Nuts, a ball and other 4-letter words! A young man’s story of testicular cancer. Part 1.

A number of years ago, I wrote a short memoir in first person perspective for a young man who I knew through a school I previously taught at. I had recently broken both my ankles whilst on holidays in Indonesia (perhaps more about that in another post) and needed to do something that helped me look outside myself and my situation. Here’s the first installment:

Hey,
Found you on face book and thought I’d say hello and ask you a couple of things that maybe would be harder to ask in person. I’m doing a lot of writing at the moment, since walking is out of the question, and I wondered if I could ask something. I know you’ve been ill this year (that’s about all I know about it) and I wondered if you might consider sharing your story with me. I would be honoured to write it, if you feel like sharing. Maybe it’s something you want to do yourself, so that’s ok too. I don’t know you real well, so if this isn’t ok, let me know. Just thought I could ask and you could honestly tell me what you think.
Thanks for even thinking about it,
Mrs Ross

It’s one thing being monitored for a condition to do with your nuts when you’re 12. That’s one thing, that’s a Mum thing, that’s a thing we don’t talk about. Well I don’t! It’s quite another to have to say to your mum, when you are 16, that not only have you been hit there, hard, during a footy game, but you think there is something wrong. How do you say that?

“Ah, Mum, my balls are hurt. Kinda swollen or something.”

And then the kicker,

“Can you have a look?”

Not easy to ask and harder to let her do it. You can probably imagine how it went from there. Both of us a bit embarrassed, mostly me, but this is mum after all. She’s pretty cool, but this isn’t good. Did I mention we were in the car on the way to footy training when I told her? Now that would’ve been hilarious if she’d had an accident then. Just to have to tell the police what she’d been doing and why she had her hand off the wheel. Anyway, we got through it and she agreed with me that there was something else going on. So then we take it (them? ha ha) to the professionals.

This isn’t that unusual for me. Apparently I have this hormone that is supposed to stop doing its stuff when you’re about 12 and mine didn’t. It’s caused docs some concern and I’ve had to be checked out every 6 months or so, with ultrasounds since I was 14. The first thing I thought when we got referred for an ultrasound was; pregnant women have ultrasounds, don’t they? And I’m pretty damn sure that whatever these odd hormones have done to me, I’m not pregnant!

They monitored me for changes in hormones and a benign epididymal cyst that I figured was like having a smaller third testicle and that’s what I told anyone who ever questioned me. So, having to strip in the doctor’s surgery is not new to me. About now, you’re probably thinking one of a couple of things – I’ve heard most of it before:

a) Shit! I’d hate to do that, imagine if the doctor touched you and….well, you know…?

b) Oh, that poor boy. That would be very traumatic through his puberty; I wonder how it is for his self esteem?

c) No way! Not now, not ever – keep it to yourself, man!

Or some combination of the above. So, let’s leave me there for the moment. In front of doctor, flat on my back, knees up, letting the guy with the gloves feel around my balls…

As I said, I’ve been checked out more than most guys my age, but apart from that, I’m pretty average I reckon. Got an older brother, younger sister and we get on ok I guess. My mum and dad split when I was 8 and I’ve always been pretty close to my mum. Pretty into football, been playing for 4 years and this year I’ve made the A grade. I’m supposed to make this as honest as possible, so I’ll tell you that I was pretty buff then. Training 3 nights a week and games on the weekend will do that for you. So I was feeling alright. And, before you ask, yes, I’ve got a girlfriend. She’s hot. I’m playing A grade and going out with Tash for about 6 months. School is ok. Life is pretty good. Then some *#@!wit gets his shin up hard in my groin in the second match of the season. I go down, winded, and that, I reckon, is where it all really starts.

I don’t know yet where it ends, but it’s been a long journey and it’s only been nine months since it started. There have been good days and bad, ups and downs I guess you could say. Each time I go down it feels like I can’t go any lower, but rock bottom is a LONG way down. I wonder whether it’s harder to fall when you’ve been so high before that. As I said, I’ve led a reasonably average life, but I’ve had it better than some.

{More to come next week.}

Updated: Part 2 is available here.

No fear of flying!

