It’s been emotional

The results of the scan came as no shock, especially when they were delivered by an old college friend of mine, who happened to be on duty in the radiology department. In some ways it was a relief – because if that searing pain down my left hand side wasn’t a clot, what the hell was it? Indigestion? At least now we had a result and could plan for the future. A miserable, joyless, alcohol-free future constrained by daily doses of warfarin. There would be no more embarrassing dancing after a crate of Magners, no more Guiness sessions on the wall of the Gardd Fon, and no more early hours spent staring at the fire after a good barbeque and a few bottles of rioja.

I was allowed to go home, primarily I think because my Missus is a Doctor and they trusted her not to let me die. That is a judgement they made without knowing how much she yearned for a life free of speaker cable and without complicated operation of multi-purpose remote control for the sprawling home cinema, when all she wants is a portable telly to watch Corrie.

I had felt fine sitting on my bed listening to a morbid prognosis of future misery, but I couldn’t walk. Still it was quite pleasant being wheeled around while my slave wife went to fetch the car. And I had mixed emotions too, about the illness. Yes I may be incapacitated and acutely ill, but on the other hand it would mean that I could watch 18 consecutive episodes of The Killing without disturbance.

I spent that evening in the company of my youngest boy, Owain. We don’t usually do much together – he doesn;t like football, and I detest playing Go Fish!. While I spend a lot of time on football trips with my older boys, Owain and me disagreee strongly on the merits of the game, and I do not share his enthusiasm for Phineas and Ferb. We are miles apart culturally.

He is very much Mam’s boy, though occasionally we will spend time together in an activity he calls “watching the Simpsons”. While this often means doing what it says on the tin, it can also be a euphemism for any programme he wants to watch while lying on top of me as I snore blissfully. This usually takes place after school when it all gets too much for me.

But that first evening at home was a bit different. We lay in bed watching a terrible series of clips on youtube from an awful Disney film called Wendy Wu : Homecoming Warrior. Well, he watched it – I lay there nuzzled into his six year old neck breathing in his baby-like smell while I could before he suddenly grew up. When his Mother took him to the bathroom to brush his teeth before bed, I heard him begin to sob, which turned into a wail. He was inconsolable. “I don’t want dad to be ill. He’s my best friend. I like Dad”. Gulp! I was ill? Was it that obvious? Was I ill enough to scare a child? Would this mean that he expected me to watch hours of crap with him from now on? He likes me? This was worse than I thought.

One of the provisos about my early discharge was that I should return the following day to collect a prescription and talk to a counsellor about my condition. I was irritated by this – I hadn’t felt very good just walking the stairs in my house, and my two most painful attacks in hospital had come a short while after I’d ventured to the cafe on the ground floor. Nonetheless, I wasn’t going to spend another night on that ward with burping, farting, grunting, coughing, wheezing, snorting ill people, so back in I went.

My slave wife drove the car as close to the entrance as she could get and I walked in through those revolving doors which provide children with days of non-stop pleasure. Forget X-Box at Christmas, I’m going to buy them a set of automatic revolving doors. Oh, the pleasure to be had in walking round in circles and getting your sleeve caught as the machine threatens to crush your hand.

We walked together slowly through the concourse, but I just couldn’t do it. As we reached the first corridor I had to admit defeat – I couldn’t go any further, and after just 50 yards I felt dizzy, breathless and I was forced to lean against the wall for support. I must have looked really decrepit because a passing porter rushed across and put me down in the wheelchair he was transporting. Mair wheeled me off slowly and it hit me. Bang!

I started crying.

Usually when men admit to crying, the sentence is dressed up. “He wasn’t too proud to shed a tear”. “After forty-five years, Felinheli had won the Welsh Cup, and I looked around to see grown men crying with the emotion”. Not so long ago, it wasn’t acceptable for men to cry at all, but the rules changed after the public outpouring of grief over Diana’s death,  the intellectualisation of sport, and the popularity of Jeremy Kyle. Britain is a bit less uptight, and now men can cry in public, but it should be about something manly, heroic,  life-affirming.

Well my crying was none of that. It was rubbish. These were the pitiful, pathetic tears of a bloke who had been stripped of dignity, and was unable to move without being pushed along by his slave wife. I felt utterly helpless as I was wheeled along the walk of shame, past visiting relatives who I could see were itching to know what dreadful knews had just been passed onto this red-eyed, cripppled, unwashed pile of humanity that was being paraded around the central lift concourse.  I suppose that after a week of mostly cheerful denial it had suddenly hit me that I was mortal, that I had children to look after, and that my life was about to change.







About 2clots

47-year old Welsh cyclist. I suffered a dual pulmonary embolism in March 2011, following an attack of transverse myelinitis in 1994. Apart from that, I'm fine. Author of Red Dragons: The Story of Welsh Football.
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3 Responses to It’s been emotional

  1. Marc says:

    Bloody hell, mate, the “Was I ill enough to scare a child?” reminded me of when I had that op a couple of years ago and Marley helped me into and pushed me in my wheelchair to the car and then helped me upstairs and into bed and then, having being stoic throughout, burst into tears as soon as I was safely in bed.

    You’ve hit on something there. It almost made me cry and, as Scott and Sion will tell you, I am not the crier in the family. Good stuff

  2. Huw says:

    Uffach Phil – there’s a Spike Milligan moment here, isn’t there? I was relying on you to deliver my eulogy at my Humanist funeral, which was going to be sooner rather than later. Now it looks as if I’m not dying in the next few weeks, you’d better sort things out mate. As I say, I’m relying on you!

  3. Tim Hartley says:

    Phil – newydd glywed am hyn oll. Sioc yr yffar.

    Gobeithio y bydd pethau’n tro mas yn iawn. Pob dymuniad da i ti a’r teulu. Na, dyw geiriau ddim yn lot o gymorth ar hyn bryd – sori, ond yn meddwl amdanat beth bynnag.


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