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!

🖒🐛

Housework? I Say No!

Mine is the sort of home where guests for lunch present – apart from menu planning – the added unspoken question as to whose job it will be to clear the dining room table of its drifts of paper, unopened letters and things that people dumped there on the way in from school.

And that’s the way I like it! (Mostly)

Thanks to Annabel Crabb for this eye opening, truthful, realistic and freeing article.

Lesson to my Daughter.

Dust bunnies everywhere – and they are – I salute you. I’m off to sprinkle glitter; sew Hulk costumes; read stories; watch tv; play Lego or any number of the thousand and four things I’d rather be doing than housework.

🐛

Sensory Overload

I am utterly blessed. In the midst of an overload of senses; no, through them; God has blessed me.

I have a hot little hand on my face as I try to read. It pokes me and twitches at the entrance to my nostril, making breathing odd. If I turn over, I’ll have, instead, little untrimmed toenails in one of two choice spots: kidneys or buttocks.

A short reach away, I hear the thunderous roll of snoring. I prod and suggest turning over and for a moment, the storm abates. But only for a moment. Without any lightning to warn of its advance, the long drawn in breath offers new meteorological mysteries.

Further distant still, the irritating whine of machinery. It’s monotony is broken only by the insidious, regular alarm throughout the night.

Dogs, ours, bark at intruding nothings. Loudly.

If I leave this horizontal plane and venture out, I will likely find lines of light break through the darkness. Here and there, I will hear more cacophony to interrupt my rest. From one doorway, little light accompanies the pings and whirs of levels unlocked by a well known Italian plumber in overalls. From another, brighter light pops out, as unyielding as the so called notes screamed by a boy-man wearing more eyeliner than I ever have as he bemoans his newly single state.

Should I turn and retreat, my hapless tarsal structure is likely to be assaulted by weaponry at floor level. Possibly this time, I will encounter the string of a cheap bamboo bow. As I lightly sidestep the threatened trip, my other foot may find the arrow; or Danish building materials with spiked edges; or an assortment of miniature bovines cavorting without care near an enclosure of even smaller dinosaurs; or a shadowy feline hoping for food.

But despite this risk; this riot; this rude interruption of horizontal calm that I say I’d prefer; I am utterly blessed.

Little fingers and toes are not a blessing all who wish it share.
Snoring means he’s here with me.
The whir of machinery speaks of luxury others do not have.
Lights and music mean my children are home safe. They can be and do just as they wish without fear of persecution, despite my musical preferences.
Even the scattered hazards of a family hall shout freedom, safety and luxury.

I am utterly blessed.

Veritas, Eski

Creative Writing – A Journey Part 6

“Hem, hem.” The wolf cleared his throat nervously. “I suppose you’re all wondering why I’ve called you here?”

“No, some of us are pretty sure we are going to make your next meal a little sweeter, really,” muttered a stout pig in the corner.

“Well, let me tell you a story. You may think you know how it goes, but I beseech you to listen closely. My reputation, such as it is, is on the line.”

“There I was, wandering through the forest, sniffing here and there, marking out my territory…”

“If it’s going to be THAT sort of story, I’m out of here!” A slender red squirrel twitched her sleek tail and made to leave, but those around her tutted as the wolf continued and she sat down again, clearly miffed.

“…red satin. Bright as a poppy flower it was, flashing here and there as this young miss skipped across all parts of the forest, leaving divets in the floor, ripping out wild flowers willy-nilly. You know the sort! Jolly ecoterrorism in a pretty dress, thinking they own the place. So I stopped her. Right rude she was too. 

      “I know your sort,” she said to me, snootily averting her gaze. “You’re trying to lure me off the path so I can be your next meal!”

Well, I was appalled at the idea, as well you can imagine! Eat her! I shouldn’t think of what that would do to me. Human-intolerant, you know. I have many eating choices, but she isn’t one of them.”

The wolf looked around the group gathered before him, smiling what he considered to be a winning smile. Unfortunately, he met the terrified gaze of a young rabbit whose second cousin had unwittingly crossed his path around lunchtime two Thursday previous and had not been heard from since. The wolf quickly looked away. Perhaps now was not the time to be persuasive.

Steampunk Names

Just for a little fun this afternoon, I have used this highly official name generator on our family. Henceforth, I shall known as, Professor Josephine Wraithwaddle.

