A year ago I was living in Mwanza. In fact, though I did not know it at the time, this day (April 1st) would be my last full day in Tanzania. A year ago tomorrow we would be heading off for a holiday in Kenya.
However, Easter is a moveable feast and as such has juxtaposed anniversaries in a haphazard fashion. For me it this weekend is the anniversary of both my last day in Tanzania and my diagnosis of Myeloma in Nairobi (two weeks later).
It was Maundy Thursday on 2017 that I sat with the orthopedic consultant who first hinted at the cancer which would change my life. That Easter weekend was spent in Hospital in Nairobi whilst they carried out the diagnostic tests which ultimately confirmed Myeloma and associated Kidney disease. I was eventually released on Easter Sunday afternoon having decided to make my way back to the UK. Within two days I was back in Britain where I have been ever since. Meanwhile my wife and daughter flew back to Tanzania on Easter Monday and we were separated for three months. All these different anniversaries coinciding over this weekend have brought home the magnitude of the changes that have happened to all of us in the last year.
Nonetheless, we have found a house, my wife has a job, my daughter is settled into her sixth form and in so many ways we are thankful for the way things have worked out. As Christian we believe these things have worked out for a purpose, though we do not fully know the ultimate destination. That’s not to say I don’t regret the losses of the last year. I miss the expat lifestyle, the community, the weather, the wildlife. I do feel somewhat chained to the health system. Weekly hospital appointments and daily medications all have to be worked around. Life is certainly more limited than it used to be, not least because we manage on one wage. But we do manage!
More importantly the NHS is doing a great job. As much as I am frustrated by the slow progress I am making in terms of my kidney, I continue to be in remission for the Myeloma and hope to be for many years to come. The regular blood tests and checkups are helping to get the balance right. My CKD (chronic kidney disease) has meant that my blood has been unbalance. Most recently I have had low levels of iron and calcium, high levels of phosphate. All of these have needed medical intervention and or dietary changes. On Thursday I needed to have a calcium infusion following on from iron infusions in the previous two weeks. Hopefully these are enough to put things back into balance. I certainly hope to avoid dialysis – which may need to be an option way down the line. My earnest hopes and prayers are that against medical expectation my kidney will start to improve.
I could never have imagined a year ago where I would be today. I would never have considered that I would not have worked for twelve months. Though I still remain tired at times, soon my sick leave will finish and I will need to start the process of applying for work. I am not minded to go back to teaching, so will be looking in other job areas, where this will lead I do not know. The next year will be an interesting one!