Where to start, what to say, what to reveal? These are Q's that have been ricocheting around my head for some days now. I'm not one of these "proper" writers, the sort who want to reveal their innermost thoughts about the most personal of events just to further their art. But, on the other hand, I do have this blog and you do read it. And there's some big stuff going on in my life now. It would be a bit mental to not talk about it, to tell you about bogeys in my hair but not this.
There wasn't really one definitive moment when it started but things sort of kicked off at the end of May, last time I was in Sri Lanka. I got a message from Academic Bro, my academic bro, to say that my Dad, also his Dad, had been taken to hospital because of some severe back pain. I immediately phoned London and found out that the hospital had told him that it was mostly related to wear and tear, his age and things and should start to get better soonish.
A pain in the back, quite literally, but not such a biggie.
Well things didn't get better. I came back to London to find Dad laid up in bed. There were some bad days and some not so bad days but there didn't seem to be much sign of improvement. My Mum, being a Doctor, was concerned and we made an appointment to get a second opinion. That was about a month ago and we thought we were finding out how to fix his bad back.
So, when the Doctor told us that it looked like Cancer, it was a fuck of a shock. I felt like I was watching a film scene with me and my family in it, but we weren't very good actors. Outwardly there were no tears, no big gestures or words even. All the big stuff was happening in our heads. Except in my Dad's one.
The Doctor gave him an epidural to try to help the pain, told us that some more tests were needed to confirm things and also said that there were other possible diagnoses, but that if it was Cancer, it looked like we'd caught it early anyhow.
The past few weeks have been, to put it mildly, trying. We've had numerous hospital visits, each of which has been quite a mammoth task because of his pain and lack of mobility. My Mum has been trying to look after him, to balance the positive pain relieving effects of things like Morphine with the negative confusion and sheer off his head more than normal effects that they can have, as well as looking after his minute by minute needs.
I don't mean to bleat here, I know that many people go through these sort of things, often with people who are much younger than my Dad's seventy seven years, but it's still hard.
Watching someone you love go through so much pain is a test, yet I feel that weird need to be seen to be strong to some. I'm a pretty pragmatic chap anyhow, so that's useful. I've been telling the girls what's going on, trying to strike the right balance between giving them all the information and not upsetting them too much. They adore my Dad to bits and find it unbelievably hard to watch him in pain.
I watch him and see his pride suffering. He's like that. He's always been sprightly and young looking and, all of a sudden, he's become an old man.
We're waiting on one test but the specialist told us yesterday that she's ninety nine per cent sure it's Myeloma. It can't be cured but can be managed and he may well go on to live some years yet.
As I write this he's been taken in as an in patient at the Royal Marsden, the UK's leading Cancer hospital. They've told us that most of his pain is probably caused by the Cancer and that they hope to get rid of most of it in the next few days, then talk about treatment for the Myeloma itself.
It's weird. I don't know why I'm writing this really. It's a bit cathartic, it's a bit informative, as I know many of you actually know my Dad and will want to know this. And I feel as if I do have a bit of a duty to tell you what's happening in my life, seeing as you know about the rubbishy crap I tell you at other times!
I'll try to keep you posted of progress as we continue on this journey and also just say a huge thank you to all the people who have been such good friends in recent weeks. You know who you are and you're great.