I thought that I would do a short wrap of the year that was.
Mine started with a mix of emotions, I had just finished on the F-35 program, which I consider (all five separate rolls I had undertaken over seven years) the absolute pinnacle of my career (a huge portion of the last decade in fact). I felt exceptionally sad to be leaving the program, and a little let down by the air force for not using the valuable skills I had learnt through many tough lessons.
I gave the worst leaving speech I have ever done at my farewell, as it was just something I did not want to face. But a new face needed to get involved and learn stuff that I knew, so nothing ever stays the same, it was time to move on.
I had just missed out on a deployment, in a really good job, and working for a boss I had known for many years. In hindsight this would prove fortuitous as I would have had my incident while wrapping up overseas and a long way from the care that I needed, but at the time I was ticked (actually pissed right off).
However we used the wrap up time to have a lovely beach xmas at Newcastle, which is Christine’s and my happy place, the water and beach always a great place to be. So a new role for me and saying a goodbye for William, who at 17 moved up to Newcastle to go to University. This was to the very degree that I had offered advice and ideas to rebuilding, after working on updating an older program the Uni had offered. I am still immensely proud of his efforts and how well he has adapted to life away from home.
I was totally lost for a number of weeks in new job, but after a little while found myself in a new but challenging role, with an awesome small team doing Programme Management, a first for me, so a new string to the bow. Zac had jumped into yr 9 and was rolling along, and Christine was enjoying the help around the house again (I hope).
I was getting back to a few camps on Motorbikes with my mates, and even dragged Zac to his first bike rally at Khancoban in Snowy mountains in winter. A new bike was procured (my BMW GS Adventure) for an upcoming ride to Tasmania as well. I was trying to get back into helping out with house and getting a few jobs sorted that Christine had been saving for my return from Newcastle.
And then September rolled round and all hell broke loose. To say that you can never be prepared to be struck down with an illness like this is no small understatement. Like I have said previously, I was in a total daze following diagnosis, I was still trying to work out how to live in hospital let alone confront my own mortality.
As I have said, then the cancer roller-coaster kicked in. Each discussion with a doctor is terrifying (and gets no better with time), the frustration with losing independence cannot be understood until you are in this position, empathy only goes so far…. Not working would be great if you could live like you were normal, but being housebound is no fun at all. The stress you place on your family is ridiculously high and may well be the worst part. I now really don’t care about me, but am always concerned for the effect this is having to family and close friends.
The flip side is the time available to get a little more mindful, the amount of support that I never knew I had. It is all totally overwhelming. I have enjoyed some long and deep discussions with friends I never thought I would be having. You gain an insight into people and life that you just never thought you would get until far older! I have had time to smell a few roses and read a few books, not my thing normally, but I have done about three in last few weeks. Mainly spiritually related as well, and bigger picture types of books.
With the confronting reality of a situation like this, you can’t help but ask a few bigger questions, trust me. I am not a church goer, but I would question the most fervent religious person to not seek a few answers other than your good book (whatever flavour it may be).
I have to say that Christine and I have been able to spend more time together (with her driving me everywhere…). And to say that we have laughed more is a complete truth!! Having issues with your head does crazy stuff to your thoughts and words that pop out even though you are thinking different ones up top! Great example last night, discussing movie with kids, they asked how Carrie Fischer could be filmed as she died in 2016, they thought CGI was used, I said, ‘well she was alive before she died!’. I meant to say ‘she was filmed before she died’. Christine almost crashed car in laughter, and kids nearly wet pants giggling.
So what is in store for 2020, I have no idea anymore. I used to think I knew that type of stuff, just like you think you do right now. But I am hoping for a few things, but I have no idea what will go on though. I can tell you dates and times of doctors appointments in January though and that’s about it. I know that this year marks 50 times around the sun, that’s March. We hope to do a small holiday somewhere (Christine’s leave balance allowing), and I am hoping to get up to Newcastle and visit William at University.
Otherwise 12 months of Chemo is my plan, and work towards staying as healthy as I can through treatment. I will try hard to be as independent as possible and as little bother to Christine and family as I can, especially so she can try to be at work as much as possible. My biggest challenge (as I am sure with many facing this scenario), is keeping my head in order and not get lost inside, but focus on positive and face each day as it arrives, and be comfortable in the uncomfortable space.
I hope for you that I can impart some smart stuff through this blog. I want to ensure that no one feels scared for me, as I will keep you all updated as we go. Don’t worry about stuff that you can’t control, and I don’t control a lot of stuff now, trust me there.
Stay awesome, and have a great new years eve, hug the fam bam,