Thursday, 18 June 2009

Part 31 - Radiation Revelry

I’m coming under increasingly furious pressure to update here now that radiotherapy’s finished, despite the fact that I insist that this blog would be far more effective if it came to a sudden and unexplained end. It worked for Anne Frank, she got a bloody book deal and a film made about her. The lucky cow.

Radiotherapy was a bit of a non-event after the cataclysmic consequences of chemotherapy, hence the lack of updates. Whilst chemotherapy rendered me a hideous and reclusive infection fiend for half a year, radiotherapy has just given me a hot neck and a silly voice. For the past week or so, I’ve sounded a bit like what Rod Stewart would sound like if he spent an afternoon shovelling hot gravel in to his face. I also have a perfectly square patch of luminous red skin covering exactly half of my neck which people kindly keep pointing out to me, just in case I‘m not sufficiently reminded by being in constant, searing agony. It burns with the intensity of one million suns.

I don’t fully understand what makes this happen. The actual administration of the treatment is entirely painless and discreet, just like an X-ray. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that my head was physically bolted to a gigantic machine in a cancer ward I wouldn’t know anything was happening at all. The most painful thing about the process was, without a doubt, trying to think of something different to say to the nurses every bloody day for three weeks. There are few more depressing stages of maturation than the first time you hear yourself talking about parking.

It took roughly three minutes each time, which I know for certain because I once had to endure the entire length of I Got You Babe by Sonny and Cher whilst being shot at by the death ray. These three minutes included me taking my top off each day, feeling ashamed of my skeletal torso, and being incarcerated inside my mask whilst a machine whirred around my head gradually setting my skin alight with invisible fire. It was so brief and boring that I have literally no hilarious stories from it. Each day I was willing someone to do something that would justify me decimating them with my acidic words, the bloody professional bastards.

The three weeks came and went quicker than I had feared and, if everything goes to plan, that should be the end of my cancer adventure. I won’t know for certain until I get a scan in September, three entire months away, which is either quite reassuring or absolutely outrageous negligence. It’s not quite the ‘you’re healthy, now sod off out of hospital’ that I had envisaged but apparently this is quite common. A nurse referred to it as the ‘cancer limbo’, which I thought sounded more like an event at the Special Olympics than a medical phenomenon.

In the meantime, I’ve just got to go about life as normal but my various trips out and about recently have already demonstrated that this isn’t the easiest thing to do. I’ve had to evade questions about my past year to the extent that I must sound like I’ve been caught up in a child molestation case. Not because I’m particularly ashamed of my feeble health, I just don’t think discussing it is the best way to go about being considered a hip, bohemian youth like I so desperately attempt to appear as. “What did you do to your neck?” asked a girl in a Glasgow nightclub, pointing to my scar. “Got in a fight” I protested, as she surveyed my snowmanesque arms in bafflement.

It’s also left me with absolutely nothing to write about. This has been an empire built on sand if ever there bloody was one. In thirty years time I’ll be cleaning the toilets of some local newspaper, lecturing anyone in earshot about the time that I wrote a massive feature for The Independent sounding like a deranged fantasist.

I’m going to leave this site as it is, as long as I don’t suffer a crushing relapse at some point, in the arrogant assumption that someone might want to read it one day without having to sift through years of me writing about being sick on myself in nightclubs. I’ve just set up a new blog at jamieross7.blogspot.com if you want to follow my humiliating attempts to clutch on to the coat-tails of my past glory, I’ll get round to writing in it at some point.

Anyway, thank you for reading. Unless you reached this through the article in The Sun, in which case you have brought shame upon me.

Eleven months, twelve doses of chemotherapy, fifteen doses of radiotherapy and thirty-one blogs. That was a bloody laugh, wasn’t it?

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Part 30 - Simulation Shenanigans

It’s five days until I start radiotherapy, which means that it’s three weeks and five days until I have to desperately scrabble through my big, stupid head for something else to write about. With this in mind, I may as well take advantage of being vaguely interesting whilst I still can and quickly update you on the goings on since I was fitted for my mask. The mask looks harrowing by the way, like a cheap fruit bowl that a severed head has been catapulted into at an incredible velocity.

