CAW 32: Silence

Discussion in 'Calling All Writers - CAW 32' started by Missrachael, Dec 3, 2017.

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  1. Missrachael

    Missrachael Queen of Cheshire

    CAW 32: Silence

    Based on picture #10

    The definition of the word ‘Fear’ is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat. As such, most fear is subjective, especially when talking about phobias of any nature. However, there are other fears where the threat is very real, incredibly daunting and, as the remit of this competition dictates, unbelievably scary. Well it was for me!


    This is my real story, more or less, and while it is not something I like to discuss at length especially to strangers, it is the scariest thing I have ever encountered. I have abridged many of the less pleasant details but be warned...... this is NOT for the faint hearted!


    I was 14 years old. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had opted not to go out with my friends because I had been suffering from a bit of an earache since Friday afternoon. I was sitting on the settee watching a cheesy movie with mum and apart from the niggling pain, everything was fine. Well, it was fine until mum screeched right near my bad ear! She had seen a thin line of blood coming from it and (Mother being a mother) went into full blown panic mode and she took me straight to the hospital. Now, for the record, this wasn’t scary to me. I was used to Mum being a panicking kind of woman so I just complied and went for treatment.


    My lack of fear was justified, or so it seemed, because the doctor declared it to be an ear infection, prescribed a course of antibiotics and sent me home. Sure enough, after fourteen days of Mother feeding me the pills with regimental precision, the infection was gone and everything in my world was good and within a few weeks the whole incident was forgotten.


    Now this would be a pretty crappy story if that was the end of it but, just three months later, the earache returned. It was no worse than the time before, for the first day or so, but then, while at school, the pain suddenly became excruciating. The school doctor felt compelled to give me an injection to ease the pain and then promptly called my parents and an ambulance. Now that was quite scary to an immature 14 year old who had never really been sick but, as I was soon to discover, this was just the tip of a very, very large iceberg.


    This hospital visit lasted four days while they conducted scans and performed a biopsy on the abnormal swelling inside the ear. They suspected mastoiditis and even meningitis but those tests proved negative and they concluded that this was one of many possible infections that can affect an ear so the doctors decided to keep me under observation over the next few months. My naivety of the situation was clear to others when I laughed at the doctors for taking the biopsy to test for cancer. I truly had no idea that cancer could affect kids and to test for cancer just seemed preposterous. When we were told that there were no malignant cells, my parents showed visible signs of relief, but I just thought they were crazy to have worried.


    Over the next eighteen months I had seven or eight more infections, two of which landed me in hospital. I saw three specialists and most of the staff at Macclesfield General Hospital got to know me on first name terms. I saw the whole ear thing as a nuisance, something that was wrecking many weekends and robbing me of time with my friends. Two weeks before my 16th birthday, a whole series of events happened in just one day. That was a day I will never forget! It was the start of my living hell.


    It was a Saturday at the start of December and I was sitting at the big shelter in our local park with four friends along with my boyfriend. Looking back with the glorious power of hindsight, I can confidently say I was dating an arrogant, possessive, rude, violent prick! Obviously at the time I thought he was great and I loved him, purely because I was 15, he was 21, he had his own apartment and we fucked like rabbits. I liked being the girl in school with the older boyfriend, despite how shallow it was but I didn’t see that at the time, I loved him!


    The fact that he was possessive wasn’t news to me. I’d heard the stories about his previous girlfriend and he’d questioned me a few times about male friends at school and each time he did, I felt guilty, even though I never did anything out of place. This day was different though.


    I was sat on the low wall of the shelter while my boyfriend was talking to his friend from work. I was sitting between a girl from school and a lad who I’ve known since I was four years old who lives two doors away from my house. We have been close friends for all that time and my boyfriend knew this. Anyway, we were talking about another girl who was out with us that day and he leant close and whispered something in my ear which he didn’t want her to hear. That’s all he did. There was no coming onto me, never had been, never would have been.


    Now I remember exactly the words he’d said to me and I started to laugh. I remember that crystal clear but that was my last memory of that day.


    My boyfriend had taken a running punch at the lad, allowing the punch to follow through to the side of my head, hitting my bad ear, full on. I was out cold immediately and fell to the floor, blood pouring from my ear. This was not a thin trickle like the day in front of the TV and the rest of my friends were convinced I was dead. The ambulance was called again, police too because the coward of a boyfriend ran away as soon as he saw the blood.


    Three days. Three fucking days I was unconscious. It was partially induced after surgery to stem the flow of blood and as ridiculous as it may sound, the punch from that arsehole may have saved my life. I wasn’t due for another check-up for another three weeks but while I was on the operating table, the surgeon took another sample from my ear and yes, you guessed it, it was cancer.


