Today is the last day of the year 2014. I’m not typically one for sitting down and reflecting greatly on the year that has been, I’m more of a ‘look forward’ kind of person. However this year seems to have been a particularly trying one and so am finding myself looking forward to 2015 so much that my mind keeps being drawn back to why 2014 was so horrible!
To be fair to 2014, it wasn’t all bad. My husband and I went on a two lovely short trips; one to Waiheke to celebrate his birthday, and a lovely trip to Rotorua to chill out for a couple days, courtesy of some good friends of our. Ummm. That’s all I can think of.
The other exciting trips that I had planned (and had tickets for!) were a week in Perth, 3 weeks in South Africa, Scallop Festival in Whitianga, work trip to Wanaka (the most amazing place imaginable) and a work trip to Hastings (great wine!)
I have had to cancel every single trip because hubby “caught himself a little dose of cancer”.
Back in July hubby was diagnosed with stage 3 Laryngeal Cancer; he had cancer inside one of his vocal cords. This seemed particularly unfair to us given he’s never smoked a cigarette in his life and the fact that he’s about 20 years younger than the average person who has this. Talk about having your life turned upside down! What followed so far has been 4 surgeries; one of them being 9 hours long! A couple of weeks in hospital, plus the odd emergency trip. Weeks of him literally not being able to talk, relearning how to swallow and speak (he’s now able to whisper) and 18 weeks with a tracheostomy to breath through. Somewhere along the way it was confirmed that all the cancer had been removed, but for me that has been somewhat lost in translation given all the other things we’ve had to deal with.
We both had our fingers and toes crossed to have all this behind us by Christmas, but on Christmas Eve it was confirmed that more surgery is required in January 2015. Whilst this is frustrating, I have to remind myself how incredible it is that they can build someone a ‘fake’ vocal cord at all! And due to the surgeries, there has been no need for radiation therapy or chemotherapy. For that we a most certainly grateful!
I don’t say any of this to be all doom and gloom but it would be fair to say that this has all but consumed my life for the past six months…anyone who gets stuck talking to me for too long will attest to my needing to talk about it (too much). I think that it has been my way of gathering support and sympathy because I quickly realised how much people stay away from those who are ill. I can’t judge, I’ve done it myself…..”I don’t want to be a bother, so I won’t visit. They will have so much going on as it is”. I will never say that again!! I now understand that the reality is sitting at home alone for hours on end with just you and the ‘sick’ person. A friend of mine gave me some good advice. She said that in my next email to everyone providing an update, tell them that having someone call in for a quick cup of tea for 30 minutes is wonderful therapy! It tells people that you want/need visitors, and sets some boundaries around the timeframe. 30 minutes is a small amount of time, and people won’t feel burdened to stay for an hour or more which can be harder to fit into their busy day.
However the one thing that I have come to realise is THE most important thing to have during these challenging times is a sense of humour! Laughing is the best therapy! It certainly worked for me when I’d say “Speak Up, I can’t hear you!” to hubby. Ahhh, peels of laughter would follow from both of us. We’ve come up with some great stories to explain all the scars, and had great fun devising a plan to foil any police during a alcohol breath test; breathing through a tracheostomy has to have some advantages! And for a long while he could do the best Darth Vader impersonations!
So as we say Goodbye 2014, I will focus on the laughter and fun moments. It certainly seems like a much better frame of mind to enter 2015 with!