Tag Archive: Sport

Post-surgery – days 0-5:

  • Calories in: 10,000.
  • Calories out: 0.

It’s not often that athletes get to bloat themselves up on all manner of rich, carb-heavy delecto-treats similarly enjoyed by Mr Creosote. Much less so when the medication you’re on is creating a digestive ‘tailback’ that had progressed from amusing, through impressive, to just plain worrying. The indelicacy of the subject prevents me from going into too much detail, suffice to say that in the first 3 days I was recovering in bed I managed to put on almost 5 kilos, and only a few days later I had lost every one of them. Lush.

University education: justified.

So here I am 2 weeks post surgery. “What the hell has been going on Leo?” I hear absolutely none of you asking. Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. Having spent 4 days irritating my family from a bed at my Sister’s flat, I returned home to recuperate there instead. I don’t actually remember a huge amount of this period as the devilish pain-relieving drugs I was on rendered my mind an opaque fog of gormlessness and subdued frustration at almost everything confusing me . And before any of you say it, I mean even more so than usual. I tried to get out and about but even short walks flattened me. I managed a 20 minute run (well, ‘speed-shuffle’) which felt amazing but found me virtually unable to move from bed for the next 24 hours. By the time it came to the weekend, despite having to return to my GP for a top-up of the pain pills, I decided to come off them as soon as possible. I felt almost immediately better and my strength had begun to return to the point where I could get out of the flat and enjoy the weekend with friends. Tramadol? I’d rather sip Ebola through a straw.

During this period I had also dropped in to see my cancer surgeon for the follow-up appointment. I already knew that, as far as they could tell, the cancer hadn’t spread so I was hoping to get some clarification on the necessity for chemotherapy. The fact that he was unwilling to talk about it and had deferred all opinion to an Oncologist he’d arranged me to see on the following Monday didn’t fill me with confidence but I’ll return to this shortly.

One of my favourite new games is “Fuck you, I’ve got Cancer“. Strictly speaking I don’t anymore, but it’s too fun not to try at every given opportunity. Essentially it involves publicly and loudly exclaiming the phrase regardless of whatever accusation has been thrown my way (and on some occasions for no reason at all) to try and humiliate and embarrass whichever poor soul has decided to spend time with me.  Never have the words ‘insufferable’, ‘wearing’, ‘tiresome’, ‘obnoxious’ and ‘wildly inappropriate’ been used about one person, in so short a space of time. One of my very closest friends sadly beat me at my own game when she boomingly retorted “…and I hope you also get AIDS“. Well played Lucy, well played.

Anyway, Monday came round quickly and I sped up to Essex to meet the oncologist to get a better idea of whether I would need ‘adjuvant treatment’ – either chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Having arrived over 1/2 hour early (‘Chemo-Keeno’?) I sat in the waiting room with the aforementioned friend firstly ensuring that all my questions were set straight and remembered, and then devising various childish games including ‘Suck my Foam’ which had everything to do with the cappuccino machine and nothing to do with additional sperm storage. (Sorry Mum).

What? This old thing? Oh, just a scratch. (Disclaimer: not real scar).

Once finally beckoned into the appointment with cancer specialist Professor Tim Oliver we sat down to a rather leisurely chat about my athletics, training and general self-interest (something I wholly enjoy and rather excel at). We moved on to more serious matters and I managed to get a good idea of where I am with regards to treatments and cancer recurrence. The Professor then wrapped up the appointment by suggesting ‘we have a look at you’. Now I should first preface this next scene with the fact that over the past few weeks I have lost (almost) all shame on the numerous occasions I’ve had to strip off and I’ve developed quite a talent at incidental chat whilst first my trousers and then my pants drop to the floor. Anyway, I turned to Lucy and rather suggestively stated that I’d “see you later then”, nodding towards the door. I stepped behind the curtain with the Professor and followed the usual drill. It was only when I looked up, (hoody on, pants off) to see the once composed, intellectual tour-de-force, reduced to a bewildered old man staring at a stranger’s genitals, that I realised something was up. “Oh. Oh… Yes… Oh… I really only meant to check your stomach”. Time froze. Then got colder still (at least that’s the excuse I’m sticking to) whilst I prayed that I’d heard Lucy leave the office. “I don’t know what just happened behind there but I really hope it’s what I think”. “I took off too many clothes and now I don’t know what to do” I replied with absolutely no irony. I mentioned in a previous blog that I hoped that getting a groin examination whilst humming the theme to Thundercats made me a medical first. Well if this hasn’t secured my place in that pantheon of greats I don’t know what more I need do.

