If you've been following my travels through Cancerland, you will have noticed that I’ve been pretty ‘quiet’ for the past few weeks, mainly due to some unplanned hospital visits thanks to one of the many side affects of my illness. In this case it was my bowel acting up. I do spend far too much time talking about my bowel, so let's just say it was not pleasant and I needed a week in hospital to settle it down. As my surgeon tells me, I’ve a ‘hostile bowel’ and these ‘obstructions’ started happening late last year. So far they have caused me to be hospitalised five times, interrupting my life and pretty much always around something I’ve been looking forward to and in this case a great friend’s wedding. It’s like my bowel knows when I’m really looking forward to something and in a effort to put a stop to my gallop and ruin any fun I might have planned for myself!
I’ve got used to the never-ending chemo, there’s a rhythm, a plan, a routine to it. It’s a nuisance but you can at least plan your life around it. The ‘obstructions’ on the other hand are just unwanted interruptions. This particular time two weeks ago I had a big week, I usually have a lot going on, but this was an extra busy one, my son’s sixth birthday ninja extravaganza was on Sunday and as usual I’d gone completely over the top. Cake, water balloons, decorations, grub, the lot; everything an over-enthusiastic mother and her Pinterest account could dream of! While preparing for the party I also had heatwave-induced ‘wedding outfit’ anxiety and made a mad dash around town looking for something that wouldn't have me melting in the Kerry Riviera in between the champagne and speeches. In a speed shop I managed to pick up a gem of a dress and even bagged some statement earrings, which I never normally wear, but thought I’d live life on the edge just for this wedding!
Two wedding outfits and one big 6-year-old’s bash later and it was only still the weekend, I was feeling especially full of energy after my holidays and even my bi-weekly chemo hadn’t actually knocked me sideways. I’d spent two days baking and sculpting a Lego Ninjago cake, my superwoman cape was well and truly flowing! I should have known better that my body was going to let me down and remind me that I can’t actually do ‘everything’.
I should also add in here that on the Saturday before the big birthday party, I spent the day drinking champagne, washed down with a fine selection of afternoon tea with my cousins and surrogate aunt. There were flower crowns and lots of laughs but it probably was not the best thing to be doing the day before your 6-year-old’s birthday party, especially when there’s a big theme to pull together and 25, 5-6-year-olds invading your house for two hours the following day.
The party day was a scorcher: the bouncy castle, water balloons, super soakers and the sweets, pizza, popcorn shuffle were only outdone by the LEGO head pinata (which I made, I know I’m very sad and most of the 5-6-year-olds did not even notice) and the near dropping of the cake when it was time to blow out the candles. The cake did get serious appreciation from the boys, one little pal even asking me if I could make one for his birthday. I may start taking commissions seeing as the old corporate career is not as it once was!
Successful party was declared and as the last kid was picked up, I practically pounced on the sofa and made oven chips and salmon (not weird at all) for dinner that evening, as it was the quickest thing I could think to make and would let me have more time to sleep on the sofa. The warning signs of an impending ‘interruption’ should have been grabbed my attention but I was too busy thinking about the wedding on Friday and looking forward to spending time with some of my most fantastic friends in Kerry. I was also not going to admit to myself that some cramps were starting to rumble and that it could be the arrival of my friend the ‘obstruction’. Tuesday was the ‘official’ 6-year-olds birthday and more celebrations, just for the family on the day itself, sure you’re only six once! Fish’n’chips on the pier and Teddy’s 99s for dessert was the chosen treat and by the time we got home around 8pm I needed to go to bed with a hot water bottle. In this heat this was a real sign all was not well.
My super sister was over for the evening to celebrate with the birthday boy, it’s amazing the way she is always around just when I need her. She told me later in the week she could tell by the way I went to bed that I was going to end up in hospital that night, must have been the hot water bottle! Thankfully, the super newly-appointed 6-year-old and his big bro where sleeping off their fish’n’chips and ice cream food coma, so they didn’t hear me getting sick about 20 times and trying to explain what I needed in my bag for the hospital. My sister had contacted the hospital and they were waiting for me at 2am in the morning.
Because I’m a bit of a frequent flyer in the hospital now, the nurses reassuringly take charge and within hours I’m on drips and drains feeling much better but knowing there’s at least four days ahead of me before I can feel well again. The wedding… alas, even I couldn't swing this one. I asked my doctor when he came in to see me on Wednesday morning if there was any chance I could be out and get to go, he actually laughed! He does understand how many things I’ve had to cancel over the years, he’s signed enough forms to get flights cancelled and holidays rescheduled, so he did come back to me that afternoon to just explain there was no way I could go to Kerry, if it was Dublin maybe they could prop me up, but not a five hour drive.
My friend was of course understanding, she’s been part of this journey for the past few years but despite all the WhatsApp videos and pictures on the day, it’s still never the same as being there. In a funny twist of fate it was like my pals all came out in accidental sympathy, one broke his Achilles tendon the night before and two of the girls got a vomiting bug and had to go home too – you nearly couldn't make it up! The very happy couple did have an amazing day despite their crap friends falling sick and we are going to attempt a recreation of the day in the coming weeks, I will be wearing one of my two dresses and the very edgy earrings.
I got out after five days with instructions to take it easy (not very easy for me) and as himself was away all week working, myself and the boys went on our holidays to Meath, my home from home, where I grew up. Chilling in the country with my mum, dad, 96-year-old granny and the boys was just the rest we all needed, except there is always very little rest in the Kelly house. There is always someone visiting. This week it was my sister’s pal from Canada who is a killer amateur chef, so delicious meals were prepared and presented. I also visited the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre twice as many times as I have done in the past five years. We hung out with one of my oldest pals in the world and her great kids, went to the cinema and generally did not sit still. On friday to wrap up the week, we had planned a trip to the Aquatic Centre with my brother and my four gorgeous nieces. We made it there until those cramps kicked in to ruin the fun, again.
Another dash to the hospital and this time it was just 24 hours, the ‘obstruction’ was caught in the early stages but I was sent home with strict instructions to eat a low residue diet (look it up, it’s like the diet of very fussy 90-year-old old with no teeth), basically liquids to prevent another flare up. I’m sticking to these instructions with serious dedication, as this girl is sick of these interruptions. It is very hard though as I love my food.
I’ve missed many holidays, events, parties, lunches, birthdays, weddings, drinks, barbecues...you name it, I’ve missed it in the past years because of treatments, operations and now these ‘obstructions’. I’ve a bit of a reputation for lateness, I used to think if I turned up that’s what was important, not exactly on time was just a small detail that I could overlook. But not making it at all never really happened. Despite these interruptions, I’m going to keep making elaborate plans, double book appointments and plan amazing holidays in the hopes that I’ll definitely make some of them.