Schrödinger’s Cat

Before I get into this epic blog post, I firstly wanted to thank everyone for the messages of support I’ve had over the last week and for everyone who shared the post, it’s greatly appreciated. We managed to drum up just under 1000 visitors in less than a week which is awesome, and I’ve received 3 messages from new readers who have said how useful they’ve found it which makes the sharing more important. 

This blog entry will cover my psychology tests and my results along with a breakdown of what will happen the day of the operation plus a few funny/scary/unbelievable facts that happen on the operation table.

So firstly, I’ve put together a brief outline of the psychological tests that I’ve completed in the last week that are used as a benchmark of intelligence and memory before and after the operation, and ascertain how the surgery affects my intelligence and memory.  They used a test called the WASI-II, a general intelligence, or IQ test designed to assess specific and overall cognitive capabilities. It involved lots of different tests including;

  • The tester reading out a list of 15 words and I had to relay them back from memory. We did this until I could reel off all of them. It took me 5 attempts.
  • A list of words that I had to describe the meaning to, the list got progressively harder from words like lamp, alligator, bird and lunch to words like enthusiastic and calendar to panacea, mollify and extirpate.
  • Name as many words as you can that start with certain letters in 60 seconds. I got F, S and A. No names, places or changes to the suffix, so you could have fuck but not fucking, fucks or fucker. I use this example as when I received F I laughed and just said it.
  • Copy a complex drawing that included lots of different shapes
  • Remember as many facts about a fictitious story involving 2 lions escaping a Bournemouth zoo finally to be caught by Mrs. Cecilia Patterson
  • I had to remember as many numbers as I could from the tester reading them out which started off with a sequence of 4 numbers and went to a list of 7. Then order the list in numerical order and then read the numbers back in reverse order – I found this one the hardest
  • They showed about 20 pictures and I had to say whether I thought they were done by a professional or amateur – I was brutal, but to be fair all the pictures were from the late 80s and were absolute shite. Then I was showed 3 pictures and had to say which I’d seen before in the previous slide show

There were a few other tests thrown in there, but I won’t bore you too much as I was tested for a total of 2 hours.

So, let’s get into my results…I’m not going to lie, I was pretty impressed with myself, but don’t worry I’ll try dumbing it down for you. Dr Dan said that I scored in the 83rd percentile for intelligence which basically means if 1000 people have read this blog, I would be smarter than 829 of you. Don’t worry though, I won’t let this go to my head, in fact, after all this is done, I’m going to try and give back to the 829 readers by setting up local seminars where I will just teach basic English and issue simple tests of my own. I joke, I joke….they’ll be no seminar. Some more information I was given on my results was that I was exceptionally good (top 1%) at remembering words and pictures and my lowest score (50th percentile) was remembering numerical patterns.

Right, enough about me and my results and more about, well, me. Before my test I was given a ‘mood tester’ and during my conversation with Dr Dan he asked me a lot of mood-based questions, I guess to check up on my anxiety and check for signs of depression. In the follow up conversation with Dr Dan after my tests he let me know that they think that I have ‘mild anxiety’ but they weren’t worried as given I have a brain tumour, a new born baby and basically doing it all through a new age plague, they would expect some kind of anxiety in there.

Dr Dan and I then had a conversation about how I felt about having my operation in a weeks’ time. As I’ve said in some of my previous posts, I’ve not really stopped thinking about the operation, and Timmy, as Willie Nelson once said, “You are always on my mind”. However, because I’ve now had so long now to contemplate every possible way this operation could go and after meeting my surgeon and speaking to Dan and other members of the operation team, I’m not scared or worried about the operation. I trust that the neurosurgeon is probably a little bit smarter than my 83rd percentile and doing something as complex as brain surgery is just his bread and butter, it would be like me doing a cold call or prepping a candidate for an interview (Maybe a little harder). However, my fear comes from what they’ll find under the hood. This got me thinking about Schrödinger’s Cat.

So for those of you who didn’t manage to reach the heights of a C in A-Level Psychology like my fine self; Schrödinger’s Cat is basically a theory that if you put a cat in a sealed box along with some poison the onlooker can consider the cat to be both alive and dead. That is kind of like how I feel, the tumour at the moment can be seen as both benign and malignant. I’m not afraid of physically opening the box, but it’s daunting knowing what will be inside am I going to looking at a dead, smelly moggy or beautiful, purring Persian kitty?

I talked to Dan about this profound philosophy and although he looked at me like a semi-moron he kind of understood, however, he did say this was quite unusual. He said that most people just worry about the operation or are worried about the tumour still being in their head and are saying “just get this thing out of my brain”. However, because I’ve had more time due to COVID to contemplate my situation he thinks I’ve slightly shifted my fears. Be under no illusions, I’ve not got comfortable with Timmy making camp up there, in fact, I still wish he would fuck off entirely, but I have come to terms with the fact he is there.  

Dr Dan also mentioned that I shouldn’t worry too much about my results as even if they do open it up and it’s not a slow growing grade 2 and it’s a scarier grade 4 it still doesn’t make any difference that I will get treatment and they can just adjust what I need. He also said that tumours can be a bit of all sorts of grades, so I might have a grade 3 part and grade 2, sort of like a tumour Neapolitan. Also, because brain tumour treatment has come on such a long way and they know so much more I’ll be in good hands whatever is inside, which is reassuring in itself.

