Up Front by Emma Hart


Smut-Clog Part 2: This Time It’s Surgical

So it turns out that Adric can’t stay in the Tardis. It's Earthshock time. He’s been poking his little tendrils in where they don’t belong and generally mucking things up, and he’s got to go.

Seeing my brain scan images was fascinating. My nose is big enough in real life – on an MRI it’s enormous. I’d never before been able to use a mouse wheel to travel through my own skull.

The registrar was lovely, and had a level, no-nonsense way of explaining that if Adric stayed where he was, I’d go blind in my right eye. If they took Adric out there’d be a ‘small risk’ (10-20%) that the operation would blind me.

And generally being a calm reasonable person who makes good risk assessments, I had no problem with acknowledging that yes, any surgery involves risk, but leaving Adric where he was and letting him grow bigger was not a choice I could take.

I was still holding on to that with only the slightest quaver when he described making a six-inch incision from above my right ear upward to about the middle of my scalp, and then pulling my scalp down to expose the skull, so that no matter where they started sawing into the bone, the scar would still be above my hairline. (Squeamish readers should look away shortly before the start of this paragraph.) There will be drilling. There will be shrinking my brain. There will be chipping and sucking and at least six hours of surgery. There may be radiotherapy afterwards. My consent is pretty much informed right up the wazoo.

I went on the waiting list for the operation. Waiting lists being what they are in countries with socialised medicine, I was probably going to come up before a Death Panel first, right?

Last Wednesday, on a trip into town to see our son’s Learning Advisor, we dropped into the tattoo parlour I use, to book in a new tattoo. Last time, the waiting list was about three months. This time, though, I managed to get a cancellation slot – for Saturday. Brilliant. Then I’d have it all done before the operation and not have to worry about cancelling it after booking so far in advance.

Shortly after getting home, I got a message to phone the hospital. They’d had a cancellation and they wanted me to come in – on Friday. Or at least, they wanted me to come in and do pre-admission on Friday, then go home again and come back on Sunday evening. Perfect. I could get my operation, and my tattoo.

The tattoo was awesome. My last day of freedom has been lovely all round. My last day of freedom, and my last day of reasonable hair for quite a while. Now comes a week Inside. I am stocked up with food, books, headphones and internet access. I have the promise of visits for the viewing of my silly hair. My partner and I have been constantly reassuring each other that everything will be fine. I can’t help thinking that things would have been a lot finer if I hadn’t got a bloody brain tumour.


Emma Hart's new book 'Not Safe For Work' will be available November 2009.

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