Once again I apologize for my recent inactivity with my blog but I have had such a hectic week and this week is proving to be similar.
The other week I had some real difficulties breathing, I had an incredibly tight chest and I felt like absolute rubbish, I was feverish, weak and dizzy. I just accepted it on the Sunday and thought it was just a 24 hour thing, the next day I was due to have my fourth day of radiotherapy, so I went to the Royal Marsden and before starting the treatment I asked to be checked over by a doctor. Well, from there I went to the teenage unit where I was being checked over by loads of doctors: my consultant, anesthetists, as well as doctors from the HDU (High Dependency Unit) and several other doctors within the teenage cancer unit. This was all getting me and my mum a bit worried, I couldn't lie down without being in pain and struggling even more for breath and my temperature was going crazy and even went to about 38.8 degrees at one point!
On the Monday I had to have another X-Ray and CT scan in order to try and identify the problem, it was noted that my heart looked 'slightly on the larger side' and that I in fact had a build up of fluid around my heart (I have had this a few times but it just went on its own and was never a major issue). So, the doctors discussed the situation, I had lots of observations carried out on me throughout the day and bloods taken and then my consultant revealed the plan: stay the night at the Marsden and in the morning, be transferred to the Royal Brompton to get the fluid drained. I thought that they would just drain the fluid by sticking a needle in my chest and draining the fluid through syringes, I was a little bit off the mark with that assumption...
After a night tossing and turning, getting no sleep what-so-ever, having regular observations I was told by one of the doctors what the plan was: I was to be transferred to the Brompton via hospital transport after an echo scan at the Marsden, and then they will come and get me later on after the fluid has been drained. So, we got in the ambulance and off to the Brompton we went, however, we didn't take our overnight bag which was in the car because we were told we would be coming back the next day (I think you can see where I'm going with this...). So, after an hours drive through the traffic of London, we arrived at the Brompton and I was taken up to the Elizabeth Ward. I was in an adult ward at this hospital, of course I was used to being in a teenage ward at the Marsden. My room was nicely air conditioned but to my displeasure there was no television! I really wasn't that fussed about the T.V. but I was more concerned with how ill I actually was, after all, I was in a ward full of mature people who were all wired up to probes, struggling to breathe and in a very bad way - I was in a High Dependency Unit, the youngest there and I was surrounded by people with heart and lung problems. Not only did I have a big old tumor sitting in my chest but now I had a problem with my heart. Brilliant.
After an initial echo scan I met a cardiologist who was talking about the situation to me: 'The build up of fluid around your heart needs to be drained, because it is putting a lot of pressure on the heart and obviously you are struggling to breathe and are experiencing pain. This means having a small operation where a drain will be fitted in order to drain out the fluid' - my mum then asked what would happen if I didn't have the operation and the cardiologists response was: 'If you don't have the operation then the fluid will continue to build up and the pressure will get too much and as a result, it will stop pumping' - in other words, in order to stay alive I needed this operation! So, as you can imagine me and my mum were shocked by this and we had a hug and a cry together, realising just how precious life is and how things can change in an instant. I was scared, I wanted to say a final goodbye to everybody just in case, but I told myself there was no need as my life wasn't going to come to an end, that this operation would be a success and I would live to continue my fight with cancer and beat that too. I was determined to keep my title of 'Undefeated'.
So, a few hours later I went down to the operating theater where my operation was about to begin, I looked down and saw some pretty big needles, I wasn't quite looking forward to that... The professor gave me some anesthetic to the area being operated on but that did not work! I could feel a long needle going through my chest, it felt as though it was going through bones and the needle was grinding against them. It was a horrible feeling and I was in a lot of pain, I was moaning in discomfort and the doctors administered me with some more of some drug which pretty much sent me to sleep! Everything went a bit grey and dull, and my eyes felt funny. The next thing I remember was watching the doctors take syringes full of this orange coloured fluid and then after covering the drain which was now attached to me with dressing. I then got transported back to the ward and into my room, it was all a blur from this point on really and all I can remember is getting to my room and going to sleep.
The next day I woke up, breathing so much better and feeling a lot better, no longer ill or feverish. However, I was in quite a bit of pain where my drain was, it forced me to stand very hunched over and there was a bag attached to this drain which collected fluid which was still draining from around my heart. During the operation they drained 600ml and over the next two days the drain took out a further 200ml, so a total of 800ml of fluid surrounding my heart. That's some amount, it amazes me how my heart was able to beat with such a large amount of fluid surrounding and pressing on it. I say thank god for the fitness and training I did which has obviously made my heart strong enough to weather this little storm for a while. Over the next few days I got really quite depressed, I know I am always talking about being positive and believe me I was still being positive the majority of the time, however, at points things really got to me. I felt like a young man in an old man's body, it didn't feel right being surrounded by mature people and I just felt so unfit, unhealthy and I was worried about what was going to happen. I was getting fed up with the waiting around and the doctors constantly changing their minds with what they wanted to do. The whole time was very frustrating and was a long process.
On the Thursday, I had my drain removed and that was another painful experience! I had my dressings taken off and that was just like waxing as I have a hairy belly. Then, when the doctor pulled out the drain it was a lot longer than I first imagined and it felt like that same grinding feeling, it was horrible but luckily it didn't last too long and once it was out it felt so much better. I was able to stand up straight and I just generally felt much better. During the day my best mate Elliot and his parents came to visit me, which was really nice of them - it was a long way to come but it was great to see and talk to some other people. They bought me a few books which I've been reading including Paul Scholes' story (he is/was my favorite footballer), they kept me occupied for the remainder of my time in the hospital. Afterwards, mum went for a short walk around the areas of London near the hospital and bought me back a McDonalds, I loved that, it was just what I had needed! I slept well on the Thursday night, I was a lot more comfortable and we were moved to the York Ward which wasn't high dependency, therefore, they didn't have to perform regular observations on me so as a result, I got much more sleep.
On Friday morning I had two further echo scans which showed no fluid and no effusion, therefore, I was allowed back to the Royal Marsden. We were driven back by Ambulance by two funny, but lovely guys called Eddie and Russel. After about an hour or so getting back, we were told we had to stay at the Marsden overnight just so I could be observed and if my temperature stayed down I would be allowed to go the following morning. By this time I had, had enough. I was so fed up of staying in hospital and all I wanted was to go home and see my friends and family. I begged with the doctors to let me go home but they were adamant that I stayed in, so maybe that was for the best.
I finally got home on saturday after the cooks at the Marsden cooked me a full english, (which was lovely) I was shattered from the past week and I was fed up. I couldn't wait to get home, see my friends and family and enjoy my own bed! Much to my surprise once I was home, guess who turned up? My nan, who lives in Spain! She had come over to visit which was a brilliant surprise after such a horrible week! It was really nice to see her and spend some time with her.
I will write some more posts soon about my second journey to the Brompton as well as this week at the Royal Marsden. I hope to restart radiotherapy this week!