The ongoing saga of my stroke/cancer and why I’m being forced to go back to work

This blog is quite long, and quite serious compared to recent ones on the subject so stick with me here, but first brief recap time.

At the end of February I had a stroke which I’m still recovering from. During the tests in hospital they found a mass in my neck which was initially diagnosed as a malignant cancer but as now (for the time being) being relegated back to being a mass as a second set of tests were negative, but my doctors are still flummoxed as to what it actually is.

So over the last days plans and arrangements have been made by my doctors to further investigate the mass in my neck. I’m having on Wednesday a Pet Scan. To cut to the chase, essentially this is the most detailed type of scanner I can have (I’m going to be in the machine an hour or so) and is used in cancer treatment to work out the next steps, or to work out a plan for surgery.
petscanNow the mass in my neck is leaving my doctors flummoxed as said, so it seems that this is being done for two reasons: one is to ascertain what the mass’s movements and behaviour in my neck,and to plan for surgery as said, but once it’s removed (and I’ll get onto the surgery in a second) they can then test it, find out exactly what it is and decide whether I’ve got cancer treatment ahead of me and a possible death sentence, or it’s something else more benign (And benign doesn’t always mean safe from harm) and I can finally get on with my life, return to Scotland. Sadly my plan to turn the mass into my neck into a necklace has been stopped.

As for the surgery it’s risky. I have hypertension and the mass is near my jugular, hence the scan to see what it’s doing before they open me up. I am, as you’d expect, shitting it.

On Monday I underwent a scan and X-Ray of my abdomen to check my liver, kidneys and aorta. Amazingly considering I’ve drunk a sea of Guinness over the decades and abused my body to sometimes ridiculous degrees, they’re all healthy. In fact my kidneys look very healthy.


This should be a massive cause for some celebration as outwith the treatment for my mass/cancer the recovery from the stroke is going well. Physically I’m ahead of the recovery curve though I’ve got a clinic on Monday to see where I am, what drugs I need to take from there on in and anything I need to do in future to help my recovery. In terms of weight loss it’s still quite amazing to wake up nearly every day and find clothes hanging on you that were tight or fitted well a week or more ago.

The main thing that needs to be monitored is my blood pressure. As of this morning when I saw my GP, it’s 166. When I was admitted to the Bristol Royal Infirmary it was 220. This is life threatening and can cause fatal organ damage, hence why Monday’s positive news is such a relief. My current BP isn’t good, and they’d like it to ideally for my height, age, etc to be around 130, but they can’t rush that too much but what’s likely is I’ll have to have some of my meds upped, and of course the more weight I lose helps, but a mix of hypertension and stress isn’t good.

The support I’ve had over the last seven or so weeks has been amazing. I’d like to thank everyone that’s helped from decades old friends, to people I felt I’d fallen out with, to people I only know online and in some cases, are never likely to meet in the flesh and those total strangers that’s have messaged me goodwill and left a few ideas for things to read. This support is invaluable as although I’ve been sounding on these blogs that I’m doing fine, in reality, I’m shitting myself every single time my mobile rings or I get a letter with an NHS stamp on it.

Yet I need my life to get back on track and move back to Scotland. The reason I’m moving back to because my father has alzheimer’s and is in a care home in Glasgow slowly losing what mind, and life he has left.

Here’s a picture of a youthful me and my dad at my brothers wedding way way back in the mists of time, or the 1980’s.


God, I really was that young and fresh faced once.

This isn’t a ‘oh, poor meeeeeeeeeeeee’ type blog. Anyone that’s regularly read this things I’ve been doing for three years, or indeed, even knows me in real life knows that’s not me and in fact, for most people this is the first they’ll have heard of it. I’ve been aware of the situation for some time, and around the time of the Scottish Independence referendum, a number of things came together for me to be convinced a move back to Glasgow would help my father, and be the right thing to do.

So for 18 months I’ve saved. I’ve borrowed and on the day of the stroke itself I’d put together all the money I needed, but like a twist on a bad afternoon TV movie on Channel Five, I had a stroke. That’s put plans and my life on hold. Yet I struggled on like normal once I was discharged from hospital and got my walking stick, which I’ve named Sticky McStick, because I’m down with the kids.

Initially this was not exactly easy. But I needed to work as I needed the money. I’m what Alan Duncan would call a ‘low achiever’. I don’t have a lot of money saved. I don’t have rich parents, and seeing how one is dead and the other effectively dying, that’s not the issue. I’ve sailed through a number of jobs and experiences (many of which can be found in these blogs) and right now, I’m where I am because of not just the choices I’ve made, but others have too.