I’ve had to wear it twice in the past two weeks. Firstly, for a CT scan to pinpoint where I’ll be treated and, secondly, for a radiotherapy simulator which basically involves all the fun of radiation therapy but without the hassle of being exposed to perilously high levels of nuclear energy. The latter was my first experience of having any treatment in a cancer-specific ward - all of my chemotherapy took place in a haematology building - which very much shifted the dynamic of how ill I can currently consider myself. I felt like an utter fraudster swaggering around with my hipster haircut as almost everyone else was head-scarved and sobbing.

I was taken through to the simulator room by a very short nurse, a spectacle which reminded me of when Veruca Salt’s father is escorted out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory by a tiny Oompa-Loompa. Walking in to the place, I was disappointed that the radiotherapy machine wasn’t quite as demonic and intimidating as I imagined it would be. I’d been expecting the exact same contraption that nearly reduced James Bond’s cock and balls to a cinder in Goldfinger, but it’s more like an enlarged version of my grandmother’s sewing machine.

The nursette asked me to take off my t-shirt and sit down whilst they awaited the arrival of my radiologists and, after about ten minutes of sitting down pointlessly semi-naked, two doctors and three nurses came in and I was introduced to each of them. The main outcome of this was the realisation that a handshake doesn’t really work as a friendly gesture when one of the participants doesn‘t have a shirt on, in which case the entire spectacle is really quite demeaning. I lay down on a table with the back of my head in the mask, and the face part was then clipped on top. “Stay still.” said the nurse, as I silently appreciated the irony trapped inside a Perspex prison which was physically bolted to the table.

The lights dimmed, the machine started whirring and an incredibly bright light suddenly shone directly into my shocked face about three centimetres away. Various lines moved across the light, like a crosshair, and then two people came in armed with permanent pens to mark where these lines met - presumably so they can treat the exact same place each time. There’s something very unsettling about two people drawing on your face when you have no way of telling what’s being drawn - mainly because, if I had that job, I’d most likely write ‘bell-end’ all over it. Also, the powerful fumes emitted as the pens scratched off the mask meant I was dangerously close to getting off my mash and hallucinating one thousand tarantulas streaming out of my eyes.

The colouring-in doctors left and I was left alone again, when something quite unexpected happened. The entire machine started to rotate anti-clockwise which moved what had been on the floor to the right and upwards until it was above my head. Now, when you have little variety of leisure activities besides looking upwards by force, your only entertainment is reading what’s on the machine above you so I was quite delighted to have a new view. However, that was only until a sign reading “Do not place machine base above head.” started edging ever-closer to my trapped and worried face, much like a health and safety-savvy instrument of medieval skull-crushing torture.

It mercifully stopped a few centimetres from my face, and maybe that particular bit wasn’t the ‘machine base’ they were warning of, but why on earth would you put a sign like that on a contraption exclusively designed to go above ill people’s heads? It’s a sure-fire recipe for shrieking panic. Anyway, a few more lines were drawn, I was released from my plastic dungeon, a few more degrading exposed-nipple handshakes took place and I scuttled out of hospital traumatised once more.

That was the final bit of radiotherapy preparation. The real thing kicks off on Monday, and I’ll be there every weekday for three terrible, terrible weeks.

P.S. I'd like to stress that that isn't me in the photograph. I do Wii Fit.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Part 29 - Masking Jape

Is it becoming evident that I’m rapidly losing my dedication to this blog? It’s now been over two weeks since I was given the definitive PET scan results - a piece of information that some people may consider an appropriate stimulus for a blog with the sole intention of tracking the journey of a cancer patient - but I’ve been so busy experimenting with the capabilities of post-chemotherapy liver I’ve barely been able to construct a proper sentence for weeks. This is easily the worst consequence of having cancer, by the way. You can joke about me being a cheap date all you like, but I imagine that would be scant recompense for your date vomiting on your head and flinging his own excrement against a restaurant wall.