    When I woke up, my first view was of the reddened eyes of my parents and I immediately began to apologise. I remembered being hit and I immediately felt guilty for having them dragged to the hospital, no doubt full of worry. Obviously though, I had no idea that I had been unconscious for so long, nor the gravity of the situation. My confusion began when their tears started again as they told me not to apologise and everything would be OK. The confusion quickly turned to mild panic because I had never seen my dad cry in 16 years and they decided not to tell me much about my ‘new’ illness except that I’d had a small operation and the fact that I had been out cold for three days. They also told me that the lad who hit me (They didn’t know until a few days later that the ‘lad’ had been fucking their daughter for the last four months) had been arrested and charged with ABH (Actual Bodily Harm). For the purpose of keeping this story accurate, he was also charged with underage sex and is still in prison for the offences. In total he was handed a twelve year sentence.


    It was a week or so later, just three days before my 16th birthday and while still in the hospital, my parents came to my ward with a hospital counsellor to tell me about the cancer. I had a hard time computing the information and I still couldn’t comprehend that I had this disease. I mean, everyone died who had cancer didn’t they? The counsellor was brilliant in explaining the cochlear cancer and then explaining the great results which have been achieved by chemo and radiotherapy. As odd as it sounds, this wasn’t as scary as perhaps it should have been. Yes, I was left feeling a little numb and a little apprehensive but it was probably a little shock which kept me relatively calm, added to the fact that I didn’t feel ill. Surely if you have cancer you were supposed to feel ill!


    I was allowed home for my 16th birthday but two days later, the treatment began. It was an intense course of treatment, and despite the fact that they told me that the chemo would take a lot out of me, I had no idea how much. It was hideous! It was six treatments over eight weeks and that is a long time to feel sick, twenty four hours a day! I lost most of my sense of humour and I felt unable to be around people. Unbeknown to me, this was a relief to a lot of my ‘friends’ who suddenly didn’t want to be close to their sick friend, ‘just in case it was infectious’. I’m guessing that was their uneducated thoughts on the situation but after just a few weeks, the calls, texts and visits dwindled down to virtually nothing but my depression allowed me the luxury of not noticing.


    It wasn’t only the friends that dropped off. My weight plummeted from a healthy seven and a half stone (105lb) to just under six stone (84lb) and it took a great deal of effort from my parents to get the nutritional drinks and shakes down me. In less than two months I had gone from a healthy looking, pretty sexy teenage girl to an old, weak and frail woman but still I accepted that the doctors would fix me, never doubting the wonderful cure they were implementing and my fear was minimal. I was just sick of feeling so fucking awful!


    It was almost three weeks after the final chemotherapy that I sat in a restaurant and enjoyed my first full meal, a Chinese buffet and it was incredible. Well, it would have been incredible if it wasn’t for the whispers and staring eyes. I knew I looked drawn and gaunt but I had no idea that I would cause such horror to the public and where we would normally sit and have coffees and ice cream after a meal, I felt the emotion building up in me and I asked Dad to take us home. His automatic reaction was to say that he fancied a coffee and wanted his meal to go down but, as he looked into my eyes he saw my pain, tossed his wallet over to Mum and scooped me up in his arms and carried me to the car. By the time he sat me in the front seat, I was in floods of tears, completely horrified that I had caused such a stir in a public place. No amount of consoling from Dad would convince me that they were at fault and I vowed that I would not go out to a restaurant again until I was fully well.


    Two weeks after the restaurant incident, I was in hospital for scans to see how I had responded to the Chemo. The initial results were given on the same day and I have never felt joy like it and there were tears of joy all around. The tumour had shrunk from nearly five centimetres to virtually nothing and the doctors were cautiously happy but erred on the side of caution saying that they would have to monitor me carefully. I was still badly underweight but my appetite had returned and we left the hospital, going home to make me well again.


    Over the following few months I ate like a horse, took my medications as I was told and returned to school. The pains in my ear were becoming a distant memory but with my weight being slow to return, several former friends still seemed to be avoiding me. Obviously I was hurt by this but I tried to block out any negativity, believing that positivity would help me to heal better and faster. Unfortunately, the positivity would be short lived and it quickly became clear that in the greater scheme of things, there was a whole truckload of shit heading in my direction. I was a crossing the highway of life, blindfolded, in rush hour and it was a twenty lane carriageway. In short, I was fucked!