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My husband is: Lord Roderick Wraithhold
Eldest son (and heir to all our debts) carries the dubious title of Lord Wilfred Roth stone.
My daughter, my princess: Chief Inspector Henrietta Supperwaddle.
The two younger children have clearly tested our ingenuity as they clash on several points of unoriginality:
Earl Archibald Clankingfield and Earl Archibald Clankingchild.
Our visiting guest goes by Chief Inspector Percival Knightchild.

Clearly the steampunk community are only original when it comes to style of dress, not naming conventions; in our household at least.

Comment with your new Monicker!

Mummy Win!

“Mummy, I love you so much!”
“Thanks darling. I love you so much too.”
“And Mum, I love you sooooo much!” With all accompanying squishing of face that we do to little people sometimes.
“That’s lovely, Theo. I love you too.”
“Mummy, you are my best friend!”
“Oh thank you! That’s beautiful.”
Daddy asks, “And what about me?”
Serious thinking face followed by, “Yes…………..

You love Mummy, too.”

Brilliant!

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Love from Eski 🐛

Echoes of bad parenting.

Bad parent award goes to me tonight. I jokingly told Neal to “Shut Up!” forgetting about our youngest child (evermore known as ‘Polly’). When I could get a word in edgewise through the loudly repeated, “Shut up! Shut up!” I had to humbly apologise for being naughty and demonstrate how a good wife and mother lovingly requests that her husband silence his contradictory opinions. It is really hard to keep a straight face when the rest of the table ‘quietly’ chortles behind their hands and ‘Polly’, in response to the question, “What do we say instead?” replies happily, “Um, Oh bugger?”

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The importance of being social…

I’ve had better days. I was up til 2 am and then awake with a small, bright little person again at about 5:30am. I have a cold; a floor that’s as well used as an outback landing strip; a broken vacuum cleaner; dinner and games for 11 tonight; a barking dog and a bad case of the self pitys!

I feel miserable enough that I’ve made Mr 17 drive to shops with me so I don’t have to get out to buy the crackers I’m taking to a mothers’ group that’s on now. I’ve stooped pretty low. Why not stay home? Well, why not indeed? Sleep could be had. There’s always a teen to request babysitting and housecleaning services from. But I can’t. I literally can’t.

You see, I’ve been afflicted or blessed (depending on the day) with an extroverted personality. I need people. I get energy from people. So to go out and be with people is more energizing to me than sleep. You either get it or you don’t with extroverts and introverts. It’s just one of those things. As well as being blessed with a need for people, I’ve been blessed with a husband and 4 lovely children (and a few ring-ins). All of my delightful housemates are INTROVERTS. Take a moment to let that sink in. I’m surrounded by people who need to recoup their energy by NOT being with people. More ironic than Alanis Morrisette, that one.

So, I got up and went out and had an awesome time with my Misfit Mothers’ Group. We’ve deliberately planned it this way. Probably shouldn’t have a title; that’s how out there we are! They’re extroverts too, so it suits us all. Misfit Mothers are the sorts of people who don’t always talk about their child or want to hear about yours. MMs are likely to laugh when their child (or yours) runs into a glass sliding door. Said sliding door was my offering to MMs group. However, mine is unlikely to be clean, so will perhaps provide less opportunity for accidental walk ins. Cleanliness of house is not important to hosting MMs and I’m thinking of implementing a No ‘sorry for the mess’ policy. I’m not certain that we have room for policies actually, but we do have the underlying idea that we are visiting to see one another and not to determine ‘what does your loo say about you?’

So back to my day. Brilliant time with my fellow MMs, talking about all manner of things, then back home in time to use energy gained from those interactions to clear floor sufficiently to avoid Lego brick fire walking;
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hide dirty dishes in the dishwasher that came with our home and make play dough out of what should have been delightful mushroom risotto. We had chicken pieces and salad instead – salad purchased by a guest after slightly frantic phone call.

After dinner we played numerous board games. If that’s your thing, I suggest you check out Concept, Pix and Anomia. Loads of fun had by all. And my favourite thing? I was surrounded by people, enjoying conversation, and even my introverts enjoyed the time. And if they did scatter like proverbial cockroaches when the light is switched on when the games finished? Ah well, that’s the way of it sometimes.

Veritas,

Eski 👍