Saturday, 29 May 2010

obspleen photography

I'm doing a lot better. Feeling better, eating better and getting some strength back. It's still going to be a little while before "i'm back", but I'm on the road. 

OK ... let's talk about this spleen the hospital removed then. I am still not in the mood for writing very much, so this blog will be perfect, as a picture paints a thousand words.

Linked at the bottom of this spleen are two images.


These images are graphic. They are of a very large, cancerous internal organ remove from the body. Do not click the links if you are squeamish or upset by such images.

Right, before we begin, some points ...

1. The hospital took a series of photos of my spleen on removal. I had to sign permission for the them to be used in medical references etc. According to the consultant who got me to sign, this is very rare nowadays, as most things have been tagged already. The snapshots below where taken on my Blackberry from the originals - photos of photos, as it were. I am allowed to request originals.

2. The weight of the spleen is, apparently, 8.4 KG. (1.3 stone!) This is ridiculous - the weight of carrying twins! - and I refused to believe it at first - but three people in the hospital have confirmed this. The matter it is made up from (dead cells, dead blood etc), is very dense. It also explains why I went from just over 12 stone (despite have no muscle) to under 11 stone.

3. OK, finally ... "A normal Spleen is about 12 cm long, 7 cm wide, and 250 cm3. It is shaped like a largish fist" ... so, clench your fist, take a look and then take a these two pictures.

image 1
image 2

Monday, 24 May 2010

hating the alien

I guess I better give you something - the hits to my site keep coming and no updates from me is just not good enough. You deserve something.

Here is something. Predictably, it's another misery blog.

My first few days at home have been difficult. I had a few hours to myself, which resulting in some sobbing and then my father came up to be my cook, cleaner, waiter, taxi and friend. He did a sterling job, to be fair and we got on very well. More importantly, he kept me from drowning in self-pity, over these first few days of home-healing.

Perhaps surprisingly, my main pain 'complaint' has been coming from the stomach and gut. Huge trapped wind, bloated stomach, nausea (including vomiting, of course) and general 'bottom problems', resulting in dreams filled with the awareness of the pain.

I look in the mirror. I look like an alien. My arms are thin, having lost their muscle and shape over the last months. My stomach is extended, with a scar that runs from the centre of my chest to the groin area, taking a detour around my belly-button. I am white. Think closing scenes of Close Encounters.

Christ, I want to run. The mini heat-wave in the UK has reminded my that only last summer I was managing to get up and run 10 miles. Now, I cannot walk more than 400 yards without needing a sit down. It is utterly soul-destroying. I look out my window and see joggers on the canal - each one reminding me of how I've lost all my strength and fitness. God, how I want to start training again - but then comes the ultimate crushing thought ...

The thought is this: I'm recovering from this operation to get well enough to start chemotherapy again.

Getting better to be knocked down again.

Give me a break, Lord.

However, let's put a positive on this. Each day I am getting better. The stomach is settling down. I am eating better. My mind is waking up and I'm beginning to think about work, about music, about interests, about futures, about health ... I see this stage of recovery as days rather than months.

As my father wisely says, 'pain does not have a memory' and one day soon, I will wake up without it and have a normal day and this stage, like all my other stages on this ridiculous journey will just be a bad memory that I won't return to very often.

I've so many stories to tell you from hospital ... they can wait for now. The spleen was horrific. So horrifically large and rotten that the hospital took photos for medical research, which I had to sign off. They don't do that often. But that is for another blog - let me get back to some health, some writing ability, some wit and I'll try to piece together the low-lights for you. Some were very low.

So, there you are and here I am. Killing time, watching the healing and hating the alien.

Speak soon ...

Friday, 21 May 2010


I am home. Sitting in the silence after the chaos, tearful and exhausted.

I've been to hell and back at least twice but have survived and am now lying on my sofa listening to the silence and the birdsong.

There's lots to tell and some horrific images to show but I need time to rest, piece it together and turn it into something comprehensible.

Thank you all for the messages. Sorry I couldn't reply to them all.

Big hug ...

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


But have had the worse day of my life. In a world of pain. But alive.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Sunday, 9 May 2010

going under

This is the last blog you'll get from until I'm out the other side of my operation.

It's Sunday evening and I'm not in a very good mood. No, it's not football results related but for the last few weeks I've just been feeling more lethargic and useless every day. My whole weekend can be summed up by three words:- sleeping, sweating, TV.

I am sweating so much at night that it is insane. I'm drenching my bed, my pillows, my clothes. My temperature shoots up and down and I'm absolutely sick to death of waking up freezing cold in a pool of sweat. It's foul. It stinks and night after night, it just gets you down. I've tried everything - two different beds, different sheets - it's all the same - the moment I fall asleep, the outpouring begins.

So I've slowly turned into a shut-in, hardly leaving the flat. I was dragged out for a meal last night out of duty to meet my friends girlfriend, but it was all I could do to be out and awake for the 4 hours it took.

