some old bullshit

Best Date Ever

It was some kind of tasting menu. I like that, loads of little things, that way there’s bound to be something awesome to eat. It was all nice, I think. I was pretty drunk. It was a good night. A good date night. The best ever.

Fiona and I have these date nights in London every six months. We have done for the last… how long? I can’t remember. When was the Japanese earthquake? It was in March. Was it two? Three years ago? Four maybe? I don’t know but the Japanese earthquake is a marker. I could Google it, I guess.

They weren’t date nights to begin with. To begin with we went out for a meal just for the distraction.

It was four years ago, because the kid was one year-old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and he’s five now, nearly six. That was out of the blue, not the kid. We’d planned to have the kid. The tumour was out of the blue. She’d had headaches one week. In the night and went to the doctors. I figured it was a sinus infection or something but no. It was the thing you fear a headache is but usually isn’t. So yeah, a couple of headaches that cleared up but then a scan on our Anniversary that showed it to be something. Didn’t know what it was then. A lump the size of a golf ball was all we knew. Maybe it was a golf ball? They wouldn’t know what it was until it was scooped out.

Headaches in the night, they’re the ones you’ve got to worry about.

We went to London to see a specialist. He was pretty calm about the whole thing and because of that, because he was chillaxed so were we. As chillaxed as you can be under the circumstances.

“So, is it cancer?” I asked.

“What do you mean by cancer?” He replied.

“I don’t know.”

We came home and my wife was told it was a glioma. That didn’t sound too bad but I looked on the internet and it was that bad. You don’t cure a glioma, it seemed.  I didn’t tell her I’d looked it up. You don’t cure it, you just get as much of it as you can scooped out and you usually die within five years. The internet, it tells you everything. What a thing! We took the dog for a walk on the sand dunes and found a golf ball. No shit. The kids were pretty excited.

A couple of weeks later they scooped it out. She was awake an hour after. She was feeling pretty good, considering. A bit pissed off but it was all done, the doctors were calm and so were we. It could take another twenty years for it to grow back, we told each other. We’d probably be run over before then. By a bus.

Fiona. A bit pissed off

That year was a blur of crippling headaches and seizures.

Seizures. Damn. They’re the worst things you could witness. That’s what we were scared of, all of us, kids included. That’s horror movie stuff.

After six months we were back in London for a MRI. Scan looked fine. The headaches were put down to being something not related. Migraine maybe. After a year we were back in London and again it was all fine. It looked fine. We… well, I didn’t care about the symptoms so much, as long as the scan looked fine.

Then one day, about a year and a half after the operation my Fiona was in hospital. She was having terrible headaches. Real humdingers. They scanned her and that looked fine. Relief. They gave her antibiotics for a possible sinus infection! Ha! Like what we’d hoped the first headaches were! I left her in hospital on a Friday night, she was fine, I went home and watched the news about the earthquake in Japan and when I went back to the hospital on the Saturday morning she was pretty much dead in the bed. Well, at first she was alive but unconscious, then, as I watched, she seemed to get more dead. There weren’t many staff around. That was annoying. Don’t get ill at the weekend. Had to find a person and tell them I thought she was dead. She wasn’t quite. People came and eventually she was taken to the ICU.

There’s no neurosurgery where we are in Jersey. Southampton is the nearest. Across the English Channel. Southampton saw her scans and said there was nothing they could do. I phoned my wife’s mum from a doorway at the back of the hospital. It was raining. Damn. Late afternoon we heard that the hospital in London would be prepared to have a go and so we went to London. In an air ambulance which was just a small plane. The pilot tapped the dials as we flew. I didn’t like that. It was a bit Indiana Jones. I didn’t like that. I didn’t have anybody to tell the story of the pilot tapping the dials to. The person I would have told was dying in the back of the plane, I thought.

In London I was asked if I wanted them to do the operation, because…

Because what?


I’m not a doctor. What should I do?


There’s a chance, though?


You’re the experts, I was thinking as I signed the form for them to do it. They did it. Thank fuck.

Then there’s bits which I can’t be sure I didn’t imagine. I kinda remember her saying things she couldn’t have. Time-line’s screwed up. She woke up. I know that, after the operation. She didn’t know what was going on. It was kind of funny. She was alive and saying mad things. She thought the pillow was our dog. She thought a nurse was out Japanese friend. She was alive. And she got better. Everyday she got better.

They said the tumour had shown signs of being a grade 4. That’s a badass tumour. That’s, like, as bad as it gets. She was to undergo radiotherapy. Six weeks of that. That was pretty cool, actually. We got to stay in London for six weeks, in a pretty swanky hotel, and the radiotherapy was no big deal. Not for me, anyway. We were kind of relieved when her hair fell out as it proved it was doing something. Back home we were given palliative care. Didn’t really know what that was. Looked it up on the internet and wished I hadn’t. But she got better. Her eyes didn’t but everything else did. Well, her sense of direction is all over the place. She’ll never be a pilot.

After six months of no headaches we went to London for a scan. It all looked fine so we made the most of our two days. We went again six months after that. It still looked fine and her hair had grown back. Six months after that it still looked fine and again and then we went to a Japanese restaurant. And it was the best date I’ve ever been on. Until the next one.