I left feeling strangely elated. I say ‘strangely’ as the facts I was presented with weren’t exactly overwhelmingly positive. The biopsy had shown that my cancer was mostly Seminoma (better, or ‘Lion-O‘ to continue the theme) but did contain a small element of non-Seminoma (worse – ‘Mumra‘). This meant that the likelihood of recurrence within the next 3 years sits at 20-25% if I don’t take treatment. If I were to get immediate preventative chemotherapy this drops to 1%. I won’t go into this decision just yet as I’ll return to it another time before it needs finalising, but it’s certainly given me food for thought.

This brings us up to date. I’ve started more regular training over the past week and the hernia has absolutely no pain. I have however hurt my calf muscle but nothing a brain-full of denial won’t cure. I’ve also booked another appointment with the Nutty Professor (come onnnnnn, that was good!) on Monday by which time I hope to have decided what I’ll do. In the meantime I intend to pre-empt the possible chemotherapy weight loss by filling my face with food. Purely in the name of my sport you understand?

  • Calories in: 0.
  • Calories intended: 10,000.

First the facts:

  • CT Scan shows cancer hasn’t spread.
  • Blood tests show something or other as ‘high’ that I didn’t really understand but didn’t seem to unduly worry the surgeon.
  • Surgery was a success.
  • I have eaten 398 cakes.
  • I like Morphine.

So my last post was on Thursday morning. How about I take you through the rest chronologically? What? This needn’t be a democratic process? Ok fine, “Seig Heil” – on we go.

Hours before surgery, I'm visited by the mythological harbinger of Death: the Crow. Excellent.

I will backtrack slightly as I hadn’t included my trip to the hospital, in which I was due for the operation, to get my CT scan the day before. The only noteworthy thing to happen there (and by noteworthy I mean cringe-inducing, wince-worthy embarrassment for me, and nose-scoff chortle-fodder for you), was my body’s reluctance to appreciate the difference between the words ‘warm’ and ‘erotic’ – a common mistake you’ll agree. As those who have had one before will know, a CT scan requires you to be injected with a ‘contrast’ dye of some sort into your bloodstream. You are normally warned that this also induces a strange feeling of warmth that spreads across your body, which can be quite unusual. Unfortunately for me, my brain decided to short-circuit this distinction and, awash with confusion, decided that what was expected was the kind of inappropriate arousal that is not only best not shared in public but also certainly not immortalised on a photographic instrument the size of a small car, that sees straight through your clothes and then posts the results on a bright, expanded screen. Oh cancer, I love you already.

Anyway, back to Thursday. Shortly after publishing my last entry I carefully destroyed almost a day’s worth of calories with the aid of my face, before the “Nil by Mouth’ cut-off at 9am.

I then packed up my overnight bag and waddled into town to pay my second visit to the ‘Andrology’ clinic. There I had a meeting to discuss the findings from the previous day’s sample. Apparently my sperm count was low.

I dread to think what happened in order for point 6 to need clarification.

What little swimmers were there, weren’t swimming a huge amount and most were simply twitching like epileptic worms. I was told that if I did want to conceive later in life that I should pay close attention to my lifestyle. No binge-drinking, no smoking, no drugs. I sat there, bathing my face in the revolting glow of a saintly smugosaurus, ignoring the relevant facts, and simply happy in my self-righteousness. It turns out that this low count is very much down to the 30+ hours of training I do every week, rather than any hedonistic moonlighting. Not exactly something to be proud of though. Idiot.

From here I raced over to my hospital, chased by some frantic calls that I was now due in surgery 2 hours earlier than expected. This rush probably helped my demeanour as it didn’t allow me any time to drop off my magnificent high and I met my sister to check in. I was immediately greeted by the nurse, one of my two surgeons, the anaesthetist and a food menu that provided another ample distraction (two pages of main courses!). I fitted myself first into some quite delightful compression socks, only to be presented with a pair of rubber-soled slippers that I have barely taken off since. 


