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The Colon Diaries - Part IV of IV

 By Steve Graham

 In this last episode of the Colon Diaries, Steve Graham faces the knife, screams for his attachments and shares his thoughts on  personal health.

(Catch up with the previous episodes  of the Steve Graham's Colon Diaries)

By now I’m shell shocked, truly rattled and to be frank very scared, probably more scared than I’ve ever been in my life. Then my girlfriend arrives, her face puffy and red from crying. We lock eyes, and we both break down. She was just a mess, as we try to talk, but we both know there was this undercurrent feeling that this may be that last time we ever see each other again. I hold her, she sobs, I could feel her body shaking, she apologizes, “I should be the one comforting you.” I told her it was all going to be okay but truth to tell, I didn’t believe it myself. We try to make small talk but it was pointless. We exchanged loving vows then I tell her it’s best she goes. If she stayed any longer I knew it would only get worse, more so for her than for me, because she was the one with the possibility of waking up the next day and finding out she was alone.  

Now I lay in the darkness of that ward thinking is this is? Is this as far as I go? I thought of my mother, I’d lost her to cancer last year, and that her name was Mary and I was in St Mary’s Hospital. I talked to her a lot that night. Then I recalled that gristly noxious lump I’d first seen on that camera, my tumour, my cancer, my enemy and thought it’s him or me now. Somehow I slept. I was woken at 6.30 am by a male nurse with the immortal line, “morning sir, it’s time for your enema.” I was reminded of that awful joke, ‘with friends like this, who needs an enema’. I groggily get out of bed and the nurse continues, “would you like me to do it? Or do’you want to do it yourself?” I had to laugh. After my bizarre early morning alarm call and my bowel truly sluiced, I was ready for whatever the day was to bring. I had a mantra; ‘If I don’t wake up from anaesthetic then I won’t know a thing about it, if I do, then that’s a bonus.’ I just kept running that through my head as they wheeled my bed out of the ward.  

 

Suddenly, I’m in an episode of ‘House’ – I’m being wheeled back stage along the obligatory long corridor, past numerous operating theaters, passing a variety of surgeons, all in full scrubs. Finally we turn right into my theater and I’m parked in the anesthetist’s anti-room. I can see the big operating theater lights through the swing doors as various people come and go. I begin to shake and stare up at the ceiling where there is a set of shabby Harry Potter stickers, (presumably to reassure sick children, either that or they’ve had Dumbledore through here). The two anesthetists calmly talk me through the procedure. I’m trying my level best to stay calm, then they inject the anesthetic. Suddenly my body goes into convulsions, or maybe this all happened in my head? But I thought the left side of my body was getting the anesthetic and could breathe but the right side was dying and couldn’t. In my head the anesthetic was connected to my email, the left side of my body was normal email but the right was email with attachments. I remember screaming to the anesthetists “you’ve gotta connect to the attachments, you’ve gotta connect to the attachments!”  Then I woke up.

I groggily came round in (what I now know was Intensive Care). The room was swirling, I was drifting in and out of consciousness, but I saw the face of my beautiful girlfriend smiling at me. I tried to talk, to make sense, but it was all very surreal. As I regained some sense of where I was, I realized I had what seemed like a million tubes, drips, and wires hanging out of and off my body. I was like a collapsed puppet draped with his strings. But I was alive, I didn’t have a bag, my gristly little friend had gone, and beautiful woman was smiling at me, and at that point I knew, it was going to be all right.

But what can we learn from all this? What can I learn? Could I have done anything different, should I have changed my lifestyle, changed my diet? 

 

Whilst many cancers are brought on, in truth most cancers are random. How often do we hear of a non-smoker who contracts lung cancer, or a non-drinker who gets cancer of the liver. We get what life deals us, but what I got was the most important thing of all, another chance. 

So I say to you all, if there’s even a shadow of doubt about your personal health, something that doesn’t seem right, but you learn to live with it – don’t! The main enemy in any cancer case is time, so go and get whatever it is checked, don’t leave it or put it off. The experience I’ve been through – whilst invasive, traumatic, painful and emotionally harrowing – had a good outcome and if I had left it, it could have been very different. 

And the one final thing I must say is; the hospital, the nurses, the doctors and the surgeons of St Mary’s in Paddington have all been truly amazing and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all they have done for me.    

(Catch up with the previous episodes  of the Steve Graham's Colon Diaries) 

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Comments   

#2 susie 2010-02-12 10:27
This series of articles is so well-written, funny, and also informative, that I hope you may try to republish them in eg the Guardian or other mainstream "organ". I have read quite a few accounts/diaries by women who have had breast cancer, but colon cancer still tends to be a big unmentionable. Steve certainly lifts the lid on it in every sense!
#1 titi - cristina osorio 2010-01-29 20:08
I had a mantra; ‘If I don’t wake up from anaesthetic then I won’t know a thing about it, if I do, then that’s a bonus.’ I just kept running that through my head as they wheeled my bed out of the ward.

this is what separates the weak from the strong, the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaffs, the bollocks from the balls...
Positive realistic thinking at its best...good luck to you! and much love x

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