9/ July 19, 2020

It is finally Sunday. This wasn’t the easiest week. Ian was on a four-day seminar from Monday through Thursday to become a horse riding instructor. We drove him to the seminar each day. Such avoided exposure to COVID on bus rides. Part of the drive is scenic: a winding road through nature and a beautiful little village mid-summer. It is quite enjoyable, yet it adds up to two hours of driving a day. From Monday through Wednesday Lise was at a horse riding camp where Daydream, Desert, and Po are boarded. She’s part of a close group of teenage girls fond of their horses. The last night of the camp, they go for a long walk through the dark woods and then sleep – or don’t sleep – in their tents. A source of ultimate joy! During summer, Aidan and I take three weeks off, the children have nine. It is always a stretch to combine work with all the taxying for the children. Nevertheless it feels good to see that both of them are enjoying their summer.

On Tuesday I had the biopsy. It was a non-event, I knew what was coming. They redid the echo and the mammogram. I should have had the check-up in the hospital right away. It would have meant one less week of stress in my life. Regardless, they didn’t see anything new, took the biopsy, and I went back home. I will get the results on July 22. I’m less fussy about waiting than I was a week ago. One gets accustomed.

On Wednesday night I got into a major quarrel with Ian. He was quiet on our way home after his seminar. Despite my efforts asking him about his day, he didn’t care to talk. He was probably tired after three days of learning. Equally, his asperger brain gets overloaded in new situations. Then he retreats in the comfort of silence. I had already prepared his dinner in advance, so he could eat right away. And then we were off again. First we would pick up Zane, so both could ride their horses. At best, we’d be back in three and a half hours, around 10.30pm. On top, on Thursday morning, I had to get up early to drive into work. It was the first day since COVID had hit us that our team, my new colleagues, would physically work « on site » again, one day per week. Normally I enjoy our trips to Kesh. Yet that evening, it seemed like an immense hurdle between me and my bed, which I was desperately longing for. Getting back into the car after dinner, I curtly told Ian he was not to waste any time when riding Kesh, because I was exhausted. He was irritated too, and as said, before we had even left our street, we were in a major quarrel. Ian has this terrible habit of shouting out the most hurtful things that come to mind in a discussion. Of all things he could have screamed, « cancer bitch » echoed through the car, and I snapped. I hit the breaks, turned the car around, and steamed into the house. Normally I praise myself for consistently keeping my calm in discussions with Ian. Now I thundered all over him, knowing it wasn’t right. While doing so, I saw the surprise in his eyes. I cried a bucket of tears. After calming down, I drove Ian to Zane, and Zane’s mom was so kind to take over from me and drive the boys to their horses. Me who generally is in control, in control of my schedule, in control of my job, my emotions. I’m deeply hurt by what Ian shouted, and I’m mad at me for losing it.

On Thursday morning, for the first time since early March, I drove to the office. As a precautionary measure, our temperature is taken at the entrance of the parking. And I had a fever. « Madam, please wait ten minutes and then we’ll take your temperature again. » I patiently waited. Already on Wednesday I wasn’t feeling overly great. Ten minutes later, I was running an even higher temperature. As a result I wasn’t allowed to enter the building, and drove back home. Two hours wasted, and feeling bad about potentially having endangered my new colleagues. So I called my doctor and went for a COVID test. More productive time down the drain.

In the evening my ex-colleagues had planned a small-scale goodbye party for me. For months, our encounters had been of a digitalized nature. As such, we were all enthusiastic to share dinner together in a cosy restaurant. Yet, with all the COVID fuss ongoing, I had to be transparent. Sure no one wanted me at the table running a fever. As a result my goodbye party went ahead without me. They sent me a picture with their happy faces. More frustration.

On Friday I received the negative test results, and was again free to leave the house. After a week of fuss, it was a relief to saddle up Desert: on Friday, on Saturday, and again today. At least something that goes according to plan. In her younger years, Desert came up champion twice in dressage at provincial level. Even though she has aged, she is still highly skilled. And equally important, she is very forgiving. I have learned a tremendous lot from her. I love every bit of caring for Desert. It starts with our big greeting cuddle when I get into her box. When I ride Desert, there’s just her and me. Sitting correctly, in sync with how the horse is built, is the essence of good riding. After years, it still takes all my concentration to get it reasonably right. I adjust, she adjusts. Desert reacts super well to instructions given through adjusting pressure of the legs. After warm-up, it becomes a beautiful dance where horse and rider move in sync. By the time we have gone through our routine training, I check my watch. Most of the time, an hour has flown by.

I’m grateful I feel physically well. I see it as a good sign that the cancer cannot have progressed too much. This is essentially different from my dad. My dad abided by the Burgundian way of living: rich food, lots of drinks, and also cigarettes. The benefits of physical exercise just did not enter his mind. Despite his unhealthy manner of living, he was a bright man. He needed little sleep and spent a lot of time reading, and watching documentaries of all kinds well into the night. As a result, he was a deep barrel of knowledge. He also was a tough dad, especially when I was in my teens. I think he went through the occasional moments of desperation, as I do now with Ian. But he taught us right from wrong, the importance of hard work, and I deeply respect him for it. My dad shunned doctors, which he perceived to be the Bringers of Bad News. When, in 2014, he told us he was not well, we knew. In his case, not well meant really not well. He was diagnosed with cancer in an advanced stage. He had surgery after which we almost lost him twice. After a lengthy stay in the hospital he went back home for the rest of his recovery. Then he started chemotherapy. And for a while, we thought he would make it. But the cancer had already spread too much. With her whole heart, my mom took care of my dad up to the very end. After a year of utmost misery, his strength that we had always taken for granted had completely left him. He passed away in November 2015. My sister and myself, focusing on our families, reasonably came to terms with our dad being gone. In contrast, my mom went through rough times facing she was left behind in her mid-sixties. After a life of hard work, they had barely started enjoying their retirement years together. My brother equally lived through a dark couple of years. My mom and my brother are very close. I cannot yet tell either of them that I probably have breast cancer. It will catapult my mom six years back in time. She will imagine the worst scenarios. Oblivious to our reality, she regularly calls me, telling me the events of her day. A series of light-hearted conversations, whereas in reality I’m deeply affected by the massive uncertainty I’m facing. Aside from Aidan and my sister, if there’s one person in the world to whom I would love to turn to comfort me, it’s my mom.

Published by JustaBear

A. Nonymous

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