How they found out


For posterity’s sake, this is my Facebook post from yesterday. I’m glad to have got it out of the way:

Those who know me well know I don’t like fuss or bother. I’m old school, proud and independent. I like doing things my way and will shrug off unwanted attention. It’s not ideal, but I’m too old to change now. I have news that will shock some of you, but I ask that you moderate your reactions.

I was diagnosed with cancer yesterday. It was not unexpected but surreal nonetheless. I have a cancerous growth in my right nostril and cheek – sinonasal cancer. This is quite a rare variation, apparently, which is something to hang my hat on, I suppose.

I’m putting this out there because I want to get it out of the way early and avoid any fakery down the track. Now you know. Chances are, I’ll need all the help I can get, but please withhold your sympathy because I don’t know how to respond to it. What I need now is strength, but magic charms, incantations, miracle cures and potions are welcome.

I’m not going to gild the lily. The weeks ahead look pretty grim. There are tests next week to check if it’s travelled and where, or if it remains localised. Then, I have serious surgery – 12-14 hours – to come, after which there’s chemo and radiotherapy. It’s 14 weeks of intense treatment.

Without wanting to sound too much of a wanker, I take comfort knowing this is what I do best: fight. I’ve had hard times before and endured. I’m pig-headed and competitive. Others might say, a pain in the arse. I might get beaten, but I won’t walk away. There’s a tough road ahead, but I hope to come to the end of it and find the way forward clear.

This is not the sort of attention I like, but it is what it is.

Over to you, big fella


Things I haven’t written about I’d have loved writing about:

Euro 2020. I didn’t watch it all but followed it closely, and it was a point of constant discussion with my mates. I’m glad Italy won.

Ash Barty winning Wimbledon. This was big news and a very popular victory in Oz, and I sense, in other places, too. I didn’t watch it – I was in bed asleep – but it’s so nice to have her win.

Then there are random footy matches, the Boomers beating the USA in a trial match ahead of the Olympics (I watched that), and the NBA finals too, which I’ve watched all the way, though. Then there’s the Sydney ‘lockdown’ and the incompetence of Gladys, and ingoing shitshow, which is the federal government and the vaccine rollout – and even the lockdown we find ourselves in from today, for the fifth time, thanks to the NSW shambles.

All of that has been crowded out by my health, but it doesn’t mean my mind doesn’t touch on other things, that my curiosity and interest isn’t piqued by other events. In fact, I’ve made a vow to myself to stay engaged, no matter what the prognosis is.

I should get the prognosis next week. I’m preparing for the worst, though it doesn’t alter my attitude. I’ll fight it every inch of the way, by whatever means. It doesn’t feel right to simply accept the fate they map out for me. That’s too meek, and the struggle is an essential part of this. And I think it’s what I do best: fight.

In actual fact, I’ve been feeling better the last couple of days. I was wary of it initially: what could it mean? I wondered if it was a sign that the cancer had gone deeper into me. I considered that the recent signs weren’t so positive and that the biopsy may have livened up the cancer. That’s the danger of being an overthinker. In the end, I twigged. It was because the cold I’d been carrying for months – which seemed wrapped up in the carcinoma – had gone. Seemed strange but welcome nonetheless because it eases the pressure, and therefore the pain.

I published something to Facebook announcing my situation, and the response has been incredible, both online and off. I’ve had so many messages of support and help that it’s really quite humbling. Everyone is rallying around, to the point that some of the concerns I had now seem irrelevant.

I also spoke extensively with work, both to the senior manager and HR. I’m going to run out of money long before my treatment ends, and so we’re exploring options to take up the income protection insurance I have on my superannuation account. There’ll still be a gap, and it only pays 75%, but it’s better than nil income.

The other day, speaking to a mate, I commented on God, using the other C-word (both are in common parlance lately). He said, be careful, now’s not the time to pisss him off – though I figure he’s long been pissed off at me given all the shit he’s dumped my way.

