It’s been a funny old week, lots of downs, but even more ups.
I celebrated my birthday with my friends, first at my local pub and then on to an Indian restaurant. I don’t know if they had started to take pity on a dying man – most unlikely – but all my meal was still intact when I returned to the table after visiting the toilet. The last time we all went for a meal together – four months ago – I returned from the loo to find my dinner had mysteriously jumped from my plate to other plates not belonging to me. I reckon this time it was different because I had given Savas specific instructions to “mind” my meal if I ever left the table. And I made sure everyone knew that. You see, Savas is a tough sort of bloke. A former Royal Marine fitness and hand-to-hand combat instructor, Savas is the hardest man I have ever known. Despite, like me, being in his 60s his stomach is as hard as an oak-built coffee table and you could whack his arm muscles with a hammer and I’m sure the hammer would come off second best. This may be because, although he has now retired from the Royal Marines, his current job is teaching members of the British version of SWAT – the US Special Weapons And Tactics unit – how to stay alive and how to kill people. You don’t mess with Savas. Although he obviously did a good job with my food he didn’t have to do much to protect my drink, simply because I didn’t feel up to drinking. For some reason I can’t sup anymore than one pint of beer before I start feeling rough. I was flagging by 11pm so said my goodbyes to the lads and made my way home.
The next day I cried. I don’t know if it was anything to do with the thought that the day before could have been my last-ever birthday or that I was in terrible pain, a pain that seemed to be spreading throughout my whole body. It was probably the latter, and the reason was that I had deliberately reduced the number of tramadol painkilling tablets I had been taking. I did this because I wanted to enjoy my birthday night with a few beers. I needn’t had bothered really.
A phone call from the Royal Marsden hospital that same Friday didn’t improve my mood. I was told that they now suspected the cancer was also in my bowel, so they wanted me to go in on Tuesday for another CT scan, another MRI scan and, to round off the perfect day, a colonoscopy. I had never had one of those before, and the thought of having a camera shoved up my arse somewhat alarmed me. I was sent three lots of extremely powerful laxatives and told to take them 24 hours before the appointment. I was not to eat much after. Maybe some clear soup. To be honest I was actually looking forward to having a good “sit-down job” because I had been constipated for a number of days. Bring it on, I said to myself. But there I sat broken-hearted, taken the pills but only farted. That was until I was hoping to be tucked up in bed sleeping, only to find I was rushing to the bathroom every few minutes.
Stomach completely empty, myself and my girlfriend Ella – who had finally arrived from Dubai after what had seemed months and months but was actually just a few weeks – sat on the train to central London, contemplating what lay ahead. What lay ahead was a total waste of time. Despite the previous night on the loo I was still too full to get a good filming of my colon. Another appointment was needed.
Ella and I were desperate to buy a car. Nothing special, just a little “run-around” to get us out and about. We no longer wanted to search a timetable to check out what time the next bus was into Billericay. I mentioned this to my son Daniel who, a few days later, informed me he had found the perfect car. A little Ford Focus, one lady driver, low mileage. Great, I said. Sold! The car was to be driven to my sister’s home on Sunday. Two days before the Sunday, Daniel knocked at my sister’s front door wanting to take me, Ella and my sister, Carol, out for a drink at the local pub. As we began walking along the road I noticed a beautiful-looking BMW Z3 parked. “Oh look,” I said, “my baby,” my eyes misting up while I remembered the little car I lovingly owned in Abu Dhabi. This one had a For Sale notice on the windscreen. “I must knock at the house the car is parked outside of and see how much it’s going for,” I said. “Tell you what,” said Daniel, throwing me the keys, “why don’t you take it out for a spin. I’ve bought it for you for your birthday.”
So, a week that started brightly before dimming quite considerably, had ended with dazzling lights.