I've talked about the landmarks on my head, the feeling of my scalp being trapped between football and metal plate or screw at five-a-side, the feeling of fear when waking up from a night out in anticipation of a head ache of old. Even waking up in the morning before hearing my alarm would fill me with dread - just for the moment between opening my eyes and seeing the time, fearing that it would read 06.37. These post-op features of my life reminded me on a daily basis of both my previous condition and the fragility of life, but there was something bubbling under the surface.
I was walking home and listening to music on my iPhone. As a relentless shuffler, I never know which song is likely to pop up next, so I was unsurprised that 'Hurt' by Johnny Cash came on. I love music that fits my mood or inner rhythm, and in a relaxed mood after a trip to the gym, this song was fine by me.
My mind was wandering...I was thinking about my evening, the next day at work, mundane things that would crop up in the course of the week. As I walked, my conscious thoughts dissolved leaving me focussing on the song. I was in full stride, but slowed noticeably. I hadn't been distracted by anything other than focussing more on more on the emotion of the song. I'd always found this a moving song, but flashed back to being on the hospital trolley, being wheeled down the corridor towards the operating theatre. I visualised the staff who surrounded me as we approached the moment of truth. I pictured Lydia's face as she tried to mask her fear and emotion. The image of the consent form crossed my consciousness. In that moment, the reality of what I had been through dawned on me. The magnitude of what I had been through became immediately apparent, and I cried. This wasn't the passing of a couple of tears...I felt the wave of emotion pass through my whole body from my gut to my head as tears streamed down my face and I stopped for a moment.
Where had this come from? I didn't understand how my positive approach to my recovery had resulted in this. I understood everything. I handled everything. Most importantly, I had come through the experience unscathed. For a moment, I considered what was wrong with me. Had life just got too much for me? I wasn't sure. I took a few seconds to compose myself. As a man, my next reaction was to look round to make sure no-one had seen me. I was in the clear, but knew that this was not a feeling to brush under the carpet.
This was a scar that needed attention. It was almost exactly a year since the operation and I needed help.