Last night, we got to talking about Job in quite a playful way. I have a long sympathy for Job as I once wrote an essay on him when I was in love with a Jewish lady – that’s another story. I know the story well, how he’s treated like a plaything, miserably taunted by God in a running bet with the devil. He cops most of it, but in the end, he spits the dummy. Why the fuck have you done this to me he demands of God?

It’s all a test, which is a bit cruel, but ultimately he has restored to him everything that was taken.

I have a grudging respect for the Old Testament God, though he’s an unashamed prick at times. He comes off as a much kindlier figure in the sequel.

Anyway, I’m kind of hoping something similar happens to me. I’ve been tested up the wazoo – but I could do with a miracle and get back everything I lost and more.

Wait over


Yesterday, something I wrote three years ago came up in my Facebook feed. It seemed apt for the situation I find myself in, so I reposted it:

How you choose to live your life is no one’s business but your own. Let me remind you, however, that you have a limited span of years on this earth, and each time you say something you don’t believe, do something contrary to your nature or go along with something just because the crowd expects it of you dilutes your individuality.

Time is too short to waste it with things or on people indifferent to your purpose. The clock is ticking. Find what’s precious to you and cherish it; say what you believe and act as one with it without shame; and, above all, be true to yourself and follow where it leads you

I don’t know what moved me to write about it at the time, though God knows there’s so much fakery in the world today that I don’t have to look far. Now, of course, it means something different for me – poignant and slightly bitter.

Those who read my revised post yesterday will know that the news was bad. I have cancer. To be precise, sinonasal cancer.

I was called into the doctors’ office, and without too much of a preamble, he told me that, unfortunately, he had some bad news for me. He then went on to tell me the details before explaining what was to come next. I asked a few questions and then walked away.

I wasn’t surprised, though it was shocking. I remained still, my voice even. I felt numb. I was conscious of wanting to hold it together and wished there was someone else there with me – the doctor said he’d have recommended I bring someone with me had he known the results.

I caught the train home, responding to the people who’d been asking for updates throughout the day. It all felt very strange.

I got home and fed Rigby, and gave him a hug. I made a couple of calls and received a few. So much to take in. So much to do.

I ended up at the Cheeses for dinner. They offered all their support, as I expected they would. There will be a tough time ahead, not just with this – I have to fucking move house somehow. They made me accept their help, which I did, as I know I can’t survive this by myself. They’re putting together a WhatsApp support group to help with the move ahead and the treatment after. Everyone I’ve spoken to has offered to chip in their help, and it’s quite humbling.

So, the story is I have this reasonably unusual variation of cancer. Tests confirmed it was growing there behind my nose and cheek. My treatment will be shifted from the E+E to St Vincent’s, and I expect a call from them today with all the arrangements made.

The first thing to happen will be a range of scans and tests to get more detail on the cancer and, most importantly, to check how far it might have travelled and where. The results of this will have a huge bearing on my prognosis. I think, in general terms, that if it’s gone below my shoulders, it’s curtains for me. Above that, it can be managed still, though tricky and with no guarantees.

Next, I meet with surgeons next Thursday to review the results and map out the treatment plan. That will be a scary meeting.

In the week or so after that, I’ll be admitted into the hospital for surgery. This is full-on surgery, not the little up my nose piece of work I was expecting previously. Believe it or not, that will take between 12-14 hours. They’ll open up my cheek, remove the cancerous bits (hopefully) and reconstruct the damaged bits.

I’ll be in hospital for up to a fortnight after that. Then there’s chemo and radiotherapy. That will be pretty tough. The doctor warned there’ll be times I’ll want to quit it, but it’s important that I continue.

All up, about 14 weeks of pretty intense treatment, at the end of which we hope the cancer.

It doesn’t sound easy, and I expect it won’t be as easy as it sounds. It’s daunting, but I can’t wait to get started.

Funnily enough, some of my immediate concerns are practical and logistical. I’m told next week will be a whirlwind. I’m worried about shifting house and if I’ll be around for it, though I have many offers of help.

