Here I am

Okay, there’s been an ominous silence, but I can confirm – I’m alive if not kicking.

Surgery was Wednesday the week before last – just over two weeks ago. I was picked up early, said goodbye to Rigby, then shouldered my bag and entered the hospital. It was very efficient, with a ritualised aspect that put me in mind of the military. By that stage, I was in medical scrubs and had been wheeled into the area ‘backstage’ where the technical prep began.

Was I nervous? Bound to be, but by then I was on the conveyor, and the maths was simple. Either I have surgery and a shot at another chance – or I don’t.

There’s a lot in this story to be told. The good news story is that seemingly it was a success. No guarantees as yet and radiotherapy will be required, but both surgery and plastic surgery delivered.

I don’t know how much I can share now. I returned home yesterday, but basically I’m an invalid at the moment. Rather than taking my fibula, as foreshadowed, the surgeons took some bone from my hipbone for the replacement cheekbone, and a long strip of skin (and an artery) – a tram track, they called it – from my groin to use as a skin graft in rebuilding my palate. In combination, this has had a big effect on my mobility. Much of my hip and thigh are still numb, but I’ve progressed from a walker to a cain.

Otherwise, my face is so swollen still that I can’t see clearly. Above all. I have a fraction of the energy and vitality I had before. It feels like I’m operating in heavy G. Most things are hard at the moment, though with time it will improve.

There’s a lot I want say about my experience which, in parts, was horrible, and included an episode of paranoid schizophrenia in the days after surgery. I progressed well after that, until an unexpected episode saw me coughing up blood and led to a second surgery. In between, as they worked on my body, I had my first real conception of mortality. It was a profound couple of weeks.

For now, the surgery is done and I visit the oncologist next week to follow up. The surgeon told me they had to go deeper because the cancer was more extensive. He thinks they got most, but not all. I’m not out of the woods yet.

The good news is that I still have my eye, which was at threat. And I survived the biggest surgery the hospital has in its book.

More when I can.

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