Monthly Archives: November 2013

Infinite Improbability


Posted on November 20, 2013 by

Hello everyone. Apologies for the delay between updates. A number of factors have been getting in the way of my ability to write stuff to put up here recently, most notably National Novel Writing Month, which I intend to write about at greater length at some point.

One of the factors is that I have been going through a bit of a rough patch lately, and I have found it difficult to motivate myself to write anything at all, let alone blog posts.

I was given a piece of advice a while ago, and that if you are struggling with depression it can often help to look to the positives in your life as a means of beginning to drag yourself up out of the doldrums to help get you to a place where you can be happy about yourself again.

With this in mind a thought came to me the other day. Most of the people reading this will likely know that in 2005 I was diagnosed with and treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. I’ve never been one to use my illness as a crutch or an excuse except in circumstances where an after effect of the illness or treatment (which was, in many ways, worse than the condition) were genuinely the cause of my inability to meet a commitment.

In fact I’ve always tried to have the most positive attitude possible regarding the whole thing and, besides having joints that an 80 year old would be ashamed of, I’ve not come out of the whole thing too badly really. Honestly I am mostly just glad to be alive.

This wasn’t always necessarily guaranteed however, as, at some point at the end of June/beginning of July 2005 I was put under sedation, which is one or two steps short of being placed in an artificial coma.

The previous week I had undergone total body irradiation as the final major. part of my treatment programme. Nuking the whole body like that does rather put paid to the immune system, and I was warned that I would, while it recovered, be very susceptible to infection.

Despite the best efforts of the hospital staff I rather inevitably caught pneumonia. My temperature went well over 40 degrees, and let me tell you, when that happens you start to hallucinate some weird shit, like seven hour episodes of Emmerdale.

I don’t remember any of this, hence why I am a bit sketchy about the exact dates it all happened, but I can only assume I went full Exorcist, speaking in tongues, rotating my head 360 degrees and floating several feet above the bed, so they made the decision to sedate me for my own safety. Or so I didn’t possess any of the doctors or something. Let’s go with the second one.

Those of you that have had pneumonia, or know someone that has, will know that it can really just gut your body, so you can imagine how dangerous it is for someone whose natural defences have decided to do one. At some point during my two weeks of sedation my lungs failed and for a while stubbornly refused to get their shit together and work again.

A little known statistic that a doctor told me is that if one of your organs fails then you have a 95% chance of it recovering and surviving. If its compatriots start coming out in solidarity, however, your chances of pulling through drop to 5%.

At one point during this time my parents were told by one of the doctors in the ICU that if my lungs didn’t recover within two days it would pretty much be curtains, and no encore.

Obviously this didn’t happen as I am here to tell the tale, but waking up to be told that you had effectively been given two days to live is a bit of an eye opening moment in your life.

This fact came up in a conversation at work the other day (we’re a sickly bunch) and it got me wondering how long exactly it had been.

Well, I can’t be 100% certain due to the ambiguity of dates and the fact that I was basically in a coma when this call was made, but I can say with absolute certainty that within the last month it passed the 3000 day mark.

3000 odd days ago death came knocking, and rather than go along willingly I told him his shoe was untied and kicked him in the knackers when he wasn’t paying attention.

I recall someone once getting outraged at the suggestion that cancer is a ‘fight’ because it implied that the people that didn’t make it, the ones that just couldn’t beat the thing, hadn’t tried hard enough or something.

As anyone who has had cancer, or has seen someone they love go through cancer treatment will know, it is a fight. You have to fight every day because if you give up you can be damn certain that it will eat you alive, quite literally.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving up. Some people just do not have the energy to do it, or they feel that their lives are fulfilled enough that they can go to their end satisfied. For some people the horrors of going through radiotherapy or chemotherapy to potentially tack another couple of years of poor quality life isn’t worth it.

But fighting gives people a chance. Not everyone that fights will win, because after all no-one said it was a fair fight. But some will survive, against all the odds, and live on to fight another day. I am fortunate enough to be one of those people, but there are those who were close to me that weren’t, including my own mother.

So from now on when I can only see the negatives in life I’ll turn to the one positive that, as long as I am alive will only become more and more amazing. If you are in a similar situation I can only advise you to do the same. Because if death comes calling for me again, and he will, I’ll be ready this time, because I’ve already lived 1500 times longer than I should have. And he can fucking bring it.

Finally, I would like to finish this post with the words of Julian Dreyer of La Dispute:

“And sing for all your friends and family; sing for those who didn’t survive.
But sing not for their final outcome; sing a song of how they tried.
We live amidst a violent storm; leaves us unsatisfied at best,
So fill your heart with what’s important, and be done with all the rest.”