But that is not his number one issue right now because, to put it bluntly, his very existence is now in jeopardy.
For a few years, Simon has worked with a team of sub-contractors on the water supply infrastructure - maintaining small reservoirs and enacting vital repairs here and there. He was still doing this work last December when he noticed that he was having trouble swallowing food and keeping it down. He has often referred to "acid reflux".
I met with him in the motorway services off the M18 just before Christmas to exchange presents. He seemed his usual self. He had been to see his doctor about his health concerns and was waiting in limbo for some sort of follow-up - which ought to involve a hospital referral.
How slowly cogs can turn and of course the ongoing COVID pandemic has not helped. Last month, he had an endoscopy and last week a CT scan. And yet, he has still to see the associated specialist to receive a definitive verdict and a care plan. He was already being investigated with regard to a tumour on one of his kidneys.
He remains in limbo and is now painfully thin. We know it is oesophageal cancer (English spelling) because after the endoscopy one of the nurses said so. Because Simon can no longer eat, he has been prescribed high-energy drinks to fill the nutritional void.
He is getting weaker each day, finds it hard to sleep and now spends his time trying to keep warm in his draughty old cottage. The decline in his health has been rapid but I can't help suspecting that what he is now going through is directly related to his lifelong smoking habit.
Two bright spots in this grimness are firstly - he is finally going to meet up with the hospital consultant who is dealing with his case. Fingers crossed, he will receive an honest diagnosis and some expert guidance about "What happens next?". That meeting is scheduled for Monday morning. Secondly, it seems that the local housing authority have pinpointed a flat in a sheltered unit in Beverley that Simon might be able to move into. Personally, I think he should grab this opportunity with both hands but of course he is dithering about it.
I have reassured him that Shirley and I are ready and willing to help him with the move. Frankly, I am not sure how much life he has left in him. He is sixty six years old. Hopefully, Monday will bring much more clarity. At this juncture, it would be nice if an angel could appear with a magic wand.
I am so sorry to hear about your brother.I hope he allows you and your wife to help.It sounds heartbreaking.ReplyDelete
It is indeed tragic Terry - in more ways than I can mention here.Delete
I am very sorry to hear that your brother is going through this, and your sadness is apparent in your writing here. The photo you have posted is poignant indeed, showing a brotherly bond. I hope that he is able to get the support he needs to deal with this cruel illness.ReplyDelete
It is such a difficult and indeed tragic situation. Thank you JayCee.Delete
I'll keep Simon and you and your wife in my thoughts.ReplyDelete
Thank you Mr T.Delete
I am so sorry to hear about your brother, Neil. Hope he gets some answers that will bring him relief. Wishing him strength to deal with all that is needed. A warm home would certainly help and I hope it works out for him.ReplyDelete
Somehow I doubt that he will live to see his 67th birthday but I might be wrong. He seems to be wasting away.Delete
This is heartbreaking in all regards. I am so sorry to hear this news.ReplyDelete
Yes - "heartbreaking" - that's the right word.Delete
You are describing exactly what my husband went through, Neil. I am so sorry. I am glad your brother has your help because he is going to need it. The hard part will be to get him to accept it. Again, I'm so sorry for what he is going through. Esophageal cancer is a bitch. The symptoms don't start until it's well advanced. Ah, crap.ReplyDelete
Co-incidentally our friend Pat who died last Sunday (I wrote a poem to him) was also a victim of oesophageal cancer. Thanks for calling by with your kind thoughts Jenny.Delete
I'm so very sorry to hear about your brother. Hopefully he can go into the flat but he may need more help before too long. Can he stay with you and Shirley?ReplyDelete
Smoking does increase the risk of esophageal cancer, as does acid reflux. Hopefully he gets answers quickly and a plan of action.
Hello Nurse Lily and thanks for your other comment too. Much appreciated because you really know what you are talking about. We may have to look after him for a while pending the new flat becoming available. But we live seventy miles away and that's where his health services are.Delete
If he would allow it, it would be awfully nice to have Shirley go along to the appointment. Sometimes an extra set of ears can pick up things that might get missed. If those ears are attached to a person who has spent her life in the medical field, she could be invaluable to his understanding. In times like these, people sometimes cling to the familiar because they have been thrown into such unfamiliar waters.ReplyDelete
I will ask her about this. It's a good idea Debby. The appointment is tomorrow morning. Of course, Simon will have to agree to it. Thank you for this kind and practical thinking.Delete
So sorry to read this and hope that your brother can improve with better medical care and living conditions. I'm sure you and Shirley will do all you can for him.ReplyDelete
The frustrating thing is that he is seventy miles away.Delete
You have my sympathy. I hope the meeting on Monday is productive and that your brother will take advantage of the housing opportunity. He's fortunate to have you and Shirley for support in this difficult time. I agree with Debby's suggestion.ReplyDelete
Yes. It is a damned good suggestion.Delete
So sorry to hear this, and I hope Simon can get the medical treatment he needs.ReplyDelete
Sending positives thoughts to Simon and your family.