The PET results were good, although not mind-blowingly brilliant. Although almost everything has disappeared, there appears to be a tiny sect of stubborn cells in my neck which chemotherapy can’t get rid of and will require some radiotherapy. I’d liken it to when a cat urinates on a carpet. You can attempt to drown it in as much Febreeze as you like, but everyone knows that the only real way to get rid of it is to burn the entire carpet to a lifeless, smouldering cinder. I’ll be receiving fifteen doses of it over three weeks starting on the 25th, after which I can forget about cancer treatments until I’m scanned again in four to six months. I’ll write more about what radiotherapy consists of after I actually know what it involves, outwith cat piss.

In the meantime, there’s a lot of preparation to do. For example, today I had to go and get a mould of my entire head made for my radiotherapy mask - a Perspex skull that clamps you to the table so they can aim the beam precisely and so it won’t set fire to your eyeballs if you sneeze. I was greeted at the door by a man that looked eerily like Heston Blumenthal, complete with the massive glasses that make his big, mad eyes look like two oranges balanced on a grain of rice. Walking in to his workshop was possibly the single most bizarre thing I had ever seen as each wall had three full shelves of ghostly-looking white head casts. It was as if he was an insane serial killer who obsessively surrounded himself with death masks of his thousands of victims, possibly kissing each one goodbye every single night.

After a quick explanation of what was about to happen, he asked me to remove my t-shirt and presented me with a pair of beige tights to put on. At this point, like me, you may have questioned what in the name of the holiest Christ was about the transpire, but it turned out that these tights were for my head to protect my freshly-grown locks of hair. Looking much like a malnourished bank robber, I slinked over to the bed and lay down with my head on a massive bean bag at which point the doctor had to physically readjust the apparatus because, as he rudely proclaimed, I have a “long head”.

What happened next was as exciting as it was absolutely terrifying. He attached a hoover to a port on the beanbag and removed all the air from it to force the polystyrene balls inside to tightly form around my head, neck and shoulders. When I say ‘tightly’, I don’t mean like a pair of jeans you bought a few years ago, I mean I could actually feel my eyes bulging out of face like some disgusting love child of Joan Rivers and a halibut. All the while, lest ye forget, with no t-shirt on, women’s underpants attached to my head and Dr. Blumenthal leering over me like a deranged professor carrying out some form of bizarre Auschwitzesque experiment.

When we were finished, I asked the doctor if I’d be allowed to keep my mask when the radiotherapy is over and done with. The look on his face was as if I had asked him if I could take home and eat his first and only child, but he will kindly allow me to keep it despite the fact that it will ruin his harrowing collection. Today’s appointment just covered the back of my head, and I have to return tomorrow to get a plaster cast of my face done which I quite honestly can‘t wait for. This is, without doubt, my favourite bit of the cancer experience so far. I’ve seen it happen so many times on TV, it’s exactly like I’m in my very own ‘making of’ documentary.

Anyway, I apologise for the lack of entries recently but you have no need to worry - during radiotherapy I’m at hospital for fifteen days out of twenty-one.

I’m sure there will be high-jinks aplenty.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Part 28 - PETrifying


It’s been two weeks since The Sun debacle now. Two weeks in which I’ve physically attacked countless strangers who I’ve seen reading The Sun, screamed abuse at anyone who I’ve seen outside in sunlight and ceremoniously set fire to a packet of sunflower seeds every night which I then proceed to dance around whilst cackling. They’ve still not actually paid me or even replied to my emails since I wrote the last blog, but it will hopefully be taken care of soon. Thank you to anyone who offered advice, but I imagine that taking legal action against News International would result in me being the unwitting subject of an unrelenting kiss-and-tell smear campaign.

Anyway, away with such showbiz matters. Yesterday was the day of my almighty, country-spanning voyage to Aberdeen for the second phase of my tediously drawn-out scanning. After travelling for a full two hours, an epic journey probably only rivalled by Moses and Israelites, we arrived at the forebodingly-titled Nuclear Medicine Unit. This was only momentarily worrying however, as we were soon led through to the more heart-warmingly named Aberdeen PET Centre. It was unlike any pet centre I had ever seen before though as, instead of being welcomed by a fleet of tiny kittens, I found myself surrounded by massive, framed images of disembodied lungs that were riddled with cancer.

