We arrived at the hospital where we were shown to a private room. The nurse asked me to go in the bathroom to change into mypyjamas. I did. Returning to the room and clambering onto the bed I once more delighted in the comfort of a British National Health bed. My mum who had been out signing forms and consent's came into the room at this point saying she had to go as they were going to start the tests straight away. She would return this evening with dad.
About half an hour after she had gone, a female doctor and a nurse with a face like a robber's dog came into my room. The doctor asked me to strip down to my undie's, which I had kept on under my PJ's. I was told to lie on my back with my arms relaxed to my side. She began to feel under my arms, my neck, my groin, and slipping my undie's down she examined my balls again. She said not to be embarrassed which I think is the most crass statement anyone can make. Especially when the person making the statement, is a 50+ female doctor with an extremely ugly nurse in tow. Quite honestly I didn't know where to look, and I must have been glowing. She next began palpitating, very painfully I might add, my lower left abdomen.
Meanwhile, the nurse was getting her blood kit ready and whilst the doctor was writing stuff down she proceeded to take about seven blood samples. I asked her if she bothered with a tree at Christmas time. Surprised, she said yes. I then asked if having one made it difficult to close her lid. She scowled but the doctor cracked up. Next up was me being told to lay on my right side and to draw my knees up as far as I could. I felt a prick at the top of my hip soon after. The nurse then told me to close my eyes and to stay faced forwards. I did this as my hip quickly lost feeling.
As I couldn't see a thing, I later asked about what happened next. It seems that they have this humongous needle thing with a thread on it. It's hollow too which makes it a tube really. They actually pierce the skin at the top of the hip and screw it through the bone into the inner part then into the thigh bone that has the marrow in it. They then use another long syringe which is passed down the tube into the marrow where they draw loads of different samples that end up in sealed clear plastic sachets. In truth I felt nothing until she went way down inside my thigh bone and I got the most awfully weird and horrible feeling of the needle moving about not far from my knee. That, apart from the obvious fear was the worst part of the whole thing.
The discomfort only lasted for about ten seconds and that was it. I felt the really intense pressure she applied as she first screwed into my hip bone but it was definitely not painful. The whole thing with my hip took around fifteen minutes, and that was the bone marrow test over with. As feeling returned over the next couple of hours, the worst discomfort was a feeling of being bruised. Before she left my room, I asked the doctor what she was looking for and she took on the most compassionate look I think I have ever seen. She said I had to be brave and not to worry. Treatment for what they believed I had, had come a long way in recent years and in all probability, apart from periodic tests, my life would be completely normal. She then dropped the bombshell. They knew that my spleen was enlarged, and that being so, it was a sure pointer for leukemia. This of course is cancer of the bone marrow.
I remember a few things she said from that point on but not too much. I was totally devastated. People die from leukemia don't they? I know I had big fat tears rolling down my face, and I was scared to death. The main gist was that the blood and bone marrow results would soon be known and they could then work out an effective course of treatment. She was sure that I hadleukaemia but quite what type was as yet unknown. It turned out that the results were far more difficult to determine than she had thought. We finally got them on Monday. Their equipment wasn't sensitive enough it seems and the samples had to be taken to Addenbrookes in Cambridge. This is a world class university hospital that is well known for its extremely innovative and pioneering treatments.
My mum and dad were there for the conference which I was allowed to attend in the doctor's office. I had developed a form of early leukemia called Myelo Proliferative Disorder. It is infinitely treatable with what she described as some very high tech drugs called Hydroxyurea. It is given in capsule form and the main side effects are loss of appetite and tiredness. It is, to all intents and purposes, oral chemo. The main effect of this illness is a proliferation of the red blood cells that cause the blood to thicken. This in turn can cause heart attacks, stroke, and clots. The treatment is to bring the red cell count back to an acceptable and safe level. It can develop into full blown leukeamia too.
