Christmas Day 1983 was spent in the family home! When it came to opening the presents my sister had a go at me because I was shaking so much! She and I thought I’d had a little to much to drink with my mates the night before!
During the first few months of 1984 the shakes got gradually worse and I started to feel a pain in the neck that became more and more intense as time progressed. I also had very heavy night sweats.
On Saturday the 10th March in the afternoon I presented myself at the A&E department of the Queens Medical Centre (QMC), Nottingham. It was sports injury Armageddon! I had an X-ray! The result of the X-ray proved inconclusive and the senior A&E told me to “Stop wasting our time and get out!” throwing my clothes to the floor of the cubical! My brother helped me dress!
I was given an appointment at the fracture clinic on the following Monday where I had another inconclusive X-ray. They did give me a surgical collar to wear, not for long as it just increased the intensity of the pain!
On Sunday the 18th March I woke to find that I was quadriplegic!
With no control from the neck down I found myself in a little bit of a difficulty! The ambulance whisked me back to the QMC where the same female A&E doctor greeted me with “Oh my god what have we done!” Second time around she was brilliant! She even confronted the radiologist as he was up for having a go at me again!
After a night with pain killers I was transfered to the Derby Royal Infirmary (DRI) and their specialist neurological unit.
During my initial stay at the DRI I became aware of a women, flanked by two heavies walking down the ward! They were heading for me? It was the Blood Nurse and she was about to take a sample of bone marrow from my sternum with no pain killers!
The two heavies held my arms down whilst she sat astride my chest and used what I could only describe as a bradawl to remove the marrow! She was unaware that I had no feelings from my neck down and was very impressed by how I coped with the procedure!
It was decided that I had to have a MRI scan and the only place that had one was Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI)! The only problem was I needed it urgently and it had broken down! They had to fly a 3M engineer over from the USA to fix it and I was held on standby to be the first in once repaired.
They were surprisingly quick and off I went to Leicester. It was raining when I arrived and I asked the ambulance crew if i could feel the rain on my face before going into the hospital. They were great!
The radiologist in charge of the MRI scanner was a Greek guy with a great sense of humour and described the platform I lay on as the train and when the train moved it was going to enter the tunnel. Another brilliant team!
Back at the DRI I was unaware of the affect I was having on one of the junior doctors. It turned out because he knew how ill I was he was having great difficulty in me always having a smile on my face when they did the ward round. He should have been there when my sister turned up! I cried then!
It turned out I had Hodgkins Lymphoma throughout my body including a large tumour rapped around the top of my spinal cord!
In 1984 this was regarded as a death sentence as chemotherapy was in its infancy so with a 25% chance of surviving the operation to try and remove the tumour and if successful no chance of walking again! I said goodbye to my girlfriend and family!
I did say to the anesthetist that I was feeling a lot better when they wheeled me towards the operating theatre!
The recovery started at the DRI. There were six people on the ward and it was coming up to Easter. The consultant came onto the ward and announced that everyone who could walk could go home for Easter! I was the only one left to face every religious representative going!
To be continued…
Thank you very much NHS