I worry about how I’m going to cope financially. I don’t have 14 weeks of leave up my sleeve, though he encouraged me to work as much as I can through this for my mental health. In reality, I don’t think that’ll be much. I have rent to pay and right now how I’ll manage to pay it.

Experience with my mum and my stepfather tells me that I’ll be pretty debilitated when I’m getting chemo and radiotherapy. Back then, I would take mum to and from the hospital. I don’t have that person, but I’ve asked if I can get that support from my friends. I won’t be able to drive, and I don’t want to take public transport. I guess we’ll work it out.

Of course, the greatest concern is survival. There’s a strong chance that it’s gone too far already.

I don’t know if I’d know, but I don’t think it’s in my lungs, and the doctor checked my lymph nodes yesterday, and there was nothing to find. I’ve not lost weight, not had fever or chills or sweats. In fact, it’s surprising to think I have cancer because, other than my head, I feel pretty chipper. But I’ve felt a little tingle in the back of my throat the last couple of weeks…

Despite all I’ve written in the last week, I think I knew this was coming. I never told you because I didn’t want to admit it, but I think Rigby picked it up.

Some dogs smell out cancer. I remember when mum had it that Rigby would sniff at her. In the last few weeks, there’ve been several occasions when Rigby will just stare at me and then start barking as if to warn me. It was unsettling.

There it is, much as I can remember at the moment. I’ll be making a broader announcement to my friends’ group through Facebook later today, just to get it out of the way. I have a chat sometime today with management at work also. I’m a little dazed but strong. Someone has to get it. This time it’s me.

Very soon


I’m writing this sitting in the hospital waiting room, waiting to be called in and advised of the biopsy results and, in the best-case scenario, have the surgery I need firmly scheduled. I’ve been waiting about 80 minutes.

I’m quite used to it by now. This is my third visit and the shortest wait has been 90 minutes. It’s a cosmopolitan, motley waiting room. Most are working class I would guess. There are people of all ethnicities and others seemingly from the fringes – a man with his jumper inside out, an angry person, and others you look twice at. Some are old hands it seems, quietly reading a paperback as they wait, but others fidget it play with their phone. The only person talking is a man calling up his address book to tell them of his dodgy oil pump. I know the story so well by now that I could tell it myself.

Me, I sit quietly.

I was slow to wake up again this morning. When I got going finally I was to the railway station early, planning to catch up with colleagues for lunch before my appointment.

It’s a cool day. It rained overnight. A plump pigeon in mottled brown and white pecked at the ground, hobbling from what looked like a club-foot (club-claw?).

I listened to an audiobook as the train slid through the suburbs. I’ve been listening to audiobooks last thing before I sleep and often when I wake. It’s easier than to read the old fashioned way, which I would normally.

Last week I finished listening to an Alistair McLean classic When Eight Bells Toll – perfect listening for the borderline infirm. The book I’m listening to now is very different – A.S Byatt’s Possession.

This is a much more intricate piece of writing, much distant from MacLean’s bombastic and unlikely adventures. It seemed perfect, however, as I journeyed in. It’s lovely, sensitive writing that inspires reflection, which is very much in sync with my mood.

I caught up for lunch at a Uighur restaurant where I was bright and to the point. My colleagues know of my situation, but the last thing I wanted was to appear frail and vulnerable.

And now they call my name – only to tell me the results are delayed. The analysis has been completed, but not yet validated or written down. Did I mind waiting a little longer? It won’t be long…

So I wait again. I’ve nowhere else to be.

PS Voiceover: and then he found out he had cancer.

Still waiting


I had a moment last night when it hit me hard. I got all tight and grim, and it was not that I suddenly thought the worst. It was the uncertainty that got to me.

I was told that the results from the biopsy would become available any time between Monday and Thursday, and no call came yesterday, nor yet today. I felt no less bullish, but I just wanted to hear it, goddamnit. Tell me, tell me, tell me now!

To stay positive and believe requires that you scrape together every reason you can think of, together with a stubborn determination and a little bit of fanciful belief. You inflate yourself a little to protect yourself from what might otherwise be true. It’s wearing, though, and so it was last night for about 45 minutes, it failed. I felt grim, not knowing, knowing that until I was told I was okay, there was a chance that I might not be. Then I regathered myself.

