This is day one of my journey. Diagnosis.
Saturday December 16th, 2006
Villa 0- 1 Bolton. F**k!
As if, only a few hours ago, my prime concern was to worry over the Villa beating Bolton. Little did I know how my life would be flipped upside down hours later. It doesn’t seem real that I’m even writing these words. How the hell can I have leukaemia? I’m not even sure how to spell it so how on earth do I beat it?
I arrived at Redditch Hospital A&E department after suffering immense lower back pain after arriving back home from the football. I took the tablets that I’d been given earlier in the week (by the same doctor who seemed to get less and less appreciative of my jokes as my appointment went on) and I sent a text message to my sister Anna, who was with my girlfriend Laura at the time, asking where Mom was. She replied saying she was at my brother Darren’s house and for me to “come over. But I was in way too much pain so I replied saying “I’m in agony” so Anna and Laura came over and ran me a hot bath. They both informed Mom of my pain and, after I admitted to having had some discharge of blood on the front of my underwear that morning, it was time to take me to the hospital.
"The seriousness of my situation had clearly dawned on me and I remember asking “Am I going to die?”. The doctor declined to answer and I didn’t want to ask him again, I was too scared."
Mom was, as expected, in a panic, although I actually felt okay. Laura, Anna and my Mom came with me to Redditch and we sat in the A&E waiting room. After seeing a nurse in the initial assessment room, I was soon called in to see the doctor. A blood test was taken, something that wasn’t done three weeks ago when I first went to A&E complaining about my back and chest pain. F*ckers. Anyway, I was in the best place now and I felt pretty relaxed. After having a chest X-ray and a second blood test, I was sat alone in the ward, waiting for my family who had been moved back into the waiting room. When they were allowed back in to see me, we were chatting and joking about family stories etc. All pretty normal. I remember feeling quite in the mood for a McDonalds, however, moments later my appetite vanished with the bombshell that was dropped on me.
A specialist doctor, a foreign West Indian-looking man approached and started telling me that I had contracted a “serious disease” in my blood. There was no sense of compassion or emotion from him, he simply looked at me straight in the eyes and kept telling me how this was “very serious”. I remember being transfixed and I was staring at his big, serious brown eyes and I kept answering “yep” to everything he was saying to me, just to get this conversation over with. The seriousness of my situation had clearly dawned on me and I remember asking “Am I going to die?”. What the f**k was I asking? The doctor declined to answer and I didn’t want to ask him again, I was too scared. I was trying my best to hold it together for my family’s sake and strangely I felt like I was completely in the limelight. Anna looked the most frightened from what had been said and started to cry and left the room. Mom looked stunned, as if she wanted to cry but couldn’t. Laura, too. At this point, I asked the doctor if there was treatment available. I was so scared that I’d hear the news “You’ve got X days to live” or something. My whole world was flipped upon itself, just like that.
The doctor gently laid his hand on my forearm and gave me an almost apologetic look in my eyes and left the room. All I wanted at this point, as I said at the time, was for my brother Darren to come. He’s been my rock, my idol as I grew up and the person who I’ve always looked up to. I wanted my big brother with me.
In what seems like no time at all Darren arrived with his arm around Laura and hurried to my side and embraced me, at which point I completely broke don into tears.
"The doctor gently laid his hand on my forearm and gave me an almost apologetic look in my eyes and left the room."
From here, I was told that I was to be admitted to a ward upstairs in Redditch overnight. I was hugging my family and being comforted by them when a young nurse, quite chubby with blond hair, started preparing the room I was in and started saying things like “You’re going to be alright”. Then, as she was rambling she mentioned the word leukaemia. Me and my sister both looked simultaneously stunned and said “What?! The doctor didn’t mention leukaemia?” She replied with “Yeah, that’s what he’s got.” Well thanks a f*cking bunch. Another bombshell dropped. I felt like my whole world was crashing down on me. This couldn’t be happening. I was telling Darren and Anna how much I loved them, something we've never done before. Alot of fmailies say they love eachother but it just wasnt something we did. It feels too much like Ross and Monica from Friends. But today I couldn’t care less. My truest of true feelings were coming out, and so they should. I was realising just how much I loved my girlfriend and my amazing family.
Around 2am I am taken to my curtain ward. I’d chosen Laura to stay over with me after I was given the choice of one person stopping the night. She didn’t sleep a wink. She curled herself up on the uncomfortable looking hard floor with a blanket over her. I somehow nodded off a few times through sheer exhaustion. With Laura thinking I was asleep I caught sight of her crying to herself. Tears were streaming down her cheeks and my heart melted.
I had a shit night’s sleep. A million scary thoughts were running through my mind. Lord help me, please.