Those of you who have followed my blog, let me start with an apology. The content of the blog is changing.
I have been working on moving forward , adjusting to our decision to stop trying for children. Life’s been ok, there are moments where my heart aches, I don’t know that I will ever get over not having children, but for now I am content with our decision.
We have bought a new business. We are focused on the other things in our lives that bring joy. For the most part it was going well until October this year.
Actually, it started earlier than that but Octobers the specific date it all came crashing down. I find myself in need of finding the same strength I used for our fertility journey, but for a very different reason. Writing helped with that process and so here I am using it again. In the hopes it heals.
It may never be read.
It may only ever be for me, but that’s ok. if it helps that’s what matters. With that in mind I will start at the beginning.
I am an only child, my mum ironically tried for 9 years to get pregnant with me. She was lucky that in the end it worked. Well I say lucky, she ended up with me so maybe that’s the wrong sentiment!
My dad was around to start with, but my mum had a secret. She held on tight to it in the very small town in which we live. She knew what was expected of her, a woman born in the 1950s and it wasn’t to live the life she wanted. It was to get married and have children.
The secret she held started to seep into her marriage and she was miserable, added to the fact my dad in his own words was “too young to settle down” by the time I was 18 months things were pretty bad and he left. So you see, it has mostly been me and my mam (yes mam I’m from the north east, only posh people say mum!!)
She then had a choice, keep her secret or use the opportunity to throw caution to wind, and in the early 80s in that small town that Dominic Cummings would later make famous, come out. Tell the world that she was gay. I’m proud to say she did just that.
The town had mixed reactions, but on the hole was accepted. She was finally free to live the life she had dreamed of.
Mam has had a couple of long term relationships but mainly it’s been me and her. Our own little team. All my life she would tell me,
“Get out of this town baby girl, go see the world!”
At 18, that’s exactly what I did! Even with the distance between us as I travelled, I always knew she had my back 100%. I knew it broke her heart that I left home. But she always had my back.
I met my now husband and settled where he was from, Derby, so again I didn’t come home. My mam was sad I didn’t come home, but was there no matter what. After I suffered my first miscarriage with my husband she drove straight down to see us. She stayed for as long as I needed her. That’s just what she is like.
Eight years ago we moved back home, my mam has been ill for a while and her mobility was getting worse. To my surprise it was my city boy husband that suggested the move. He loved our little town and the people in it and thought it would be a slower pace of life. It’s not really worked out like that, I don’t think either of us knows how to slow down but we do love our little town.
Mam has lived independently even with the mobility issues. We had help from my family and it was working fine. Then earlier this year I noticed her memory was getting worse. She would repeat herself a lot and forget short term information regularly. It worried me so much I decided to get her doctor involved.
A series of tests confirmed that she had Alzheimer’s. We were devastated. I was panicked. I am so far away from being a carer, I’ve never worked in a job that cared for others. How was I going to look after her. I was terrified.
We were waiting for the next step in her diagnosis when in October this year she broke her arm. She was simply pushing herself up off the bed and the bone fractured. It was a middle of the night trip to the hospital. She was in agony, it was truly awful, but then also at the back of my mind was a niggle. A niggle that festered. That others would have called me dramatic for thinking.
Bones do not just break from leaning on them.
When we eventually got to see the doctor he didn’t do anything to sooth my fear. He questioned her about how she did it and then other general questions. He ordered an x Ray, not just on her arm, but her chest too.
He returned with the results to confirm the fracture, but also to say that there was a very small shadow on her lung, that they were giving her antibiotics as it may be an infection. I did not think it was an infection. I had heard that assessment of an X-ray before. For my Nan who we later found out had lung cancer. I could tell by his face he didn’t think it was that either, but I guess he wanted to investigate further before upsetting us.
The next few days were a blur. My mum had to stay in hospital as she had gone from being somewhat independent, to now completely being reliant on help. Again my fear and panic increased, how was I ever going to look after her as well as keep our business running. My husband dismissed my panic saying that she’s just broken her arm, it will all be ok. I knew he was wrong. I was frustrated at being made to feel dramatic when I KNEW he was wrong.
Her consultant kept me updated with all the planned tests and he told me. “I want you to know that I am doing this because bones don’t just break like that, I am looking for something more sinister.”
Sinister. That was his exact words I will never forget them. That confirmation that I wasn’t being overly dramatic did two things, one made me what to punch my husband for making me feel silly and two gave me the urge to scream out loud to stop time. I was done. I didn’t want to go any further. I wanted to take her home and everything would stay the same But that’s not how stories like this go is it? No. No they do not.
It took a few days for the different scans and tests to come back, then for the doctors to look at the results. I kept reminding the ward that my mum has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but as they were in the very early stages of confirming this, they kept forgetting about it. I wasn’t allowed to go visit her which meant I didn’t always get the information from the doctors meetings as mam would forget or give me a version that wasn’t quite right.
I called several times over the days leading up to the results to remind them please, let me know if it’s bad and I can come in to tell her with you. It didn’t happen.
On the day my husband was over the moon that Newcastle United had been sold, I took a call from the consultant.
“Mrs Phillips, I have your mams results which I’ve been to speak with her about”
Insert eye roll!!!!!!
“She wanted me to talk to you, can you come in or I can talk to you now over the phone?”
Well obviously it’s bad news. No one ever wants to see you to tell you all is clear, especially not post Covid!! so I tell him now please.
“I’m very sorry but we have found cancer in her kidney, and it has spread to her bones and her lung!”
I’ve heard it said that when you receive some monumental bad news that the world can drop away. I can confirm that’s true, there was a brief pause while my brain processed the information followed by a feeling of being punched in the stomach.
I was right. My mam, the one person who has always been there for me without question, she had cancer. For the first time I think ever in my life I hysterically cried. He asked me to come to the hospital to be with my mam. He would talk to us more there. I don’t really remember much for a while.
I just remember thinking I had to get there to her asap. My husband drove. We both cried. We talked about how do we even deal with it. How do we comfort her. How, please after everything we have already been through, how is it fair that she has cancer.
I wanted to scream at the world.
I am not ready to loose my mam. I’m not ready!!!