Sunday, 20 July 2008

3. In praise of normal

There are some new readers to the blog, who are very welcome, but who probably shouldn’t start here. Better to scroll down to the diagnosis and start there (like I did). But before you go, here's a short story:

“A man goes to see the doctor for the tenth time in a fortnight. The doctor says the trouble with you sir is that you’re suffering from acute hypochondria. Oh no, says the man, not that as well.”

Yesterday, Daniel, Richard and I drove 30 miles up the A1 to see QPR play a friendly at non-league side Stevenage Borough. It strikes me that if I get to meet my maker I might find this difficult to explain. You spent your last precious hours on earth doing what?

Well, you see, it’s the normality of it. I have changed my view of normality. I used to equate normal with unimaginative or dull. I conspired to undermine it, often with gleeful mischief. Now I find normal equals happy. I am walking down the street with Mary and I am happy. I am having a curry. Seeing friends. Chatting on the phone. Tapping away at the computer.

After my liver biopsy, I was tired and lay on the bed drinking tea. It felt normal. Katy was tired too after work and came and curled up on the end of the bed. Daniel was in a chair recalling his adventures in Cuba. A normal family. Happy.

I am gradually resolving my dilemma about treatment. The “someone called Janine” mentioned in the previous entry turns out to be a lovely, helpful, research nurse who’s trying to track down my medical paperwork. On Friday, she kindly arranged for a research scientist from the Marsden, Dr Watkins, to call me to discuss statistics. Specifically, the statistical probability of chemotherapy actually making any difference. It was good of him to call. I took the best part of an hour asking him questions he couldn’t scientifically answer, because the figures are so small, the data so raw. That’s what they’re working on now.

Pancreatic cancer is usually (but not always) very aggressive. No-one has offered an opinion about how fast mine is moving. Chemotherapy can slow it down. The general consensus is that some treatment is better than none. Probably. Depending. Good luck.

I’m due back at the Marsden on Thursday. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I’ve changed the layout of this blog and stopped the comments. I forgot that blogs are very public and can attract random emotional outpourings from people I’ve never met. No thanks. The only drama queen allowed here is me. Comments by email on the other hand are greatly welcomed.