A few minutes transpired before a nurse beckoned me into the scanning area, so I gave my book and my MP3 player to my Dad to look after. She led me through a dark corridor to some double-doors with the reassuring words of ‘DANGER!’ and ‘RADIOACTIVE!’ plastered all over them, I don’t know why they didn’t put my mind completely at ease by having a man follow me with a sword of fire. Half-expecting to see everyone in full biochemical regalia, I found two friendly-faced nurses there instead. “Don’t you have a MP3 player or a book? You’ll be lying about for over an hour.” one of them infuriatingly informed me. I bolted back through the corridors of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, exactly like George Clooney in ER, to try and recapture my MP3 player from my inexplicably fleet-footed Father. I must have ran for at least half-a-mile before accepting defeat and returning, only to discover him emerging from the toilets three sodding metres from where I had set off. Ho ho ho. My life is exactly like Scrubs, excluding the fact that my life can sometimes be quite funny.

Clasping my headphones and barely able to breathe, I was taken to a tiny room containing a bed, a needle, a massive painting of a horse and a CCTV camera nestled in the top corner. The nurse reached for the needle and casually informed me that I was about to be injected with a “radioactive solution” to help the scan, as if this was the single most normal occurrence in the world. I would have questioned whether this action had been thought through sufficiently, but my run had rendered me entirely incapable of speech and I was slightly curious to see whether or not I would morph into The Hulk and kill a man the next time I saw someone reading The Sun.

She told me to lie down for an hour to let my “big muscles” relax, barely able to stifle her sarcastic snort, and said that I was to “stay still and chill out” as she switched off the lights and left the room. Apparently, it wouldn’t work properly if I moved at all and the camera was there so they could be certain that I wasn’t secretly performing ribbon gymnastics to spite them. I don’t know how you personally choose to relax, but I’d wager it doesn’t involve being pumped full of radioactive waste whilst being under constant surveillance, running the risk of a nurse bursting in to beat you with a giant stick if you so much as sneeze. I lay completely rigid for an hour, under the leering gaze of a stranger and the massive painting of a horse which appeared to grow increasingly sinister as time went on.

The hour came and went and I was fetched to finally undergo the PET scan. It was going to take about half an hour so I was given a selection of CDs to choose from which were, without exception, mind-sappingly shit. There were seven obscure classical albums and, even worse, one ‘Songs From The Shows’. I had little desire to undergo the procedure to the sound of the razmataztical soundtrack from Chicago, so I chose an assortment of classical music from a few films which I recognised. My head was put in a big vice and my body was tightly strapped to the table as I was mechanically inched through a big hoop, much like a disabled performing dolphin. I used that line in a past blog but it made me laugh so much I had little option not to shoehorn it into a blog any time it’s even remotely appropriate.

For a less cool customer than me, this scan could easily be quite stressful and claustrophobic - I couldn’t move at all and the roof of the machine was only about an inch above my head. I presume this is why they give the option of having some music, to act as a lovely, serene escape from what you’re experiencing. This worked quite well for a few tracks, but it all went disastrously wrong when I found myself trapped inside this machine with the main theme from The Omen blaring out behind my head. If you haven’t heard this, click here and wait for roughly forty seconds. It’s absolutely terrifying. The kind of booming, climactic, biblically evil music that you’d expect to hear during a film scene of the devil himself cackling atop a flaming mountain of corpses. I was in a dark room, alone, physically bound to a piece of machinery, my head trapped in a vice, unable to move whatsoever, inside a tiny pitch-black tunnel, with Lucifer’s fucking orchestra screeching directly into my ears. It was as if I was on a stairlift leading directly to the seventh layer of hell.

What seemed like thirty-six years passed when, finally, the traumatised patient was cajoled off his perch and set off on the long journey home. Waking nightmares ensued for twenty-four hours.

