2020 so far


I haven’t posted a blog update in a while. I guess there has been little for me to spout about lately and my writing skills aren’t brilliant at the best of times. I seem to have been much more creative in my darker times and several years ago during a period of depression I was quite prolific!

The depressive days are over thank goodness, although how can anyone say that it will never return? But it is so far so good and my old optimism has returned to what it always used to be – glass more than half full style.

I figured I would try and voice some of what’s been happening this year so far, mainly because it has been the strangest year for many people and so very mixed for me personally. 2020 started of pretty well actually, with the sale of a couple of my paintings, which is always lovely. The idea that someone likes your work enough to want to buy it and hang it on their wall is so wonderful. I was also getting out and about a bit more with our new dog Tye. After Archie died last year I was a bit lost as he and I had walked miles, tramping the hills and valleys all around Keswick, so when Tye joined us it was nice to get out again, though not as far as he was 10 and went a a slower pace than Archie used to. Then in February my Company car lease was up and it was time to choose a new one – this time I was buying it myself, so it was a bit more special. Plus, there was the trip of a lifetime to look forward to in May – a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary II, with a few days in New York, Princess grill class! It was very expensive but there were 6 of us booked to go for a special friend’s 60th birthday and it was a once in a lifetime trip.

So, lots to look forward to and much excitement ahead.  The first inkling that things weren’t going to plan was when FlyBe went bust and the plane tickets I’d booked to Southampton for the holiday were lost. Still it wasn’t so bad, it was a couple of hundred quid and I could try and get it back.  I went car shopping and selected a lovely Citroen C3 Aircross (SUV type) in orange, which was gorgeous – I settled back to wait for delivery in March. Meanwhile, I took the old car over to Newcastle for my 6-monthly CT scan. Since the kidney cancer a couple of years ago, I have a scan every 6 months and this was my fourth, which seemed to go OK.

A couple of weeks after that, Tye started with a cough. We had a lovely walk through Castlehead wood and he did a bit of running, then when we got home he started coughing. First thoughts were that he had swallowed something that stick in his throat, but it continued into the next day and we rang the vet, who saw him and gave him a jab. Sadly, the next day he started coughing up blood, so back to vet who kept him in for exploratory surgery. This time he didn’t come home as the vet discovered advanced cancer of the lungs. We’d had Tye for 12 weeks but he had certainly made an impression and was a huge loss.  I missed him loads – I always got a stunning welcome from him after work, with lots of cuddles. And although it was very sad, the consolation is that we gave him the best last 12 weeks a dog could have – after some difficult times in his past. He had a very happy end to his life.

Reeling from the loss of Tye, I was then told at work that one of my team was being made redundant – a long serving and loyal member of the team, who I knew would be devastated. The same day I received a letter from Newcastle saying that the scan was good for my kidney but they had seen an abnormality on my right breast and I needed to get it checked out.

Of course, it had to be breast cancer didn’t it? Yes it was. I was told the news on the same day I picked up my shiny new car, which took the edge off the excitement a bit. On the flip side, the car took away some of the worry of the cancer.

Surely things couldn’t get any worse? Don’t be silly, because along came Covid 19. Now bear in mind I was now due to go in for a Mastectomy just around the time the NHS was expecting the peak of cases of Covid. Would it still go ahead or would I catch the virus and prevent the operation? You can imagine the questions in my head!

The beauty of having the job I do have is that I can work from home, and the Company kindly allowed me to do that from the start to avoid any potential of catching anything. Then the wonderful NHS did what they excel at and pulled the operation forward a couple of weeks, whipped me in for one night only then straight home again. Their care was fabulous and I cannot praise West Cumberland Hospital enough. Despite ramping up for what was ahead, they carried on as normal and with absolute professionalism.

Since the operation I have been recuperating at home under lockdown conditions. My shiny new car sits outside the house waiting for me to take it for a drive, while of course I cannot due to the operation recovery time and the lockdown. But it will be there when times improve and I will enjoy the driving even more for the wait!

We missed seeing off my team member as by then most of the team were furloughed, but rest assured we will have a party once this is all over. My biggest fear around Covid 19 was not for me, but for Marion, who has had some very nasty chest infections this last year and suffers from severe asthma. So I was conscious of bringing the virus home from hospital to her, my main concern. Hopefully enough time has now elapsed that it was OK. We are staying pretty much in the house, though I have been going for a daily walk in a spookily quiet Keswick.

What became of the trip of a lifetime? Cancelled of course because of Covid. But hey, I wouldn’t have been able to go anyway because of my mastectomy. Will I get the money back? Who knows, but at the end of the day, money isn’t what matters most in the world. On a bright note, I got the Flybe flight money back!  Just as well, as I’ve now just had a 30% pay cut (voluntary) to help the business cope with the lockdown and lack of sales. The lockdown is a great help as I’m not spending anything, so can cope with the salary cut.

Now I am not moaning, please understand that – just setting out the year as it has gone so far. I am luckier than a lot of people. I have not lost anyone, like some of my dear friends have, I have not had to go to work in a hospital, smothered in uncomfortable PPE to fight this virus at the sharp end, like more of my good friends, nor have a I lost my income like one of my best friends has. I will hopefully still have a job at the end of all this, I can enjoy lovely walks in sunny weather, I have time to draw and paint and explore new indoor hobbies. Most important of all I am still here and I have been told the cancer has not spread – the lymph nodes were clear.  I am waiting for a final test to determine whether I will need a course of Chemotherapy, but I am taking every day as it comes, enjoying the time I have been given and looking forward to the future.

What this has taught me above everything is that people are intrinsically kind and thoughtful. Some who have been going through their own personal hell on earth have still found time to reach out to me and make sure I’m OK. I am trying to do the same for them and hopefully they will know that I care about them too.

Now, I am off out for my daily exercise to enjoy the unusually peaceful and tranquil lakeshore of Derwentwater – I’m so lucky!

















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