I'm having to take painkillers - codeine and paracetamol - every 4 hours just to keep things level. This obviously doesn't help my mood or energy levels at all. I don't know if it's now an addiction or what. I frankly, don't care any more because ...

... on Tuesday morning, I'm going into hospital to have this damn horrible spleen removed. I cannot wait. It feels so big and angry now ... I think it's 'depressing' my whole system. It needs to go.

So, that's it - a final moan from me before the Big Op. I don't know much of the details of the operation but it goes something like this ...
  • I go to the hospital at 7am on Tuesday morning (11/05/10)
  • I don't know what time it will start
  • The actual operation will probably last about 5 hours - I am being cut from the top the chest to the belly button
  • I will be in 'intensive care' for about 2 days
  • I will then be in some other ward for about 5 days
  • I think it will then take another couple of weeks to return to full health
  • Chemo will then start again 
I hope that answers most of your questions - to be honest, I don't really ask that many myself so I don't know too much. I'll just turn up and see what happens. As long as there's morphine-on-demand, everything will be just fine.
Rest assured the moment I'm able, I'll ping a little blog update from my Blackberry phone to say that I'm still alive.

See you on the other side, some 6lbs lighter.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Mean Spleen and the Bank Holidays

Another great band name for you there.

How are you all then? Good?

Ah, that's nice.

Well, if you're here then you clearly want to hear some more middle-of-the-road whinging. I shall not disappoint.

My memory is a bit hazy, but I do remember feeling awful last Wednesday. Spleen pain and no energy. Thankfully, I got something back for Thursday night and managed to drive down to Worthing (British coastal town, international readers), to stay with The Best Friend, his lovely wife and his beautiful 1 year old daughter.

Friday was spent pottering. We all pottered to the beach, where the temperature managed to break into double-figures-celsius and the wind managed to stay just below an official 'gale force' grading. However, prepared for The Great British Bank Holiday weather, I layered-up and the very fresh air and the always glorious sight of the British sea, made my potter totally enjoyable.

The Best Friend likes food. Not in a Crisps'n'Coke'n'Pizza kind of way, but in a nuts and berries and natural yoghurt and home made bread and juice and muesli and that's just for bloody breakfast kind of way. He makes two dinners every day - he calls them lunch and dinner, but he is misguided - both are clearly dinners. Dinners full of healthy vegetables and other things that I dimly remember from a distance past. To sum up, I was well fed.

Maybe my body responded well to my new nutrients, but on Saturday I managed to get in, what the MacMillian cancer charity posters would call, 'a good day'. The weather, like my body, gave me a break and I was able to catch up with an old friend in Brighton, who gave me a lot of exercise walking around the shops and the pier. A good day indeed, rounded off by delicious sea-side Fish'n'Chips when I got back home. I am of a certain age and condition, where Fish'n'Chips make a perfect Saturday night.

Then I had, what the MacMillian cancer posters would call, 'a fucking shit day'. The night was filled with lots of pain and when the hazy in-and-out of sleep cleared up, I was left with two things - a spleen that was fluttering, spasming and causing all sort of turmoil and a nerve pain that shot into my upper shoulder.

I discovered that the best position to be in, was to prostrate myself, knees tucked under my chest - arse proudly in the air, face into ground - the knees take the pressure off the spleen and almost push it back into place.

I didn't leave the house on this day, but The Best Friend and family looked after me and with the help of constant painkillers and a week's worth of food in a day, I was as comfortable as I could be.

Monday am and the spleen was still aggravating me. Although I had intended to stay another day, it was obvious I needed to be home, closer to my hospital should anything horrendous happen.

Nothing horrendous did happen - just constant spleen pain. Painkillers are taken every 4 hours. The nerve pain comes and goes, sleep is tricky, walking is less than elegant.

So to today, Tuesday - back to the hospital this morning for another PICC line clean-up, then a lot of hanging around. I waited for a doctor to be examined, who told me what I know already. The spleen is very big, it's probably getting bigger and stretching the bag in which it lives in, causing me the shoulder nerve pain. And he prescribed - codeine and laxatives - which has pretty much been my staple diet over the last few weeks anyhow, although not as strong as these. I came back from the hospital to the office, was sick in the toilets and went home.

The bottom line is this: I'm going to be in pain until the operation, on May 11th. Unless the spleen explodes or causes me so much pain that I'm screaming down A&E, then I've got a week of The Mean Spleen, codeine and laxatives.

I guess this is just the way it is until the op ... I naively thought that perhaps I would be full of the joys of spring now the chemo had stopped, but the reality is, I'm still carrying around a large bag of cancerous offal in my stomach, which is never too conducive to a 'good day', I guess.

That was probably quite a dull blog by all accounts. I've not feeling overly creative - it's the painkillers I think - they just put a 'Meh' on everything.

On the plus-side, you've got about a week to wait until things start getting interesting again.


Thanks to The Best Friend, The Best Friend's Wife and The Best Friends Mum, for looking after me and giving me more nursing and attention than their one year old daughter required. Long may the vision of me curled up into a ball with my arse in the air live long in your household.