When you find yourself off work, you soon begin to wonder what you can do with your time. I’ve now been off work for fifteen weeks, the most painful fifteen weeks of my life!

At the end of June I left work (at the theatre) early to be rushed to the hospital’s emergency department due to severe chest pains. I knew exactly what was wrong with me but the pain was so bad I had no choice but to head straight to the hospital. As a teenager I was diagnosed with a condition called Pectus Excavatum. Basically a sunken chest. My ribcage was deformed and it had twisted by sternum which in turn was pressing on a heart valve. I had corrective surgery in 2012 which kept me in hospital for five days.

X-ray showing a titanium bar in my chest. © Gary Is.

During my recovery I married the love of my life, Sadie, then soon afterwards disaster struck. I was sitting on a deckchair in a friend’s garden and it collapsed under me. I was sent sprawling across the ground (miraculously I didn’t spill a drop of my cup of tea) and I was taken back to the hospital in a lot of pain. The X-ray showed the titanium bar holding my ribcage together had twisted so had to be removed, another two days in hospital.

Immediately afterwards my ribcage began sinking again although it didn’t cause me too many problems. That was until early 2018. I started to feel pain again. I quietly managed to get through the pain but it gradually increased over the next twelve months until June 2019 when it felt like I had been hit by a truck. In the days earlier I had been getting the seats ready in the theatre when the pain increased quite dramatically. Then Tuesday 25th June 2019 happened.

I was taking show leaflets to the many shops and businesses near to the theatre when I felt a sudden and sharp pain in the centre of my chest. I managed to get back to the theatre and I then broke down in front of my manager and colleagues. The pain became so severe I couldn’t breathe. Hospital beckoned.

Over the following weeks I had many trips to the hospital’s emergency department, the GP, respiratory consultant and a thoracic surgeon. I had blood tests, ECGs and CT scans. The surgeon gave me the news that he would be opening my chest again to correct my ribcage for a second time. This was only the start of my problems though.

My CT scan showed that I had splenomegaly, an enlarged spleen. The standard spleen size is between 11cm and 14cm. Mine was 18cm. This triggered further appointments with other specialists including the haematologists. Many more blood tests ensued as an enlarged spleen is usually a sign of blood cancer. I also had another CT scan. Thankfully the blood tests all came back clear but my spleen had now grown another five centimetres to 23cm. This now put me in the severe category and at significant risk of a life threatening rupture. The haematologist also gave me news I didn’t want to hear. I’m having surgery to remove my spleen. This may affect me for the rest of my life.

Snoopy 2005-2019. Rest in peace my little angel. © Gary Is.

On Tuesday 24th September I was sent for a bone marrow biopsy which left me in pain for several days. I’m still recovering from this, in fact it only stopped bleeding today (30th). And on Thursday 26th I travelled to Grimsby to see family and my Snoopy.

Two years ago we had to give up our beloved dog Snoopy as he could no longer manage the stairs to our flat. He moved to Grimsby to live with my in-laws. We got to see him on Thursday and since we last saw him a month previously he had deteriorated significantly. Aged 14 and now deaf and blind and with advanced arthritis in his legs and spondylitis in his spine Snoopy was in constant pain.

At 5pm on Friday 27th September we said our final goodbyes to him as he gained his wings to become an angel. We don’t have children so for the past fourteen years Snoopy was our little boy. To say I am absolutely heartbroken is one of the biggest understatements I’ve ever made, I am truly devastated.

So my chest issues, my spleen issues and the loss of my best friend Snoopy, this has been the worst fifteen weeks of my entire life. I will keep plodding on as I always do but now I have gained a guardian angel. I hope Snoopy can give me the strength to fight this indescribable pain and make my way back to fitness, with or without a spleen.

Rest in peace my beautiful little boy. I love you Snoopy x

 

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