    Approximately three months later, in the middle of summer, we were on holiday in the South of France. We had driven down because I was still banned from flying and we were having a wonderful time. I had regained about half of my lost weight and was basking in the ability to eat like a pig. We had just been doing the latter in a wonderful seafood restaurant but when we left the restaurant, I suddenly lost my footing and fell over. Now, under normal circumstances, I would have just laughed it off but, as my Dad lifted me to my feet, I discovered that I couldn’t actually stay upright. This was something new and mildly disturbing but I had no idea that it could be linked to my ears but my parents were on their guard immediately. The effect passed in a few minutes and for the rest of the evening I was fine. The next day, walking to breakfast, I blacked out.


    I awoke in hospital some time later being prepared for a CT scan. The results were alarming. My tumour had returned but this time it had a friend in my other ear. That evening we began our trip back home.


    Needless to say I was readmitted to hospital in the UK and I was earmarked (excuse the pun) for a much more aggressive series of Chemo and radiotherapy. Even at this stage I wasn’t scared because my mind told me it was just more of the same. I was upset that I was going to feel awful again but I just found the positive, thinking that I had dealt with it before and would do it again. I had no idea how much harder it would be though, but my parents were obviously more prepared than I was.


    It was a gruelling three months of treatment, the tumours were barely shrinking and my weight had dropped to just under four stone (56lb) but still I had no idea that my life could actually be at risk. In my mind I was just sick and had to have more treatment but, after my latest scan, the Doctors declared that were going to have to operate to try and remove the cancer. My first reaction was one of relief but their double whammy of honesty sapped every last positive thought from my mind. Firstly, the operation would leave me totally deaf and secondly, with my greatly weakened state, I may not survive the surgery.


    How, at 16, can you deal with those things? Was I scared? I was petrified!


    Oddly, the thought of dying held less fear than the notion of being plunged into a world of silence. I couldn’t begin to imagine no voices, no music, no laughter, just a world of nothing. The doctors apologised for being so blunt but time was not our friend. They left us alone to discuss it but really, there was only one choice and we signed the consent forms. The operation would be tomorrow and I spent the next eight hours calling friends and family to hear their voices one last time. It was the nearest thing a sixteen year old can do to achieve closure on her loss of hearing. It didn’t work and my fear of the unknown was unbearable.


    It goes without saying that I didn’t die, physically but a huge part of me was lost in that theatre, or it seemed like that at the time. When I came around after surgery I was genuinely disappointed that I had made it. I saw my Dad by the side of the bed and, no fault of his own, he asked if I was OK. I saw his lips move, heard nothing and sobbed myself back to sleep. This process continued for a long time, praying that this was just a nightmare I could wake up from but always the silence.


    Being a modern kid and always looking for the positive, I had researched cochlear implants and the fact that they had come on in leaps and bounds over recent years. My next disappointment came very soon after the operation when we were told that the operation had been a success in removing the cancer but, they’d had to perform aggressive surgery and remove a lot of the bone in the area. Current technology said I would not be able to utilise implants to restore my hearing, certainly not in the near future. Disappointment was becoming my daily bread.


    So, here I was, a skeletal, deaf, depressed teenager. I was far from being out of danger due to the immense amount of drugs I was taking and my new inability to gain weight. I was terrified of everything around me, unable to communicate properly as I was too weak to hold a pen properly. My mum was unable to cope with helping me as she was too distraught. Dad became my saviour and he ended up doing everything for his teenage girl, duties that no dad should ever have to do. Without his love and devotion, I wouldn’t be here now. For over a year he was by my side through my pain, my torment and my rehabilitation. He chased away the demons, he reminded me that I am a strong, beautiful woman and he convinced me that I could be anything I wanted to be.

    A lot of time has passed now. My dad is still the most important and most amazing man in my life and that will never change. I love him more than life itself and he is still there when the demons return. No matter how old we get, we still find fear in this scary world. I’ve been blessed to have him in my life but no matter how close we are and how well he comforts me, the ghosts of the voices from years ago still haunt me today. I remember them vividly and they talk to me at night but never will they talk to me while I am awake.


    Life has moved on and I have a fantastic job, gorgeous girlfriend and I look at the future as a little less scary. I’m still underweight but that will come back eventually.


    I’m still at risk of the cancer returning but the doctors keep a close eye on me.


    The cancer took away an enormous part of my life but I will never, ever give up hope.


    The fear of silence will never beat me. Ever!
     
    fantasysflirt and Redbeard1031 like this.
  2. Justanotherslut

    Justanotherslut Active Member

    WOW!


    This story left me speechless!

    Thanks for sharing your story.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
    Missrachael likes this.
  3. Uncle B

    Uncle B Well-Known Member

    This was written so well, and so beautifully told, that I feel like I was there with you. Having experience with family coping with childhood cancer, this brought back many personal memories. I have actually heard tiny bits of this before, so I can surmise who wrote this, but now I feel like I know the whole story. I applause the courage it takes to tell us this.

