The Fear - The Book | Vital Forums

The Fear - The Book

The Fear

A Wise Man (once sat next to him)
20 years ago today I was having my brain chopped into.

Been fecked since, would have been dead without it. So there you have it!

Chapter of a book I had started writing. This one about the day I went in and what it is like going in for such a thing!

The Fear

A Wise Man (once sat next to him)
“Hello” said the receptionist “and how can I help you?”

“You can start by telling me my operation is off and I can go home.” I replied.

“I’m sorry sir?” said the receptionist.

“Me too” I said.

“I’m sorry sir?” she repeated

“Humour me” I replied.

My mom interjected as she could see that perhaps this attempt at humour wasn’t going to get me very far with the receptionist and explained we were there to get me admitted.

“I’ll admit I would rather be anywhere else but here today” came my Elvis Costello response.”

Again, a blank expression peered back at me.

I’m sorry but what else could I do? I was nervous and to alleviate that, I became daft, it wasn’t a new phenomenon for me and in fact daft is basically my mantra. If I can raise a smile – even if it is just mine – then raise a smile I will.

A lady came out from the business office, took the money and explained the admittance procedure. The next step was to have one of those bloody hospital bracelets that list your name, date of birth, room or ward number. I hate these plastic bracelets, hate them, hate them, hate them. For some reason they just irritate me, I know it is ridiculous, all the pain of the operations and the worries about the risks connected with such surgery and yet all I can moan about is a plastic bracelet! The biggest pleasure I get from them is ripping them off as soon as I am told I am being discharged. Simple as it sounds, it is almost symbolic to me when I take it off and throw it in the bin. Maybe it is just the final confirmation that the surgery has been done, I have survived and I am ready to start the fight back to health, or maybe I’m just a bit of a plonker?

Anyway, once all that was done it I was shown to the ward so a nurse could take me to my room. At least with going private I was in nicer surroundings and had my own space, which obviously meant a bit of privacy and a greater chance of keeping a modest degree of dignity or at least not having to have the usual audience from fellow patients visitors. The nurse who showed me to my room was happily chirping away about this, that and the other. I can’t say I was really listening to much of what she had to say, I had more pressing things on my mind than the weather but my ears did prick up when she warned me that my specialist left a lot of his patients in tears the way he spoke to them. I quickly replied that if he tried to leave me in tears, he would be the one who would regret it. She seemed to like that. But for goodness sake, what sort of people are some of these specialists? Is the power of what they do not enough? Do they really feel the need to talk down to or upset their patients? I’d be buggered if he, or anyone else, would get the chance to belittle me, sod that for a game of soldiers.

As I say, the whole day seemed to have been in slow motion, so I was pleased to see my granddad, or ‘pops’ as my brother and me always called him, nip in for a visit and to check I was alright. I wasn’t quite so pleased when a nurse followed him in and explained it was head shave time. This was all becoming a little bit too real for me. I think she was more nervous than I was – but again my mind just returned to the Pink Floyd film The Wall starring Bob Geldoff and the awful shaving scene. All I could hope for was she didn’t start on my eyebrows like Geldoffs character did in the film. My pops was obviously not at all impressed with how she was attempting to shave my head though and decided to take matters into his own hands. He simply took the razor off her telling her not to give up her day job and finished the shave for me. Job done, I was now a fully paid up member of the skinhead brigade.

It felt really strange, I’d not had a fully shaved head before and the sensation was extremely different. It didn’t look that normal either although I had always messed about with my hairstyles so I wasn’t in the slightest bit worried. In fact, I had a girlfriend at school whose mom would always ignore me when I said hello. I always worried it was something that I had said – or done (!) – but my girlfriend simply explained that her mom never recognised me because my hair kept changing colour, shape and length. I had a close crop once but left a mop of curly hair at the front. I then decided it would be a good idea to dye it so bought some peroxide. My parents asked me if I’d coloured my hair and I said no. Little did I realise that when you use neat peroxide it gets lighter and lighter each time you wash it, so I didn’t get away with that lie!