There is nothing like the feeling of flying – even if it is down a concrete path in a wheelchair!  A boy I don’t know very well, from year 11, who makes me laugh and teases along with the best of them, offered to push me back down to the next class I was helping with.  Actually, he first asked if he could sit on my knee and I could take him down to the ITD building.  I’m not sure who was more surprised when I compromised and said I would only take him as far as the concrete path went cause I didn’t do “off road” real well.  I think I would have had my bluff called if he had agreed, but I’d like to think that we would have given it a good go.  So I think that taking me to my next class was the trade off.  I certainly could have done that bit on my own, but I think there is a certain buzz from pushing people in wheelchairs, maybe it’s the control, so who am I to say no?  Sam is not careful.  Well, that’s what I reckon it looked like as we whizzed down the hill.  The three of us flying.  Me in the chair, Sam running behind me, holding the handles carefully as he pushed, and Josh trying to run and laugh at the same time beside his best mate.  I think I was more worried for the innocents who might inadvertently get in our path; there is no such thing as power steering on my wheelchair.  Although I did promise (some might say threaten) as we flew, that I would hunt him down on crutches if he let me go, I actually felt amazing.  Yes, I like being the centre of attention.  Yes, it’s exhilarating and a bit of adrenalin on a Monday afternoon can be a good thing.  But it’s more than that.  Sam’s been sick.  I haven’t asked him about it and I don’t know many details, but it’s been a long haul for him this year.  Cancer and chemo don’t make for a party sort of feeling.  Tears started for me when, at a staff meeting, he was given special uniform dispensation, cause apparently his formal one just “felt too heavy.”  There are the highlights though.  He’s back in his formal uniform now, as scruffy as they seem to be able to make it look, and having your best friend have his head shaved at the same time as you in solidarity and support must feel pretty good.  I’m going to have to ask, maybe.  Maybe it’s not important that I know.  But my guess is that if I felt like I was flying, I’m pretty sure that being able to run like that, laughing, in control of a teacher’s transport and scattering juniors as you go must have felt pretty good too.  Maybe I’m trying to make it into something it’s not. All of us were breathless as they stopped me at the door and wandered off – there was no ‘moment’ – but it was great!

Awkward Eating

I’m currently at the other end of the state to where I usually am, visiting my sister and newest niece.


My own children would have liked to come with me, especially the youngest. He adores babies; we (he) often stop prams simply by standing in front of them to talk to ANYBODY’S baby. So to have one of our own is a big deal…and she’s gorgeous!

Tuesday morning on the way to school and daycare, I reminded him that I was going on the plane that evening.

“Can I come, please?”

“Not this time, I’m sorry. It’s pretty expensive to go on the plane and we don’t have that much money. Everyone would have liked to come.”

🤔 “Do you have money for YOU to go on the plane?”

“Well, my ticket has been paid and so jowett I have no money. Luckily though, when I get there, Grandma and Aunty will feed me.”

🤔🤔😕 “Do you mean like Aunty feeds the baby?”

😲😲😂😂

“No. Maybe a sandwich.”

“I didn’t think it was right but I had to see if it was like that.”

Kids!

🖒🐛

12 Years A Slave

I watch this movie in horror and disgust and admiration. Horror that anyone calling themselves human could possibly treat another in such a way; disgust at those of ‘my’ race who could do so or stand by; admiration for those brave, mistreated people who survived and those who were brave enough to stand up and say stop.

I cannot leave the volume at one level and so I raise and lower the sounds I hear. I lean close for the words, those of courage and determination.  Down to almost mute in anticipation of the violence. 

I am sickened by the acts that are shown in only this two hour period. If this is the case in this short a time, how disgusting then the years of reality? I cannot bear to think about it, yet I force myself to continue to watch because I know this example is one of many. I know similar action and inaction have happened in my country, my state. 

I watch because I want to feel horrified and disgusted at what people have done. I want to remember it. I want force myself to acknowledge that these atrocities happen still and will keep on while people like me stay silent.

I watch this vitriol and violence against human beings because I am afraid that sometime past, I believe without intent, I have been racist or otherwise treated one less than another, less than myself. If I have, I will not anymore.

I will not stand idly by. I will be aware. I will speak up for injustice. Even if I am afraid. I will.

Universal truths are constant. It is a fact, an undeniable fact that what is true and right, is true and right for all. White and black alike. Mr Bass – 12 Years A Slave.

Hilarity or Insanity?

Question:

What do the following songs have in common?

  • Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
  • Can’t Fight the Moonlight – Leanne Rimes
  • Crazy – Seal
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day

Answer:

They were all playing in my psychologist’s waiting room while we waited for appointments.