    I really didn't see any mistakes, but I was so into the telling, that I didn't bother to look for any. It definitely falls into the category of things in life to fear. The fact that you were too naive, (authors words, not an accusation) to feel that fear in the beginning, sort of makes it scarier.

    I am so impressed with this, that I hate to say this, but I don't think that it met all the parameters of the comp. While it covers things to be afraid of, I don't see a connection to any of the pictures. I could be wrong. Either way, I still love that you wrote this, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to read it.
     
  4. AnX...

    AnX... Bloody nuisance

    Horrible, fascinating, spellbinding, tear-jerking. I hated it and didn't because its true. I just want to hug the author and as a mother and grandmother I feel for you. Thank you for sharing what must be a wholly frightening experience for you.
     
    Koontz, bistander and Missrachael like this.
  5. 1 Toy Maker

    1 Toy Maker Well-Known Member

    Thank you.
     
    Missrachael likes this.
  6. Missrachael

    Missrachael Queen of Cheshire

    Many fantasy events that scare us but maybe real life is more scary! Good luck in the vote
     
  7. Pars001

    Pars001 #1 Knight Writer

    As a father of four children two of them adult women, I can only applaud your bravery and the love he gave you. I can also understand why he never gave up on you. Thank you for reminding me and others WHY our children are as beautiful and special to us as they are.
     
    fantasysflirt and Missrachael like this.
  8. Redbeard1031

    Redbeard1031 Well-Known Member

    Wow This story pulls at all the heartstrings. Thanks for walking us through this and for not giving in.
     
  9. ejls

    ejls Moderator Staff Member

    This has to be autobiographical. If it's not, then this author has compassion beyond compare, for others. Uncle B said everything I could think of, so just know this went to the top of my list.
     
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  10. Koontz

    Koontz Well-Known Member

    Talk about truly terrifying!!! The author caught true fear and intertwined it in this story. I agree this definitely feels autobiographical. I commend the author for sharing this story. It takes real courage to have gone through what this character did and not give up. Shows the strength of the human spirit
     
    Missrachael likes this.
  11. Little Miss K

    Little Miss K Naughty but Nice

    Great! Now I'm crying again. :(

    I read something like this, and I realize how truly blessed I have been when it comes to health. My aunt had childhood cancer, but I wasn't born yet, so I never really thought how hard it might have been dealing with normal teenage life while also trying to battle a horrible illness. You allowed me to see those things, and I thank you for that.

    I'm not eeven going to try and find mistakes in this. Suffice it to say that I didn't even notice any. :)

    If this isn't a true story I will eat my running shoes. :D

    I hope that this doesn't come out wrong, but I am so happy that things worked out alright. I know you are not the same person you were, but you are alive, and seem to be doing okay now. I'm glad you have such a strong bond with your father, and that you can still look at the world with hope. :)

    Now I'm going to try and get rid of the red puffy eyes so I don't look like a basket case at dinner. :rolleyes:
     
    Missrachael likes this.
  12. ahorsewithnoname

    ahorsewithnoname Author & Admin. Live. Love. Write! Win a Pulitzer! Staff Member Founder

    Well, this was different. I didn't expect auto-biographical, but then again, people here always find ways to amaze me.

    So, technically, there were probably a few issues, but honestly, if you asked me I couldn't name one. I'm only saying there were probably a few because that's the norm, but if there were, I didn't notice as I was reading. That's pretty impressive.

    As to the story itself, well, I have found that in the past half-dozen or so years since my second divorce, I've been more apt to well up about different things. Some songs make me do this. Great television makes me do this. Even stuff that I have seen/heard a dozen times before causes me to weep. This story did too. It's the kinda' story that makes me want to go seek out the author and give her a huge, non-sexual, fatherly-like bear hug. Probably wouldn't let go for a few minutes, um, when it went far beyond awkward, but that's just me.

    I applaud your father too. I have four children (two regular and two step-children) and I have zero contact with any of them. It's a huge void in my life, but I'm so happy to see that your father has such a great relationship with you, both for his sake, and for yours. I've forgotten what that feels like.

    So, my hat is off to you, author, for sharing what obviously was a terrifying extended part of your life. I suspect that as time goes on, you'll simply grow stronger from all of this, physically, but especially mentally. I wish you the very best in this competition, and in life.
     
    Missrachael likes this.
  13. Little Miss K

    Little Miss K Naughty but Nice

    I love that you wrote this for all of us to read. :)

    If you are ever in the neighborhood, you have to stop by and see us. :D I warn you that I will probably hug you for 10 minutes, and might leave tears on your shoulder, but then we can drink champagne and laugh. :p

    I do so very much hope that all is well with you now.
     
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