What seemed like every medical person in the world came in and explained what there role in the operation would be. Every time one person left another doctor or nurse would come in to poke me, prod me, take blood or ask me if I was alright. Am I alright? What the heck sort of question was that? Of course I wasn’t alright, if I was I wouldn’t have been sitting there waiting for a brain op! I must admit, I find the whole process before an operation, going through your medical history several times to different doctors, explaining to them why I think I am there and what my understanding of the procedure is, not to mention having endless blood tests, blood pressure and temperature checks etc, just mind numbingly boring. Once you have been admitted, all you really want to do is get on and have the operation done as quickly as possible, it helps prevent you getting too nervous and also prevents the dreaded wait. Obviously it is absolutely essential that you have all the tests and procedures done, I do try wherever possible to have a laugh with the doctors or nurses and let them get on with the business of hurting me. There is certainly no point making the almighty fuss that some patients make, just deal with it for goodness sake! Once the tests had been done the brain specialist came in and was fairly pleasant telling me he would ‘go where no man has gone before, on you anyway, first thing in the morning, so get a good sleep’.

Without further a do, I was alone, in my room, contemplating life, the universe and everything. Well, actually I was watching the television and reading a paper, but that doesn’t sound anywhere near as good now does it? It turned out to be a long night, you don’t tend to sleep well when you know the following morning will bring a brain operation, not only that but I was nil by mouth and my mouth doesn’t really enjoy nil input. I watched tv, tried to sleep, watched a bit more tv, tried to sleep, stared out the window, tried to sleep and before I knew it, the day had arrived, the dreaded theatre gown was delivered – you really never can figure out which way it is meant to be put on – and I was travelling down the corridors; being pushed in my bed by a hospital porters being as cheerful as ever – I wonder if whistling and being chirpy is part of their job description - and a nurse following on asking the ‘are you alright’ question every few minutes. This, as they say, was it.

I don’t have any real fear of operations, I tend to think what will be will be, it is no good making a fuss, if they are needed then they are needed and no amount of whinging or moaning will change that fact. However, I am not a big fan of the anaesthetic. I really dislike the way it feels travelling up the arm, to the neck and then the buzzing, spinning sensation in the head. Even typing these words is making me feel repulsed, the sound of people speaking just seems to echo and distort, the loss of control, everything, it is just totally unpleasant, which is a shame because the majority of anaesthnatists seem to be a fairly cheerful and pleasant crowd, if only the end product wasn’t so nasty!

So, I’m lying there on an bed, in a gown, looking resplendent in my long anti clogging socks up to my thighs and needles slowly being inserted in order to administer the anaesthetic. I’d been asked the usual questions to check my identity once again and I signed the consent form, my hospital bracelet - that bloody bracelet - was checked and we were ready. The brain specialist pops in to say hi and reassure me and then the words “count backwards from 100” are uttered by the anaesthnatist. So it begins, 100 the anaesthetic is administered, 99 the warn stinging sensation, 98, of the drug, 97, entering the bloodstream, 96, the buzzing in the ears 95, people standing over me, 94, and your thoughts slowly slipping away 93, I’m wondering what is to follow 92, and if I would wake up again 91 eyes shut, 90,


The rest was up to the specialist and his team, and if you believe in Him, then maybe the man upstairs also has a part to play. My faith is non-existent, although I think I had some then.

Some seven or so hours later - “Jonathan” I heard from what sounded like some distance. “Jonathan” someone repeats, louder this time. “Jonathan” the voice echoes in my head.

What is that noise? Who is shaking me? Should I open up my eyes? Not sure I should, I am so tired and God I’m hot.

“Jonathan” the voice says again. “You are ok. The operation went well” she said “You are in intensive care, we are looking after you, don’t worry, just relax”.

I open my eyes, the room is spinning and the nurse looks fuzzy, is there one or two there? What is that pounding in my head? What is that on my face making me sweat? I raise my hands and remove the oxygen mask covering my mouth and nose.

“Jonathan, keep that on, it is helping you get some oxygen” says the nurse putting it back on.

