David had some time off work and Sue and Din had invited us to join them over Easter, in Wales. This seemed a good opportunity to get away and catch up with friends on the way. Our trip started with friends, Dionne and Mike in Sussex. We had a lovely day but unexpectedly by the end of the day I had to lie down as I had developed a really bad headache. We didn’t think anything of it and the following day I felt fine again so we continued on our way.
Next stop was Haslemere to visit Italo and Rachel. The weather was glorious, really bright sunshine and actual warmth from it. We spent a day at a childrens’ play park/mini zoo and everyone had a lovely time. But that evening I developed a crushing headache, as our hosts prepared supper. This one was worse than before, I was starting to be sick. We diagnosed me with a migraine from the unexpected sun all day. I should have worn a hat we all agreed.
It was during this evening that events took an even worse turn. David kind of flipped out. My memory of the night is still hazy because I was so out of it with the pain of the headache but I dimly recall him going a little bit crazy at me, wanting to know why I was doing this and ruining everything. And then he was just sobbing. Not like David at all, he was like a man possessed. This was the night we all realised the toll everything was taking on David, effectively he was breaking down with the stress of it all. I assume Italo and Rachel calmed him down. I could do nothing except go back to sleep. The next morning I again felt better. David called Italo’s brother, who is a G.P. We agreed we could not continue to Wales with me (and David) so unstable. So we contacted Addenbrookes and arrange to go in for a check, cancelled the Welsh leg of the trip and spent the day relaxing in the garden.
When we went to Addenbrookes we were seen by a registrar on Dr Jeffries team. I think I described my symptoms. He listened and nodded and told me not to worry. “There’s a lot of gastroenteritis about”, he explained. His brother-in-law had been hit with it quite badly. This was a relief, well not his brother-in-law particularly but the news it was probably a bug. He said he would see me again when I started my radiotherapy, in another couple of weeks and we left quite reassured. David, the kids and I next headed to stay with our parents. In the bosom of our families, I had no more nasty turns so we felt the bug theory must be right. We hunkered down ready to meet whatever challenges radiotherapy would bring.
One of our major concerns about the Radiotherapy was the logistics. Addenbrookes wanted me to have it done with them as they had very up to date machines there that would target my tumour more accurately and cause less damage to the surrounding tissue. While this was a good thing, the nature of the radiotherapy I was having meant the treatment was every day for 6 weeks. Each session would last only a few minutes, if that but I would have to get to hospital for it. As a non-driver this was going to be a slight challenge. Fortunately a new train line had just opened up which was direct from Norwich to Cambridge which was a help. It looked like David would get me to Norwich station. I’d take the train for an hour and a quarter then get a bus to the hospital. Around about a two hour trip, or four hour round trip daily for about two minutes of treatment a time. We were all concerned about how this would go, especially as the main side effect of radiotherapy is fatigue.
Never mind. The first thing to be done was to get my mask made. This was undeniably a slightly freaky process and I was once again grateful for my meditation techniques. Essentially, to create a mould for your head, you head has to be covered in some stuff and allowed to set. They were brilliant at this procedure, talked me through it the whole way and I didn’t get panicked. But I was glad I only had to do it once.
We had been talking to my health insurance providers to see if they could offer any help with transport to the hospital. They couldn’t/wouldn’t however they did offer an alternative solution. They would cover the cost of my staying in a Nuffield hospital near Addenbrookes any nights I wanted to during my treatment. Looking at the cost of this versus them paying for me to get a taxi there and back each time, it doesn’t really add up to me. But that was all they offered and as it meant if I wanted to stay over a couple of times in the week to break up the travel then I was grateful for it. Once again I felt grateful at the position I was in of getting this help, through pure luck at being employed by a company who had good benefits. I wonder how others manage and what detriment it has on their prospects of recovery. I just had to get my head down and get on with it. I didn’t like the idea of being away from David, Ned and Posy too much but overall I had to think of the future and ensure I got the maximum out of the treatment. Thank God for Debbie who had agreed to go to 5 days a week from 4. And things were about to take another turn for the different in our lives too.