They kept me in for another eleven days, taking blood samples twice a day. I was taking eight of the capsules a day which were spread over four doses. The doctor was right. I ate very little and was forever tired. The constant awareness of my spleen that I had had for getting on for two years was far lessnoticeable, and my fever's had more or less gone, so other than eating and tiredness I was definitely feeling less scared. By the time the third Friday came around I was surprised to see my mum at about eleven am with a bag of clothes. She told me that they had told her on Thursday that if I continued to improve they would let me home on today.
Talk about relief. My clothes btw, were very baggy when I eventually got dressed. I had lost maybe 15lbs, but at least my hair hadn't fallen out as it does with full blown Chemo. The course of treatment would continue on a decreasing scale for a total of a year or less if my blood counts stabilized (too many red cells). I would have to return for blood tests every two weeks or until they decided otherwise.
I hated the hospital and the first few days of extreme embarrassment as they made me stay in bed. Bed baths given by nurses who I am sure relish embarrassing you are not to be recommended. One young nurse was washing my nether regions, and making a point of rolling my foreskin back to clean underneath. I am convinced she did it on purpose and took her time with it too. I threw a raging boner. Smirking, she patted it and said not to worry as it happened all the time, she then swished her skirts and left. If it had been the young male nurse who had done it, I am sure I would have creamed him. The one time he did bathe me, he was very quick and nothing like that had time to happen before I was once again under my covers.
After three days, I was allowed into my bathroom where I had a shower and certainly creamed the shower wall. I remember I was, for most of the time there, appallingly constipated. After six days or so, I mentioned it to the male nurse who got me a laxative and I had the best dump whilst in there, soon afterwards. The relief was wonderful.
We had just arrived home when my father walked in too. He, as mum had done, hugged me in a bear hug asking me how I felt. I told him about the constant weariness, but that the doctor had said it shouldn't last for much longer, and that my body would soon begin to adjust to the drug input. The most annoying thing was the ban on driving, it was in place only for the time being, but I dearly wanted to go and see Lee. Mum had made us a cup of tea, joining dad and I on thecouch. They each had an arm around me when mum gave me the biggest and most embarrassing shock of my life.
She said, "Your boyfriend Lee has rung everyday since you went into hospital. He seems to be such a nice boy and is very worried and upset". I felt the blush rising from my toes, upward. As it crashed upon, then settled into my mind what she had just said, I burst into great heaving sobs, burying my face in my hands. I felt them squeeze me tighter hearing my mumsay," Don't carry on so Matt. It's OK. I already had my suspicions, and so did your father. Think about it son. You have never once had a girlfriend and when you confessed to it, as you called it, it only confirmed what we already suspected". I looked up at this point shakily asking, "Confessed?" She smiled and kissed me on the forehead. "You don't remember do you Matt?" I shook my head answering, "No".
She went on. "Well! You remember when we called the doctor? You were in agony and really quite feverish. In fact you seemed to be hallucinating somewhat. You actually said to dad and I, that you thought you were going to die. She then quoted me as saying, "Before I die I need to tell you something I've been hiding forever. It's been killing me to hide it from you, and I'm ever so sorry but I'm gay!"
Continuing, she said, "Well it wasn't so much a shock to hear it from you, because as I said earlier, we suspected it anyway. Understand Matt, we know it's not something you can help. It's just another part of you, and only a small part at that. We would have liked grandchildren of course, but what's not to be is how it will be. Remember we love you and nothing can change that. We will always welcome whoever is special in your life to our home. When I say our home I don't just mean dad and I. We include you. It is after all your home too; you've put just as much effort into here as we have. Also remember that it will be yours entirely one day too."
For the next hour or so we chatted over the situation regarding Lee and I. I explained that I wasn't even entirely sure he was gay anyway. I hoped he was, and that the last time I saw him was in fact the first time in over a year and half. In reality, since we moved from Colchester. Mum asked a little more about him then and realized (in her words), "Oh, he's that Lee. He's the son of that horrible airman! Nodding again I said,"Yes". She said, "I liked that boy and always felt sorry for him. He's the one who wasn't allowed to use the phone at home isn't he? He always came around on his bike when a two minute phone call would have done?" I answered "yes" again. "Well! He'll call at around seven I think, or at least that's the time he's been ringing each night so far. I'm sure he will be delighted to hear you answer the phone tonight Matt". "God! The time that boy has spent at our house in Colchester, I should have known who he was immediately. Is he still as shy as ever Matt?" Using a tissue to dry my eyes and cheeks, I simply nodded, yes.
