David Cradduck – An Ill Bloke’s Blog
Posted by Andy Goddard
Posted in News
Here’s the first bit of David’s blog – From Normality To Abnormality In One Move – and you can read the rest of ‘An Ill Bloke’s Blog’ on anillblokesblog.blogspot.co.uk
The phrase ‘An Ill Bloke’s Blog’ started as a facebook joke as in “I don’t want this to turn into an ill bloke’s blog”. Who on earth wants to read the gory details about another person’s serious illness?
I remember some years ago the journalist John Diamond writing every week a magazine article on his declining health and eventual death from throat cancer. At the time I was filled with a mixture of revulsion, horror and fascination.
Someone suggested that I should do the same and even if no-one but me ever reads it I guess it will be extremely cathartic. A problem shared…
From normality to abnormality
We all have ailments from time to time; in the past twelve months I have had a lower back pain issue which was very painful and a large molar extracted which was equally so. I’ve had gout, hypertension, occasional headaches and self induced hangovers. But having something happen like has just happened to me in such an alarmingly short space of time is a different thing altogether.
Back in May, Sally and I invested in a 10-year old caravan, well-equipped and big enough for us two and Rosie the Retriever. The plan went well – a initial week long trip to Swanage and a longer, three stop tour of the Gower in August. True we had a few teething problems with the caravan: a stuck gas regulator, various bits and pieces not working, blown fuse etc. but otherwise the start of a new adventure, partly reliving the many summer holidays we spent in the noughties down in Cornwall caravanning at Teneriffe Farm with the kids.
We had a lovely fortnight+ in the Gower, walking the cliffs, beaches and little lanes.
I took with me a script to learn for the forthcoming Cheriton Players’ production A Month of Sundays in which I had been cast in the lead role. Ironically I was to play an ill bloke in a nursing home and as well as learning 61 solid pages of lines (never offstage in this one) was practicing the art of walking/shuffling feebly, getting up painfully out of chairs and so on. In fact all the things I have been doing recently for real. Method acting at its extreme. I would wake earlier in the caravan than Sally, walk the dog, then take myself back to bed and spend an hour on lines.
All those lines learnt – for nothing!
It was during that hour that I first started noticing a slightly distended tummy, and a bit of a dull ache; nothing to worry about but it gradually worsened so that once I got home and it was starting to wake me up at night with more than a little discomfort I took myself off to the local GP.
She prodded and felt ‘something firm’ lower right bowel and fast tracked me for an appointment with Mr Miles of the ColoRectal Unit at RHCH, Winchester for a fortnight later, Tuesday 30th September. Meanwhile it became worse, very uncomfortable bloated feeling with erratic bowel movements and stomach cramps, especially at night.
A blood test showed no abnormalities, no anaemia and normal readings throughout. I went back twice more after that initial visit, as it was getting worse but was prescribed painkillers only.
Then on Sunday night, 28th September, life changed forever; I was in agony, short of breath, distended/bloated abdomen and it was clear that the system was blocked. Sally drove me to A&E on the Monday morning at 7.30am and by lunchtime I was admitted to Kemp Welch ward pending surgery. Nil by mouth from my delicious Sunday night supper until about 6 days later as it turned out.
To surgery – and beyond!
Mr Miles came and saw me on the Monday afternoon to explain what they intended to do – a laparotomy to remove whatever the blockage was that was showing up on X-rays and clearly on CT scans. An interesting man, very professional, almost the caricature of a senior surgical consultant but obviously with an awesome reputation for being a ‘safe pair of hands’.
He guessed, quite rightly, that it was going to be a Lymphoma, a tumour generated by a cancer which attacks the lymph system and which can pop up anywhere in that system from neck to groin, armpits and kidneys.
There didn’t seem much point in reading up at this stage, to be honest; within 48 hours I would know for sure and besides, I didn’t really care very much, having been put on painkillers, including morphine that made me lose the will to read, listen to music or anything requiring more than the attention span of a gnat.
I was wheeled down to theatre on Tuesday afternoon, ironically by an old neighbour from Cheriton, Doug Smith, who retired from the hospital maintenance department and now enjoys part-time work as a porter.
Another coincidence was that Caroline Fairley (the anaesthetist who brought our triplets Lizzie, Zoe and Tom into this world on 29th November 1990 at Mayday Hospital near Croydon) was also on duty that day; it transpired that she finished off my anaesthetic and took me to the recovery room when I was waking up.
Of course I knew nothing about ‘me op’ – it lasted well over three hours and had Sally and family concerned for hours of ‘no news’. I came round about 9pm, with two sensations – desperate for a wee and a drink. Allowed neither of course – (1) catheter and (b) just not allowed.
I was transferred to recovery and then onto the ICU ward overnight before being taken back to Kemp Welch and relative peace.