Now at first glance, this doesn’t seem to be anything noteworthy, however, let’s look at the lyrics whilst considering the context and the apparent aims of therapeutic psychology…

But we’re never gonna survive unless

We get a little crazy

No we’re never gonna survive unless

We are a little

Cray cray crazy

Crazy are the people walking through my head

One of them got a gun to shoot the other one

And yet together they were friends at school.

Under a lovers’ sky 

You can try to resist 

Try to hide from my kiss 

But you know 

But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight 

Deep in the dark 

You’ll surrender your heart 

But you know 

But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight 

No you can’t fight it 

No matter what you do 

The night is gonna get to you 

Guess I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all

It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need you now

And I said I wouldn’t call but I’m a little drunk and I need you now

And I don’t know how I can do without, I just need you now

I just need you now

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating

Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me

Til then I walk alone.

I’m walking down the line

That divides me somewhere in my mind

On the border line

Of the edge and where I walk alone

Read between the lines

Of what’s f***ed up and everything’s alright

Check my vital signs

To know I’m still alive and I walk alone.

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I’ve got to tell you that I was definitely in an improved mood after laughing at these songs being played in fairly close succession while I waited! 😂 I couldn’t help but wonder whether anyone was vetting the music selection.

I’ve chosen one of my favourite “Antidepressant Music” songs to share with you here. It’s called “Just Breathe” by Ze Frank. He created it in response to a Facebook follower who asked him to right a song for days when you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

Ze Frank’s TED Talk is thought provoking and hilarious. You can watch it here.
All the songs mentioned in this post are on a playlist I’ve created here.

In humour,

Eski🐛

I’m a person who…

Warning! Truth ahead!

I’m a person who:

*  has a very full life
*  loves doing lots with friends
*  is one of the worst housekeepers I know
*  is a master of the scurryfunge
* has lots of ‘doing’ energy outside of home, but not often ANY at home
*  has discovered she loves watching ‘gross’ medical and dermatological videos on YouTube
*  is learning much more about herself as she heads towards middle age
*  is generally accepting most of it
*  should not be allowed near stationery shops or ebay with $
*  used to buy to feel better
*  is a better talker than listener, but I’m learning
*  loves romance novels
*  doesn’t make the bed
*  is a mass of contradictions
*  knows productinating is a skill
*  has decided to accept depression, but not be a victim to it
*  excels at word games
*  has one of the best relationships with her mum that she knows
*  hasn’t properly cooked a meal at home for years
*  wants my kids to be happy in what they’re doing
*  is scared of missions trips, but going anyway
*  loves recognition for achievements
*  loves all children – mine or not
*  cries
*  loves organising 1 off projects or systems
*  suffers no embarrassment
*  is an advice giver
*  wears long pants because she IS too lazy to shave her legs
*  often realises later that I’m friends with someone who perhaps didn’t seem to like me to begin with. I find it a challenge I think
*  says what I mean
*  will take criticism, but doesn’t always like it
*  is generous
*  dislikes shopping of any kind, immensely
*  gets hurt if people think I’ve done the wrong thing and I haven’t
*  takes responsibility
*  asks lots of questions
*  will avoid blood tests if possible
*  would love to foster care but is afraid of losing or failing those children
*  doesn’t like pork
*  has phases and fads of things (by choice) and people (not by choice)
*  would love you to comment about yourself, or me.

☺🐛

Veritas, Eski

Here’s Your Next Song, 5 Seconds of Summer!

My daughter has been playing me some of her favourite bands’ music recently and I’ve had “Don’t Stop” by 5 Seconds of Summer stuck in my head for a few weeks – just ask some of my classes! I’m not the only one! My 3 year old loves choosing the music that we play in the car and the other day had me confused when he asked,

“Can you play Dawn Star, please?”

“Dawn Star? Can you tell me what else it says, so I know which one?”

“Yes. Dawn Star doin’ whatcha doin! Cause I like it!”

Then I figured it out…”Every time you walk in the room, you’ve got all eyes on you…”

***********************************************************************************

So, on a YouTube wander, I found myself watching Belgian interviewer, Jolien Roets, interviewing the band. Some of it’s funny, if a bit risqué; some entertaining. Towards the end, the interviewer tells the guys about the Belgian Red Nose Day, part of which is raising money and awareness for mental illness in young people. Jolien then asks if 5SOS have ever experienced that sort of thing. A couple of the guys answer quickly enough that they have, but no details are given as to what. Ashton Irwin follows up with more, saying that he doesn’t think that they (5SOS) ought to talk about their own experiences, but that they do know that it’s (depression etc) a prevalent thing and that as public figures, it is their role to talk about and sing about it. AGREED, thanks guys!