I’m betting I won’t get a phone call at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if the results came through yesterday, but they’re saving them to tell me at our appointment tomorrow. I’ll absolutely die if they tell me the biopsy was no good, and we have to do it again. But I have to deal with whatever comes. No choice in it.

Part of the complication in this is that I’m in the public health system and other elements have to be followed up. I reckon that would automatically happen in the private health system, but now it’s left to me. I’m not paying anything, and I’m not complaining.

I’ve been trying to chase up a hematologist I last saw about 4 years ago. I understand why it has to happen, but I suspect it’s very much a non-issue – but it has to be ticked off.

She’s a private health practitioner, and I’ll be lucky to get the info out of her without an appointment and another $200 bill. There isn’t the time for that, though, and it’s only a few simple questions that need to be answered: why am I still on blood thinners? And is it safe for me to go off them for 10 days so I can be operated on?

In a general sense, I feel healthier than I have for a while, though specifically, there’s still (very manageable) pain.

I’ve made an effort to minimise the painkillers I take and think that makes a difference. I delay as long as I can before taking a tablet, and then only one. That means some discomfort, but it also means that my head is a bit clearer.

This morning was a bit different in that I couldn’t rouse myself from bed until about 10.30. I felt totally sluggish. Yet, in contrast to the weeks previously, I’m actually struggling to get to sleep.

It came easy to me before and as great comfort. It’s no wonder when you consider how much painkiller stuff was swirling through my system. Most of it has the side effect of drowsiness, so no surprise.

By now, though, I figure the excess of that has leached from my system, and though I still take the same painkillers, and they don’t have the same killer effect as before.

Otherwise, I’ve been productive sorting out things for my move on the 26/7. I’ve just about arranged removals, though it will cost me a mint, and am in the process of organising the transfer of necessary utilities. I’ve managed to offload a few things I no longer need, such as a portable aircon yesterday and a filing cabinet and old wooden wine rack before that. And in the last couple of days, I’ve packed up another 5 boxes or so. I reckon I’m 75% packed.

Good to get ahead of the curve because I don’t know what’s coming up behind me.

PS I just heard from the hematologist – I’m good to go, as I thought.

Something real?


I’ve always been a good dreamer, but lately, it’s off the charts. I reckon it’s probably because of the medication I’m on. There’s some cookey stuff.

I had two dreams seemingly related, one after the other. In the first, I was an Australian student at an American university. Most of the other students were American, obviously, but there was also a heap of Canadians who had a healthy rivalry with the Yanks. I was the cool kid on campus. Everyone wanted to know the laid back Aussie, and they competed for my attention. I was invited to everything, and every girl loved my accent. I was tall and athletic, a handsome guy but with a relaxed, fun attitude – almost the archetypal Aussie.

Anyway, there was some contest between the Yanks and the Canucks, and I had to judge it. It was pretty rambunctious, but ultimately I gave the prize to the Yanks. Nobody took it too seriously, but there was a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’. Finally, I stood up before everyone, and with a big smile on my face, told the winning team, “I’m just like a Canadian…only interesting.”

They went off at that, all of them, the Yanks cheering and the Canucks playfully booing. A great time was had by all, and no doubt a few bevies consumed.

I’m this impossibly handsome, charming, confident and super-cool dude who has everything in the next dream. I’m a member of one of those families you sometimes see on American TV shows, all beautiful to look at and decent as all-heck. Too good to be true, in other words, and generally enough to make an Aussie stick their fingers down their throat. In that golden family, I’m the golden boy, shiny teeth, great hair, and all – all Hollywood.

Anyway, I’m out somewhere watching some celebrity environmentalist or something give a presentation. He’s young and cool too, though pretty earnest, and I’m impressed. Afterwards, I offer to give him a lift home.

Instead, I take him back to the family house, which seems to have people everywhere. I walk in with my new friend and loudly present him – he’s here just in time for your interviews, I tell the crowd, and by that, I mean radio and TV. He’s a tad surprised but goes along with it and the crowd, as always, goes wild.

