When life hands you lemons…..

….make lemonade or preferably add them to a G&T.

Well it just has, but no matter how much lemonade or gin I drink it won’t change the situation or make it better.

We had survived the five long and difficult years when the AP was living with us, then we were planning how we would spend our time and Covid-19 came along. No problem we said, lockdown is similar to the years living with the AP except we didn’t have to cope with her intransigence. We came out of it all a little wary but determined to get more out of our latter years and then, wham! A curved ball came out of the blue and left us shell shocked.

The LSO has cancer, not any old cancer but a rather rare one, he has a tumour in his tongue. He’s never smoked, never been a heavy drinker but has enjoyed his real ales and equally fine wines, isn’t overweight and thanks to the two Jack Russells is pretty fit for someone of 76 years of age.

So how did this happen? The consultant says its basically the luck of the draw!

Well, all I can say is thank goodness the LSO is not a gambler.

It has changed our lives completely. The operation was a demanding twelve hours, during which the tumour was removed and the tongue rebuilt using flesh from his thigh then it was ICU for 5 days before a move to a HDU specialising in Head and Neck for a further 2 weeks. During these challenging months the LSO inevitably lost weight but did a good job of recovering, even on a liquid diet, gaining three quarters of a stone from leaving hospital until the Radiotherapy began. Then 3 weeks in, having had 15 sessions, the side effects began to appear. By the end of the 30 sessions he was suffering from severe burning and pain in his mouth, tongue and throat making eating and swallowing incredibly difficult, leading to further weight loss. Morphine has had little effect on the pain so Fentanyl patches were added for further relief. These too had little effect so it was suggested by the radiologist that these be doubled every three days. That was last night and things do seem ever so slightly better.

Apparently the side effects keep ramping up after the treatment ends though for how long no one knows because everyone reacts differently to this brutal treatment.

Where do we go from here? Well we can only go forwards and handle the situation with grace, positivity and remember that humour is a great healer. Although at the moment the LSO is struggling and I feel weary, utterly exhausted and just a little battered and just hope we can both find the laughter we have enjoyed as a couple for 58 years returning to buoy us up.

….and the AP? still sailing on at 104 years of age.

The importance of a hug.

Spontaneity and freedom are not the only things we have lost during this pandemic. I was just sitting and thinking about the situation in general when I remembered a conversation with a friend and neighbour some weeks ago. It was about the importance of a hug. Hugging comes naturally to me, being a gesture of true liking, a silent communication which signifies warmth, affection, comfort, friendship and love.

This all started another train of thought. Where did this come from for me? My father always hugged me, my brother did too, as did numerous aunts, uncles and cousins but I have no memory of my mother hugging me but I was hugged by my maternal grandparents. I did spend a great deal of time with them during my young formative years and until she died when I was fifteen, my grandmother lived opposite us. Because the AP worked and my father worked shifts, I usually went to my grandparents after school and during the holidays.

I do remember hugging the AP when I was younger and definitely in later life but I suddenly realised that she never instigated a hug for just the sake of it. She was the receiver of hugs but never a giver of hugs. Except, of course, when she had been particularly nasty she would play ‘the give me a hug’ card which in the end was studiously ignored. That is not what a hug is about .

Is it significant? It certainly explains a great deal about the AP’s character and attitude; she has always expected people to come to her. Her desire to be the centre of attention still continues even in the care home where the AP still tries to play her silly little games.

Fortunately it no longer affects the LSO and myself; we are too removed from the situation now and because of the coronavirus cannot even visit her. A weekly phone call is endured by me rather than enjoyed but whatever the situation it has never affected the way I feel about hugging; there is no doubt the world is a better place after one.

Stagger Onwards Rejoicing.

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