I stayed in the N&N hospital for the next few days having tests. Only 5 short months earlier I had given birth to Posy here. Well not quite in here, rather she was delivered in the car park. Posy likes to do things her own way. And talking of Posy, I was having to be separated from her for the first time for any length of time. What would they do for milk? I’d been breastfeeding to that point, and expressing the milk she then refused to take in a bottle. Well no longer. I was told she couldn’t have my breast milk any more because of the anti-epilepsy medication they were putting me on. I was desperately worried, what would they do for her? She was starting to have some solid food but a baby of that age should be having most of their nutrition through milk. I was also desperately saddened by it. I liked breast feeding. I had fed Ned till he was nearly a year and enjoyed the closeness it offered. Given the battles we’d had to get her to take any milk from a bottle I was not confident she’d get what she needed. In the event, that was something, at least, I needn’t have worried about. Remember all those people who insist on lecturing you about how your “fussy eater”, “veg refuser”, “bottle denying” offspring won’t starve themselves if you just persevere? Aggravatingly it turns out they’re right. Posy didn’t even put up a fight, just smiled sweetly and glugged the milk down as though all those months screaming when anyone tried to bond with her by giving her a bottle had simply been banter. Like I said, Posy does things her own way.
I’d only ever spent nights in hospital previously when I had my children so this was a new realm. There are screens by your bed with telephones, it’s really rather pleasant if you’re not actually feeling in any way ill, which I wasn’t. I’m desperately trying to remember how I did feel, back then? I don’t think I felt worried about myself. I think I was anxious about work but I used the bedside phone to call my colleague and friend Charlotte. “I’m in hospital!” I said. “I know, I can tell by the number”, she replied. (She had been a healthcare researcher). I filled her in and she reassured me that all was covered. Then I started having my tests. I really don’t remember much about it now. There was an EEG, a CAT scan and an MRI. I don’t remember how many days it was I was there. But I do remember the doctors coming to speak to me about what the tests had shown.
“There’s an abnormality on your brain”. These were by far the most devastating words I’d ever, have ever, heard. I don’t remember anything else from that conversation, I can’t even remember if anyone was with me, David or my sister, Catherine, though I assume they didn’t tell me when I was alone. Now it was all real, definitely happening and I had no idea what to do. On my brain. An abnormality. What did that even mean? Was I now one of the unlucky 0.1%? There were no answers forthcoming. I was told that I’d need to be sent to Addenbrookes in Cambridge for a biopsy but that in the meantime I’d be able to go home. I have a memory of another kindly, well-meaning young doctor telling me not to worry, if it was a grade 4 I’d be being “blue-lighted” to Addenbrookes. I had no idea what any of these words meant but I don’t think I took comfort from them.
I also remember, when my sister was with me there one day, she asked a nurse if I was allowed to be taken outside for a cigarette. “Of course you can” she said in a compassionate and was it perhaps a somewhat pitying way? She thinks I’m already done for, I thought. I went for the cigarette but resolved to stop completely. I didn’t know what was coming but I was going to try my hardest to meet it fighting.
Once home I went to my local G.P. practice seeking clarification. My usual GP, yes I have a usual GP we’re a small rural community and our practise is fabulous, was away so I spoke to another. He was kindly, tried to help and explained the biopsy would be looking to establish in more detail whether the abnormality found was benign or “something more sinister”. So all I could do was wait, for the biopsy at Addenbrookes. Anyone who has experienced unexplained illness will tell you, the waiting is always the worst part. But I’m not sure for me, that that stage was too bad. I’m not one of life’s worriers and I was back home, with a toddler and a baby so life was fairly lively. And I felt, still, perfectly well. The Tegretol medication I was taking had stopped the seizures so they weren’t bothering me. I wasn’t allowed to drive but I lived in a small town with everything on hand so that didn’t then cause a problem. There was nothing for it but to wait.