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01 December 2005 at 09:01

HNT 7 - gory story

About 15 brave people asked about the full story behind the last week's scar photo. Well here is the real story. Once again, I should warn people who are squeamish about blood and scars - bail out now before it's too late. I promise next week's HNT post will be more aesthetic, probably another still life with bananas.



Many years ago, Angie and I decided to split up. She bought her air ticket back to Australia, and I arranged to drive her down to London and see her off at Heathrow. All very civilised.

There was one minor complication - I had been waiting months for a hospital appointment for a biopsy on a lump in my neck. My appointment had already been cancelled several times, because of nationwide nurses' and doctors' strikes. But I badgered the health admin folk till they did the biopsy, and on the day before driving Angie to London I got the results.

You know the expression "his hair stood on end"? I always thought it was just something they said in detective and horror stories.

All those years of whisky and cigarettes were paying off, in the worst way. Surgeon number 1, embarrassed, tried to cheer me up: "you're very lucky really - the best specialist in these cases works here in Glasgow, he's agreed to see you next week, and he'll be able to do any plastic surgery that you need". He made it sound almost like winning the lottery.

I went to see Surgeon no 2, who made a long phone call to the pathology lab. I couldn't hear what the pathologist was saying at the other end, but at this end the surgeon intermittently sucked air through his teeth and said things like "what a pity" and "oh dear". It seems I had hit the jackpot, with TWO different types of cancer in one. That's when I discovered the proverb: for every door that closes behind you, another slams shut in your face.

A week later, while Angie was in London consulting her friends over what to do with her life, I drove myself to hospital and checked in to get my neck opened up and lose the cancer and a few glands, nerves, and anything else they could take without turning me into a total Frankenstein. They would have amputated my head, if they could have done it without killing me.

When I awoke after the operation, I had a few stitches and drains, but I actually felt like a million dollars. The good old British health service had come through for me, in spite of all the government cost-cutting and the nurses' strikes.

I looked around, and saw that the guy in the bed next to me had his eyes all bandaged up. I asked him what he was in for. "A nose job, 2 weeks ago". So then I asked him - why the blindfold after a nose job, and why the long recovery period? He explained that, as he was coming out of the anaesthetic, he felt a blinding pain in both eyes - 2 student nurses had been cleaning his face with surgical spirit while he was still out cold, and they didn't realise you shouldn't spill alcohol into someone's eyes. And being semi-conscious he couldn't scream to alert them. His eyeballs were partially dissolved.

My own turn to experience amateur nursing came next day, when a sexy student nurse was given the job of removing the drained-off blood from the bottle at the end of my tube.

But she switched the pump the wrong way, and pumped the stale blood back into my wound and out through the stitches. The pain was almost worth enduring, just to have a nubile teenager at such close quarters. She could drain my tube any day.

A month later they started giving me what someone at a noisy party once misheard as videotherapy ("Rob, I didn't know they could use video therapy now"). Actually, watching videos would have been almost as much use - the radiotherapy doc explained that my type of cancer wasn't really helped by radiation, "so we'll have to give you extra doses". It felt like sunburn in 3D.


For a while, I looked like an audition for a horror film - the students in my lectures that semester were strangely quiet and well-behaved.

Angie and I decided to stay together after all. Sweet. My father came to Glasgow to meet me in a pub, and he apologised selectively for some of the beatings when I was young. He must have thought it would be his last chance. A few years later he did the decent thing and died before me.

There are several permanent side-effects, but let me tell you, it's a lot better than being dead. And there were benefits. I'm unlikely to ever develop heart problems from being overweight. You too can solve your weight problems for life by getting cancer, but I'm not recommending it. There are no real scars, not physical anyway.

After that kind of experience you either use it to make your life better than before, or you go downhill. I've heard of people drinking themselves to death waiting for a recurrence that never came. These days I'm pretty well cured - I just need to keep doing the Half Narcissistic Therapy every week.

HNT_1

PS - if you'd like to chill out after reading that, try some international back care exercises.

Blogger hotboy said...

Adolf! Zeig! The top photie where you're having the brains sucked out the back of your head with the tube ... is particulary good. You look suitably surprised by how little brain has come into the concertina bottle. Did you squeeze it all back in or did you lose some? Hope this helps. Hotboy  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Adolf! Heil! I hope you're only joking about going back to the fruit funging photies. Hotboy  

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Blogger Wenchy said...

I'm glad you are okay.  