One of those choices other people make was made this week. Just after Easter my employers suddenly realised that I may die or could have died so I was sent home on full sick as most companies would with someone in my condition/s. In fact the only two occasions I’ve been on long terms sick was decades ago when I was still working in the comics industry for Neptune Distribution/Trident Comics in the late 80’s, early 90’s, and secondly when I was in the licensed trade in the late 90’s and got full sick for a month when I did my back in. So I was grateful; glad to be sent home so I could deal with the situation and relieved to not to have extra stress.

Then the choice was made. I was no longer going to be paid full sick, but go onto Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). That’s £88.45 per week. My rent is £500 per month. Council tax is £86 a month. My meds are £30 per month. I sometimes need to get taxis and that’s roughly around a tenner. Then there’s food. Clothing. You know, stuff one needs to pay for in life, even if you’re recovering from a stroke and may/may not have cancer.

I admit to losing my rag initially. Not something I should be doing in my current situation. I spoke to the union I’m part of, the CWU, and they advised I take all the medical documents I have (which is a lot) and see if it’s a choice made on medical grounds. I know as of yesterday these documents weren’t even read. I doubt they will. I’ve offered to get the HR department or even the person in charge (who shall remain nameless) to speak to one of my doctors (I’m collecting them like Pokemon) to have an informed discussion. Nope. I could have been shouting at the sky for being blue for all they cared.

This choice then leaves me to make a choice of my own from several options.

  1. Dip heavily into my money for the move. I’ve bought a new laptop from the money which was always part of the plan, and I expected to dip the odd 50 quid here and there, but I’m now faced with taking hundreds out. That means no return to Glasgow and my father dies alone. This is no option.
  2. Live in poverty. Nah, been there, done that when I was young, fit and healthy. I don’t want to do that with a possible death sentence still hanging over me,
  3. Go back to work against my doctors wishes.

The third choice is all that’s open to me. As a company mine hasn’t the best record since I returned a few years ago of dealing with people suffering from illness or serious conditions. I’ve seen people forced to return early after having nervous breakdowns, or forced to come back early with broken limbs, I even saw one person struggling up the stairs when our lifts were being serviced because she had no other option.

At the moment my employers shares are being sold on the London Stock Exchange for around the mid 70 Euro per share.  In the most recent profits for the UK they returned profits over £5 million. I’m looking now at their 2014 and 2015 press releases for their company and each year they proudly boast of ‘record revenues’ and ‘record years’.Articles in the local, national and international media tell daring tales of ‘booms’. This is not a company struggling in it’s sector or it’s finances yet in my case, a decision has been made not on medical advice, but the only thing I can think of is cost.

This isn’t a ‘MY COMPANY DOESN’T CARE’ rant. If I wanted I’d name names, link to the pages in the paragraph above and generally be a dick, but that’d be wrong, just as not paying people like me (As I’m not the only case working for a company like this) when we need our employer to support us the most is wrong. In my case I’ll either be well enough to carry on my life come the end of May, or by the end of next month I’ll be undergoing radiotherapy, possibly chemotherapy, possibly more surgery. I don’t know. I don’t like to second guess anything these days.

One of the functions these blogs do is a sort of therapy. After all everyone has their limits and I’m getting close to mine, though the limits of one’s own bravery and strength is tested in these sort of situations, it helps if I know people have my back and everyone does except my employer who leaves me with no choice but to return to work next week, weeks ahead of what my doctor says.

But life is as much about dealing with the choices of others so I’ll deal with it.I don’t want their faux sympathy or concern, just do what any decent, human would do and try to support me (and those others in similar situations to me employed by them) as I go though the toughest, most terrifying time in my life. See, the thing is I’ve now confronted death. I live with the possibility every single day now until I’m told otherwise. If I can beat that, I’ll beat this. I’ll find a way, but it shouldn’t be a struggle. It’s been made that way by a choice that I may have to live with for the rest of my life and the person that made that choice doesn’t.

Next time I blog about this they’ll be a return to humour, jokes and bravado. Honest….

5 thoughts on “The ongoing saga of my stroke/cancer and why I’m being forced to go back to work

  1. Pingback: Counting them all out-The ongoing saga of my stroke/cancer | My Little Underground

  2. Urgh. Glenn. I’ve started this reply about 8x & still can’t express myself coherently so I’ll skip detailing all the emotions I’m currently having if that’s OK. For want of anything more useful …. you should look into getting a Prescription Pre-payment Certificate. It’s about £11/mth and covers ALL prescription costs. I had to buy one for 7 yrs before I finally qualified for an income-based benefit because it was the only way I could afford all the lovely drugs I take (min 6 but usually 9 scripts every 4 wks plus occasional bonus extras). That’s why I never shared😉 Love you Jxx


  3. Pingback: Out of the blue, into the fire-The ongoing story of my stroke/cancer | My Little Underground

  4. Pingback: Time to grab some hope from the fear of Brexit | My Little Underground

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