Results next Thursday.

In the meantime, here's an article that I did for Hecklerspray this week which infuriated many Oasis fans. You can see my writing being lambasted here.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Part 27 - Here Comes The Sun (© Jamie Ross)

I’m not an angry man. In fact, I’m so cowardly, weak and placid that my bottled up rage will almost definitely one day manifest itself through me rampaging around the streets of Kinross, naked besides a blood red bandana, maniacally thrashing around with a crude homemade machete - possibly screaming and weeping about the time that Jamie Webb stole my Golden Charizard card in primary three. Today was so very nearly that day.

As I mentioned in my last entry, this blog was featured in The Independent on Monday. It was a very easy process, I was asked to choose five or six of my favourite entries, edit them down into a 3000 word article and have it ready by the weekend. Monday came, the article looked good, I had an obscene amount of hits on the blog and my Twitter army of cancer fans reached an astronomical 143. That may not sound like much, but ask yourself how many Twitter followers Stephen Fry had when he was 20. I’m not saying that this makes me better than Stephen Fry, but that is exactly what I’m secretly thinking.

As the day went on, many nice people got in touch to say that they enjoyed the article or wished me luck for my scan next month. Not everyone thought this was necessary which is probably just aswell, I don’t want to end up berating anyone who attempts to contact me like Ringo Starr, but there is one group of people who I would have appreciated a quick note from - namely the entire features team of The Scottish Sun. Apparently, they loved the article so much that they decided to publish 2000 heavily-edited and copyrighted words of mine in a double-page feature, complete with photographs of me that I’d never seen before. This was without asking me, notifying me, paying me, or consulting me. In fact, the first I heard of it was when someone texted my Dad this morning.

In any media coverage of this blog, I’ve painstakingly made sure that it’s been presented for what it is - an attempt at comedy writing about a situation I happen to find myself in. This isn‘t what The Sun decided this was about, though. Apparently, these thirty-thousand words are just one massive faltering cover-up which helps me pretend to the world that I don’t spend my entire current life perilously close to drowning in my own tears.

They led with the stomach-turning headline of ‘Blog of Courage’ and tediously droned on about what a “brave teen” I am. I’m astonished that it didn't come with a huge cut-outable photo of my smiling, pale face for housewives across the country to hold their shriekingly oversentimental candlelit vigils next to - most likely with ‘Kinross Princess’ emblazoned in massive lettering across it. There seems to be some insane belief amongst idiot headline writers that having cancer instantly makes you brave. It doesn’t. It makes you bald, podgy, ill and bored - ‘Blog of Sheer Tedium’ would have been a far more appropriate headline. I had to wake up my Mum at 4am last week specifically so she could remove a below-average sized spider from my room - that‘s your sodding megahero, The Sun.

It’s not just the sheer, horrific tweeness of the article that makes it amongst the worst things ever to happen to me either:

They edited it to within an inch of its life, as if they were hell-bent on whittling it down to the twenty least entertaining and most disjointed words of each blog. It makes me look like an utterly abysmal writer who got in the paper thanks to a dying wish foundation scheme.

They put words such as “MOCKED”, “FORCE” and “SILENCE” in huge emboldened letters outwith the main text, presumably for the benefit of the vast majority of Sun readers who can‘t read full sentences. They've specifically chosen words which make it sound like I’ve been living in a Nazi concentration camp for the past seven months. I may have used these words at some point but, if they really had to summarise seven months of weekly entries in three words, I'd have suggested “TESTICLE”, “BALLS” and “COCK”.

They inexplicably used a picture I had never seen in which my eyes are closed. They used a family photograph which I only allowed to be used in The Independent. They made me inadvertently write in the fucking Sun, effectively destroying all the good work that‘s gone into my writing CV recently. All of this, need I repeat, without asking me, notifying me, paying me or consulting me.