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Blogger lime said...

wow, what a story. glad it worked out and you are healthy, but what a scare. happy HNT  

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Anonymous Furzl said...

Wow that is some story Thanks for sharing. You got some courage  

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Blogger Lee Ann said...

Wow Rob, That is really something. I am sorry you had to endure that. You are a strong person, for one, making it through all of that and for two, sharing it with everyone.
I hope you continue to see brighter days and remain the strong soul that you are.
Happy HNT!  

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Blogger MamaKBear said...

Wow! Sorry you had to go through that! Glad you and Angie worked things out too.
HappY HNT!!  

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Blogger Queen of Ass said...

Geez! Wow! Glad you're alright now.

HHNT!  

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Blogger Scott & Julia said...

Wow, that is quite the horror story. Had that happened here, that pretty little doctor would have had her ass sued multiple times! Glad to hear you're doing so much better now! Happy HNT!

Btw, I love the Glasgow back therapy :)  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Adolf! Zeig again! Your old man apologised for some of the beatings (even selectively)? What a wimp! So what's your beef with him then? Didn't you say fair enough, old man, and shake his hand? This is bound to help. Hotboy  

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Blogger Quiet said...

Wow, that was intense. I am glad your ok.  

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Blogger * ! Libraaaa ! * said...

wow that was deep. thanks for sharing that story...

*i'd hug u right now if i could* =)

u r such a strong man & thats why u r here today. cancer is one fucked up disease! i wouldnt wish it on my worst enemy. [i lost my mom to cervical cancer 6yrs ago b/c she wasnt a fighter, she just gave up] so i am happy to hear that u took care of business and now ur enjoying life to the fullest!

OHHH btw HHNT lol...and thank you for the great comment on my blog and for taking the time to read my previous post! :p  

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Blogger Tess said...

Holy hell. Thank you for sharing that story. I am so glad you recovered from that and are here with us now.

Happy HNT!  

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Blogger FunkyB said...

What a horrific story! At least your eyeballs didn't dissolve though, right?
HHNT.  

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Blogger Flygirl said...

Wow. I'm speechless. And that doesn't happen often.  

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Blogger Ariella said...

holy fucking hell!
That IS gory!
On my pic of the rod from my leg, if you click to enlarge you can see the bone that grew through the screw holes that they had to saw loose.  

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Blogger Menzies Milngavie III said...

I say old chap,

Quite a to-do you experienced, obviously. Bit of a rum deal, if you ask me. However, I expect its all very character forming in the long-run, in a peculiar way.

MM III  

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Blogger kimmyk said...

That's such an amazing story.
The story I had made up in my head was much better....girl catches ya with another girl...a fight ensues...pulling of hair...bitch pulls out a knife..you step in to save the one you love..and the psycho one cuts ya...as your blood spills out of your arteries your true love whisks you away and takes you to the hospital where dr big boobs saves your life...and you live happily ever after.

ok so it didn't go down quite like that...too much damn Lifetime TV messes with my head.

I'm glad you're ok....great story.....  

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Blogger Eric said...

You should say you got your scar from fighting at Goose Bay with 42 Commando in the Falkland War. You could have gotten shot while storming an Argentinian machine gun position whilst at the same time saving your squad from certain death. You can say that you've lost your Victoria Cross at some unfortunate Poker game...  

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Blogger Just Some Gal said...

ack, I'm sorry!! I commented last night.

What a horrifying experience. I'm glad it all ended up ok though. Thank you so much for sharing!

I am so aggravated that my comment didn't show up. :-(  

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Blogger addict said...

Sorry I got over here so late... I'm a day or so behind.
What an amazing story, and what an amazing person to have come through the experience as "put together" as you are...
Glad you were there for cancer as opposed to a nose job...  

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Blogger Jaxe said...

Rob, thanks so much for sharing that with us. I really do consider HNT a little community for mutual support. And blogs are great therapy (I mean, I canceled my shring a few weeks back!) I give you a big *man hug* and pat on the back for your fantastic, never-say-die attitude. It reminds us all to be thankful to be here, and treat each other well.

and this little morsel:

But she switched the pump the wrong way, and pumped the stale blood back into my wound and out through the stitches. The pain was almost worth enduring, just to have a nubile teenager at such close quarters. She could drain my tube any day.

ROB FOR MAYOR OF HNT! Brilliant my friend. Be safe, HNT Brother!  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Thanks to all for the kind feedback.  

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Blogger Gyrobo said...

Just another reason to sue.  

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