Thursday, 24 June 2010


The words MRI, biopsy and tumour send a chill through the blood of the toughest nuts, whilst for the rest of us mere mortals those simple words simply send us nuts. They remind me of a line from a Woody Allen film where he says, “The greatest three little words in the English language? Not ‘I love you’ but ‘It is benign’”. I know where he’s coming from. I understand that neuroses, especially when extended to my children. Currently my bright and beautiful, 14 year old.
For years she has complained of a pain in her knee. At times the pain has been so great she has had to miss school. Three years ago she had an MRI and a biopsy and subsequent diagnoses of Woody Allen tumour – i.e it is benign. I thanked all the Gods, whichever one would listen, in return I promised to live a good and virtuous life, and then promptly relaxed.
Life came and went with its inevitable ebb and flow. Walls fell down and were re-erected; ceilings fell in and were re-plastered. Friends got married, others divorced, some were sadly lost and new babies made. All the while we keep on going, expecting tomorrow to be better. If we anticipated it would be worse, if we didn’t have that uniquely human capacity for hope springing eternal then human life would have ended millions of years ago, probably around the first, Stone Age, freezing winter, when the baby in the cave was up all night, food was sparse and Mr Cave- Man had been caught knocking off his Stone-age neighbour. How did his wife get through it? Not through a bottle of Chardonnay, not through Oprah Winfrey, not through a counsellor and certainly not through Prozac, though God knows it would have helped. No, she got through that vile winter by hoping and praying that the baby would soon grow up, Spring appear early, food be abundant and Mr Cave-Man would come to his senses to swear his utter remorse and undying love.
So there I was last November, minding my own business I was in the kitchen making breakfast for the teenagers before they materialized yawning and rubbing sleepy eyes. My 14 year old was the first to make an appearance. We don’t talk much in the morning. I’ve learnt from experience that it’s best not to. Best to just quietly faff around them and send them on their way with a hug and a kiss and my mantra of “Watch the road”.
My daughter sat on a kitchen stool, quietly munching her bagel. Her knee caught my eye. Even within black opaque tights it looked significantly bidder than her right knee. For a split second I stopped breathing and as calmly as I could asked, “Is that your bad knee love?”
“Yeah”, she replied, “I think it got bigger”. Blood coursed through my veins. My fingertips tingled with the immediate adrenalin rush. I felt the colour drain from my face.
“We’ll have to go back to the GP about it”, I managed.
“Sure”. She kissed me and went to school. My heart was racing. A tumour that had grown? Had they done the biopsy thoroughly enough last time? What if they’d missed something? It took all my will power not to Google knee tumours. I knew if I did, I’d probably pass out. We went to the GP. Hubby came too. The GP read us a letter from the previous biopsy; I heard the words, ‘Suspicious nodule. No evidence of malignancy’. Yet again my head felt empty of blood and my skin tingled. That was years ago. What if there was now renewed suspicion regarding this bloody nodule? Pray Alice. Pray, promise and hope.
As often happens in this country the GP wrote to a consultant asking for another appointment with ‘orthopaedics’. Christmas came and went, another wall fell down. The New Year was seen in. The longer I heard nothing more, the more I tried forget about it.
Then one morning, in February half term, just as I was about to go with the little girls and visit friends in Wiltshire, the hospital rang me. “Could you bring your daughter in tomorrow please to see a consultant?”
In my absence Hubby took her. He rang me later that day, “They want her to have another MRI. The consultant has no idea what it is. He is very curious”. This was evidence to me that mothers and fathers have very different emotional responses. I practically stopped breathing when he told this information. Within seconds my tummy was ‘funny’ and I was on the loo for most of the day.
The MRI was duly scheduled. We waited for the results and waited and waited. Finally we were given a date. Mags came with me. By the time the consultant’s helper saw us, I was literally a swooning, sobbing wreck in the corridor of Derriford hospital and I thank whoever it was who put their arms around me. “Mmm” she said, reading the notes. Why do doctors do that? Do they not understand the previous months have been very anxious ones? An innocuous “Mmm” spoke volumes to me and I couldn’t possibly imagine good news.
There was a lump. A sizable one. The consultant however is “almost 100% sure it’s nothing to worry about”. My girl had it removed this week. Seeing one’s baby anaesthetised is horrid but I was remarkably brave. Administration at the hospital was as ever appalling- we arrived on the ward with them unaware of her surgery ergo no notes, no welcome and no bed made but the care by nurses, the anaesthetist and the surgeon was fantastic. Thank you all so very much. My daughter is now in bed upstairs, her knee recovering as are my nerves and I am more than happy, grateful in fact, to be at her beck and call. And, much like Mrs Cave-woman, I can only hope for the best.


DL said...

Blimey, Alice! I check in here for a bit of light relief, not to have my insides tied in knots!

Seriously, I hope all's well, and that your daughter and you are both recovering from the ordeal.

Very best wishes,
D. X

Sally said...

You poor things. Thank God she is now recovering. You must have been through hell. Thinking of you. Sally xxxxxx

jinksy said...

Here's to a speedy recovery and the best of outcomes to each of you! :)

Welshbird said...

Hope all well.