Since sending them a massive, furious and pretentious email whining at them to "respect my artistic merit" (piss off, I was angry) they’ve come to the conclusion that stealing the copyrighted life’s work of a 20-year-old cancer patient isn’t really the coolest thing to do. They’ve offered me a fee, although it’s far smaller than the one I got for The Independent despite the fact that it‘s almost exactly the same content, albeit terribly edited. Apparently, this is because “it’s already been in The Independent” - as if it were I who had forced these dreadful people to spit out 2000 of my words in their gutter paper, seemingly in an entirely random order. What an awful bastard I am.

Well, The Sun, lest ye forget that I have a full 143 Twitter followers.

Minions - unleash hell.

I did have the link to the article here but it's since been hastily removed from their website due to an increased realisation that what they did was both twatty and illegal. If you want to voice displeasure about it you could get in touch with David Dinsmore, the editor of the Scottish Sun. You can get his email address and follow developments of this at http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/04/david_dinsmore.asp.

I also linked this specific blog entry in a comment at the bottom of the Sun article under the cunning guise of 'Jamie_Brave_ Ross' which was swiftly removed. It's my sodding story!

Anyway, here's the lovely, authorised Independent article.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Part 26 - Glasgow Shame

I told you, didn’t I? I told you nothing interesting whatsoever would happen to me in-between my scans. Recently, if I’ve not been describing my life in obscenely dull detail to 91 strangers on Twitter, I’ve simply been living my life in obscenely dull detail. Even now, having exceeded my usual 140 characters, I feel perilously out of my depth. However, I thought it was about time I wrote in here before some other sarcastic young man gets diagnosed with cancer and actually has something interesting to write about - the lucky ill bastard.

Return To Glasgow

Last week, I finally returned to the hallowed turf which probably caused me to get so spectacularly ill in the first place. After ten entire months away from it, the first thing that struck me was that it smells absolutely grotesque as soon as you get within about five miles of the place. It was horrendous, and it made me feel like some form of naive country bumpkin travelling to the metropolis of a smoggy Dickensian London for the first time except, instead of learning how to be a gentleman, I was there to relearn how to be a depraved idiot student.

That was a top-class literary reference.

After getting disproportionately drunk on about a third of a pint, it was decided that it would be a fantastic idea to go to the casino. Sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it? The word ’casino’ might induce heady images of bright lights, scantily-clad showgirls, elaborate cocktails and thousands of James Bondesque men rolling around laughing, showering in coins and happiness. However, this particular casino was essentially a run-down pub, seemingly unchanged since 1973, with two angry-looking men standing next to a roulette table. On top of this, they told me to remove my hat at the entrance so they could take a photograph as a form of ID. Looking back, it might have been fun to have broken down and screamed something highly acidic at her to ruin her week, but instead I just put on a big, sad face and quietly informed her of my situation.

Having won enough money to splash out on a taxi to the West End, a few more drinks were consumed and we skipped off to the hall where we were going to see semi-famous comedian Richard Herring. About fifteen minutes into his show, Richard Herring spotted a fly in his drink and pointed this out to his sea of adoring fans. Allan MacDonald, former flatmate of mine, couldn’t just enjoy this observation like the rest of the crowd and decided to loudly and boldly proclaim that the fly could probably perform a more solid hour and a half of stand-up than Richard Herring. Personally, I thought this was quite a funny, jokey and inventive heckle. However, it displeased Richard Herring, plus the 500 strong crowd who greeted it with a chorus of boos and a snarled “Shut the fuck up!”.

Ashamed of Allan’s actions and feeling the sheer, unadulterated hatred of 500 people on the back of my head, I thought it would be a good idea to offer Richard Herring a drink as I was getting up to go to the bar myself. “The bar’s closed, mate.” Richard Herring astutely pointed out, causing 500 people to erupt in laughter as I shrank back into my seat. Touché Richard Herring. Feeling mildly unwelcome, we left soon after to the sound of sarcastic applause.

After I had got back, I went on to Richard Herring’s blog and found this entry whining about us:

“There were some drunker, younger guys in the second row who were a bit chatty and at one point asked me to tell a joke. I told them that that wasn't what was going to happen and that the show had been pretty funny so far, but if they couldn't concentrate on a narrative they should leave. The audience mainly seemed to be on my side. And about fifteen minutes later, after an unsuccessful attempt to get booze form the closed bar, the disruptive element left.”

