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Farewell to an unwanted guest

Frogspawn in Carradale

Spring arrives in Carradale once again, although it is still far from being warm, but our frogs are taking their usual gamble by spawning as early as they can. If they had access to a long range weather forecast this might improve the chances for their offspring but instead they rely upon volume, greater numbers improving the odds for each wee one.

The weather on the day I set off for Glasgow to meet up with Kate and Mike is mixed, bright sunshine for a while then later I am driving into large flakes of snow which streak upwards in front of our large van windscreen without actually making contact. Mike is here for the operation to remove his tumour – a day we have been anxiously waiting for – and as I type these words the operation is underway while we wait for news in the nearby Pond Hotel.

Abnormal load under bridge

I distract myself by remembering yesterday’s drive when I was caught behind a couple of pieces of a windfarm tower as they made their way by road across country from Campbeltown. This bridge just before Loch Lomond was a very tight fit and needed great care. Only by lowering the suspension on the trailer could it pass under, after which all the traffic had to wait in the snow flurries while everything was pumped up again so it could continue.

Glasgow is very cold. A thin dusting of pure white covers the ground, the cars and the rooftops but the sun shines too and the air has a clarity which brings the surrounding hills into sharp focus, like looking through a freshly cleaned window. All day Kate and I sit around, watching mindless TV, barely talking to one another, not daring to think what is happening at the hospital just along the road. We know Mike went into the operating theatre quite early in the day so when mid afternoon arrives and I get the first call from the surgeon the relief is palpable. Alarmingly we are told that the operation is not yet over but nevertheless things have gone as planned, Mike is holding up well, and we can expect to visit him later.

Surgery is complete by nine in the evening and we hustle out into the cold to where, just inside the hospital entrance, a nurse is waiting to guide us through the basement labyrinth to the theatre recovery room. Our son has pipes and tubes going in everywhere with machines bleeping away, flashing displays and coloured lights. He is still sedated, but as I stand and watch his chest rise and fall I recognise that he is still our Mike. The emotion is nearly too much to take in as the surgeon moves forward to greet us, a tall slim man who cannot be much older than Mike himself. The whole surgical team stand quietly nearby. These are the people who have just saved our son’s life, doing their everyday jobs and not one of them seems to resent the fact that they have worked more than twelve hours non-stop or that their evening at home has been spoilt. Mike has been in the best possible hands and we soon leave him to their tender care once again.

ice on the tapAfter a disturbed night in the hotel – residents in the room beneath us choosing to have a wild 3am party – we move house and settle gratefully into life in Ducky on a caravan park at Stepps, on the north side of Glasgow. Ducky is jacked up on her levelling ramps then we plug ourselves into the mains and wifi then let our space heater slowly bring the temperature up from below freezing to something more survivable; the scary ice drip hanging from the tap evaporates. From Stepps Mike is a double bus ride away so despite feeling increasingly jetlagged we grab a quick bowl of soup then set off to visit him. He has been moved from Post-op Recovery to an Intensive Therapy Unit at the nearby Western Infirmary, to a place where there are more nurses and doctors per patient than in any other part of the health service. We sit at his bedside while he gradually regains consciousness – 30 hours he has been away with the fairies – and suddenly it is all too much for me. The tears pour down my face and for some moments I can’t stop them coming. Seeing Mike lying there, his face partly hidden behind tubes and pipes, is more than my emotions can stand. I can only tell myself that the most important thing for him is that his unwanted guest has gone.

Our lives for the next few weeks will be centred around negotiating bus timetables, journeying in and out of Glasgow peering through misted up bus windows trying to see where we should get off, avoiding alighting too early so that we have to walk long distances through cold, dark streets. In between travelling to and fro we lurk around hospital wards, making the most of our brief visits whilst staying out of the way of busy nurses. For Mike this will be a long slow recovery, painful too, as his body heals from the insult of surgery.

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3 Responses to Farewell to an unwanted guest

  1. Gut wrenching entry, it must be the hardest thing on earth to see your child in such a state. Having 2 sons of my own I can certainly empathise. Hope Mike’s recovery is speedy and 100%, very best wishes to you all.

  2. Interesting new design, Mal, but much, much more importantly, what a wonderfully moving entry. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and feelings during what must have been the toughest day or so of your life. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like trying to get through all those hours whilst Mike was having his insides reorganised and going through such a critical procedure. And how you must have felt picking up the receiver to hear the words you had been waiting for. Of course you felt tears of relief and I must admit as I’m typing this I’m sharing some of them. It’s also hard, but not nearly so hard of course, being at such a distance and being normal whilst knowing what you three were going through. It was so good to get your message, thank you for ringing us so early. Both of us kept stopping what we were doing and we couldn’t help but think of that operating theatre way up to the north of us. Gerry has just got up now so I will share your blog comments with her too. She will be as moved as I am I know. Love to you all. Rich

  3. Hello Kate and Malcolm,

    Constantly thinking about you all and wishing Mike better and stronger with every day that passes.

    Lots of Love,


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