I know it’s not quite the end of 2016 yet, but only a few weeks out from needing a new calendar for the wall I thought it was time to pop on over here and show my face again…
*Sigh… where to begin…
If you follow me over on Instagram, you may have got the gist that it hasn’t been the easiest year in the Flutter.Kat household. 2016 has been for us, as I know it has been for many others, a year of testing our inner strength like no other before it.
This time 1 year ago almost exactly, we found out that my father had gastric cancer that had spread through his lymphatic system extensively, when he had surgery to remove a large blockage. The blockage had developed so quickly that we knew we were dealing with a fast growing cancer. But, his surgeon had gone in hard and removed as much of it as he possibly could. Throughout January, Dad made a very good recovery from the surgery, gaining the ability to eat normally again for the first time in months. He had good energy levels and low pain, so the oncologist recommended he didn’t have chemotherapy, and instead made the most of every day he was feeling well. She said that there would be a bad time coming, and that would be the time to break out her arsenal of chemotherapy.
So, we waited. And enjoyed life.
Dad and I swum several times a week together, and he enjoyed several months of feeling better than he had in a long time, as a result of the successful surgery.
Then March came.
On the 6th of March 2016, my husband was rear ended in his hire car, while he was away on business. He suffered mild whiplash and a fractured rib, but walked away otherwise fine. Then, only 6 days later, most likely as a result of instability caused by the car accident, he fell down our bank and landed on his head, further injuring his neck, and resulting in a minor concussion. During almost this exact week, Dad started to go rapidly downhill, finding it increasingly difficult to eat again, rapidly losing weight, and having a lot of pain. As a result of my split focus, with everything going on at once, it would be several months before we realised my husband even had concussion, let alone realise quite the extent the accident had affected him.
By the end of April literally everything had become clear – it became clear that Dad’s cancer was back in a big way, and I made Mr Flutter go back to the doctor again, with a suspected head injury. The GP wrote him Mr F and referred him immediately to the concussion clinic. That became the beginning of what was to be months of intense rehabilitation, followed eventually in October, by an incredibly gradual return to work, starting with 1 hour per day and going from there.
June and July were not kind to us. Dad was hospitalised for 6 weeks, and going through the fight of his life as the cancer took over, and his body started to lose the fight. Mr F was off work full-time and bouncing from specialist to specialist. Both our insurance companies dismissed our claims and I had to go into battle with both of them, almost to the point of legal action, to get the policies approved, and regain our income stream again. I won, but it was 6 weeks of additional stress I could have really done without!
At the end of July, Dad became stable enough to have two procedures, one on his liver and one on his stomach. These in turn made him stable enough to begin chemotherapy. What a blessing that was! Within a month Dad had gone from a whisper away from death, from surviving on IV nutrition alone for 2 months, to being well enough to come home, and tolerate some foods again.
Over the coming months, with every chemo cycle, Dad became more and more well. One milestone passed, then another. Our family started to breath out a collective sigh or relief.
Mr F’s recovery took a bit longer before we saw progress. It wasn’t until we saw the Neurologist at the end of September that we could have some clarity about what the problem was… Not brain damage from the head injury, but a vestibular (balance) problem. Basically, after the accident, Mr F’s brain had not decompensated for the dizziness he was experiencing, so he had stayed dizzy. And, because his body was working hard to see stable-y, and stay balanced/standing, there wasn’t much energy or cognitive ability left for anything else. So, we targeted his rehabilitation toward working on his brain pathways, neck, and balance centre, and ta-da, finally some progress!
Meanwhile, I decided our life wasn’t quite complicated enough, and went and badly broke my wrist. Roller skating = 1, Kat’s wrist = 0. Dumb, dumb, dumb!!! Thankfully, I managed to escape without surgery, and made a speedy, textbook recovery. But, in the meantime we had no able drivers in our household, which made things a little extra testing for the 7 weeks I was unable to drive for.
Here we are almost at the end of 2016, and you know what, despite everything, we are actually finishing 2016 in a really positive frame:
- My wrist is almost completely better. Sometimes taking lids off things, or lifting heavy objects/weight bearing still defeats me. But I’d say I’m 90% back to normal.
- Mr F has successfully progressed through his gradual return to work, and this week he is up to 8 hours per day, go him!! He’s still not fully signed off for work at full capacity, and we’re still gradually increasing the driving, but I’d say this time next month he should be fully there.
- This weekend Dad turns 70!!! I’m so happy for him that he made it to this landmark, it was his goal all year. Tomorrow he has his last chemo, and that’s it for the while. Now we see what happens again. To celebrate his birthday, we are throwing a party for him, followed by a photo shoot of our immediate family the next day. I just know that having a studio shoot of my parents, me, my siblings, our partners, and our children, to mark the occasion of Dad’s 70th, is going to be something we will all treasure forever!
- This week I celebrate the first anniversary of my company, Helpful. Despite everything that’s happened in 2016, my business has really flourished and I have grown so much with it. Early in the year I had to put plans of recruiting staff on hold, and very sadly let several clients who were dear to me go, because there was just too much else going on. That was excruciating, but putting my family first was definitely the right decision. And it’s amazing how things work out. I truly do love what I do, and I’m very blessed to be able to do what I love, with clients I love, from home around my family. I am beyond excited about some of my 2017 projects – they are going to ROCK! Watch this space.
There are two special people who didn’t even get a mention in this post bless them, and that is my two darling girls. How are they? They are fabulous; Cheeky, spirited, clever, and adorable, and they’ve coped with this year tremendously well. I really couldn’t have asked them to be more patient, brave or understanding. They are more amazing than words can say for their ripe old ages of 8 and 6.
So, what does 2017 have in store for us? It’s going to be a much better year, I can tell you that for certain!! In January Mr F and I celebrate 15 years of marriage, so we have booked a holiday to Hawaii without the kids. Oh my, that’s going to be unbelievable, and will only be the start of an amazing year to follow.
Believe it into happening I say.
How has your 2016 been? Are you pleased (like me) to see the back of it, or has it been good to you?