Throughout this year, there have been articles on band member Michael Clifford’s mental health; his visit to a therapist and the fans support of him during this time, proving that the group’s followers agree that sharing is caring. I want to add my support to that already given, Michael. I know first hand what it’s like to ride the ups and downs of the rollercoaster (Read about my personal experience here) and of supporting someone who is living it (My son’s story from my perspective and in his own words). I can only imagine what living it out in the public eye must be like. Good for you for sharing about it and for all who support you. Keep it up!

Anyway, back to the title of this blog. With all of the above in mind, and ESPECIALLY since hearing the new album, “Sounds Good, Feels Good,” I’ve been inspired to write you lyrics for a new song that you might like to include in an upcoming album?? That bit is up to you, but here we go.

I love the sound of the new album and I know that you’ll do an amazing job of transforming these lyrics into a song with energy, anger, sadness and love – all the things I’ve felt over the past 25 years and tried to put into these words. I’ve written two versions of the song; one from the perspective of the person suffering (hate that word) the mental illness and one from their perspective of someone who loves them and is trying to help. I couldn’t decide which one I most wanted to share. Which, and if, you decide to do anything with is up to you. If you do, credit me?

Maybe people will stumble across my blog and these will be a comfort to them, and I’ll be ok with that, that’s what they’re for.

***********************************************************************************

Private War #1

I’m living in a world that you’d find hard to enter

Blocked by a door that’s locked, I don’t want you here

I need you more than I can say

I don’t understand when I push you away

I tell you it’s going to be ok even when I don’t think it is

Say you love me when I don’t believe it

It’s not even as easy as crying all the time; wish that’s all it was

How can I explain there’s nothing wrong – there’s no reason and no cause

It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me

I want you to stay with me

Understand I need to be alone.

I reach out to the reaching hand, but find I can’t grab hold

I can’t be left alone.

On days where my blanket is all I can hold

Where I want to snuggle, but my energy’s low

Just laying here staring at the ceiling

Wishing these feelings would fade away

It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me

Invite me even though I’ll say no.

Take me places even though I’ll want to run straight home

Wanting to step out and take it; open up and welcome the world

While you’re lifting me out of the bed; I’m pushing you out the door

Try to understand when I don’t answer your calls;

When the best conversations we have are by text.

Sleepless and restless; tired but wired.

Allowing me to cuddle

God knows if you’re ready, to take the vast extremes

The public face, the hyper, the dreamer, even the screams

It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me

I don’t want to get out of bed today – maybe I can’t.

It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me

Private War #2

You’re living in a world that I find hard to enter

Blocked by a door that’s locked, no one knows who by

I want to tell you it’s going to be ok even when I don’t think it is.

I want to hold you close and say I love you through both of our tears.

I want to tell you I love you even though you won’t believe me.

I want to help, and try to understand when you need to be alone (can’t be left alone)

I reach out to the reaching hand, but find I can’t grab hold

It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me

I’ll invite you even though I know you’ll say no.

I’ll take you to places though we’ll have to go home.

Wanting you to step out and take it; open up and welcome the world

Lifting you out of the bed; pushing you out the door

On days where your blanket is closer than me.

Where you just want to snuggle, but with your pillow, not me.

I’ll try to understand when you don’t answer my calls; when the best conversations we have are by text.

Allowing me to cuddle you

It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me

God knows if I’m ready, but I’ll take the vast extremes

The public face, the dreamer, the loner, even the screams

When that demon grips your mind, I’ll be there

Though I know that I’m flying blind, I’ll be there

It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me

You wrap yourself in your hard shell

To protect yourself in your private hell

And it cuts me that I cannot be the answer

But I don’t want to put that guilt on you

Cause I’m afraid you might just snap under the pressure

I don’t know what will pull you through,

But I’d lay down my life for you,

I can’t tell you that cause life is so unstable

Call me when you’re able

It’s like fighting a private war

Against a very public enemy

It’s like fighting a private war

With the one who means the most to me

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Anyone reading this – these are for you. The comforter and the uncomfortable; the alone, lonely or loner. You aren’t alone. There are people who feel the same and people who love you. People who want to stop, or help, the “Private War.” I promise.