A few half-arsed  updates to Twitter, last minute BBMs to friends, scrambled text messages to family and I was called up for surgery. For some reason the one thing I do remember about this moment is being mildly miffed that I had to walk there myself. Perhaps I’ve watched too much ER but I was fully expecting to be wheeled off down a corridor whilst my family waved on, choked with tears, to a Sarah Mclachlan soundtrack. As it was, I spluttered a ‘seeya’ to my sister and then spent most of the walk trying to make squeaking noises with my new slippers along the glistening hallway.

Piss and Fitness. FTW!

After surgery I found myself in quite a bit of pain and managed to secure a fair dollop of Morphine into my arm before adding a squirt of Tramadol too. I was wheeled back (much more like it) to my room to flick the bird at my sister upon arrival (universal sibling code for “everything’s fine”), and was then met by the surgeon to let me know that it went well. I spent the next 12 hours trying to impress the staff with both just how low my heart-rate was and the sheer volume of urine I was able to secrete (I had been asked to log it). Their final thread of patience snapped when, on the morning of my departure, I tried to high-five a nurse during the last pulse measurement  (52bpm FYI). She left me hanging so I took a picture of myself instead. (See left). Is it any wonder I’m single?

I checked out and was met by my lovely and cosseting mother who helped me back to my sister’s flat in North London. I have been here ever since, a weakened hybrid of Cartman and Caligula, with ever more extravagant demands. I am testing everyone’s patience to the limit and expect to be sent home very soon. Yesterday Mum popped her head round the door ‘to check whether I was still alive’. Turns out her look of concern is not enormously dissimilar to one of grave disappointment.

As for the state of my mind, I’d say that nothing has really changed. In the scarce moments of real lucidity that the painkillers allow, I still seem pretty happy. There is the slight concern as to the, still very real, possibility of my needing chemotherapy. We’re all led to believe this is a pretty nasty process to go through and I don’t doubt it. But there’s really very little I can do about it if it’s required. My main concern, yet again, is that it would further push back my return to full training. I have my sights set on competing at a Decathlon in Holland at the end of August and, judging by my early season results, there was every chance that this could be a breakthrough year for me. I know this might seem odd to those outside of the sport, but Athletics (or Track and Field to our American friends) is an unforgiving little blighter. There isn’t any real money in it (outside of Olympic medallists), you ride your luck every season with regards to injury and your enjoyment of it all often comes down to your success. I have spent the best part of my life injured, having shown some initial promise as a Junior International and age-group British record holder, and I don’t have a lot of time left in which to realise at least some of my potential.  When you’ve made as many sacrifices as us athletes have, you really hope that there’s some pay-off. This season looked to be that fruition for me, perhaps leading on to further progress next year. So, although my general health must come first, much of my anticipation rides on the results of my biopsy and the implications on my training therein.

I'm recovering from cancer, I'll wear what the hell I like.

Anyway, for those that are wondering, the ‘replacement’ feels interesting. Not exactly the same, but near enough. I actually forgot about that element of the surgery until about 4 hours afterwards as it was only the hernia area that really hurt. Speaking of my, now errant, testicle, many of you’ll remember I mentioned in the last blog the lost opportunity to call my defective groin-dongle  a ‘Clegg‘. What, of course, I wasn’t aware of was the fact I’d need to be shaved quite so extensively in the area, so, prompted by a friend of mine, perhaps the best term for this cancerous plum-reject, and in keeping with topicality, would actually be a ‘Sheen‘. Enjoy your dinner.

So here I am 3 days after surgery. I am reasonably well. I am woozy with pain-relief drugs almost every waking minute. I am pretty sore still, including my throat where the tubes were fed during the op. All semblance of athletic definition has been engorged with the 398 cakes I mentioned above. But I’m alive. I find out on Friday about the chemotherapy so for the next week I will drift in a state of blissful ignorance; a purgatory of wellbeing. I may even try a slow jog. The journey back to the track starts here. Leo: – 1. Cancer – 0.