So before I start the whole process of my cancer experience, I want to tell you what I was like pre-diagnosis. I was a happy girl, into music & sport. I loved sport a lot and was always in the school teams for literally anything I could be. I also had a great love for music, at the time I was enjoying listening to Indie music. Arctic Monkeys were and still are one of my favourite bands and there were many others I loved too.
So fast forward a little, to me at age 17. I was nearing the end of my first year of college. Everything had gone okay I thought, I wasn’t particularly enjoying my time at college, I hadn’t really made any new friends and felt like a loner in most of my classes. I enjoyed the breaks and lunchtimes more than I did the classes, where I could be with my school friends and feel like myself again, rather than being the ‘shy girl who never says anything’, which I was with the people in my classes.
I had just finished my AS level exams and we were back at college for a few weeks before the summer break. I started noticing that my left arm was being a bit wobbly, I found it hard to type on the computer keyboard and hard to play the instruments I was playing. I remember in one of my music lessons I had to do a piano performance, I was nervous already to do this in front of people who never spoke to me and had pretty much ignored me all year, I ended up doing really badly because of my left arm and all i could hear were whispers and giggles and I knew they were all about me. A similar thing happened in a P.E. class, it was raining that day so our practical lesson was brought indoors to the sports hall where we were playing short tennis, something that I would normally have played easily, yet with my left arm wobbling, I was finding it hard to do so. Again I heard whispers and giggles, I felt so ashamed of myself and at this time I had no explanation for why I couldn’t do something that was so simple, so I lied to my teacher saying that I wasn’t feeling well. She let me leave the lesson and I went into the changing room sobbing my heart out.
At home my arm was effecting things that we all take for granted. One evening I was eating my dinner and scooped up a forkful of peas with my left hand, by the time the fork reached my mouth there were no peas left on it, as my arm had been wobbling so much that they had all been thrown around the room. My mum told me off and said to stop messing around, so for the rest of the meal I used my right hand. A week later my Nan was staying with us, again we were sat around the dinner table and the exact same thing happened. Again my mum told me off and I said ‘I didn’t do it on purpose, my arm is all wobbly’.
‘Don’t be silly’ my mum said, ‘Come on eat your dinner properly’, it was then when my Nan piped up and said, ‘No she’s not lying, I saw it happen, her arm was wobbling’. (Thank you Nan for this). My mum looked at me and said, ‘Ok do it again and I’ll watch this time’. So again I picked up a forkful of peas and they flew across the room. ‘Ok, I see, sorry my darling’, said my Mum. ‘How long has this been going on?’ I explained that my arm had been wobbly for a few weeks, that stuff like eating dinner and typing on the computer was proving hard to do. ‘We’d better make an appointment at the doctors then’, said my Mum and that we did.
About a week later me and my Mum were sitting in the office of my GP, explaining what had been happening with my left arm. ‘You came to me a few weeks ago with a very bad cold’, he said, ‘Well I think that the virus of the cold has attacked the nerves in your arm, making it shake like this, I will prescribe you these tablets and if in six weeks time it hasn’t gone away or has got worse, come and see me again’.
Six weeks later I was on a family holiday in Portugal. I had been looking forward to this holiday all year, I couldn’t wait for the sunshine, having fun jumping into the pool and getting myself all tanned up, however things weren’t quite right. I didn’t want to do anything at all and by this time my left leg had joined in with the wobbliness. I was finding it hard to walk more than say 100m, all I wanted to do in the day was stay in the apartment sleeping. Normally, I was always the most energetic of all of us, begging my parents to let me go outside back to the pool. My Mum & Dad were noticing this difference in me too, and after the first week of our two week holiday, they sat me down and announced that they had decided to cut our holiday short. They wanted to get me back to the doctors as soon as possible to sort out whatever was going on. I really didn’t want to leave and felt so guilty that I was the reason that we all had to leave a week early, but I knew it was the best thing to do.
I felt absolutely rubbish when I got home, again still feeling guilty for bringing my family home early but also because I knew I wasn’t myself. I remember going to my friends house the evening after we landed back home, it was her birthday and her and some other friends had been to London to watch a musical, I hadn’t gone because the plan was that I would be in Portugal, however when my friend found out that I had arrived home, she kindly invited me to join her and the rest of our friends at her house for the evening, as they were all having a sleepover. It was weird, I wasn’t feeling myself at all that evening, I’d usually be cracking jokes, laughing and smiling with everyone else, but I found I was just observing everyone else having fun. My friend kindly asked me if I would like to sleep over too, but I declined her offer, as I just wanted to go home and be by myself.
A week later (ironically a day after we would have landed if we’d stayed in Portugal the whole two weeks), i was at the doctors again, this time not with my GP, but another doctor who did some tests on me. One I remember vividly. He asked me to hold up one finger on one hand opposite my nose and the other on my nose.
I then had to move my finger from my nose to my other finger as accurately and as quickly as I could muster. Of course with my right hand this was easy peasy, but with my left hand it seemed like the most difficult thing in the world and I’m sure I poked myself in the eye more than two or three times!
The doctor also asked my to walk up and down the corridor outside his office so he could see how my left leg was performing, he could see that this was a problem for me too. Upon seeing all this, he said that he would like to refer me to a neurologist. Again he thought that all this was due to some damage to my nerves and he said that he would arrange an appointment for me.
to be continued in the next post…