’t got through. So when they started talking to the doctor who happened to walk past about how long she had left and things like that, it came as a massive shock to C and I. I felt myself losing it at that point and had to walk off. Poor visitors – coming into the ward entrance only to be met by me sobbing uncontrollably. Dad apologised that I hadn’t understood the underlying message and mum was unnervingly blase about it all, telling me that she’d already accepted the information and come to terms with it. As much as I love her, I do get frustrated whenever she plays the martyr. Something about her body language and the way she told me this made me despise her for a few minutes. She was probably just trying to be strong for C and I – having to cope with that news and still play at being the adult and mother figure to your children must be indescribably tough, but there was a hint of something I didn’t like. Normally the positive manifestation of it is the stoicism that I pride our family in having, but the negative side of it can be an occasional coldness. That old-fashioned Northern kind of no-nonsense “stop being stupid and get on with it” attitude. It can be so subtle, that someone who’s not used to it might not pick up on its intention and it rarely rears its head, but when it does and you’re not prepared for it, it can be quite brutal and soul-destroying. It felt particularly stinging the fact that she had been so open with me recently about some very deep-seated and complex emotions. I think I also felt a bit annoyed, for want of a better word, that she quite obviously could not be in the acceptance stage of the diagnosis after only a few hours.
The most up-to-date news is that the doctors decided that they would do a biopsy (done today in fact, which we’ll get the results for in 10 days), which has given us hope that they feel there could be a way of treating it and that they will be trying out a fairly new procedure called gamma hot-wiring. Don’t know the full details and I don’t want to bug dad about it on the phone when he’s trying to keep everything together. The poor man’s also having to deal with the new landlord screwing them over, stating the new house is only available for 6 months, even though my parents signed a contract on the agreement that it would be a long-term lease. The agency keep sending them snotty notes reminding them to sign and send back the new contract. Obviously, they can’t know what’s happening at the moment, but they’re still little shits. I’m not at all bitter about my landlord issues over the past few months! But that’s another story….
Since the biopsy’s been done now, there’s no more tests they can do until the histopathology report comes back, so she’s been let out of the hospital for good behaviour ;) Looking forward to seeing her in a couple of weekends. So glad term is winding down now for the summer – makes it that bit easier coping at work. The head of department keeps encouraging to take time off if I need it though, but I think it’s better to keep my mind occupied and there’s not much I can do until we know a bit more about what we’re dealing with. It really scared me seeing how quickly it’s progressed just in a few weeks when I went home for the wedding last weekend. Her left hand has almost turned into this useless claw. I had to wash her hair, put her dressing gown on, cut her nails, even tear a cheque for her, because she just can’t manipulate her left hand at all. I feel more hopeful at this stage, but knowing what happened with granny and the fact that she’s only 53 terrifies me. Still, one step at a time.