Saturday, 8 September 2012

By way of introduction . . . .

I've not done anything like this before but fate having placed time in my hands I may as well kick off something to keep my mind stimulated.

Fate can be a cruel mistress but you can either let her get on top of you or you can fight and throttle the bitch! I fully intend to do the latter and this blog will demonstrate my determination to beat the evil that currently resides inside me.

So, who am I? (I'll explain the Dieseldrinker bit another day)

I'm Steve, a 45 (almost 46) year old bloke originally from up North (Otley, West Yorkshire), exiled some years ago thanks to a career opportunity that saw me working all over the country and so I made Northampton my base, and there I've stayed.

I'm married to a fantastic wife and we have two brilliant 10 year old twin boys and I also have a beautiful 25 year old daughter from my younger days. I'm a Project Manager and work for probably one of the biggest construction companies in the world and have been involved so far in some fantastic projects that have been truly rewarding. In all I have every reason to be happy with my life and up until recently couldn't have been happier.

But that's when fate steps in and screws things up isn't it. At 45 years old you expect things to start slowing down a little and I'd openly admit to not being as fit as I used to be. But with the exception of a sore back a couple of years ago I've never had cause to pester the my GP or the NHS.

But recently, despite being tired from work and a lengthy daily commute I started to wonder whether things were not quite right as was starting to not be able to recover my energy, regardless of how much I slept and started getting breathless and sweaty at the least bit of exertion. When dizzy spells and slightly blurred vision started too I thought it was time to visit the quacks and took the opportunity during a spell of annual leave during the school holidays.

This was only a couple of weeks ago and the doctor, to his credit said that he wasn't prepared to make a blind diagnosis and asked me back for a blood test and ECG the following Wednesday. He also reccomended I get an eye test which can be quite revealing so I duly booked myself up for a full MOT the following week.

The ECG showed that my ticker was fine and the blood samples were sent off for analysis. The eye test in the afternoon didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary either so the mystery deepened.

Then in the middle of a development review with one of my staff on the Friday before the Bank Holiday a call came in from home that the doctor needed to see me as soon as possible. I called them and managed to get an appointment at 4.30 that Friday afternoon, packed up my things at work and made the nervous journey home.

A new doctor took me to a quiet room and broke the news that the blood tests had shown that my white blood cell count was very low. The doc was unable to confirm the reason but indicated that as the bone marrow makes blood cells (red and white) it pointed to a possible problem with my marrows ability to work. The doctor did indicate that this could be a very serious problem and didn't help much when she told me to prpare for the worst! She had requested an urgent appointment at the Haematology Clinic at the local hospital for a specialist follw up.

I went home and had a very emotional conversation with my wife but put a brave face in front of the boys. Inside though my mind was in absolute turmoil and my poor wife was distraught. I don't think either of us got a wink of sleep that night and the bank holiday weekend was a very stressful time.

The follow up appointment came through for the following Wednesday and thanks to the great help of a friend who took charge of the boys, my wife and I made our way to the hospital to find out more.

Another blood test ensued on arrival which by the time I saw the specialist showed my cell count had increased very marginally. The next tep was to have a bone marrow biopsy that afternoon which would reveal more about what was going on in there. So later that afternoon I laid on my side and after a local anaesthetic in my hip had a big needle inserted into my hip bone and blood and bone marrow drawn from it. That wasn't to bad but the plug of bone they took from my hip as part of the second part of the procedure did hurt!!

We left the hospital with the news that the samples would be checked that afternoon and if anything worrying was found they would call us the following day to come back. Sod's law of course dictated that the call came in the next morning so as we made our way back to the hospital on the Thursday we knew it wasn't going to be good news.

Sure enough we saw the consultant and she revealed that I had been diagnosed with Leukemia, which was a real shock which we both took initially with a big gulp of breath. They were doing more tests to find out the precise type so they could start to plan my treatment. My wife and me went to a quiet room for a cup of tea, a big hug and a gentle cry before saying our goodbyes and arranging a follow up appointment for the next day.

We collected the boys from some other fantastic friends that had helped again and took them home to lay the facts on the table. They both listened very carefully and understodd what was wrong and what had to happen. Those boys have been fantastic through all this and so grown up.

Friday came and we returned to the hospital again and within minutes of arrival the consultant took us back to a quiet room and told us more about the condition. Already the news had sunk in and my determination resolved to fight it and beat it. The only other shock was that the tests had identified that the type was a rare one for people my age (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia or 'ALL') and that government legislation had dictated that I would have to be treated in a specialist centre, which meant I was therefore referred to Leicester Royal Infirmary the following Monday (3rd September) and told to take an overnight bag as I was likely to be kept in.

So thats where I am now, since Monday, which seems to have flown.

I'll update next time with more info on my illness and the treatment so far which is already in full swing. I have to say to anyone who has little faith in the NHS I can't fault the care I have received to date or the swiftness it has been accomplished. All of the staff have been efficient, open and honest and instill a confidence in me that reassures me that if I maintain my strength and determination in myself they will do what they need to see me through all of this.

For now though, thanks for reading.


  1. Well quite a start Steve, what can I say? The love for your family transcends the page. I am in awe of the strength and grit you have shown already and the awareness of the impact your diagnosis has had on those around you.
    I know this is your journey, but prepare yourself matey cos I'm with you for the long haul!
    Writing like this will ensure your book is a best seller! So here's to the next installment, write soon, lots of love your favourite nosey nurse sis-in-law xxxxx

  2. Steve, I think in all my life I've only read about 10 books, as I'm not that great a reader. I will however make an exception for you and read every word. You should be very honored. I just can't wait for the last chapter that entitled "How I beat this Bugger". All the best matey.

  3. Why did I read butt plug in that post? Lol

    Steve, although I jest my heart goes to you and your family. Your bravery renders me speechless. Your determination inspires me. I am in awe of the tenderness and comfort from this fragile situation. Vickie xx


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