The place is rocking, someone’s tapped a keg, and everyone is looking good. Then my father shows. He’s a big, good-looking man with the sort of head you expect God to have – regal and grand. Think – for those who can remember that far back – the Michael Landon character in The Little House on the Prairie. The noble patriarch. I go to introduce him to my new friend, but instead, my father apologises and tells him he has to have a word with me first.

He takes me aside, sincere and concerned. You can’t go on acting like this, he tells me, doing whatever you want without telling anyone. He scolds me gently, his eyes never leaving my face, then welcomes the visitor with a smile, shaking his hand.

I mingle with the crowd, troubled and considering what my father has told me. I realise he is right. I’m not a bad person – in fact, I’m a decent soul – but I get carried away with myself. I return to my guest and apologise. “I think I need to give you something real,” I tell him.

He understands but interrupts before I go further. “I have something real for you,” he says and then invites me on a trip with him into the wilderness. Dream ends.

What does that mean?

Spit in the eye


A mate and I have been joking about me setting up a meth lab if I get the wrong news this week. I’m no Walter White, and I don’t have a family I need to provide for, but it seems to me that the only sensible response to such bad news is to be bold. If they tell me I’ve got the big C and this is the prognosis, the last thing I want to do is eke out my remaining time timidly. In the face of such a stupendous prognosis, I think you must act stupendously.

I don’t know what that would be necessarily, though I’m pretty safe in saying I won’t be cooking meth. And, even if it is Cancer, it doesn’t have to be terminal – and I’ll do everything in my power to fight it off. But doing the same thing as I’ve always done, counting down to the last day? No way.

They’re brave words, and in reality, it would be a lot tougher than making a few grand statements. Presumably, there would be physical constraints – the illness itself and the treatment for it. And, quite possibly, financial obstacles also. But, I won’t go quietly.

I hasten to add, I don’t think this is something I’ll need to contend with – not yet, anyway. It’s probably foolishness, but I feel more confident all the time that it’s just a papilloma, and the sooner we get it out of me, the better.

It occurred to me in considering all this – and I’m doing a lot of thinking! – why does it take something huge like this to act? Why, when it’s almost too late, do we grasp that to live with meaning that we must act?

I’m hoping this is a wake-up call for me and a shot at a second chance. If I get clear of this, I must try to live a life of purpose. Like most people, I’ve ambled along through life, taking it for granted. I’ve had some great adventures and unforgettable moments and experienced wonder along the way, but so have most people. Unlike most people, I don’t even have the comfort of a close family to make me feel I have achieved something important.

What I’ve become aware – or been reminded of – is that everything has an end date. You know it, but it’s so far away, so vague, that it never registers in you until such a time as this. You realise that everything you see, everything you do, everything you hear and feel, will one day become null and void. On Saturday, walking Rigby, I passed by a construction site, and the aroma of freshly cut timber filled my nostrils. It’s a great smell, but I was conscious that I may not get the chance to experience that much more again.

I’m one of those people who would live forever if they could, from curiosity as much as anything else. I think about the things I’ll miss once I’m gone – the science, the music and literature, the books, the sense of an open world still to be fully discovered. It almost hurts to think these things would go on without me.

I’m probably being melodramatic – that’s what you get with an imaginative sensibility. I think I’ll be lucky. I’ll get that second chance and the opportunity to fully appreciate everything I’ve mentioned – and in a way, that would be a gift.

I can’t commit to anything yet, and though I’m quite relaxed, there’s also a tense expectation in the background. I think I know what I need to do if the news is good, but until I get it, I can’t believe in it too much.

Maybe today.

Live while you can


I’m sick of writing about, you know what. It feels depressing and self-indulgent and, guess what? I’m going to write about it again – albeit with a more positive spin.

This thing plays with your mind, which is probably not overly surprising. You have enough information to be dangerous but not enough to be comfortable. You clutch at straws and jump at shadows, all while nothing has changed. In the end, there’s no point worrying about it until you know what it is, and then you deal with that.

