This post is scheduled for 9pm UK time which is coincident with the start of the New Year in Tanzania.
2017 is not a year I want to remember in so many ways and yet it will be hard to forget it too.
It ended much the same way as it was spent i.e. in the company of illness. Though thankfully nothing cancer or kidney related I spent most of Christmas ‘under the weather’.
I spoke too soon in my previous post and the bad cold turned more flu-like and added in some mild gastroenteritis. I have barely eaten since the Friday before Christmas and though I have picked at food (so haven’t starved) I have probably lost weight this Christmas, which is unusual. The final straw was a bout of dizziness and sickness on Friday. A trip to the doctor revealed I had a chest infection and I was prescribed more antibiotics. I had mistakenly believed the penicillin V, that I was already on, would protect me from such things. Apparently it is good for throats but not chests. Thirty six hours later and with additional doxycycline, things are under control and on double antibiotics I am feeling a lot better.
So Christmas has been a blur, Mum came to visit and I was ill for the entire six days. Though it was good to see her and my brother and sister-in-Law who came over on Boxing Day, it was a great shame. Typical of the year.
Reflecting back on this year of change, it’s difficult not to feel frustrated and constrained. So much changed. Just 12 months ago we had just returned from Zanzibar after a fabulous Christmas away. We celebrated New Year in Mwanza and looked forward to what was to come. We knew it was to be our last year in Tanzania but had plans to move on elsewhere in the world – I did not expect to be back here in MK, twelve months on.
I miss the heat; the easy and low cost access to restaurants and bars; the outdoor life we had; the bird life; the animals; the beaches (albeit overlooking the polluted lake, picturesque nonetheless). I miss the friendships and fellowship we had; the camaraderie that being an expat brings; the multicultural experience; the openness to other ways of doing things.
The insularity here is in the UK is palpable, people live indoor lives for so much of the time and the narrative (at least that of Brexit) is isolationist and a little jingoistic from my perspective, generally fearful of other cultures – it’s personally quite claustrophobic.
I recognise these views are controversial to some and no offence is intended. My own enforced isolation over the months has almost certainly exacerbated these feelings but they are real to me nonetheless.
This year has been a battle, but it is one I have fought and won. I believe in the potent combination of the power of prayer and medical expertise. I thank God and the medical profession for the fact that I am here and in full remission from Myeloma. I am fortunate to live in a time where medical breakthroughs in cancer treatments are occurring at a rapid rate. Even so in just over twelve months I lost my Uncle Reg (liver cancer, Dec’16), and two friends Rachel (leukaemia, May ’17) and Pete (bowel cancer, July ’17). Not forgetting Pat (Anita’s Aunt), who died of the equally vicious Vascular Dementia in October. These good people fought and lost, and the world is poorer for it.
My year has been a struggle, however ultimately I can put the Myeloma behind me. My hope is that the kidney too will soon begin to recover or else maintain its status. This may be a battle to come. I hope and pray not.
A friend of mine sent this message to me on Facebook and I copy it on its entirety
Beth Moore posted this on Twitter, and I thought of you:
‘To all of you living the long long haul of something really hard, you made it another year. Raise that Ebenezer stone as Samuel did & declare this year’s end “thus far the Lord has helped us.”Even if all you’ve got left’s a whisper. He whose grace is sufficient will help us still.’
I found it encouraging and I hope you do too.
When people say Happy New Year it can sound formulaic and trite. Something you say at this time of Year. Yet for me this year the phrase has added meaning I really do want a Happy New Year, not just for me and my family but for all you who have followed my journey and have read this today.