I drift in and out of consciousness, for how long I have no idea; time really has no meaning in these circumstances, fighting with the mask, I took it off, the nurse puts it back on. I must – without really knowing what I was doing – have done this a fair few times because I can remember them changing the mask to one that clips on the nose and is harder to pop off. As the anaesthetic wears off, the pain and discomfort increased. Then, the strangest thing that has ever happened to me occurs. The nurse tells me I have a phone call from my relative wanting to speak to me and ask me how I am. Oh right, must be my mom I thought, or maybe my brother. No, wrong on both counts. The nurse passed me the phone and said “it is your sister”.

‘SHIT’. Panic ensues. ‘I have lost my memory’ I thought. ‘I’m sure I only have a brother’. Ordinarily I would have told the nurse – or whoever – that I didn’t have a sister. But this was by no stretch of the imagination a situation that could be described as ordinary, so I took the phone. ‘I’m mad’ I thought, ‘I’ve forgotten that I’ve got a sister’.

“Hi Jonathan how are you?” came the voice.

“Uh? Ok, a little sore” I mumbled in my usual understated way.

“I just had to ring, I’ve been so worried” came the voice.

“Thanks” I mumbled totally baffled.

“Its Sally” came the voice. “I had to say I was your sister otherwise they wouldn’t have let me talk to you” she said.

“Thank fuck for that” I said.

Sally was a girl that I had been out with my friends and me the night before I was admitted and she had dropped me home. I had seen her around a few times as she had gone out with one a chap I had got to know. There was a mutual interest there, I’d have no doubt made a move earlier if it wasn’t for the small matter of the brain op I was waiting for. She had said she wanted to visit me in hospital, I had advised her against it, in fact, I advised all my friends against it. I knew I wouldn’t be a pretty sight, I knew that I would be feeling lousy and I also knew that most of them wouldn’t be able to stomach seeing me in that state. However, one of my mates nipped in, Sally had driven him over, so they could give me a box of chocolates. A nice gesture but that was the last I saw or heard from either of them – for at least a year anyway. I assume that I did look as frightening as I thought I would and that scared her away.

It was actually a nice thought that she had bothered to ring, it gave me something ‘good’ to think about whilst I was in hospital, and I was looking forward – very much – to seeing her when I got out. That never happened and the last I heard, she was marrying my old best mate Andy. It is a funny old world really. Still, two cowards together, seems a perfect fit. I think if people say they are going to do something, then they should bloody well do it. As the saying goes, if you can’t talk the talk, don’t walk the walk.

Intensive care was exactly what the name of the ward suggests, ‘intense’. It was hot, it was noisy – for some reason people were having to fix a bed or something, I hadn’t got the strength to look up and anyway, my head and neck were far too painful to move about just yet, so I couldn’t see what was happening but the banging was echoing in my head as if I had church bells chiming right by me. The humour was lost on me at the time but it did remind me of a room Andy and me stayed in when we stopped in Amsterdam, we were right in the centre by the church or cathedral and when the bells went off, the whole room – including us both, shook too. The similarities ended there mind you, Amsterdam was fantastic fun, this was definitely not. The nurses were certainly not speaking quietly and the level of laughing and joking amongst them when they have seriously ill people around never ceases to amaze me.

I was told to drink as much water as possible, which to be fair wasn’t much, and to rest – as if I had any other options open to me at that particular time. In the early hours of the morning, having told them over and over that I couldn’t wee in the bottle provided a young doctor came and fitted a catheter. The relief was tangible. It was just a shame, yet again, that the medical staff hadn’t listened to me. I warned them before the operation that since my very first operation, I always have trouble passing water after an operation and always need a catheter. Oh well, time to let go of that particular bug bear I suppose!

I had been relatively ‘ok’ until my parents nipped in to see me. As soon as I heard their voices – I was probably drifting in and out of the drug induced sleep at the time – I hurled and a projectile of vomit headed their way. Luckily for them I missed. I remember them coming out with the classic ‘how are you feeling’ question and me coming out with the classic ‘ok’ answer. Very graciously they didn’t mention the vomit that had sprayed towards them a few seconds before. Poor buggers, they have certainly seen me in some god-awful states in their lives. The sort of states that no parent should have to see their kids go through. It really must have been a terrible time for them to endure. Boy oh boy, I was so hot. Sweat was dripping off me, I obviously had a fever and couldn’t drink enough to cool myself down. Funny thing is, as I was typing this paragraph it has all of a sudden dawned on me why I don’t particularly like electric fans. I have just recalled – due to my temperature – a small fan being put by my bedside and left on all night. The noise totally irritated me and all it did was make the one side of my face feel uncomfortable.