I couldn't wait to hear his voice once more as my mother carried on saying, "why don't you invite him up for Sunday lunch dear? Your dad will take you to pick him up. In fact wasn't it your plan that he was going to stay last weekend? I think it may be a bit soon yet Matt, but maybe next weekend hmm? It's still ok to invite him for Sunday lunch, but do remember to tell him he will need a shirt and tie." With that she got up to consult the medication chart she had already done. She then promptly delivered a drink and two capsules.
Lee did ring at about ten past seven. We had chatted for about an hour when my mum saw me yawning, and taking the phone from me she chatted away to Lee inviting him herself to come for Sunday lunch. Yes! She did tell him to wear a shirt and tie, and that she or my father would drive me down to pick him up. She then gave the phone back to me after telling Lee that I needed to go to bed and to not take too long saying goodbye. As I finished the phone call, mum placed a glass of hot sweetened milk into my hand and sent me off to bed, where I slept like a log in my own heavenly bed for over twelve hours.
Saturday crept by with me taking two naps throughout the day. Lee was ringing around seven again and I was on tenterhooks waiting for the clock to creep around. When seven finally came round I had the phone in my hand willing it ring. When it did, I jumped, dropping it. I quickly retrieved it and chatted for almost two hours. Dad had had a phone installed in my room whilst I had been in hospital, and I had given Lee my new number the previous night so I lay on my bed whilst we talked. He didn't have a mobile phone so it wasn't as if I could ring him. I had his home number of course, but remembering his father as I did, I thought it best not to ring him. He told me when I asked about it that the number he had given me that day in the coffee bar, was in fact his own line in his bedroom. He paid for it himself out of his part time earnings from MacDonald's.
My mind went into overdrive realizing he now lived in Stowmarket, that our factory was in Stowmarket, and that dad had employed part time 'schoolies' for as long as I could remember. I thought he could earn more with us than he could by working at MacDonald's. Plus, he wouldn't have to travel to Ipswich to work either, which is where the Mac d's branch is located. We wound up our chat finalizing where we would meet tomorrow, then I went to chat to dad about a job for Lee. He remembered Lee well, and also admitted to liking him, saying he would be happy to broach the subject tomorrow over lunch. He also confirmed that he would earn far more than at MacDonald's. I had my glass of hot milk, my two capsules, and once more, went happily off to bed.
Lunch the next day was wonderful. Dad and I had gone to Stowmarket to pick Lee up whilst mum made lunch. We had a lovely prawn starter, followed by a traditional English Sunday lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, finishing off with my mum's amazing Knickerbocker glories. They are the most delicious fruit and ice cream concoction. They are finished off with piped whipped cream and served up in tall fluted glasses that you eat from with an incredibly long spoon. I'm afraid I could only pick at my food, but I did manage to eat more than usual which showed my appetite was certainly improving. My mum and I would definitely be happy if this continued.
We took Lee home at about four pm. He had arranged to go and see my dad after college the next day, and was really excited at the prospect of starting work for him. I was too, because it seemed in my mind to make him just that bit closer. I couldn't wait to be a little fitter and be able to really get into his ribs to see if he was indeed still attracted to me as I certainly was to him. I had checked the girlfriend situation already and there wasn't one on the scene, nor had there been. That night, he starred in my first bedroom fantasy since I got home from hospital. It was wonderful. I couldn't wait for the real thing once more.
The next several weeks dragged by with me definitely recovering, albeit slowly. Lee did start work at the factory and eventually began to arrive on Friday night's getting a lift from my father. He stayed for lots of the weekend's, using one of the guest rooms until his Sunday afternoon departure. We had had several quiet chats whilst walking around the grounds with the subject of our sexuality being broached quite openly. It was during one these frank discussions that I told him I am gay to which he answered that he was still in the questioning stage though fairly sure he was too. He went on to say that he wouldn't try anything with me until my recovery had progressed somewhat further, but he was looking forward to exploring together. I think this was a very positive boost for me and most definitely improved my frame of mind.
