153: Another Day of Sun
February 16th 2017: I sent a text to a group of my friends on Thursday that I genuinely didn't think I'd send. And yet when I sent it, I wasn't feeling as I probably should have. Instead I was feeling subdued, a muddle. Like some romcom that starts at the end of the movie and then rewinds back, I'll do just that as briefly as I can.
May 26th 2016: Notable because it's the day before Lord B's birthday, but also notable because it was the day the consultant who had quite happily diagnosed me coeliac whilst performing the endoscopy on me a week earlier, called me back in to meet with him face to face. It was unwarranted. Or not, as the case may be. The torso CT they had done as a requirement exposed a "mass". On my lungs. It was important he saw me to tell me this because he needed to refer me and he didn't want me to be concerned by the department that would send the letter.
Oh. Right. Okay then.
June 2nd 2016: We meet with the Lung Oncologist Consultant: Dr C. She's lovely, warm, and makes me feel like this is nothing: "It looks like it may be a congenital defect - an abnormality. I'm happy to keep an eye on it, and see where we are in say, six months."
Fine: if she wasn't worried, I'm not worried.
December 22nd 2016: Notable because it's the day before Mini B's 2nd birthday. And also notable as a date my Lord and Mother Mooncake argued with me about for six months: it was the six month check date, "why don't you go back earlier or at least, don't leave it until just before Christmas".
Honestly; I hadn't given it much thought. I had very much brushed it off. It wasn't until December 21st that I text Mama Acorn saying "it never occurred to me it might not actually be okay... what if it's not?"
It was not.
I had an obligatory X-ray. I waited outside my consultants room for 45 minutes.
She was getting a second opinion, I was told.
When she finally called me in, she small talked remembering my daughters name and that it was her birthday tomorrow. She then said:
"I'm a little concerned - it's changed - but with Christmas and New Year we won't get anything scheduled. So I advise enjoying the festivities, try not to worry and we'll get a date scheduled for a CT scan."
Lady B: "Changed?"
Dr C: "Umm yes, it's grown."
Lady B: "Oh - how much?"
Dr. C: "I couldn't be sure" (although she could because at our meeting in January she confirmed she could be very sure that she knew on the 22nd December that it had at least doubled in size).
January 8th 2017: Notable because my university friends of some ten years had all gathered to spend the weekend together and I - Lady B - last minute, was having to rush back on the Sunday for a CT scan. I remember it being so cold I was literally shaking. They put a blanket over me as I went into the scanner. I was warm only for the small moment the iodine entered my veins.
January 12th 2017:
Dr C: "I knew I'd have to request a CT. It's just not doing anything I'd expect. It shouldn't have grown this fast. I want a second opinion from the people at The Royal Brompton and then for us, let's bleach you out - high double dosage antibiotics - and we'll schedule a biopsy."
This is when the waiting really began. The specialist lung biopsy consultant was on holiday. And we had to wait to see what the people over at The Royal Brompton thought too.
Friends came to stay. Distracted me. I worked when only absolutely necessary for fear of getting a call from the hospital and fear of having to down tools with no notice.
February 2nd 2017: Dr C calls, apologising profusely for the delay: holidays and back log and no excuse, "I'm ensuring you're priority. The Brompton have also suggested a PET Scan (a high dosage radiation full body scan - and you can't see your daughter for twelve hours after this scan)."
February 9th 2017: two hour trip for bloods
February 10th 2017: full day fasting for end of the day PET scan
February 11th 2017: day ward admission for lung biopsy
Letter received for results on February 16th 2017.
I do Valentine's Day orders like my life depends on those rather than this mass inside me.
Those eight weeks of uncertainty, limbo land, and confusion are unlike anything I've ever experienced. As I write this, my eyes well up. Somehow it's isolating; you don't want to make a fuss so you don't tell many people, and equally, you need a network to know what total and utter fear you're feeling when you wake in the night from a dream about hospices and will writing. I know that sounds dramatic but that's genuinely what went through my mind, especially when you have a two year old. I grab onto her like a limpet at every available opportunity.
Equally, I tried to carry on like nothing is wrong, I tried to be normal. Yet the inner dialogue is constant and aggressive. What is normal? By this point, I've forgotten.
February 16th 2017: Dr C comes into the room and smiles, and then her eyes well up. I panic.
Dr C: "I won't small talk. It's not cancer."
Huh. Just like that; those eight weeks of utter fear, dread, and stress, POOF.
"However Becky, I would strongly advise you have this removed as soon as possible. It is something that could develop and I don't want to be sat here in six months time giving you a different diagnosis."
I paraphrase - we were in there almost half hour - but that's the long and short of it. In fact, I've massively paraphrased in this post, but I think you get the idea.
Where are we now?
February 23rd 2017 (next Thursday): I meet with my surgeon at The Royal Brompton; my local hospital don't perform this specialist operation, that is removing part of my lung (!), and requires us traveling to a Thoracic Specialist Hospital.
Of course I'm relieved but elated? Not quite. I can't tell you how peculiar I've been feeling; for the last eight weeks my immediate family, a few close friends and I - Lady B - have basically thought I had cancer. My consultant was so sure it was cancer, that I became sure of it too. No amount of positive thinking was changing it, and when she told me "it's not cancer" I almost made her show me the notes herself. The best way I can describe it is like survivor's guilt; how did I dodge that? I know everyone expects me to feel joyous and ecstatic, but instead I feel muddled, subdued, and all sorts of exhausted.
In terms of LBP: my god how I have missed working properly and now, with impending pretty major surgery, I don't know when I can get back to it fully. My stay in hospital won't be short, and my recovery even longer. Needless to say, I'll be sure to keep you updated for when you can get your mitts on biscuits again.
And lastly, for everyone that didn't know *exactly* what was going on but still reached out, sent heartfelt messages, and were just simply really lovely; THANK YOU. I can not tell you how much it felt like I was having a bloody big hug at a time in my life when I've never been more scared. And that's truly not even an understatement.
In the midst of the waiting, Mama Acorn did an eight hour round trip to come and sit with me and inevitably cry with me - and took me to see La La Land.
To the fools that dream: I was one of those.
Be good and bake well,