Tuesday 20 January 2015

Just An Average Day At The Office...

For a bit of background for anyone that doesn’t know, my name is Jamie MacDonald, I am fit and healthy other than mild asthma and the after effects of a shoulder injury. Last summer I graduated from Cardiff Uni with 1st Class Honours and competed at the Commonwealth Games, I am now working full time in a grad position for a growing software firm in Exeter. Life is going well…

This all starts on Tuesday 6th January at about 18:30, I had just got home from a decent back session in the gym and was watching Sheldon Cooper’s latest exploits on E4 when I felt pins and needles in the left side of my tongue and mouth. The pins and needles spread down my left arm, into my hand and then down my trunk and into my leg and foot. So I did the sensible thing and when it had chilled out I went to the shops to pick up some frozen chips.

Feeling fine I picked up a bag of reasonably priced crinkle cut chips (it’s January, therefore I’m skint) and walked over to pay. In the time between joining the queue and getting to the till I dropped the bag 4 times even though I though I was holding it tightly. A few months without judo and my grip strength has gone to pot!

This made me think I should speak to someone about it, so I rang 111 and explained what had happened to them. To be honest I felt like a bit of a hypochondriac saying that I felt fine other than some pins and needles, but they sent the paramedics round to check me over. 15 minutes later I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Overkill I thought, I feel fine.

When at Royal Devon and Exeter hospital (conveniently a 5 minute walk from my house anyway) I was checked over by the first of a succession of Welsh Doctors. I assume they were all roped in so that I wouldn’t have to keep spelling out my parents address. He assured me that I passed every test as expected, which was apparently not what he was hoping for, so I was sent for a CT scan.

Sitting in the waiting room for the CT scan I was joined by a woman in her 40’s wearing a lovely combination of leggings and crocs. Sexy. I wasn’t particularly in the mood for small talk by this point but when she opened with a line as smooth as “are you an inpatient? Because you’re really good looking” I felt I couldn’t exactly ignore her. As I was being interrogated about my profession, musical tastes and ability to play an instrument I was called through for the scan. Relief. I think she was a matter of minutes away from dragging me into an unattended broom closet and violating me.

After chilling in a big X Ray machine for 5 I was sent back to wait for the doctor to bring me the results. Luckily my cougar babe had been taken away by then so I remained unmolested. Small positives.

The doctor arrived and asked me to follow him into a side room (fingers crossed the cougar wasn’t lying in wait) where he asked me to take a seat. “There’s no easy way to say this, but you have a brain tumour”

*Deafening silence*

Is he joking I thought?

“I’m really sorry, but this is the worst day of your life”

I guess not then…

“They want to keep you in over night but I have a feeling you could do with a stiff drink, so go home and have a few and I’ll see you in the morning for an MRI”

Now that was more like it. So I headed straight into the centre of Exeter, and to the only pub I knew that would be open. It was 12 when I got there and I only had 2 hours to get as inebriated as possible. Mission Accepted.

I was in a bit of a strange mood at this point so decided to buy everyone at the bar a tequila and everyone next to me a drink. I spent the rest of the evening drinking and chatting with these people I have never met before, and will probably never meet again. And had a great time. Really helped de-stress me, and after 7 pints and a few shots I was actually able to sleep when I had stumbled back to my house.

The doctor had started to explain that I would be in the first stage of grief (denial). He was wrong. The first, and best, stage of grief is not denial. It’s alcohol.


  1. Hi Jamie
    I have just read your story in the South Wales Echo. I know a someone who is also recovering from a brain tumour.. Toms blog is called +tumour fun

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