After operations and once you start to gain some sort of consciousness time seems to go backwards when you are lying in intensive care. You can’t really interact, you can’t sit up and read or watch tv, all you can do is lie there and be uncomfortable. Well, uncomfortable is a bit of an understatement, I was in agony. Tick-tock, tick-tock, you can almost count the hours and minutes. Tick-tock, tick-tock, sweating, fan buzzing, head blurred, room spinning, pain increasing as the anaesthetic was wearing off, banging and laughing from the nurses, groans from other patients, relatives talking in whispered voices that come through my ears as if they were using loud hailers, and the oxygen mask irritating my nose. Yup, the full joys of being in intensive care. Still, I knew it wouldn’t last forever, all you have to do – in fact, all you can do – is lie there and attempt to relax and wait for it all to be over. Not that easy when your head is pounding and you don’t know what year it is let alone the time, but as there is no other choice, so you do it. I have the ability to put myself into ‘another room’ in my mind, I seem to be able to remove myself just slightly from the reality and grind through these situations which is just as well because I’ve faced a fair few awful times really.

My stay in intensive care seemed like weeks, I think it was actually just a couple of nights and three full days. With the constant tests and checks, the discomfort and the bloody heat, it became a bit of an endurance test really, in fact, it was a nightmare that felt like it was never going to end. Then, happily, I was taken back up to my room. After an operation, especially operations the size that I have had done, you tend to feel shell shocked, your body is trying to understand what has happened to it and deal with the strange pains and sensations, and you feel totally disorientated. I was incapable of reading, as my eyes wouldn’t fully focus and I was simply too tired to concentrate. I tried but couldn’t watch tv as the screen was just spinning and I was finding the sensation of noise to be jumbled up and distorted. If someone spoke to me on my right, the noise seemed to be coming from the left and again, delivered through a loud hailer. My brain signals were obviously as confused as the rest of me. So again, you just lie there and wait for things to improve. It was the middle of winter but my window was opened wide as the doctors tried to bring down my temperature. My poor nan visited the one night and was astonished that ‘someone had forgotten to shut my window’. She really couldn’t understand it and kept telling me I would catch a cold. A cold was the very least of my worries at the time. I’m not sure she fully understood the gravity of the situation and just how ill I was. I certainly hope she didn’t anyway.

Still, the days passed, the physiotherapists bullied – or as they would have it, helped me back to fitness! I was slowly able to wee normally again without a horrible catheter – which is a really big deal – and I slowly started to eat small amounts and drink enough to get the system going again. The pain, the confusion, the different sensations, the numbness, was all expected and didn’t faze me at all. I was alive and I was going to get better. Or at least that was the plan.

It may sound strange, but no matter how hard and painful this time was, it wasn’t what I considered to be the hardest time, I certainly didn’t feel that I was in the depths of despair. At the time there was still plenty of hope. Yes, this was the painful and slow going phase, but once my body started to repair itself and I could get back to some normal semblance of life, I would be fine. This stage was the sit there, put up with the suffering and wait part. It was later, much later, when I plummeted and that only occurred when I started to think there was no longer any hope at all. Then everything turned black. For now, I was blissful in my ignorance and planning my recovery. I was almost cocooned from the real world and it was to take a very long time for the reality of the situation and the fact that I wasn’t recovering to hit home. And when it hit home, it hit home with the force of a hurricane.


The Fear

A Wise Man (once sat next to him)
Thanks BBJ, was writing a book before Vital took off. Had to shelve it once Vital took over and not got back to it yet. Shame, I'd left it at the worst time really as the rest would be about re-building and also the Villa stuff that went on. I'll have forgotten most of that with my foggy memory!


Vital Football Legend
What an amazing chapter, I was absolutely gripped, shocked and I have to say proud of you mate. One thing i will say, whilst i didnt know you at the time, shame on those so called mates of yours - and how things have changed - your mates thesedays offer to help you take a piss even when youre in peak condition!!!