We receive them with gratitude Bob.Delete
Even for a smoker, 66 is not old. Poor Simon. I like Debby's thought.ReplyDelete
Debby's thought is a good one.Delete
I'm so sorry to read this and hope that he gets some answers and a comfortable new home. I echo Debby about having someone with him if possible. I took notes at all of my late husband's oncology appointments, and it helped keep most of the details straight. My best to Simon and your family.ReplyDelete
I asked to accompany him but he would not give in. He insists he will go on his own.Delete
Then you've done what you can and he knows that you are there for him when needed and when he decides. I'm sure he feels that his life is spiraling and this is something that he does have control over.Delete
I have read this Margaret.Delete
I'm sorry to hear about your brothers health situation. As you say they dither around and everybody is left in limbo. It would be nice to know what is going on. I hope he gets some good news.ReplyDelete
Frankly, I do not believe that the hospital consultant will be able to sugar the bitter pill but at least Simon should get the truth.Delete
I doubt that Simon has the energy to contemplate a move.ReplyDelete
I suspect that you will have a different sense of direction after seeing the consultant.
I wish all of you well
Thank you Kylie. In spite of my attempts at persuasion, he wants to see the consultant on his own and I have to respect his wishes.Delete
He really is in a bad way. Poor Simon!ReplyDelete
How slowly cogs turn indeed - and what contrast to Graham‘s experience, who has nothing but praise for the NHS and the treatment he has been receiving.
In my view, the village GP surgery did not respond urgently enough to Simon's plea for help. But that is water under the bridge now.Delete
Sadly that happens all too often, I've found with my patients.Delete
Cancer is such a non-caring bitch. She'll pick on anybody. Oesophageal cancer has to be one of the worst ways to go. My mum got to the point where she could no longer swallow and took herself to the hospital when she couldn't even get water to trickle down.ReplyDelete
That is becoming his reality. As you say, caner is a bitch.Delete
Just keep being there for him YP.ReplyDelete
He is sixty five miles away and has always been fiercely independent but of course I will try.Delete
So sorry to read this sad news.Hope that Simon accepts the help he is offered to ease his pain.ReplyDelete
I expect he will Adele. Thank you.Delete
Very sorry to hear this, Neil. Truly dreadful and disturbing for all involved. Try to stay as strong as you can. The tune ends too soon for us all.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your kind support TD.Delete
That is terrible news about your brother and I hope he can get a diagnosis and treatment soon. That is one reason I was able to convince my then girlfriend to move from England to the US and marry me. She was so frustrated with the English medical system and the lengths of time involved in getting a diagnosis and treatment. Here she could have the test completed the following day and a meeting to discuss treatment within days of the initial visit.ReplyDelete
The British health system is more equitable than what you have in The States. Over there health care is good for those who have money but disastrous for the poor. My own history with the NHS has been very positive and I have absolutely no complaints. When I needed them they were always there.Delete
I'm sorry to hear about your brother, Neil. There's something to be said for the days when families remained together in one village. There would always be someone right there for you when hard times hit. Your brother sounds as though he might shun supportive interference even if you lived right next door though. I am sending warm thoughts.ReplyDelete
You have shown some wise insight with this comment Melinda. Thank you.Delete
I'm so very sorry to hear about Simon. It must be distressing for you all.ReplyDelete
It's understandable that Simon doesn't want to leave his familiar surroundings, it would be far too unsettling for him to move to live with you at the moment. Where he is now, there will, hopefully, be some familiar faces amongst the medical staff. Very important at a time like this.
My thoughts are with you all.
I appreciate you altruistic thoughts Carol.Delete
Oh Neil, I'm so sorry to read this and to recognise that there is obviously more complexity to it than you are able to share; it must be totally heart-breaking to contemplate the possibility that you are going to lose another of your brothers at a young age, with such a cruel and savage illness, knowing that location and circumstances make it difficult to offer the support, love and help that you and Shirley would want to. You've shared so much of your lovely sibling foursome over the years, and every photograph has shone out with smiles and the love of a warm-hearted, secure upbringing; we all ache for you now and feel your pain. May you know wisdom in the best way to actively support in the days ahead, may Simon intuit your love and care, and may you be be very gentle with yourself and others as you work through the vast collection of practicalities, frustrations, emotions, memories and so much more. Our collective love and hugs for you, Simon, Shirley, your brother in France, and all of your family, are scribbled through every one of the comments I read here today, and will continue to be so.ReplyDelete
You are right Elizabeth. There are things I cannot share here. Thank you for such a kind and supportive comment. Much appreciated.Delete
Oh that's absolutely heartbreaking news. I feel for you all, especially your brother. What a terrible shock you must have received.ReplyDelete
If I lived closer I would do whatever you needed.
All I can do is send you my heartfelt good wishes that you can all find the courage you need to get through.
Thinking of you.xx
I appreciate your kind comment Christina.Delete
Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry to hear this. I hope the nurse was wrong and by some miracle it's NOT cancer -- but even if it is, I hope it can be treated. And yes, hopefully, some clarity about his prospects will help him make the other decisions in his life about where to live. I'm thinking of all of you.ReplyDelete
Thank you Steve. There will be no miracles.Delete
I'm so sorry to hear all this, Neil. Whatever the prognosis, the right oncologist and medical staff can make a huge difference. I'm not sure how it works with the NHS but if he has his choice of doctors, pick a young oncologist and an older surgeon (if he needs surgery). That was a valuable piece of advice we got from Gregg's doctor friend when he had cancer. Also, your brother will benefit from having you or Shirley or someone go with him to most appointments. Likely his mind will be in a whirl and it will be difficult to process what the doctors say or ask the right questions without someone there.ReplyDelete
I wish him and your whole family all the best. Hugs.
Thank you Jennifer. Both Shirley and I volunteered to accompany him to today's appointment (Monday) but he wouldn't have it. Just driving to the hospital will be a big effort for him at this point in time. He is not himself and I am worried about him having a road accident.Delete