Hello again. I’ve been AWOL for quite a while, but with good reason.
It’s been a very strange year. This time last year my father and step mother were both diagnosed with cancer. My step mum was going through chemotherapy and my father dealing with hormone injections. I didn’t know then but his cancer was already too far advanced to be treatable.
We visited this time last year, my gang and myself for what we already knew would probably the final time we could all be together in reasonable health.
After a summer spent trying to get Dad’s pain to a manageable level he came home to live out his final months in the house he loved so much. I put my life aside and went to spend time with him to enable him to do that rather than being in a nursing home. An ambulance brought him home the day after I arrived and thus began one of the most unusual times of my life.
Time slipped by, a time of love, laughter, fun and the horror of watching him struggle to do the things he once did so easily. We made daily trips to the hospital once my step mother became too ill to be at home. Hours were spent pushing his wheelchair around the corridors, learning the way around the vast hospital. Once my step mother died he faded away very quickly and died.
Eventually I came home and was treated to a holiday by a friend so that I could relax and come to terms with what had happened. Tenerife, sunshine, relaxation – what could be nicer? Except three days into the holiday my friend suffered a brain haemorrhage. What I assumed to be blurred vision because of soap was quickly diagnosed by the local doctor and an ambulance summoned. Thus began the first of two emergency trips in ambulances from one end of the island to the other in order to get the best care. My hands ached with the effort of holding onto the passenger seat in the front of the ambulance as the vehicle was buffeted around by the strong gales that were blowing.
Weeks later than planned I finally arrived home having seen yet more of hospitals and emergency rooms. The first weekend I was booked to take a young friend to a show jumping day, such a wonderful change from the death and sickness and hospitals where I had spent the last six months. We unloaded her horse, tacked her up and got her on board. As she walked off towards the warm up area I fetched coffee to sip while she worked the horse. Walking back literally minutes later I saw people running, a horse running free and a body prone on the ground and the sound of screaming. Yes, my friend had fallen and had s suspected broken leg.
An ambulance was summoned and finally arrived, bumping over the sandy surface of the arena to where she was now sitting on a chair, swathed in blankets and coats to try to keep her warm. A crowd of mothers and spectators had gathered around us, all trying to help.
“Oh,” someone nudged me in excited tones as the ambulance doors swung open and we could see the beds and equipment. “You don’t get chance to see into one of these very often.”