My father meanwhile had been sounding mum and I out regarding selling up and retiring. He was very concerned about my health and long term prospects, even though he took onboard the doctors prognosis that if my recovery stayed as positive as it was, I should end up in remission. She had further explained that even if and when I could stop the meds, I would in all probability have to go back on medication from time to time if and when my blood counts slipped. It would be a very mild dose compared to my current one and be nowhere near as debilitating. It would gently kick my counts back to where they wanted them. A very reassuring statement that she told me not to quote her on, was that I would probably die with it rather than of it, but given my age I could very well see, and experience the cure in my lifetime.
I know I had given my dad a real scare and he was determined to look after me, adamantly stating that I no longer worked at the factory, nor would I ever have to. I was shocked when he revealed his net worth plus what he could envisage selling his company for. I knew we were quite well off, but this rich? I really hadn't the faintest idea. I was extremely proud of him and his motives for wanting to sell. I,it seemed, am more important to him than his business that he's spent more than half his life building. Amazing!
As the weeks turned into months, I continued to regain my health and strength. My main problem was the fact that I tired easily, but it was getting better. My relationship with Lee had moved onto us kissing, with it possibly being not too far into the future where we would maybe 'get it on'. We were able to feel each other as we embraced and kissed and had both remarked that we had certainly grown since we were thirteen and fourteen. I was also able to drive again, which was a relief and made seeing Lee a lot easier. My mum and dad kept a very close eye on me, but rather than feeling claustrophobic, it did in fact have the totally opposite effect on me. It made me feel loved and protected
The fifth month came and I was taken off medication with six weekly visits rather than two. It felt like real progress. Not just that I was now off the medication, but the extended time between visits actually increased my general feeling of wellbeing. I must have looked well too, because my parents actually agreed to me taking a long weekend away with Lee. We would leave on Friday as soon as he finished college. He was taking clothes with him to change into. His bag was already loaded in the car on Thursday when I took him home. He has dual nationality (American & British) and asked which passport I thought he should take. Fool! My reply was, "I don't care, just as long as you are with me".
My father had booked tickets on the tunnel and a hotel in Brussels. It was about a 250 mile drive which with the time spent on the tunnel included, would be about five hours from leaving Ipswich College to actually arriving at our hotel. I was due to pick him up at 2.30pm. I had bought him a gold pinky ring which I planned to give him as soon as we got into bed for the first time. I was positive that I was in love.
We set off from Ipswich and made really good time considering it was Friday. The roads are usually jammed solid. The only sticky point on the entire journey was the Dartford crossing. It's a toll bridge over, and a tunnel under the River Thames, and we queued for maybe twenty minutes. We made it to the tunnel terminal in ample time however and drove onboard.
This is the first time I had done it myself. It felt strange without my dad, and I began to have a few self doubts about driving on the right side instead of the left once we had crossed into France. As it happens, I needn't have worried because I took to it like a duck to water. I suppose the 1000's of miles I had travelled with my dad within mainland Europe had in some way prepared me. Roundabouts were the only confusing thing really because I had to go around them the opposite way to those in England.
We arrived in Brussels at just on 8pm, and using Microsoft's Auto-Routes maps, which I had printed off, Lee proved to be a more than adequate map reader and navigator. We didn't put one foot wrong and went straight to the hotel with the absolute greatest of ease. We were lucky too in as much as the hotel restaurant didn't take last orders until 9.30pm. We went to our room, had a wash and change, quickly returning downstairs to a wonderful dinner. My dad's favourite saying is that Belgium is the best kept secret in Europe. He really likes to swig beer, and Belgium has so many brands apparently, and is brewed with such excellence that no one can beat them. The café bars are another thing altogether too. Huge choices of beer, and generally the most excellent food served at a fraction of the cost at home.
