If it sounds thus far as though life was simply a succession of medical visits with nothing in between, then that’s not so far from the truth. Life was continuing, broadly normally. I had suffered no further full seizures thanks to the new medication. Instead I was experiencing what the doctors described as focal seizures. These did not involve a complete loss of consciousness and in fact I was awake throughout them. But it was a most bizarre, discombobulating sensation. I would feel a buzzing type sensation in my head, my left side felt numb though I could still talk and move. They didn’t cause a major problem but were an unpleasant reminder that however normal I may still be otherwise, there was something bad happening in my head. Some were more severe than others, I remember one lasted nearly 20 minutes and the longer ones scared me as there was no knowing it would come to an end. From an entirely selfish point of view they were worse that the full seizures because I was aware of the whole thing. I was very frightened about having them when I was alone with the kids but after a long discussion with my G.P. was reassured that I was still a safe parent. I learned to stay calm and breathe until they passed.
Between visits we undertook as much research as we could. We were trying to find out as much as we could about my condition, using all the tools at our disposal. Friends sent us books, newspaper cuttings, information, whatever they felt may be useful. And some were particularly helpful. Lance Armstrong’s’s It’s Not About the Bike was a hopeful read with his tale of overcoming testicular cancer including the excision of a few brain lesions along the way. A most upbeat tale and well before we all found out what a cheating, lying bastard he was so that was pleasingly hopeful. Another friend sent a book on meditation which I loved and I remain convinced to this day that the mind is an incredible, under-utilised tool which has the capability of all kinds of amazing feats. Sadly I‘ve never really mastered the art of meditation. Though I start with the best intentions I inevitably drop off to sleep within moments but it is an amazingly useful tool for helping to relax and stay calm in the often-stressful medical situations such as scans.
I became fixated on one book in particular; Everything you ever wanted to know about cancer but were afraid to ask. I gave away my copy some years ago and try as I might I can’t remember the name of the author. But for a year or so this book was my bible, comfort blanket, freedom fighter source material. Its author was the father of a daughter who happened to have a brain tumour. What luck! A book, not only about cancer but about my sort of cancer. Hers was a more aggressive tumour than mine but he’d been keeping her going, against the odds for some time now. He did advocate surgery as first line defence which was a bit of a problem for me but he also had loads of other stuff up his sleeve and, crucially he’d gone through radiotherapy with her and had tips on what to expect and how to help. Mostly though this book offered a lot of information on ways of using nutrition as a line of defence. With the encouragement of my sister, Catherine, I determined to give it my best shot though I baulked at some of the more extreme approaches he was advocating. Coffee enema anyone? But I started to modify my diet in all the ways I could, I added in zinc and selenium and various other exotic nutrients to give myself a fighting chance. I also started to try some yoga. Knowing now, what I didn’t then, I still feel the poor chap was ahead of his time. I tried Quinoa on his recommendation a good 10 year before it became a staple of the Waitrose shopper. I found it disgusting then and am no fonder now but what it did do was give me an illusion, a thin veneer of control over my own destiny. To be shaken if not entirely shattered by my next medical encounter, with Dr Brada.