I’m back – and this time, it’s personal

It was dark.

And not just ‘absence of light’ dark. It was as though someone had thrown the darkness over me, smothering me in the inability to see. Or even think.

I was aware that there were people nearby. I couldn’t tell what they were saying (their voices seemed to be coming from many miles away), but I could tell that they were agitated.

They sounded worried about something.

Then, one of the voices broke through…

“Thomas.  Thomas, can you hear me?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Can you open your eyes, Thomas?”

I tried, but couldn’t, and told my fellow converser as much.

“OK,” he said. “Do you know where you are right now?”

This one gave me pause to think for a moment. “No,” I admitted. “I don’t know where I am.”

“Thomas, you’re in A&E.”

I think I actually chuckled then. “No, I’m not!” I said. “Why would I be in A&E?”

And that was it. The voice faded away to mix with the general hubbub and chatter of background noise. The conversation was, apparently, over.

I didn’t find out until later, but it was around this time that doctors took Kirsty, my wife, to one side to tell her that the prognosis wasn’t good.

I had, apparently, fallen out of bed in the early hours of the morning and Kirsty had been unable to wake me up. First one, then two ambulance crews were called to carry me downstairs to the gleaming yellow chariot that was to speed me to first A&E and then the Intensive Care Unit at Blackburn Hospital.

At that point, the doctor told Kirsty, I had approximately two hours of life left.

Two hours. I’m so glad I didn’t know that.

My blood pressure had plummeted to dangerously low levels. The oxygen in my bloodstream was at 35%. I was seriously ill, unconscious, and dying.

The doctors considered putting me into a medically induced coma and ventilating me – hesitating only because they were uncertain that I would ever come out of it.

Eventually, after giving me regular small doses of medication to try to raise my blood pressure, I started to stabilise and the threat to life reduced to the point where I could be left in the care of ICU nurses.

Not that I knew anything about this.

I regained consciousness several hours later, and found myself in an unfamiliar bed, linked up to any number of drips, monitors and other flashing, beeping machines and other sci-fi looking paraphernalia.

For some reason, I believed I was in a factory, overseeing the production of golden robots.

Hey, they’re my hallucinations!

I became aware of someone else in the room. It was a nurse. She helped me to have a sip of water, and told me where I was. It wasn’t until later in the day that I was told why I was here…

I had double pneumonia and sepsis. And it had almost killed me.

Kirsty arrived back at the hospital that afternoon, having had to nip home to see to our sons, Arran and Sam. I called her closer and half-croaked, half-whispered to her…

“I think I’m in the intensive care unit.”

“Yes,” she said, her eyes flooding with tears.  “Yes, you are.”

“And, I think I might be very ill this time…”

I can still feel the hug she gave me.

Of course, that all happened back in the summer. I’m writing about it now because I don’t want to forget anything this dreadful year has thrown at me.

If you remember, I used to blog about my cancer and treatment on a regular basis – until I was so ill that I just couldn’t manage it any more.

But now, I’m back. Ready to blog about my experiences again – that is, if anyone wants to hear it anymore.

I won’t hold it against you if you don’t!

I spent a week in ICU after the doctors and nurses saved my life, followed by another month on the main hospital wards. I did manage to give a handful of updates via Facebook, but it wasn’t the same.

So, I intend to fill in the blanks and tell you what you missed. Partly here on the blog, and partly in the ebook version I’ll be putting together in the new year.

I just didn’t want 2016 to end without speaking to you again!

If you’re new here, take a few moments to scan back through the easier entries in the blog. That will take you right from my diagnosis (now nine months ago!), to part way through my chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

That’s when I became too ill to keep up with the blog.

Since then, I’ve been battling the side effects of that treatment – and I’m still not back to anything like full health. I’ll explain more in subsequent posts but, at the time of writing, I still can’t speak properly or eat anything more solid than thin, watery soup (and even that hurts!)

The good news is that my cancer is still in remission! I have some worries there, which I’ll post about another day, but for now, I’m happy to be able to type that!

I’m getting back to work very slowly – although I can’t sit up at my computer for long periods of time, so it’s slow going. I’m trying to catch up with writing, but keep missing deadlines as I have a habit of not admitting how unwell I still am.

“Yes, I can do that by that date! No problem!”

But, I often can’t.

I need to be more honest with my agent, my editors, and family.

I need to be more honest with myself.

Obviously, visiting schools is still completely out of the question.

The support and help I’ve received from family, friends and even strangers has been overwhelming. And you still can help by clicking on one of the buttons at the top right of this page.

Click the PayPal button to make a one-off donation, or the Patreon button to receive exclusive written content each month in return for your ongoing support.

Or, you can simply tell your friends and family about this blog. Send them the link so they can read about my experiences for themselves. Share it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. The more visitors I can get, the better.

With Christmas all but upon us, any help you are able to offer would be very gratefully received.

But that’s not why I’m back.

I’m back because, frankly, I missed talking to you. I missed telling you how I was feeling, what the hospital teams were doing, and how the treatment affected me.

Because if I can help just one fellow sufferer, and  put their mind at rest about what they’re about to go through, then all of this will have been worthwhile.