Okay, that was part one of this ‘epic’ post. I’ve also had a conversation with my speech therapist and occupational therapist who will be in my operation with me and have given me a breakdown of what will happen the day of the operation…I’m now going to do my best to regurgitate that information back to you.

So, I’m going to be going to Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) at 7am and asking for my speech therapists and physiotherapists who will begin testing my baseline speech, memory and physical ability.

My operation should start at 9:30-10ish where they’ll put me under general anaesthetic and cut a chunk of my head open to expose the brain. During this time they will also put my head in vice like structure to keep my head still and get me in a comfortable position to perform the procedure. They will attach suction like tabs to my forehead to create a screen between the surgeon and the rest of the people in the room creating a clean and dirty line. This part will take about 1 ½ hours.

They will then wake me up and I will be greeted by my dream team of a speech therapist, physio and anaesthetist and begin trying to scoop Timmy out. As I’ve mentioned before, Timmy is sat where they expect my memory, speech and coordination to be based so the surgeon will be using a tool that sends seismic waves into my brain before he starts touching it. As he’s sending these vibrations inward the team will be asking me to talk and do basic physical activities, if at any point I can’t do something they ask me to do, they won’t touch that part of the brain to avoid giving me any lasting damage….amazing right. They say that it is quite common for you just to stop having the ability to talk or do things so I wasn’t be alarmed if something stopped working.  

They also mentioned something pretty crazy….during my operation they say there is about a 20% chance of me having a seizure….but not to worry….if this happens they simply chuck some ice cold water over my brain and it will stop…..I mean, that’s completely fucking nuts, how did they even find this out it the first place? Did someone just start having a fit and Dr Steve just had a spare bit of ice water left in his Mcdonald’s cup and thought, fuck it, this’ll do.

After doing as much as they can do or as much as I can take (2-3 hours), they’ll put me back to sleep and stick my head back together with giant staples.  Google ‘craniotomy scar’ to get an idea about this bit.  

The whole procedure will be an all-day affair but they’d expect me to be coming round about 7pm…just in time for Leeds versus Luton. So if anyone has any Leeds United contacts at the moment give them a message from me. Don’t fuck up against Fulham so when I wake up I can be a bit more relaxed about the Luton game and if they do fuck up Fulham, DO NOT LOSE AGAINST LUTON!

Anyway, that’s about it, I’m in full prep mode now for surgery. So no real contact with humans (other than the people in my house) and I’m washing daily with antibiotic soap to stop MRSA which looks like I’m washing my body with human blood, I’m putting anti-MRSA stuff up my nose, I’m still on my Keppra and Vit b6s and I’m taking steroids to reduce swelling.

This is my last blog post pre-hole in head so please after reading this, hold hands with the person next to you, close your eyes and say as loud as you can……..FUCK OFF TIMMY! Let’s get this twat bag out.

Published by Alex Dawson

Who? I’m Alex, a 31 year old from Leeds, Yorkshire. I have a wife, Sarah. A daughter, Sophie, who's 2 and a baby boy on the way. I'd say I'm slightly above average across the board, emphasis on slightly, cue my friends making phallic based jokes. I own a recruitment business and I'm relatively fit and healthy. I’m from a privileged background and have been lucky enough to grow up in a nice house with excellent parents and had a good education. I’ve been given lots of handouts throughout my life but wouldn’t class myself as entitled as I’ve worked hard in my career and pushed myself. Why? The reason I'm writing this blog, and sorry if you're learning this for the first time via a blog (but you should have kept in touch more to be honest) I have a big filthy, dirty brain tumour who I have nicknamed, Timmy.  I was given a book, Pear Shaped by my best friend and recent best man, Sav, that gave me the idea of jotting down my thoughts and giving people a better insight to my state of mind and also giving me an outlet while not working rather than just galloping around on a virtual horse on a PS4 game. What? I’m going to be writing about all aspects of my own experiences of having a tumour from diagnosis to what I hope is full recovery, warts and all.  Now, think of this like a disclaimer. I'm from Yorkshire so it'll be to the point, I'll be honest about my feelings about what happens and finally I'll probably throw a few dark jokes about pretty serious shit, so if you're easily offended I'd look elsewhere for your morning read on your commute to work. When? I was diagnosed with a brain tumour on the 29th January 2020 but if you haven't been bored senseless and want to read on I'm going to get more into Timmy in future posts. However, to reiterate it will not be all cutesy and they're will be fucks, shits, and wanks (verbal, not graphic details on my sex life and bowel movements).

7 thoughts on “Schrödinger’s Cat

  1. I will try a different tack and ask Timmy nicely to please go away and leave you as fit and healthy as you were before he took up residency. We will be thinking of you on Tuesday and wishing you well. Lots of love 💕 Wyn and Dianne. Tommy’s with you on the LUFC front.

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  2. Best wishes Alex. I will monitor your progress. I admire your positive approach and I understand your anxieties

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  3. Good job Maccie D’s is back open should they need that ice.

    Good luck son, will be a great story for the Belfry next year!

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  4. Hey, I hope you are making a good recovery. You are very brave and very funny.
    Look forward to reading your continued journey through this horrific experience and still maintaining a sense of humour

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