As it is exactly 8 months today since I had my stroke, I've decided to do a special blog post, dedicated to my parents.
My Mum and Dad met when my Mum was 17 and my Dad was 19. They met in my Grandads pub where Mum worked behind the bar. Dad always tells the story of when he first saw Mum. He went to the pub with his older sister, my late Aunty Lynne, and told her, 'I'm going to marry that girl one day.' I guess for my Dad it was love at first sight... Mum however needed some convincing. My Dad had to ask her out 4 times before she agreed to go on a date with him. She was obviously playing hard to get, but Dad wasn't going to take no for an answer.
Mum and Dad got engaged two years after meeting... My Grandad took some convincing, but he loved my Dad and knew that him saying,'No,' wouldn't have made a difference anyway.
Their engagement wasn't a short one to say the least. They waited six years to get married, and in the same year they married, they got a mortgage and bought the house that we, as a family are still living in today.
My parents let themselves enjoy four years as a newly married couple in a new house before they decided to start trying for children. Mums pregnancy went without a hitch, and her labour lasted five hours. Then, on the 8th August 1990, Mum gave birth to their first child... Me.
I've been trouble from the start...
The second I entered the world, Mum and Dad knew there was something wrong. The midwife had a student with her helping and observing with the delivery, and just after Mum had given birth, she saw the student give a startled, worried look to the senior midwife, and the senior midwife signal at her to straighten her face... Mum didn't even get a chance to hold me. The midwife's whisked me off for about 15 minutes and Mum and Dad weren't given an explanation why. They had however, noticed a massive dark mark on my back. A consultant came back to the delivery suite with me, and as I was handed to my Dad, my parents were told by the consultant that he was almost sure this mark on my back didn't mean I had spina bifida, they thought it was just a very large mole.
So apart from the massive mole on my back I was otherwise a normal, happy, healthy new born. Mum took me home after spending the recommended five days in hospital, and we began our lives as a new family.
It was decided that I would have this mole, that covered half of my back, removed before I went to primary school, but until then I would have regular check ups with a consultant, as the mole wasn't normal to say the least.
When I was around 20 months old, I went to a consultation appointment, and when the Dr looked at my huge mole, he wasn't happy with what he saw. The mole had gone red round the edges, so he decided there and then that they wouldn't wait to remove it, but get it removed immediately.
They surgeons removed the mole and conducted a skin graft by taking layers of skin from the left cheek of my bottom and placing it on where the mole had been removed. A sponge was then sewn on to the affected area to allow the skin to take to its new home. I spent three weeks in The Duchess of York Children's Hospital. My Mum slept in a bed next to my hospital cot, and Dad came to spend the evening with us, every day, straight after work.
I was discharged from hospital, and sent home, with the instructions to come back in a week to have the sponge removed from my back. Things didn't go too smoothly though. After about four or five days my back started to smell of rotting flesh, and Mum and Dad knew that something wasn't right. I was taken back to hospital to have the sponge removed, and a surgery that should have taken 20 minutes, actually took around 2 hours. For those 2 hours my Mum and Dad were left in the dark, not knowing what was going on, until the surgeon came out to speak to them. He told them that the first skin graft had broken down with infection and they had to do the whole procedure all over again. I had a second skin graft; this time, skin was taken from my left upper thigh, and new sponge was sewn on. Mum spent further four weeks in hospital with me, as a very poorly baby.
On my second discharge from the children's hospital, Mum and Dad were given the news that I'd had cancer. A cancer that is very rare for a 20 month old to have.
The Giant Hairy Mole on my back had actually turned malignant, and there fore I'd had a malignant melanoma. The surgeons, however, were happy that they had removed all of the skin cancer, and didn't believe I needed any further treatment, other than regular check ups. I had to wear special vests for a few years to help my skin graft heal properly, and then a few years after that I was given the all clear. I now live with a scar on my back, the size of a side plate.
So, as I said... Trouble from the start.
I've told this story, to help explain how amazing my parents are, and what they've had to go through.
With me as a child, they haven't had it easy. But through it all, their love for each other has never wavered. Even after 33 years together, they're still crazy in love with each other. Their love is the realest love I know. They've had to deal with so much as parents, but never let it affect them as a couple.
Dad, you are my hero. My superman. You are so funny and so witty, and know how to make light of any situation. You are one of the few people who knows how to make me laugh uncontrollably , the sort of laugh that hurts. You are so loyal and protective to the people you love, especially to Mum, Anna and me; your girls. You are the hardest working person I know, yet you still manage to come home from work after a twelve hour day and ask Mum what jobs need doing. You love us so unconditionally, no matter what, through and through, a wonderful, utterly devoted husband to Mum, and Dad to me and Anna. You're the perfect man, Dad.
Mum, you're simply amazing. My best friend. You are the strongest woman I know. I cannot put in to words how much you mean to me. You are my idol. You do everything for everyone and anyone, without ever complaining. You always have the answer to any problem. You are selfless and kind. One in a million.
My aim in life is for Chris and I, to forever be as happy as you both are... If we are, then we'll be the luckiest people in the world.
I love you Mum and Dad,