Not only does this discredit the inventiveness of the heckle, it also makes me sound like the worst kind of drunken lout you could possibly imagine - as if I stood at an empty bar for twenty minutes screaming ‘Give me some booze!’ at nothing, only pausing to be intermittently sick on the floor. Yet I suppose history is written by the winners isn‘t it, Richard Stalin?

Independent Article

I’m going to be in The Independent on Monday with a few selected entries of this blog, hence this hastily written blog to inform you all, so do purchase a copy if you feel you haven’t read these entries in quite enough different formats yet. There are bound to be roughly a thousand pictures of my big, stupid face to make it a fresh experience for all.

As for the impending scan, there still isn’t a set date for it but it should be in the next few weeks , so keep your eyes open for an actual real development that doesn’t involve me making a massive tosswhump of myself in front of a 500-strong paying audience.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Part 25 - CTedium


CT results days are quite nerve-wracking. It’s a bit like exam results day, except that you can’t hide bad results from your parents as your cunning plan would unravel when you died in horrendous pain. However, I was quite looking forward to today’s results putting an end to a month of uncertainty with one of what I was told were three possible options. The first was yet more chemotherapy which would obviously be rubbish, the second was radiotherapy which would be slightly better as there’d be a small chance that I could gain super-powers and the third was getting the all-clear. Which do you think it was? Are you ready? Are you sure? The results of my scan were…

…I need another scan! After another entire month of tedium! Huzzah!

Initially, this slightly annoyed me because I assumed that they had just arsed up the first one, but I was mistaken. Apparently, of the four areas that were affected, two of them have entirely disappeared but the other two remain slightly suspicious. By that, I mean they can’t really decide whether they’re cancery or not from the information that they have, so I have to undergo a more in-depth scan to be sure - a PET scan to be precise. It’s only after this, which will take place at some point in April, that I’ll know what further treatment I need - if any.

Big Doctor G, as I obviously never call him, claimed that he was very pleased with the results that they have so far but it’s a bit of a ball-ache for three reasons:

One: PET scans don’t lend themselves to the multitude of brilliant puns that CT scans do, unless I lazily feign confusion over why they need to scan my pet.

Two: If more treatment is required, I’ll be getting it at the exact point when my hair should begin to resurrect itself. As I’ve explained before, my treatment leaves some original hair behind and new hair can be an entirely different colour. If I need more treatment, it’s quite possible that I’ll end up with a fucking ridiculous tri-coloured Neapolitan haircut that strangers will assume I specifically demanded at a hairdresser’s.

Three: How the ruddy hell am I meant to keep this blog rolling for yet another month of inactivity? I’m quite certain that, after an entire month of ‘what I had for breakfast’ blogs, not even my own parents will care when I’m eventually declared healthy.

Anyway, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. At least I can take solace in the fact that another chemotherapy-free month means I’ll continue to feel healthy enough to carry on my exercise regime. I was given a Wii Fit for my birthday last week and, although I’ve borderline crippled myself eight times in as many days, it does appear to be doing some good according to my daily weigh-ins. However, I’m not entirely sure how much to trust it. When I first weighed myself I was told that I had a BMI of 22 which led to a jubilant little voice saying, with no apparent sense of irony, “Great! People with a BMI of 22 are less likely to get sick!”. Its prematurely-balding, chemotherapy-ravaged, cancer-ridden pupil looked on with both disbelief and contempt.

I’ve taken to exercising between two and four in the morning to prevent my attempts being inhibited by self-consciousness. When everyone else is in bed I have no fear in furiously gyrating around in my living room, thrashing a pretend hula-hoop around my sweat-sodden waist with an unforgiving, steely grimace on my face until the point when I’m both physically and emotionally exhausted. Already, my female trainer, who represents my most promising romantic liaison in seven months, has remarked upon how I’m “clearly no stranger to exercise” - fact.