We were both tired after our journey, so as soon as we finished our meal we made a reasonably early return to our room. Once we got behind locked doors we soon ended up in a very passionate lip lock and stuff. These things however are private, so it will be enough to say that we both had a very good time, that losing my virginity was rather painful at first, and that he had both grown tremendously since being fourteen. In the event however, I took to it like driving on the wrong side of the road, just like a duck to water. I loved it even though I hobbled a little on subsequent trips to the loo. I was quite sure as I drifted off into a wonderfully satisfied sleep, that I had found the man of my dreams. Oh! One other thing, I forgot to give him his pinky ring.
The next day after a loving interlude which again proved to be wet, we had breakfast served in our room. Once that and the shower's were over etc, I took him out into Brussels proper which I know quite well from the many previous visits with my dad. The main place I wanted him to see was 'The Grand Place'. It is a large square with lots of pavement cafes and is bounded on all sides with the most magnificent architecture. Most of the buildings are heavily gilded with lots of stone sculpture and rococo detail on the face. It is a truly beautiful area of Brussels. I took him down to the 'Pissing Boy Fountain' which is a stones throw from 'The Grand Place.' On our way back to 'The Place' we stopped in many of thesouvenir shops that line the streets on both sides. I rather liked the 'Pissing Boy' corkscrews and actually got one. The pointy wiggly bit replaced his dick. It did occur to me to keep it out of mum's way when I got back home. I can imagine the reaction if she came across it.
By dinner time we had walked miles, were both worn out and absolutely ravenous. We found a quite large restaurant by Belgian standards and had our dinner there. Our starter contained oysters which everyone knows are passion food, and is supposed to enhance ones libido. I shoved mine onto Lee's plate which he gobbled up whilst smirking at me. His only comment was, just wait till I get you into bed. I came out in gooseflesh at the prospect.
Bed was yet again a most memorable occasion with the main act going considerably easier than the previous night. I had read lots of stuff on the internet ever since I was thirteen so I was quite familiar with "gay terminology". It seems I will be a confirmed bottom, and that is as much detail as I will give you other than the fact that I love it. The next day, we drove up to Antwerp and the gold district, looking at lots of really expensive and obscenely priced jewellery. I did find a nice charm for my mum's bracelet which I didn't think she already had. The bracelet I speak of must weigh in at a pound, and has so many charms hanging off it that if she actually lost one I doubt very much if she would miss it. I hoped she would like it.
I found a really nice Tiger's Eye pinky ring for my dad that I really wanted to get for him but had to go find a cash machine for more money because they wouldn't accept my card. I actually got the cash but thought, "Fuck you!" I didn't buy it. When we got back to Calais later that day, because Lee was 18, he could buy alcohol. We found a wine warehouse and got dad a case of really good wine that would have cost three or four times as much back home. We then found a restaurant and had a light meal. I didn't want to eat heavily as I still had the tunnel to do, then a drive of about 120 miles to get home. In the event, we got back at just after 10pm. Lee was staying overnight, so tomorrow was looking good too.
Mum loved her charm, and dad was really quite concerned over how much his wine cost me. I suppose it was expensive but compared to the thieving wine sellers here, it was really very cheap. I was happy anyway and I knew he would enjoy it. I had the biggest surprise too when I went to my room. Dad must have planned this long before we went, and must have had the workmen waiting in the wings as I left to pick Lee up. I had wanted my own bathroom for ages.
The guest room next to mine had been turned into a walk in shower with a power shower that has 5 heads. There was slate counter with two hand basin's fitted, a bidet, and a toilet. The lighting was all recessed directional spots. A door had been knocked through into my room too. The next surprise was a new king sized bed that was made up with a set of pyjamas on each pillow. I cried. It took Lee to realize that we seemed to have been given permission to sleep together when he pointed out the pyjamas. The bathroom we noticed later also had 2 cabinets, 2 toothbrushes as well as 2 bathrobes. Mum and dad knocked on my door and asked if they could come in. The result was a group hug with Lee being told by my mum, "Welcome to the family dear". I cried again.
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