Here is an extract from the book I’m wring about my experience with cancer. This is the day I became ill with breathing difficulties, going into work and struggling along hoping my problem would just sort itself out by itself, to giving in and reluctantly going to hospital. My book is called ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of Lung Cancer’ and will be completed in October all being well, after my meeting with my oncologist on the 10th October, that will wrap things up nicely or be a start for a second book, depending on the results.
The Day Started OK.
‘I’m Gonna Send You Back To The Place Where It All Began’
10th Sept 2018. I came home from a night shift from my job at Hoyer, driving a 44 ton artic tanker, delivering petrol and diesel to BP garages around the south east, just a normal shift nothing out of the ordinary, no problems. I would normally be home between 4 and 5 am from a night shift, sometimes a little earlier or later. I’d normally stay up for about a hour having a snack or a cup of tea, winding down from the nights work getting ready for a sleep, I won’t say a good sleep as doing shift work, days and nights you start to lose your natural sleep pattern and you really don’t sleep as well. A normal sleep would be about 4 or 5 hours, then get up as I’m now wide awake anyway, have a cup of tea, then some lunch have another cup of tea then start thinking about going back to bed for a hour or 2, then up at 3, get ready and off to work again, on a night shift I won’t see my 13 year old son all the shift, except if I’m working weekends, as I’m off to work before he gets home, and asleep when he gets up. It pays well but it’s not the best job, 4.00 am or 4.00 pm starts, and 12 hour shifts.
I got up as I do on the Monday morning about half 10 or so, and after about 10-15 mins I breathed in and got a pain in my back, but inside me somewhere, I sat down and started thinking what it could be and what to do. At first I started to think I had slept awkwardly and bruised my ribs in my sleep, maybe even cracked a rib, that seemed to cover it, so I thought it’ll pass soon enough. I carried on as I normally would, had a cuppa, had lunch, then start to get ready for bed again, I thought I won’t be getting much sleep with this, and if I don’t, as much as it pains me I wouldn’t be going into work that night. I couldn’t believe how well I slept but as I got up I still had a problem breathing. 3 more shifts to get through, but I didn’t want to lose my attendance bonus, or my money for the next 3 shifts, so I thought go in and see how I get on. An echo of what your firm will always say when you tell them you won’t have time for the last delivery, “See how you get on”.
I went in to work and only had 2 jobs to do, my first one was in Newbury just off the M4 J13, I was already loaded, not too bad, then a local one after if I could manage it. Off we go to Newbury, an unusually smooth start to a shift, driving wasn’t a problem, getting to Newbury and parking up on the tipping point was easy, then I had to put cones out which was a struggle, my 6 small cones were easy enough, but the large cones were awkward to handle, heavier and they often stick together making it a struggle to separate them. Got that done with plenty of panting. Then started tipping, one pot only had 3000 litres in of unleaded, in a 7000 litre pot, which can lead to an airlock, as there’s not enough weight to push the fuel out, as it’s all tipped by gravity. So you have to lift the hose which is heavy on a good day, let alone when you can’t breath properly. Once you get it going your fine but you have to lift the hose then walk to the customer end lifting the hose as you go, which is full of product. I’m panting away but eventually got it going and I’m thinking I shouldn’t be here doing this, there’s no way I can do any more I’m just going back to the yard, parking up and going home.
An ambulance came into the garage to fuel up, and I’m looking at it thinking that I should go and ask them if this is just a bruised rib, but then a thought comes into my head that if it is something worse, they’ll be keeping me in a hospital in the Newbury area miles away from my family in Basildon. Stubbornly I choose not to see the ambulance crew, and I’ll drive back to Purfleet, when I’ve finished tipping here, go home and sleep it off, it’ll be better in the morning.
Arriving back at the yard in Purfleet about 11.30pm, I drove round the back and parked up, phoned Hoyer and told them I’m going home, “Oh ok then what’s the matter?” “I’ve hurt my ribs and I’m struggling to breathe” “Oh no how did you do that?” “I think I must of slept awkwardly last night” “Oh thats alright then”. You could almost hear the relief that I wasn’t going to be suing them for falling and banging my ribs at work. “Just send a text or phone your LTM”, (my manager), I sent him a text. I got my gear together and took out my tacho card, and left a note apologising to the next driver for not fuelling the truck and preloading. It’s such a difference to come into work and your loaded and the diesel tank is full, they’re not huge diesel tanks so need daily topping up or you’re going to run out, and being a fuel tanker driver, you’re never going to live that one down.
I saw some of the lads in the tea room, but unsociably went straight to my locker as I felt I was struggling a bit now and just wanted to get home, some of them came up to me and asking what I’ve got next then realising I was done “How come you going home so early”, “Oooooh that sounds bad” “Your going to the hospital right” “Oh err yeah probably” “Ooohhh no you want to make sure you do go, could be serious, could be your lungs and not your ribs” uuummm thanks feel a lot better now. Getting to my car though I’m thinking maybe I should just pop to the hospital just to check its nothing more serious than a bruised rib, sure it won’t be. Its not even midnight yet, I’ve got plenty of time and I’ll only be sitting there.
I got parked in the car park at the hospital, but just walking over to the A+E department was hard work, slow down and I won’t get out of breath, up to the counter and join the small queue, “Yes, have you got your form?” “Err no I’ve just got here, I’m having trouble breathing,” “I’m sorry I can’t process you until you’ve seen the triage nurse over there”, well I look behind me and theres only a few patients sitting there, “Where is this triage nurse?” “Knock on the door and take a seat next to it”, so I knock on the door and sit down, it felt a bit like knocking on a door and hiding when you were a child, great system. The door opens and a couple come out and “Next” but another couple go in before I can get up, oh sod it I haven’t got the energy to argue with anyone tonight. I shrug my shoulders at a couple opposite me and say “I’ll be next then” and we laughed. As the door opened again “Next” and another couple start to go in but the couple opposite me tell them that I’m next, so thanks to them I’ll now be seen, and told to go home and sleep it off, you’ll be fine in the morning.
This is the first chapter of my book ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of Lung Cancer’, I’m quite pleased with it and I’m enjoying writing it, and I think it has helped me come to terms with what has happened over the past 11 months, and made it easier to cope with. You go over the same thing so many times, and you look at it from so many different angles, it changes the way you look and feel about things, and takes some of the fear away, and some things you just have to be totally realistic about, not relying on the outcome you want, but accepting what is going to happen and just getting on with it.
Feel free to leave any comments, take care and always be 100% positive and Don’t be afraid of lung cancer!