'It doesn't get more frightening than that'
The last few months have been an incredibly tough whirlwind for our hard-nosed columnist, Ian Chillcott...
The last couple of months have probably been the most harrowing of my life. In very short order, I became aware that I had a brain tumour, and because of its enormous size, I very quickly became an emergency. The speed at which the system took over left me in a bit of a spin, and to a great extent, I didn’t realise just how close to paying the ultimate price, I was.
Without going into too much detail, the tumour was bigger than a tennis ball, and unfortunately had two veins running through it. If they had caused damage to either I could very easily have died on the slab, and to that end they decided they would have to leave a quarter of it and clear the veins using radiotherapy. Things, although I had no idea how much I was inadvertently helping, turned out a little differently. The operation lasted 14hrs, and the reason it went on for so long was because I stayed stable for all that time. That stillness allowed Mr. Stapleton and his team at St George’s Hospital at Tooting, to remove all of the tumour in one go, regardless of the inherent dangers.
Fortunately, they had been hugely encouraged with my fitness, and the positive way in which I approached this crossroads in my life. I also have a feeling that they knew how Lynn, and to a lesser extent me, had responded to the illnesses she has endured over the past 25 years. Whatever the case, Team Chillcott was ready for anything!
The operation was a huge success, but I could never have imagined how long it would take for me to become anything like normal. In all, the surgery will take me several months to recover from, but it was the weeks I spent in hospital that were by far the hardest to accept.
Now, you are probably thinking it was hard to get my voice working anything like normal, starting to walk and be able to do the most simple of things, and you would be right. However, it was the position they put me in for such a lengthy time which was to cause me the greatest unpleasantness. Having to stay still on my side for so very long had left the biggest bruise I have ever seen on my right thigh, and corresponding buttock. I cannot begin to tell you how bloody painful it was! In fact, it was more uncomfortable than my head, and very often when they asked me how I was, all I could say was how much my arse hurt! Great, you go to hospital to have your brain scrambled and chopped around, and the end result means you have such a painful butt cheek you can hardly sleep… go figure, eh!
I guess one of the greatest fears was that I was 57-years-old when the surgery took place, and it often played on my mind. I should not have worried at all, my improvement so far has been nothing short of a miracle, the words of the specialist and the doctors, not mine. The most concerning factor is that I am blind in my left eye, for how long I am not entirely sure. However, at the moment I am probably four weeks ahead of where I should be, and as much as they put that down to my wellbeing, I can’t help feeling there is a far better reason for my astronomical recovery. I am the most stubborn and determined person, and to a certain degree, this paid a huge dividend. To that end, I had told the tumour that it had no part in my life, and I would laugh in its face once the doctors had flushed it down the toilet. Most of all though, no matter what age I am physically, I believe it is the fact that I have the mental age of a 12-year-old that benefits me most… and not just in getting over a brain tumour and lengthy operation.
Apart from my career in the Army, carp fishing has been the most dominant thing in my existence. Both walks of life were and are, enormous fun, but most definitely I’m sure that my rather childish mentality has helped. One, to make things interesting and two, to keep things as simple as possible. I have always thought that trying to overcomplicate things is a sure recipe for disaster, and nothing has ever happened to persuade me to change my mind on that.
I suppose rig mechanics would have to be at the top of the pile of complete nonsense as far as I am concerned. In the main, rigs are invented to try and get the inventor more street cred, whilst not giving the public any advantages in their fishing at all. I have basically stayed with the same rigs for over 25 years; yes, the products I use have improved massively, but the mechanics have remained the same. On every water I take them they work, and that is all that matters to me. I have tried the odd ‘fashionable’ trend, but none of them have made a hoot of difference. In fact, many of them lessened my catch-rate considerably!
The same could be said of bait. I read and watched people using a whole host of baits, mainly particles of various types, and telling the reader or viewer that it is the only way to catch carp. Absolute bullsh*t! I have used boilies religiously now for nearly as long as I have attached a boilie hookbait to my simple rig, and as much as the rigs work, so do the boilies I use. What that means is I can follow my dreams, not hindered by unnecessary doubts about my rig or my bait, and no matter how old I get, and what hurdles I have to climb, those dreams will remain the same.
Finally, I have an admission to make. The specialist says that I have probably had this tumour in my head for something like eight years, growing at possibly 5mm annually. What this means is that it has been with me in all the time I have been writing this column in CARPology, so if you have any reason for disagreeing with what I have said over these years, at the very least I can blame it all on the tumour! It’s gone now, thank goodness, and I’m not sure how future articles will appear, or how some of you will react to it. It’s a bit like getting a brain tumour really… we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get to it! Just my opinion of course.