Friday 12 October 2018

The Year Since Operating Dangerously

It's the first anniversary of my husband's incredibly dangerous fifth brain surgery. Naturally Benedict Ambrose remembers nothing of that day, whereas it is tattooed to my own brain.

The events are jumbled up, however. I do recall B.A. happily "signing" his consent to the procedure that could kill him and was half-expected to paralyse him in some way: he kept on scribbling until I took away the pen. Then I had to sign to confirm that was my husband's signature.

Then there were the could-be death bed visits. Naturally our priest came with the Blessed Sacrament (and poor B.A. was terrified evil forces would stop him), and B.A.'s mother came down from Dundee, and the Men's Schola came by, and the young Franco-Polish couple staying with me---and I think six was the maximum number of guests I thought B.A. could receive.

This was all very last minute, by the way. B.A. had been in the convalescent home, for which we had had great (but completely unfounded) expectations. He fell in the night and was discovered at dawn and whisked to the hospital for x-rays. I could understand very little of what he said, and the young doctors almost nothing. No bones broken, but the tumour had grown, and so B.A. was returned to the relative paradise of the Neuroscience department.

The memory that makes me cry is B.A. telling his mother with all seriousness that he had been in Carstairs. Carstairs is Scotland's prison for the criminally insane.

Well, my father would tell me that it is best not to dwell on these things. And he should know because my mother had a stroke at 50 and then brain surgery. She completely recovered and is hale and hearty, goes for long holiday hikes in the Highlands, and volunteers at a rehab hospital that nobody would think was Carstairs.

I suppose the value of talking about this at all is to provide hope for other people whose loved ones have a stroke or a brain tumour. Of course, the fact that B.A. was not damaged by the operation was a miracle, but that's a story for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I am eternally grateful for all the prayers, cards, small presents and kind words of family, friends, and readers, let alone the sacrifices of both money and time of family members who flew to Scotland to be with us last year.

Update: Trying not to dwell, but the other miracle is that I have not gone insane between March 2017 and now.  That might be a source of hope for others, too. It is possible to care for your spouse through a brain tumour diagnosis, five operations, the malfunction of a fire retardant system, another brain tumour diagnosis, eviction from your beloved home of 9 years, flat-buying, and his radiotherapy  (while working full-time) and not go stark raving mad. In fact, I gave up anti-depressants months and months ago because WHO HAS TIME?

My principal advice here--besides not trusting a dangerously overstretched medical system alone with your loved one--is to save every penny you can possible save as soon as it dawns on you that you should have done this from your first paycheque.

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