I’m Still Here

I haven’t written in my blog for such a long time. I have had a trying time the past year and I haven’t felt much like writing much less rehashing my experiences. Suffice to say that I have endured five operations on my right hip, two infections, one of which was quite severe, and more days in hospital than in the rest of my entire life. Thankfully with the help of an excellent surgeon in Toronto I feel I am finally on the road to recovery.

But those months of pain, fear and anxiety still haunt me. I still find myself thinking about them far more than I should. It’s almost like I have a grudge against life for the way it has treated me lately. I still have trouble concentrating, perhaps from all the anesthetics and other drugs which I was given while in hospital. I still resent the loss of the experiences that I would have had, some ordinary perhaps some extraordinary, during the past year if I hadn’t been in and out of hospital, seeming to take one step forward and two steps back as I tried to recover. I still feel guilty for being such a burden to my family and friends who have cared for me and carried me when I felt like I couldn’t go on. I still feel guilty that my dogs have missed so many walks while I have been laid up, knowing that they are both getting older, their time shorter. I remember how hopeless I felt in hospital as things went from bad to worse, one operation followed by another, endless complications, endless lonely nights when my only wish was to wake up at home. Even now, I sometimes find myself wondering if I will ever be able to lead a normal life again. I still feel depressed from time to time and have to tell myself to snap out of it, think positive and remember just how far I’ve come.

While we do bounce back from difficult experiences, it seems to me that there is some residual effect, some emotional scar that never quite heals. I acquired my first such scar when my eldest sister died very suddenly at age thirty six. I was shocked. How could this happen to someone so young. I couldn’t believe she was gone. I thought surely I would have known if something was wrong. And the worst part of all, life just went on without her, as if nothing had happened. I remembering walking out the back door into the darkness, I stood in the yard looking up at a full moon peeking out from the shadows of the trees and I felt incredible anger that the world didn’t even pause to mark her passing. It took a long time to come to terms with her death but eventually I did. Sadder and wiser I carried on with my life.

Seventeen years later, the year from hell. My father, who had been failing for six months or more, died in January. We sold our house to move in with and care for my mother. A week after the move, she was admitted to hospital suffering from bladder cancer. I visited her nearly every day. I’d make her a cup of tea and we’d have a little chat. Every time I visited, I was greeted by that loving smile that made my heart sing. While she was in hospital, my eldest brother made two trips from Britain to see her. I was so glad that he was able to come and spend such precious time with our Mum. But her health continued to deteriorate and she never came home again. She died that fall. Then, just four weeks later, my eldest brother died from a massive heart attack. I was crushed, I cried ’til I couldn’t cry any more. I felt beaten, hopeless, but again, I rallied and carried on, with a few new scars.

And then my husband fell ill. After beating prostate cancer, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. His doctor decided to treat it aggressively with surgery, chemo and radiation. Following a seven hour surgery, he fell into a coma for two weeks. The nurses didn’t think he’d make it and neither did I. He was hooked up to more machines than I have ever seen. His lips were black, the whites of his eyes blood red, his arms and legs swollen and constantly weeping.  Through sheer force of will, he survived. He spent three months in hospital in Oshawa. When he finally came home, he looked like another person, so drawn, so weak. After three years of horrible suffering caused by numerous bouts of radiation and endless chemical cocktails which were totally ineffective, my husband died. More tears, more scars. And still the world kept turning, reminding me of how insignificant we really are.

And then my own medical issues, ensuing surgeries and hospital stays, more scars.

But while scars don’t disappear, they do fade in time. And I think perhaps that we can help those scars to fade by resolving to enjoy each day, to truly relish the special people and the special moments in our lives. So yes, stop and smell the incredible perfume of a newly unfurled rose. Close your eyes and lift your face to the warmth of the morning sun. Feel the cool breeze ruffling your hair and hear it whispering through the leaves. Marvel at the power of a summer thunderstorm, at the electricity in the air. Listen to the swish of the waves as they wash up onto the shore. Be breathtaken by thousands of sparkling stars in the black night sky. And most of all, spend as much time as possible with those you love. Let them soothe your scars. Share experiences, share laughter. Lose yourself in a heartfelt hug. Don’t fret about the past. Don’t worry about the future. Look for the beauty in life. Live in the moment and make each moment count. For the moment is all we have.

To my treasured family and friends, I can never thank you enough for all your love and support. I hope in the future when I am finally recovered that I will be able to be there for you whenever you need me, scars and all. Love you.

Copyright 2019 Anne Corke

One comment on “I’m Still Here”

  1. Beautifully written — Not one whine, but only the truth as it is/was.

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