Life was rolling along quite nicely until recently. I had my third book out, had one or two nice reviews and was preparing to start the fourth. Then the hammer fell.
My father in law, affectionately known as the Squadron leader in my books, had a fall at his residential home. At hospital he was found to have broken a hip and an operation was proposed for the next day. All his family visited but Julia and I whom he had lived with before spent the longest with him because of the closeness they had. His response to being told he had broken his hip was "Oops , dearie me."
The following morning he went for the operattion quite early and throughout the day we phoned to check whether he was back on the ward only to be told he was in the recovery room. We didn't dash there as Julia was complaining of stomach pains which had niggled for a couple of weeks and which none of the medication from the doctor was clearing.
Eventually we had a call in the early afternoon that we should come to the hospital. There was no hesitation. When we arived we were informed that Dad had suffered a heart attack in the recovery room and was now in intensive care. Late that night, a Saturday he died. It made for an awful weekend broken only by bouts of laughter when we remembered the things Dad had got up to as he advanced in years and his memory suffered.
On Monday morning we had an appointment at the same hospital to get some results from an ultra sound and body scan Julia had taken. I'm not even going to try and describe the feelings as we were told it was cancer of the pancreas. But try and imagine the horror when we were told it could not be removed because it had grown around some major blood vessels. The best we could do was have chemotherapy to try and shrink it and perhaps stem it's growth. The pain was growing day by day and it wasn't long before it was unbearable. By the time we'd had 3 bouts of chemotherapy Julia was wearing morphine patches, taking painkillers and drinking liquid morphine with ever increasing frequency and strength.
Then came a light. An amazing operation to sever some of the pancreatic nerves to stop the pain. If this could work Ju was sure she could get back to normal with just the chemotherapy. We agreed to the operation, called a splanchnicectomy at an other hospital where they were lucky to have one of only three surgeons in the country who could do this. He was a pleasant man with a high rate of success.
The day came and we had Julia there by 7.30 am ready for the op at 10.00am. As we left her at 10.00 am my daughter, her boyfriend and I went into town to waste some time before going back hopefully to pick Julia up. After all it was keyhole surgery and no reason she couldn't come home. We saw her on the ward and knew she wouldn't be coming home that night. Still drowsy it would be better to leave her overnight.
Next morning Julia's sister was going to collect her from the hospital and bring her home. There was a bit of a wait it seemed and she was told to call about 3.00pm. Something changed during the morning and Julia was finally discharged about 1.00 pm and was on her way. But when she got home it was obvious she was not well. It turned out she had been vomitting all night and was suffering from diarrhoea. I soon had no reason to doubt her word. The whole afternoon was awful and by 5.00pm we gave up and called for an ambulance to take her to our own hospital where she had to go via Accident and Emergency because the operation had not been done there. It took a long time to admit her as we had to see surgical doctors to see if she required further surgery, clinical doctors to do blood tests etc and finally to find a ward with a bed. No-one could believe she'd been discharged from another hospital in this state.
For a week Julia's condition worsened and she couldn't eat. She was wasting before our eyes as she'd never had any spare flesh to bolster her. Finally we turned a corner. The sickness stopped and her stomach settled down a bit. We found out she'd had/got gastro enteritis and realised that at the previous hospital, despite her immune system being compromised because of chemotherapy, she'd not been isolated but left on a general ward. Finally after ten days we could bring her home.
It's been eight days since she cam home and today is the first time we've been able to ascertain that the operation worked because she's virtually pain free. It's the first day I've been able to make her a meal that she's eaten and the first day she's been able to take a walk, albeit wobbly, outside. We hope next week to be able to resume the chemotherapy and I'm praying that the break hasn't allowed it to start growing again because if it grows outside the bounds of the operation site the pain will return and we can't have another operation.
I'm waiting to see if the God's are smiling down on us.
Causes David Prosser Supports
Food for Africa, Oxfam, NSPCC,