Can I ask also (tell me bollocks if you like) but, if any counselling or therapy was offered/taken after this trauma? It strikes me, similarly to my girlfriend after childbirth, that these so called procedures may be an everyday occurence for the professionals who administer and carry them out, but to the patient/victim they may carry long term effects, psychologic perhaps, that could and should be addressed.


Vital Football Legend
Well written and thank you for sharing. Seems your life was meant to tkae this turn to be doing what your doing today, as much as some days you will wish it hadn't. Know that 1 myself

Oh yeah and :105: :105: :105: sings It was 20 years ago today Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play

:125: :125: :125: :141: :142: :143: :115:

The Fear

A Wise Man (once sat next to him)
I should have had help Jim, they left me and I was pretty badly treated start to finish, one of the chapters in the book goes on about the fiddle to push me private, if I hadn't I'd have died, then it transpires (I got to know after the statue of limitations) that they'd never put me on the list. Hence I'd have snuffed it.

They left me though and I did, not to get too deep into this, have a pretty awful break down. Took a few years and then it dawned on me I wasn't recovering from the op, it was the new me. I was sitting in pizzaland in Brum and started crying (you know me, I'm not an emotional sort!) poor waitress must have wondered what was so wrong with the pizza!

Made me stronger going through it though. I think I'd been too strong for everyone else (family etc) and didn't allow myself to show any upset. You can't hold on to all that, it has to come out.

I know Skeggy is sure I suffer from ptsd. I just think I'm a grumpy old arse!!!!!!!


Vital Football Legend
JF I would agree with Skeggy that you suffer PTSD. I can't see how you couldn't after going through all that

Your right their. We have tear ducts for a reason and we were meant to cry as we wouldn't have them otherwise.

People always say 'oh don't cry' because they think you need them to do something for them and they don't know how to handle it. Majority of the time you don't need anything. You just need to let your feelings out appropriately. That's what I have learnt anyway

The Fear

A Wise Man (once sat next to him)
Yup, that wasn't the first and wasn't the last op either, some have been shockers, not to mention some of the horrendous procedures and flair ups like 2012 that took 15 months to fully clear.

But hey, not going to let anyone else inside my head now... I quite like what goes on in there! :16:


Vital Football Legend
I think there is a lot of truth in the old saying 'what doesnt kill you makes you stronger' even if taken away in physical strength or capabilities, it makes you stronger mentally and emotionally, providing you can overcome what has happened to you. If nothing else you've learned the real value of family (something most take for granted but never get a shock into realisation in such a way) and also who your friends are, and the real value of good friendship.

Without wanting to go into too many cliches, things do happen for a reason, and whilst the suffering and ongoing effects of the trauma are still with you - the way your life has gone since, has been fulfilling and succesful to a level it may never have been, and the esteem you are held in by so many people is a priceless reward that hopefully eases the pain for you.

Did you get my christmas card by the way?


One Bloody Number
I know you don't like mushy, and you know I don't particularly do mushy, but man you're such a top bloke and an inspiration to go through all of that and come out the other end such a top quality bloke. Put's so much into perspective. The amounts of times you could have given up, but not only did you not give up you have gone on and made a big difference in the lives of loads of people.

Great read by the way... how come your Vital articles are so shit? (sorry... I had to ruin it...)

The Fear

A Wise Man (once sat next to him)
DeanoVilla - 7/1/2014 14:01

Great read by the way... how come your Vital articles are so shit? (sorry... I had to ruin it...)
:19: :19: :19:

Thanks very appreciated sentiments from you folks.

(Yes Jim, was lovely)


Vital 1st Team Regular
like BBJ said, this is very moving mate. I think i love you that little more now :) haha

for me it puts life into perspective
Wow , I was not aware of exactly what you went through . Very moving and quite poignant really.

All that's missing if I may say so is the obligatory sex scene.


One Bloody Number
sirdennis - 7/1/2014 14:58

All that's missing if I may say so is the obligatory sex scene.
You obviously didn't read it properly.

"A lady came out from the business office, took the money and explained the admittance procedure"