I still don’t know and won’t for a few days. Probably for no good reason, I’m more hopeful than I was before. All the mental permutations I’ve churned through have thrown up a few little factoids to hang onto (that’s the clutching at straws phase).

If I’ve got Cancer, then it’s nose cancer. I don’t fit the profile of someone suffering from that – I don’t smoke, I’ve not inhaled anything I shouldn’t have, and I don’t work in an environment conducive to these toxins. That’s fair enough, but then how many times have you heard stories of the lung cancer victim who ‘never smoked in their life? It’s something, but it’s not game, set, and match.

I’ve actually felt a bit better since coming back from the hospital. While I was there, they suctioned out some of the gunk in my nose, and it seems to have made a difference. I wake up each morning – pardon the detail – with snot dried in my nostril, which I can then blow out and clear. This is in contrast to the oozy stuff that was clogging me up before. I’m sneezing a little too, which is new.

I figure the suctioning cleared out the airways and allowed the mucus to flow again instead of jamming up. That eases the pressure and the severity of the pain. Whether it means anything more than that, I don’t know.

I’m still sleeping a lot, and that’s probably because of the painkillers in me. They probably have a half-life of I don’t know and take a while to clear out of your system. There’s still some pain towards the evening, and I still take painkillers, but not as many.

Bed is my favourite place, anyway. Sleep is the sanctuary that removes me from pain and foggy head, and desperate speculations. I pretty well wind down by 10pm every night and often earlier. I make sure I’m well medicated before I close my eyes, or else I’ll wake in the night with pain. With luck, I sleep a good 10 hours and even then will stay abed for an hour or two longer in a semi-state of consciousness.

I remember that feeling from when I was a teenager – the delicious sense of half-awake/half-asleep. I lay in that state, the flannelette sheets soft and warm around me and Rigby snuggling close into my side. He loves it as much as I do, and his care and affection for me through this has been important.

Today, I got my hair cut, which reinforces an otherwise tenuous sense of normality. I’ve signed the papers for my new home and just have to pack. I’ve cleared things with work – they don’t expect me until whenever, but there are meetings I’ll attend this afternoon, just as I did yesterday. And, if I don’t decline too much, I might go for a drink tonight.

Next week is another story, but I feel I have a thread on this now, and an idea of it may be a bit more informed than the docs – certainly, a more intimate idea of it.

Waiting…


I’ll make this a quick post. I’ll write more later.

I was due to see my specialist at 4.30pm. However, I got a call from the hospital at about 12.15 asking if I could come in earlier. What time? Could I be there by 1.30?

I packed up and got on the train, full of trepidation. I figured getting an early call like this wouldn’t be good news. I sat on the train trying to listen to music, my mind full of possibilities. I just wanted to know.

I walked into the hospital a few minutes before 1.30. I then sat for nearly 90 minutes, waiting for them to call me in. It was the same Doc as last week. On the screen of her computer was an MRI image of my skull from above. She pointed to a big white patch, saying this was the problem – but they still didn’t know exactly what it was.

This was frustrating, though clearly, it was something of concern to them. I asked what could be done. She said they would need to take a biopsy of it. Can we do that now? I asked.

The issue was that I’m on blood-thinners, and I need to be off them for a little while before they can safely cut me. The good news is that she had warned me of that last week, and I’d stopped taking the tablets then. That meant the biopsy could be done straight away.

Long story short, I was ushered into a procedure room. Swabs soaked in cocaine solution were stuffed up my nose to numb the tissue. I was left for about 10 minutes, and then about half a dozen people crowded in, half as observers.

I’m sitting there in the middle of them. There’s only ever one way I’m going to conduct myself in those circumstances. Bit silly, really, and very old fashioned, but the stiff upper lip is very much in play – with a bit of laconic Aussie humour. They asked how I was, and, with a smile, I answered I’d been better. Is it okay if people watch? The more, the merrier!

