Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 - At least I know it can't be worse than 2014

Quite some statement, isn't it, that title?

Well it's true, and one of the few certainties in my life these days. This is also a departure from my normal style of post so anyone looking for a silly photo or a cheap laugh at a poorly told old joke should probably turn away now.

Last year felt, on more than one occasion, that it was the worst possible time for me.

Many of the people who have read my posts since I started writing them back in May will know that I was hospitalised 'thanks' to the ravages of trigeminal neuralgia, a most horrifically painful side-effect of the whole MS thing for an extremely unfortunate few of us. That was at the tail end of July and to be fair, the procedure I underwent - involving a very long needle and a lot of painkillers - was a blissful end to months of suffering. But it still saw me helpless in a hospital bed for the first time in my life.

The months of suffering in themselves took up much of the first half of the year and when those pains re-start - which they will at some point within the next year or so - I will be booking myself back into the same hospital for more needle. I won't describe the pain again (read my earlier posts if you're feeling like a masochist) but it's safe to say that it was all so very bad, and I even ended up unable to swallow properly.

Dark days, to be sure, but they seemed almost sunny after last March.

I didn't mention this before, partly due to not wishing to depress anyone and partly because the normally loquacious me was lost for words. My father, my dad, had been suffering from a form of Parkinson's for a couple of years and was gradually becoming unaware of what was happening around him - although in the increasingly rare moments of clear thought you could see that he understood - and hated - what was becoming of him.

My mum looked after him in every respect - and 'respect' is an important word - but given that they were 82 (dad) and 79 (mum), it was arduous work for her, no matter that their love was her strength. When dad's condition - his general health - became markedly worse in March it was decided that a few days respite for her was long overdue, and a spell for my dad in a 'rest home' would enable physicians to review his condition and seek to make whatever improvements were left to them.

He was taken to a pleasant enough place on a Friday at the end of the first week of that month and mum stayed with him most of that day. My wife and I went with her to see dad on the Saturday and he was clearly confused but being well looked after. There was even a few moments when understanding and clarity returned for him and we were treated to one of his old Goon Show impressions - Eccles, I believe - as well as a flash of those sparkly eyes that had been the trademark of his 'cheeky' look throughout his life.

On the Monday I received an urgent email at work to say my dear dad had suffered a massive heart attack that morning. I took a taxi back from the office to the main hospital near my parents' home but by the time I reached there he had died.

My dad was never a demonstrative man, never one to wear his heart on his sleeve, but he never left me in any doubt that he loved me and adored - almost venerated - his wife of fifty-odd years.

We were never 'best buddy' types, always in each other's pockets, although we had at one time shared a few evenings in local pubs playing cards, darts or dominoes. What we did share consistently over the years was honesty and respect - at least respect from me for him (he was wise enough to know I could be a fool) - and he spent so much of his time trying to instill decent values in me. I learned of his life as a child and a teen, his time being conscripted into National Service (long story short - he chose the RAF because he hated the wide-open sea and was summarily shipped off to Singapore...), his days as a very accomplished sportsman, his love of music, his high regard for the truth and decency to others - many, many useful lessons.

I loved my dad with a deep-rooted passion and respect.

Yes, he'd had a 'good innings', and yes he hated the condition that was wrecking his health both physically and mentally - but he didn't deserve to die like that, if nothing else at least far too soon.

So, 2014? The worst ever.

And perhaps you can see why for me, MS or not, 2015 just has to be better than last year.

It seems almost churlish to wish all of you a Happy New Year after all of that, but I mean it. Dad would have wanted it for all of you as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment