Image by d marinho on SXC.hu
In the meantime, my father and my step mother had died. My father died six years after we arrived in Spain, also of cancer (brain and lung) aged fifty nine. My step mother died five years after him, two months before my son was born. She also died of cancer (cervical cancer) aged fifty nine. She died at the same age as my father, five years and five days after him.
With all theses deaths in my family, it was not surprising that when my sister (my biological one) turned forty, she was very relieved. She had outlived our mother. It is why I sometimes think I could die young too but I try not to think about it too much even though I have had my own health scare – two in fact.
In April two thousand and three, I had a blood clot in my brain (a brain haemorrhage I think it is called). It started with an excruciating headache. I went to the pharmacist for a blood pressure check up. It was very high. So I went to the hospital. After six hours waiting, they did an x-ray and then they sent me back to wait. Two minutes later, they came to get me with a wheelchair and took me for observation. By now, I had concluded that I had brain cancer like my dad.
Then they called an ambulance which took me to Malaga hospital with my husband, his sister and her boyfriend driving behind us not knowing what was going on. It was horrible. I stayed for two weeks in this hospital without moving and then I was sent home. In August, I was sent to a hospital in Granada to do a laser treatment. The treatment was postponed because the machine was not working but my husband was lucky to know some people who had connections with staff in the hospital in Granada. We were able to get another appointment soon after.
The treatment was disgusting. A camera was installed via a vein in my groin to check where the treatment would take place in my brain. A helmet had to be screwed on to my head which was very painful. The day after the treatment, we returned to our car to find that it had been vandalised – the passenger seat window was broken. We tried to remove the glass from the seat and put the sun shade on top of it. Imagine how I felt. Holes all over, sitting on glass fragments next to a broken window (it was too hot to seat in the back).
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A follow up test later revealed that the hole had closed. I was gradually able to return to work the following February. I still do have regular checks. After the haemorrhage, I realised that I had high blood pressure which is what had caused the vein in my brain to break. Apparently, I had had a weak vein as a baby which had not fully matured. I was sent for treatment for the blood pressure. After about a year of treatment, my blood pressure returned to normal.
I fell pregnant after. My blood pressure returned. Despite this, I was given normal pre-natal check ups. During one of these check ups, there was alarm because by blood pressure was so high. They also found that the baby was not growing. They kept me in for one week to monitor us and found that he was not receiving any food which is why he hadn’t been growing. I was told that he might have to be taken out. I was informed of the risks and the possibility that he might be seriously disabled so I decided against it.
We were sent to a hospital in Malaga and the next day they told me that if they did not take him out he would die. I woke up in intensive care with no child and no husband. My blood pressure was up and down and when I found out my son’s chances of survival were very small, it went very high. Eventually, my son’s doctor came to talk to me to reassure me that he was out of the danger zone.
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I was put in a bedroom with another woman and her baby. I could not understand how they could do that. I felt more positive when I saw my son after three days – his long hands, long legs and small head but he was only 32 cm and with a weight of 900 grams. But he was so active they had to pin his arms within his nappy to keep him still. I was discharged after about ten days and for two months I commuted twice a day from Marbella to Malaga to see him. At weekends we stayed all day to see him for two hours. I would sit like a cow next to a machine to be milked and there would be little milk. But whatever little milk came out, they would give to him.
After his discharge, we were lucky that we all went on to live a more or less normal life.