Too Upbeat for Cancer - Detailing A Rubbish Year And A Bit

Chapter 15 - Clarkson's Last Day


The big day was upon me. I had only one task, and that was to not eat, drink only clear fluids, and start drinking something called Picolax, which is best described as the prettier, younger sister of MoviPrep. I had my first glass the night before, and it was much easier to deal with. I didn't even have to call on my gag reflex this time. It was a glass of self heating gritty lemon squash. I could deal with that, although to be honest I could deal with most things by that point. Just not an omelette or an episode of Top Gear. Unsurprisingly the Picolax had done bugger all so I could spend the Sunday morning doing a very important job - spending as much time playing with Ethan and getting lots of cuddles.

At 11am Kerry's parents arrived to take Ethan and I just about held it together until about half a second after Ethan closed the front door telling me he loved me. Then I properly lost it for a good 15 minutes. I think that's understandable. I regained control and off we went. Basingstoke, here we come! The journey was uneventful and we arrived around 1pm - I was shown my room where I was to stay for the duration (Room 44 - these days known as 'Nicky's Room') by one of the lovely Senior Nurses.

My task was relatively simple - drink another Picolax, drink lots of Apple Juice and stay calm. Which I did. The afternoon stretched out for an eternity. Even watching Honey I Shrunk the Kids didn't speed things up. I saw the same news reports over and over again. Kerry crocheted like a demon. I still didn't poo. I paced. I tried to get comfortable a paced again. I had my third and final Picolax. I still didn't poo.

Then the anaesthetist turned up - he was arguably the louchest man I'd ever met and great fun. There were no major concerns over my being knocked out for so long - although because of the clotting I would have to forgo an epidural when I woke up, which might mean a bit more pain. Them's the breaks.

Then my surgeon dropped by, the dapper son of a bitch, we had a nice chat but I was desperate he got an early night, so I kicked him out sharpish.

My final visitor was the Specialist nurse, who drew some X's on my tummy to help the surgeons site a Stoma if necessary, based on where my trousers sat and what might be practical. She shaved my tummy and stuck X's on with a marker pen. They were positioned like googly puppet eyes either side of my belly button so I'm very certain that they turned my belly into a fleshy puppet as a way of breaking the monotony of hacking out a massive tumour. I expressed my concern to both her and the senior nurse that after 3 rounds of Picolax nothing was moving. They stared at me with pity in their eyes and just knowingly whispered 'you'll be OK'. There was something in their tone that made me uneasy.

It was now 8:30pm and Kerry needed food and rest. My sister in law, Sharon, had kindly travelled down to keep Kerry company that night and while I was in surgery. She was waiting at the nearby hotel Kerry was booked into for the next few days. We said our goodbyes and I sat on the bed.

A few minutes after Kerry had left my guts made a noise. I think they uttered 'you're my bitch for the evening, little man'. All the muscles in my bottom decided to give up in unison. Now, my bed was about a metre from the door to the bathroom, and the toilet was about a metre into the bathroom. It was a straight line to get there. It may as well have been Australia. I cleared the distance to the bathroom without touching the ground. I began to shriek. I was wearing shorts and my pirouette, coupled with basic physics and a lucky shot meant the spray of cack hosed into the toilet before I'd even made contact. If you've ever seen one of those planes dumping water over a forest fire, you get the gist. If my evacuation wasn't so grotesquely unholy, I'd have called it biblical, but praise The Lord, I had one of those disabled bars to assist with getting up and down by the loo, I clung into that for dear life like Kate Winslet hung onto the wreckage at the end of Titanic. There was room on that wardrobe for Leo too, you bitch.

This leaping/shrieking/hosing comedy occurred every ten minutes for around three hours, and then eased off to around every thirty minutes. I was being hollowed out. I'm glad I brought the quilted Andrex with me. At 11:30 the nurse on the night shift came in and offered some sleeping tablets - I refused as I was terrified I'd crap myself in my sleep. Finally, to my eternal relief, I dozed off at 2am as the barrage had ceased. I awoke at 3am with my usual pain. So I paced. And paced. And paced.

The weird thing was that I wasn't in the slightest bit nervous. There was maybe a few butterflies but I was just frantic to get rid of the agony I was in. At that point I would do whatever it took. At 5:30am I'd got fed up of pacing. I took a shower. I put on my gown and attractive surgical stockings. And I watched BBC Breakfast. Kerry and Sharon arrived around 7:15am. I gave Kerry my wedding ring to wear on a chain round her neck until I was back in action. And I paced. And paced. And paced. But I wasn't afraid.

Just after 8 the nurse came for me, and Kerry walked with me to the theatre. I held her tight and told her I loved her and in I went. If you've never had General Anaesthetic it goes like this; they lay you on a trolley in a little freezing cold waiting room full of drugs and supplies, it looks a bit like the dentists. You're attached up to monitoring equipment and if you wear glasses, like me, they take them away. Someone monitors you and someone watches you and someone (in my case) beats the shit out of your arm. In front of you are double doors and the operating theatre, and the bustle inside. Stay calm. The anaesthetist arrived, said hello, and then began going on a diatribe about the French President's choice of motorbike during his affair. He then injected me with something and said - I'm sure you know how this goes'.

I said 'yeah, next you'll put a mask on me and I'll think nothing is happening. I'll count to ten but I'll never make it to ten'. He laughed.

He put a mask on and told me to breathe deep.

Stay calm.

Breathe deep.

This is it.

Just breathe.

Stay calm

And then...

And then...

Total darkness.

Chapter 16, Part I - The Mother Of All Surgeries »

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