CHRIS’S TEENAGE CANCER JOURNEY – PART 10 – A MONTH OF COINCIDENCE

September 2015 was a hot one. Hot in terms of weather and hot in terms of hot-headedness emotion. Merely a week after returning from France I was still none-the-wiser over my actions, medical symptoms and attitude. I was well on my way back into an increasingly boring routine. A routine were I pushed people away, simply pleaded ignorance to my body and ushered suspicion and intrigue to the very back of my mind – right where they belonged, or so I thought.

By now the weeks rest in the French summers sun had helped my leg and my golfers tan, but it hadn’t really helped with anything else. I was at a time in my life when I wasn’t really getting on with everyone at home. There were several factors to the problem. First was the fact I was never home, and when I was, it would only be for an hour or so to have my tea (or dinner, depending on which part of the country you’re from) and then I’d be gone in a flash. Second, was the way I handled the criticism I got from the others for being so ignorant – or self orientated as I thought of it.  It was mainly my mum and I that were in disagreement. We hadn’t got on for the best part of a few months, and, looking back, I think a large part was down to me being a bit immature and not accepting how I was acting. See, unlike my dad, my mum will just confront me straight up if she has a problem, whereas my dad would take a step back and wait for me to realise what I was doing and then step in if he needed to. That’s when there was friction. Even at the best of times I was awful at taking criticism, so when I was questioned why, my stock reply would be a firm ‘’no I’m not’’ which either showed how naïve I was or how arrogance and ignorance were still prominent in my mind-set. My older sister Laura would mostly take my mums side, which was understandable as she’d been through a similar rough patch with my mum and dad at a similar age, so I guess she understood both sides of the argument and had gained a lot of wisdom that I was lacking. My dad was stuck in between; torn in fact as we did everything together. Work, golf, the rugby matches and everything in between. We were like best mates. Claire – my younger sister – on the other hand, was very much quiet so she never got involved with much that involved confrontation. She was always working so the only real time I’d see her was on a night out round St Helens when I was either seeing double or I was walking round donning a traffic cone on my head.

 

September was always a busy month in work. It was the end of the summer and anyone who works in construction will know what I mean. The extremely busy period of the 6 weeks holidays had just come to an end and now we were just ‘busy’. Usually we had local authority work projects over the summer and then we’d be back on with domestic home extensions etc once the holidays were over and the kids were back at school. This September, however, was different. We started work at a certain ‘’Clatterbridge Hospital on the Wirral’’ which was a fair drive away from our base and my home town of St Helens. It took us around an hour to get there through the traffic in Liverpool city centre and through the Wallasey tunnel, but when we got over to the Wirral, it was like a whole different country, and, the closer you get to wales, the posher (more classy) it gets. I remember going over to Royal Liverpool Golf Club for the 2014 Open Championship and thinking ‘jeeez it’s posh around here’. For someone who appreciates a well-built building it was an area I’d love to live one day, especially with all the quality golf courses round there. Clatterbridge wasn’t quite as posh as the areas surrounding Royal Liverpool but it was still a lovely area. One thing that always amused me was they how different areas viewed the people of the Wirral. For example, If you were a ‘wool’ so to speak (anyone outside of Liverpool apparently), people from the Wirral were seen as ‘posh scousers’. However to the ‘proper scousers’, they were still seen as ‘wools’ like the rest of us. How bizarre.

When we arrived at ‘Clatterbridge Hospital’ I found myself pretty astounded that a hospital the size of a business park was in the middle of a load of horse shit fragrenced fields. I guess it was because I was used to the likes of Whiston, St Helens and Broad Green hospitals  that are all in the middle of populated areas.  Where we were tasked was right at the back of the hospital, guarded by a bored and depressed looking bald man in a box controlling an electric barrier policing traffic. It was as we approached the man in the box that I then realised that it wasn’t ‘Clatterbridge Hospital’ that we were working on but in fact Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. I remember something about my Grandad John having treatment at a specialist cancer centre before he passed, but I wasn’t sure if it was the same one. Unfortunately, I was only 5 when he passed in 2001 so I couldn’t remember as much as I’d of liked. As we continued through the barrier I was trying to remember and I couldn’t help think of how bizarre of a coincidence it would be if it was.

Our job was working for another bigger company on what was called ‘The Rowan Project’ to install the foundations of a new, state of the art radiotherapy machine. It was a different kind of work I’d been used to for the past few years, but still, it was a good job and I’d certainly be proud to work there if it was where they treated my Grandad all those years ago. The thing about working in hospitals though was all the unwanted attention builders got and it didn’t take long before we were stopped for being too loud. It wasn’t that we were being overly loud in our work, but what I had to learn to understand was that that ill patients – cancer patients – don’t like any noise at all. As we were using big hydraulic jackhammers though, we couldn’t help it, there wasn’t any other way to do the job.

After a week of working there my knee was starting ache again; the vibrations of the jack-hammer rippling throughout my body shaking my skimpy little legs into the ground and closer to surrender. Finals day at the golf club was just around the corner, and a combination of excess pain and working so far from home was hindering my mid-week preparations. All summer I’d played about 5 competitions – all off them not very well – and now when I had a chance to win two of the biggest ones in one day, my practice was restricted.   …ucking typical, I thought.

Over the next few weeks I carried on working through the pain, fooling myself into a pretence that all was well. Distracting me from the pain though was my allergies. It was usually this time of year were I’d have my immunotherapy –a relatively new treatment used as a last resort to treat such issues.  Treatment was a series of injections before and after the pollen seasons performed firstly on me at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool when I was 18 and now at Broad Green Hospital, Liverpool. I was having treatment in the hope that it would help my allergic eye disease – which had been wrecking my summers now for about 5 years. Whether it would help or not wasn’t that well proven with eye symptoms, however it did have good long term results in relieving nasal symptoms, so I took everything I got. It just went to show how bad my health was at the time. At the age of 19, I’d already had issues with my allergies and an allergic eye disease that started at age 14, kidney calcification at 15, kidney stones at 18 and crown jewels at 19. None of it mattered now though; I had my sights set on only one thing going forward: winning both knockout finals.

 

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