A bit of news. Some folk will be aware that my health took an interesting turn this year. As I would normally be at the Arctic Gullfest in Varanger and this year at the inaugural Champions of the Flyway bird race in Israel I hope some information is helpful. Especially I don’t want friends who already know what’s happened, having to struggle to ‘explain’ to others. So …
After a couple of months of acute pain from mid-December and a week’s stint in hospital with the wrong diagnosis – five weeks ago I marched into the local doctors to insist on an MRI scan – Valentine ’s Day 14th Feb. The MRI scan showed up a tumour (presumed cancer) which had produced a crushed vertebrae and was sat on the spinal cord. That explained the ouch! The presenting issue besides the big C was damage to the nervous system. Remember never give a bloke with a big mouth a good story!! Several days of weighing odds and uncertainty as to best course of action, I had a biopsy and soon after my legs started to go and I was unable to walk, so a decision was quickly made for spinal surgery (secure the spine, protect spinal cord, remove good chunk of tumour).
3 weeks in hospital on a bit of a roller coaster ride. I’ve been home a week and a ½ now.
I have a very treatable form of cancer- as an outpatient I’ll just get treated and monitored. I am also bionic now!! I have metal screws and rods in my spine and the bigger job is just getting the muscles and nerves all rebooted and working again – and that’s progressing well. This afternoon I walked from the Flamborough car park to the Fog Horn station with local birding mate Phil C. We dipped a Black Redstart but found a windblown Chiffchaff – my first of the spring! So I won’t be going far from East Yorkshire of the next few months as I undergo rehab and recovery. You can imagine it’s going to be tough as East coast spring migration steps up (Baikal Teal and Iberian Chiffchaff headlined this time last year)!
Of course it’s been a shocking time for family and close friends but at the same time there has been some wonderful ‘gold’ in the midst of the crap and scary stuff that I wouldn’t have missed. We feel hugely loved and supported. Sharon and I and our girls are more aware of how precious family, community and friendships are. Some pretty cool things are going on- with and in spite of us.
Meanwhile whilst I can’t make it to two of my favourite events this year, I’m cheering on the Gullfest in Varanger and a Birding Frontiers team of Roger, Adam and Paul will hopefully make waves in Israel. Meanwhile I have lots of time to write a new ‘Birding Frontiers book’ and I already have new plans for the summer and autumn…
One other thing. We were all extremely and continually impressed with the NHS staff. Castle Hill Hospital, Hull is where was treated most and continue as an outpatient. Flippin, utterly amazing. My very lovely sister Helen has decided to raise money for this hospital. Helen has her own health stuff so its inspiring she is going for the 24 hours 3 peaks challenge with Evolution Outdoors. If you would like to know more and give a little that goes towards to the work at this cancer unit, I’d be chuffed for Helen and delighted for the folk who Castle Hill for whom there are simply not enough superlatives.