Welcome to the Third Ventricle
"You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)".
3 1/3 years ago, Fleetwood Mac's (superb) lyrics chorused out of one half of a pair of cheap headphones as I sat on a wheezing coach making its way up the M6 to Manchester Airport. The lyrics are indelibly branded onto my memory, both because of their superb catchiness - a quality, I think, we cannot dispute - and the technicolour quality which the events leading up to Saturday 11th July 2015 have developed in my mind.
The English literature lover within me finds a pleasing sense of dramatic irony and prescience in those lyrics. I was on the first leg of my journey to the summit of Mount Toubkal, the tallest mountain in northern Africa: the mountain which would reveal my brain tumour and erupt into my life.
Over the week of the 4th-11th July 2015, the chain did break. To adapt Fleetwood Mac's words for my situation, it was more the case that "You should" rather than would "never break the chain". Unfortunately, I had no idea about the existence of my tumour, and my tumour had no intention of leaving "the chain" untouched.
The week that followed cannot, in all honesty, be described as wholly awful. There were moments of joy, laughter, and sublimity. However, it so happened these would be dwarfed by the horrendous illness and wretchedness I felt and, most of all, by my dramatic collapse on July 11th in Marrakesh airport minutes before I was due to board the plane to fly home.
As far as it is possible to suppose, the altitude of the mountain led my tumour to haemorrhage, pumping blood into my brain and soaking its network of neurones. My Third Ventricle is the precise location of the haemorrhage, or bleed. It is the place where, with the greatest possible specificity, the greatest change in my life spread from.
I remember only vignettes of my week in Morocco. What I do recall carries a super-real vivacity, an etched nature, potent with smells, sounds, sensations and sketches.
Third Ventricle is an 'evolving' project. The pretentious vagueness of that term is because, as yet, I don't quite know what this blog will be precisely about. I hope to record my experiences, not only of my brain tumour, but of isolation, emotion, education, support, love, laughter, literature, cats (of course) and a miscellany of more. I hope that, if only for 1 person, reading my reactions and feelings will provide validation to their own emotions. I hope that I can raise awareness of brain tumours and cancer in young people. I hope that I can provide a smile or a grin, a laugh or a cathartic cry, a confidence that all feelings are valid, all feelings are worthy, and that we're all rather marvellous in the end.