I arrived back home at about 12.30 on Sunday 8th November 2015 and immediately asked Helen why the colours in the kitchen had changed, it was like I thought a new kitchen had been fitted.
I had a bath and then went and watched the television laying on the bed. Life was different, I was watching the racing and it seemed all so surreal for me, everything seemed so quiet. Considering I had been in hospital with numerous machines making constant noise in the ward it was absolute bliss. I dropped off for a couple of hours and heard voices downstairs and made my way down there. My balance was so poor as I held the handrail on the stairs.
Our friend Julie was there and I kind of recognised her but it was a real shock to her as she said that when she went back home she just cried. My face was swelled up and I wasn’t the person she knew. My God Daughter Mia was there and she was 3 years of age. I thought she was 7. Julie’s other 3 kids at home were Rachelle, Kieran and Sam. It was like I had been taken back years in time as with regards Rachelle and Sam I thought they were like 7/8 years younger than they were. Kieran, who arguably I got on best with out of the three of them was someone I didn’t even know and had never heard of him. This was a clear sign that my mind wasn’t working at all.
Later that afternoon I went upstairs and I tried to write but couldn’t. To give you an example of how bad this was I couldn’t even write the number 1, I had writing like a 6 month old baby, that frightened me but it installed a determination in me second to none. For two weeks I was negative and just wanted to die but now I had another chance at life and I had to deal with this through positivity.
My wife cooked me a lamb shank with mashed potato. My face was so bloody sore, I could hardly open my mouth to eat. It took me ages.
My wife saw a massive improvement in my speech and memory and posted on social network that I was a shadow of the man I was just three days before.
I went to bed that night thinking I could sleep forever but I hardly slept, I lay there hour after hour just staring at the ceiling. My body needed to rest and my head wanted sleep. It annoyed the hell out of me.
I got up the next day and Helen had sorted my medication, I had to take 4 tablets of which two were steroids, one was an anti-epileptic tablet to stop seizures and the other was an anti-depressant. We sat there talking and she filled me in with what really happened as I had no memory really, I remembered a few things here and there but not the real truth in how I had wanted to die throughout my 16 days in hospital. I know I was a nightmare patient but I am sure all the staff realised that I wasn’t thinking logically, my brain was literally gone. I felt that the world had changed so much, all in the space of under three weeks. My wife went out and got me some chips and this showed how bad I was. A simple portion of chips which I would normally eat in 2 minutes took me about half an hour. I just couldn’t eat, I was in unbearable pain opening my mouth to put food in. It was so frustrating.
I had my first visitor that night, a good friend of mine called Matt. He thought ‘wow I can actually talk again and put sentences together’ which I obviously couldn’t the day he saw me in hospital the day before the operation. We were sitting watching the television and joking like old times, we both sort of thought it was amazing. Matt thought I looked a bit weak still for instance when I was holding a cup of coffee my hands were trembling. Overall he said it was a massive improvement in such a short space of time. I showed Matt the scar too which he said was already healing well. I was calling myself a freak at what was happening, he agreed. Matt stayed most of the evening because it was like the ‘normal’ Andy was back. He went away thinking Andy’s beating this and what a change in the matter of 5 days.
That night I went to bed again and the same thing happened, I couldn’t sleep. I would drop off for 10 minutes every now and then and just stare at the ceiling. I was afraid to move because my scar was so painful. My swelling had gone down substantially from the horrific view I had when I first saw it post operation. I was in more or less constant pain.
The next day was the same as Monday, time stood still, the street seemed so quiet, it was like I had been transported into a total different life to that I led pre diagnosis. We went to Helen’s work and I met her colleagues, they were so nice to me. They helped Helen so much through my time in hospital, I appreciate that so much. We went over my Mum and Dad’s and stayed talking for like 3 hours. My Dad just sat staring at me, as though he had seen a ghost. I was a different person to when they last saw me 4 days before the day after my operation. It was great to see them, maybe this could put them at ease. Along with Helen, Louise and all my real friends, they must have gone through hell.
I went to bed that night and couldn’t sleep again, I don’t really know why but I think the steroids had a major impact. It could have been anxiety, I don’t know, but my god it was tiring me out at the very time I needed to build up my strength.
On Wednesday my wife took the dressing off, the photos as below:
That frightened me, I had no idea it was that big but then again I have just had a major brain operation. My face was still swollen as you can see around my eye. This was my last day with the clips on, the next day they were being removed. I was scared, would my head always have ‘my war scar’.
About lunchtime there was a knock at the door. It was a parcel addressed to me and I thought someone had sent me flowers. It was post stamped Mansfield, I don’t know anyone from Mansfield. I opened the wrapping and all I saw was a sea of chocolate, much more my thing than flowers!
I stood there aghast. I opened the card and I was truly blown away, totally overwhelmed. I have assisted on many training courses at work and this was from one set of students from late 2013 two years ago. It was so special, for them all to be thinking of me whilst I went through the hell in hospital was incredible. I just kept looking at the card, I was gobsmacked and this was the only time since I left hospital that I became tearful. I have had some great times in my life and that was one of them. They are just a fantastic crew from literally all over the UK, all of them are true lifelong friends.
My friend Katie visited later in the day, she was shocked I wasn’t in bed. She was amazed at how quickly I had been discharged from hospital following a major operation and how well I seemed in myself. She said both me and Helen were calm and relaxed as we told her what had happened about the diagnosis and my stay in hospital, some of which I could recall with Helen filling in the gaps. She said I remained positive even when I reflected on what had actually happened considering how quickly my health deteriorated. She could obviously see the support my magnificent wife gave me but also that I seemed much less stressed than normal. Katie was relieved that I was on the road to recovery.
On Thursday 12th November I went to have the 42 clips out and to be honest it was a total breeze.
It hardly hurt and I was told by the Nurse Practitioner that my lumps where the scar was could take 12 months to heal. The particular area of my head felt weird, it was very spongy but the pain was going away by the hour. I really felt confident. The Nurse advised me to use Johnsons baby shampoo and vaseline, probably the most priceless advice I have ever had.
On the Friday I received a call from the University of Hospital Wales and after a brief conversation the lady said ‘Andy, you sound fantastic’. Maybe I was a freak, I wasn’t talking like someone who just 8 days before went ‘under the knife’ so to speak. I was told I had an appointment the following Monday with my Consultant Mr Ravindra Nannapenini to discuss my results. This Friday was the day the terrorist activities erupted in Paris. I felt complete sadness at those who went out for the night and lost their lives. This made me more determined than ever to beat this as I had been given a second chance.
I visited my Consultant on the Monday and he said an abnormally large meningioma tumour had been removed from my brain, a tumour he said I had for up to 15 years. He said I was to have an MRI scan in 3 months in case it reappears which will be removed by radiotherapy.
I felt relieved and certainly Helen did as he said that I was allowed to go on two holidays in the summer of 2016, one of which is my surprise 50th birthday holiday my wife has arranged and we depart the UK for this next week on 11th July 2016.
This was the culmination of a month in which I went through every possible emotion you can live through. I had the belief in that I can get through this, I WILL get back to normality, from the negativity of wanting to die as my brain slowly died I was now 100% positive about the rest of my life.
Being home is great, it is WHERE the heart is!