March has been Brain Tumour Awareness month and I must say that my awareness of my brain tumour has certainly been raised this year! This is following the news that my next scan is to be brought forward by 6 months due to some growth.
For me it all started in 2015 when I came out of the MRI scanner and was told ‘please can you take a seat here, the doctors are just looking over your scan and would like to come and talk to you’!!!!! Well, that was it, I became a shivering wreck and needed a sweet cup of tea (more sugar than I had ever had!) and a blanket. Surrounded by a team of surgeons, I was told ‘there is a growth on your pineal gland and you are suffering from a dangerous level of hydrocephalus. We can’t allow you home, so we are getting a bed sorted out for you’. A rather difficult phone call with my wife ensued, who was picking our 2 wonderful children.
The day of my surgery arrives - Friday the 13th of March, plus it’s Comic Relief Day! I’m no longer superstitious and thankfully I have a good sense of humour! My operation goes well and the surgeon deals with the hydrocephalus. Plus, with the aid of an endoscopy, he removes a chunk of the tumour. Thanks to the world-class surgeons I only need a short period of rehab and I am home within a week.
My wife and I are on tender hooks for the next week, waiting for the result of the biopsy, which I get via a telephone call shortly after going out to lunch to celebrate our wedding anniversary! The news is probably the best I could have hoped for – due to the low-grade nature of the tumour, I don’t need to go in for further surgery, and they will just watch with ongoing MRI Scans.
Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s also a very personal experience, no matter how old you may be. A toddler having an ice-cream snatched out of their hands by their pet dog may seem a minor insignificant incident to you and me, but the screams and tears running down their rather red cheeks should tell you that it certainly isn’t to the poor child. Mind you their ability to handle it and move on is perhaps not to be sniffed at. I believe we can learn a thing or two about building mental fitness from this innate ability of children to just live in the moment.
Over the last 3 years, and especially shortly after coming home from hospital, and feeling rather isolated, (that’s another story – and something that I know is not uncommon and which the health service, in my opinion, could and should manage far better than it does) I believe my mental fitness skills have helped me through some tough and challenging times (with possibly more to come!). This year at NAIDEX, I am looking forward to sharing some thoughts on mental fitness with anyone who feels they would like to come along and listen. You can read a little more about me and what I am going to talk about from here. I’m also on LinkedIn. Hope to see you there.