Friday, 25 November 2011

I need this like a hole in the head...

I am, I'm afraid, one of the few people who needs a hole in the head.

I have a brain tumour. Not a big one, not a deep one, not a snarly one with teeth and tentacles biting and twisting into the delicate fabric of my cortex. But a brain tumour nonetheless.

At least, it’s probably a brain tumour. I’ve had three different flavours of scan, and at least two of them seem to suggest very strongly that there’s an inch-long cancerous lump on my right temporal lobe. But it could also, apparently, be a bit of esoteric swelling or a clump of exotically-tangled blood vessels. I’ll know for certain next Thursday, December 1, when the nice people at the Southern General cut into my skull and have a rummage.

The first door opening on this year’s advent calendar is to be in the side of my head.

I should point out that even if it does turn out to be a brain tumour, things could be a lot worse. Apparently it’s peripheral, near or on the surface of my brain and so easier to get at and get out. And being on my right temporal lobe, and me being right-handed, it’s well away from all the stuff which when prodded makes one dribble.

Speech and language are on the left of the brain for the right-handed; the right temporal lobe is for us reserved for such esoterica as finding our way around buildings and the order in which we put on our clothes. Since I outsourced my limited sense of direction to GPS some time ago and don’t care much about my order of dressing as long as it’s not boxers last, it looks like the potential for damage is limited. There is memory on the right side, but too deep to be touched by this op.

Best case, according to the eminently confidence-inspiring neurosurgeon I spoke to this week, is that she can “get under the edges” of the thing and wheech it all out. If that happens, I might not even need chemo. Which would be nice.

Of course, the worst case...

But best not to dwell on that. They do these things every day, these days, and they’re very good at it. They have shiny machines, many of which go ‘ping’. I like shiny machines.

So I prefer to look on the positive side. I’m about to have my head opened: this is not an everyday occurrence for me, so I want to make the most of it. I’m thinking upgrades here. What can I have put in?

More memory would be good. Maybe an SSD. And some kind of co-processor so that I can do calculations subconsciously. I thought about an internet connection, but I’ve seen a great deal of what’s out there and I don’t want a lot of it in my brain, so I think I’ll keep filtering that in via my more traditional interfaces for now.

Bluetooth would be great, though, to let me listen to media from my phone without headphones. There is, as I'm sure we're all painfully aware, a simpler way of doing this, but I’m not as enamoured with my own tastes as the teeny tracksuits whose epitome of entertainment is a public broadcast of JLS through the tinny speaker of a spangle-coated Nokia on the 57 bus. I just don’t see Radio Four working that way. Come to think of it, I do quite like having my ears plugged on public transport. Maybe not Bluetooth, then.

One of my friends suggested HDMI, as it would be great to watch memories on the big plasma, but I’m thinking of wi-fi for that, so I can stream it through the XBox360 without cabling. And maybe a SIM card and radio so I can download Kindle books and read them behind my eyes.

All other suggestions gratefully received.

There are other, some may say more practical, up-sides.

If I do need chemo, I will save money on haircuts. I’m already on steroids, which are supposed to make you feel great, although I’m waiting for that to kick in (they may be being offset by the anti-epileptics, which can make you drowsy). Also, the metal plates they use to re-attach the section of bone they’re planning to jigsaw out of my cranium should be quite entertaining at airports, and may allow me to wear fridge magnets.

And I get quite a lot of time off work.

There are, of course, the outside chances of stroke, some kind of MRSI-flavoured sucking abscess, or not waking up from the anaesthetic, but that’s all pretty unlikely. I’m keeping positive.

One week from now I fully expect to be sitting up in hospital with a sore head, a scar the shape of a horizontal question-mark above my right ear, and ideally some new hardware (although I realise technology has to make a few leaps in the next six days to achieve that). Quite probably moaning about not being able to use 3G in a hospital and suffering mild internet withdrawal.

So this is my blog on the subject, because no-one seems to be funny about cancer any more. I’m just putting the ‘umour back into tumour.

I’ll keep you posted.

1 comment:

  1. Bagsy not get the first chocolate out of your advent calendar, Graeme ...