Is there anything in particular you want to hear about? Tell me in the comments thread below

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Tommy

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Like many children's authors, the large portion of Tommy's income comes from holding speaking events and writing workshops in schools - two things he is currently unable to do. It's not all doom and gloom, though. Tommy is still delivering great writing advice - and lots of other stuff, too - via Patreon. From just $1 (about 70p) per month, you can get access to this completely exclusive content AND help Tommy through this difficult time. Sign up now!  Just click on the button below for more details. Your inbox will thank you for it!

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22 Comments


  1. Truly back from the brink, Tommy! I couldn’t help laughing when I read “I need to be more honest with my agent” 🙂

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  2. So good to hear from you, Tommy! I know I can speak for everyone when I say we’re delighted you’re feeling able to write a bit again!

    I’ve always been very mindful of how your family have been coping too – must be unbearably awful to watch a loved one go through what you’ve endured (and continue to endure). I am so full of admiration for your ‘clan’… you are clearly such a loving, supportive family.

    I do very much wish you all a happy Christmas and a kick-ass 2017… onwards and upwards!

    Was it Oscar Wilde who said “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”…. You have definitely been doing that, with bells on!

    🙂

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  3. So so pleased you are back Tommy, that’s the best news I’ve heard all year. I have no idea how Kirsty and the boys have managed but that is one strong woman you have there. So pleased you didn’t shuffle of this mortal coil. I look forward to hearing your progress… The Wobblebottom returns!!

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  4. Wonderful to hear from you Tommy you sure know how to fight my friend! Keep it up! big love mate xx

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  5. Very, very glad to read this as I had been fearing the worst. In beautiful coincidence you posted this less than 24 hours after a good friend completed her final radiotherapy session after a gruelling 7 months of treatment for breast cancer. She has also been blogging about her treatment and its effects medically, physically and emotionally. You both amaze me. 2016 really has been sh*te but you’re still here and still battling…. good on you. X

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  6. Welcome back Tommy, we missed you.
    Lots of love to you, Kirsty and the boys xx

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  7. Great to see you back Tommy!

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  8. So glad to see you back, Tommy. Hoping 2017 brings you lots more positive news and hopefully, a proper meal eventually!

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  9. Dear Tommy,
    I’m going to be utterly selfish:
    1. I am glad to have your blog to read again.
    2. I am glad to have someone reading my comments who can’t get away.
    3. I want you to teach me everything you know about humour in writing.
    Very slowly.
    In instalments.
    Assume you’re dealing with a complete beginner ( which in this context I am).
    One day I will give you a big hug,
    Philippa

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  10. So pleased you’re blogging again, Tommy. I have been wondering how you are. I’m sorry you’ve been having such a rough time, and I really hope the worst is behind you now. Take care of yourself.

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  11. Lovely to hear your voice again, and I very much hope it’s all relatively clear sailing now. Have a wonderful Christmas, hugs to Kirsty and the boys xxx

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  12. I know I’ll be really lucky this Christmas, with friends, family, presents, more food and drink than I could ever eat, etc. But Tommy, even though I’ve never met you in person, this message will really be a highlight of this holiday. Get well soon, and welcome back!!

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  13. So pleased you are back. Sending you many well wishes and prayers. I have watched someone very close to me fight cancer and I too blogged about it. It is a huge help, not just to you but to friends, family and your many fans. Here’s hoping that 2017 brings strength and wellbeing to you. Xxx

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  14. So lovely to hear from you! Glad you’re back and glad you’re getting there- sorry to hear you still can’t talk or eat properly though

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  15. So, so glad you are able to blog again. I’m a fan and also a Christian, and have been praying for you. I really don’t mean that in a glib way. There are lots of us out here, as you know, who are rooting for you.
    Oh, and you owe me a school author visit!

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  16. So glad to read your blog again. You and you’re family are amazing. Sending you so much love

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  17. Great to hear your news Tommy and try to take it easy. All the very best Christmas wishes to you, Kirsty and the boys. X

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  18. All the crew here on Scream Street are thinking of you as we plug away turning crazy scripts into visual delights. Who’s idea was this? – that’ll be you Tommy. And we thank you for it.
    Must go and polish a zombie – come see us again.

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  19. Thank you for spending some of your precious energy updating us – it’s good to see you back here. Love and best wishes for Christmas and for 2017 – onwards and upwards xx

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  20. I am so pleased you are back with us…I’d been checking your post and had been worried that there had been no news. Love that your hallucinations were so interesting…golden robot factory…a new book idea?

    We’re rereading Scream Street…my daughter loves them that much. I can’t thank you enough for writing something so wonderful…reluctant reader no longer, thanks to you.

    Thank you for the updates and great news that you’ve turned a corner…rooting for you…

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  21. Tommy, I’ve been wondering how you’re doing, so I’m happy that I’ve just discovered your blog…

    I read through it in your unmistakable voice, and your honest and very human attitude to cancer shines through. The many posts from friends, fans and well-wishers are lovely to read, also. You are clearly loved by many people.

    Uplifting and inspiring.

    Keep on keeping on.

    Reply

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