It was in late 2015 that my wife started to have some issues – her stomach was becoming bloated, and she had some abdominal pain at times. Nothing serious, so we thought, and we put it down to a food intolerance. We did start trying the different tests – gluten, wheat, lactose, anything that might be the cause, but nothing came back.
So into March 2016, she had been finally referred to a gynaecology specialist, and he did a laparoscopy. This is keyhole surgery, and the aim is to drain of some of the ascites – a build up of fluid in the abdomen – mainly caused by irritation. The cause of the bloating. This could then be sent for testing – trying to find the markers in the fluid.
While waiting for this to come back, she developed a sore shoulder – what we thought was an injury from being lifted onto and off the surgery table. On a torrential evening, we found out that that wasn’t the case – our local GP (God bless him) took one look, and referred her to a specialist who hospitalised her and within hours had her on a drip for a Deep Vein Thrombosis. She was lucky – the clot was in an artery leaving her heart, and only a small clot entered her lungs, however she was left on daily injections of blood thinners for nearly two years. Never, ever dismiss something as minor (a mistake we have made time and again). And apparently blood thickening is a side effect of her disease.
The tests did come back. At first, we were told that the markers they were looking for were clear. I learnt however, that the disease is a tricky customer, and that not all types will show up in certain markers.
We did then have a meeting with the doctor who had performed the keyhole, and both went along to see him. Meeting with a doctor is strange – most of the time it is you, maybe your partner, and the doctor. However on this occasion, there were a lot more people in the room. And this was because the diagnosis was of cancer. My blood went cold at the word, and to be honest I didn’t hear much else, but all I can remember thinking was
“STOP SAYING THAT”
As if, by not saying it, it wasn’t real. But they couldn’t stop. And in a blur we were then thrown into a whole new world.
The rest of the day flew by in a mix of further talks with nurses to try and explain. I didn’t take in much. Each chat would be in hushed tones, all very calm, when inside I wanted to scream, my back slick with sweat. I wanted out, wanted to leave all of this mess behind. How could they be so matter of fact about all this?
I cried in work the next day telling my team. I didn’t want her to die, I still don’t.
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