Monday, April 28, 2014
Today my annual visit to the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital was a positive one. Though I never get complacent and will never the lose the pre match nerves of attending the clinic.
I park in the same spot walk in the same entrance, take the same stairs and walk into the clinic that I know so well. I cannot explain the feeling of seeing that sign "maxillofacial department" it is part fear, part safety, part memory.
The waiting room holds so many memories for me. It has hardly changed and shares it seats with the orthodontics surgery which means many of the visitors are younger people waiting dental treatment. That in itself was an unbinding memory of people in the prime of their life sharing their fear with us awaiting the consultation with a consultant on matters maxillofacial.
The waiting room to me holds memories of being told I had cancer, of awaiting with my staples in my neck, the weakness and pain of nasal feeding and latterly the feeling of unbridled relief of being told you are ok.
Today I saw Elaine, frequently mentioned in this blog as one of the nurses who instantly recognised me and passed the usual greeting on how I looked and 9 years, doesn't seem that long ago. She told me that she had looked on the list and saw my name today. Greetings exchanged the receptionist said "hello Nigel" 9 years on they still remember me. That is what I mean about I feel safe. 9 years ago I gave them my trust and confidence, 9 years ago they cut away half my neck and started me on a journey of recovery which 1 in 2 people fail to make. They had my life in my life in their hands and boy today and every visit I know it. You banish it to the back on your mind until you return and walk in that door and boy it hits you like a train. My first action normally is to well up.
It is like an extended family you treat them with respect and faith. You lower your tone and want to hug them, it is a very special relationship, one I cannot explain but one that always reduces me to a compassionate tear.
The waiting is always interesting the coming and going of teenagers for dental work and those of us you can see visible facial damage caused through the ravages of cancer. The consultation was through and swift as always - not Mr MacCellan but an equally competent colleague. A script for some saliva replacement fluid and out the door see you in 12 months.
When you walk out that door with that comment ringing in your ears you life starts to operate again. The consultation seems to melt away. It normally takes me about 5 paces to start to cry and today was no different. I walk the same path each time and as I walk out the department read the sign the for the out patients department I know my eyes will well up and and I am safe for the time being.
It does not stop there because as I walk back to the car I know the text messages to friends and family will bring more tears of relief.
The journey with cancer lasts a life time, mentally it affects you for years but this evening I want to let you know that after over 50 matches refereed in Rugby Union to prove I can still do the things I love and 9 years later I am well if not mentally still anxious but then why not it saved my life before.
Keep attacking best wishes x