Anyway, apologies if you were expecting the dramatic conclusion of Cancerous Capers in this post but hopefully our journey will soon be at an end. In the meantime, look forward to ‘Bran Flakes or All Bran - The Definitive Answer’ next week.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Part 24 - A Pissing Nightmare


After five entire weeks of living like a normal person - on the assumption that normal people seldom leave their houses and sleep until 4pm - I was finally back in hospital action on Friday. The familiar battle of Dettol attempting to outstench thousands of old people greeted me at the door like an old friend. I was there for the big CT scan to judge whether I’m now available cancer-free or if I’ll be subjected to yet more treatment which, to be honest, would be a bit of a ball ache.

Before anything happens, people undergoing these scans are asked to drink a litre of an entirely disgusting liquid which they unconvincingly attempt to mask with either orange or lemon squash. I’d probably liken it to being asked to eat a bowl of human sick with one sprig of parsley placed on top of it. Personally, I always play it safe and choose the orange option rather than the lemon - what do you think I am, a madman? - but making this quite simple choice is never enough for at least one joker in the waiting room.

I’ve had this scan three times in the past six months and, upon being presented with the squash conundrum, someone has bizarrely made the exact same quip every single time I‘ve been there. Making sure everybody else in the room can hear, one person has always shouted out “Whisky please!” with a huge, self-satisfied smile on his or her face - content in the knowledge that they are almost definitely the new Billy Connolly. They laugh, the other patients laugh, the nurse laughs and I sit cross-legged reading The Guardian rolling my eyes at each and every one of them.

Anyway, this liquid. A litre is quite a lot to drink in half an hour, especially when what you’re drinking tastes like what I imagine the urine of a three-hundred-year-old stick of black liquorice would taste like, and I was forbidden from going to the toilet before the scan. As I lay down on the CT slab, literally more urine than man, I was in quite a bit of discomfort but content in the knowledge that my supple, young bladder should cope. As always, a dye was injected into my arm and the machine slowly moved me through the massive hoop much like a disabled performing dolphin.

Then something very strange happened. I started to get a disconcertingly warm sensation around my groin, despite the fact that I was 75% certain that I wasn’t urinating. What, in the name of fuck, was this? Had I finally suffered the nervous breakdown I’ve been dreading and become destined to live the rest of my life unintentionally wallowing in my own filth like a clichéd mentalist? “Are you okay, Jamie?” came a voice over the speakers. What the Christ was I supposed to say? Should I tell them what was happening? Just swagger out afterwards full of Bond-like confidence, walking away from a massive puddle pretending it never happened? ‘Eh…yeh’ I sheepishly replied, secretly thinking ‘No, I’ve just pissed all over both myself and your multi-million pound machine, soz!’.

I was in an entire panic. To my knowledge, I hadn’t done anything like this since story time in primary school when I managed to frame an unwitting stooge next to me - but I was in this room alone. I was entirely stranded, unable to move or do anything but lie there festering in my shame and wait for the nurses to come in and discover me. ‘This can’t possibly be happening’ I thought, ‘this is literally the single worst thing that I could possibly imagine ever happening to anyone‘. Three nurses charged in and I braced myself for their sudden, disgusted realisation. I was on the verge of tears as I desperately scanned my mind for any way I could possibly explain my horrid behaviour. ‘Okay Jamie, that’s you finished!’ came a cheery voice…I was uncertain as to whether she meant my scan had ended or my massive wazz.

However, I slowly got up and inconspicuously brushed my hand down the front of the flowery hospital gown. It was dry as a bone, there was no puddle where I had been lying down and my bladder was still painfully full. Was it all an awful dream? Had it all been some terrible, self-inflicted Derren Brownesque trick? Was there a heater on the CT table pointed directly at my genitalia? I left the room confused and on the verge of a heart attack but, most importantly, not covered in my own urine.

I’ve since researched this and, apparently, the dye that’s put into your arm can give you a warm sensation during the scan. Perhaps they could have explained this to me before I gave suicide serious consideration to prevent me having to face up to the repercussions of my urine-soaked carcass.

Anyway, it’s the big results day on Thursday. Stay tuned.