No matter what I feel inside, I’m going to be strong on the outside. Dignity counts. Later, when they told me not to worry too much, I waved them off – there’s nothing I can do about it, I’ll deal with it.

But back to the biopsy, which wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as I feared. The doctor doing it was very professional. At the end of it, I asked a few pointed questions.

I said the word no one had uttered – Cancer. The worst case scenario was that, right? He agreed. The best case scenario is that it’s something benign.

If it’s benign, I’ll probably be right by the end of the month after surgery. If it’s cancer, then I’ll still need surgery, but all bets are off otherwise.

He said it could be one of dozens of different things. They were in a hurry because the growth had been so aggressive, but it could be problem solved once they removed it.

I’m back there again 2 o’clock on Wednesday. The results of the biopsy should be available from about Monday.

It seems to me that every time I see the specialist, the odds narrow a little more for me. I didn’t ask them – it wouldn’t be fair – but my gut feel is that it’s now a 50/50 proposition. I suspect they think it is Cancer.

It’s a strange and frustrating position to be in. Definitely the not knowing is the worst. But it’s strange all round.

I probably shouldn’t have, but I went over to the Cheeses when I got home and shared a bottle of red with Cheeseboy. I needed friendly faces around me. I needed to open up.

In the tube


I had an MRI today. It’s not the first MRI I’ve had, but it felt different from before. I think part of that is perception going into it. The last time it felt pretty innocuous. They were checking for something not too serious, which I was sure wasn’t an issue in any case – and I was right. Last time it was a bit of a novelty. This time it seemed a lot more solemn.

This time, it was in a hospital, which always adds an edge of atmosphere – the sterile, echoey corridors and sense of huge medical infrastructure. This time I was feeling crook too, and there felt a lot more riding on the test results, and I was a lot less confident.

I don’t recall last time being injected with a dye, but perhaps it happened. Last time it was a lot quicker. I was slid into the chamber, it whirred and spun, and then I was slid out again. This time I was fixed in place with a face covering and heavy-duty earplugs. This time I was in there for about 15 minutes, I reckon, though time is somewhat displaced in something like that. This time, there were also sorts of mechanical noises at different pitches – the sort of sounds, I thought as I lay there, that would make excellent special FX for some deepspace sci-fi film. And the sort of setup generally that leaves you in no doubt that something is amiss with you.

It seemed a bit odd at the end of it to dress and walk out the building and catch a train home.

I get the results of the MRI on Wednesday, when I’ll be journeying into the city again.

In the meantime, I’ve survived another 24 hours, though it wasn’t easy. At about 6pm last night, I lost power to all the important things in the house. I had lights, but no heating, TV, internet, fridge, oven, and so on. It was bloody cold, too. I called the Cheeses to check if they’d mind me visiting, but they were out. I walked up the road instead and had dinner at the local Thai. When I got home, with no alternative, I went to bed.

For some reason, I chose not to take my 12-hour tablet last night. I didn’t wake in pain in the middle of the night, but it was a rugged sort of sleep.

I must have had lights out by 9pm. I slept intermittently for a while, then had dreams in Cinerama the whole night through. Too many dreams to be restful and with a hallucinogenic edge to them. When I woke about 8am this morning, I was hurting. I took a tablet then and back to bed. There was no power still, and it was icy.

I was in a bad way and got up at about 10 and fixed myself a hot chocolate and a double dose of Neurofen, be damned! An electrician arrived at about midday and rigged up a temporary solution. I was on my way to the hospital by 12.30.

I feel better now – the pain is more distant, but I’m fuzzy with it. I talked to my manager for about 20 minutes about work stuff, and it tired me out. I feel very languid, which is preferable to feeling in pain.

My overall disposition is positive. I’m sure the outcome on Wednesday will be benign. As I lay in bed last night, I could feel the mucus flow and block my sinus. It was uncomfortable and unpleasant, and I had to breathe through my mouth. My theory is that it has become trapped under my cheek and not some cancerous growth. It seems to make sense and fits my symptoms. Hopefully, that means that surgery can be booked, and I’ll be back to normal by the end of the month.