Life as always for me has been fraught and even more so over the past 12 months.
Monkey has had a great time - skiing with the Army Cadets in Italy in February, Canoe Cadet in May half term, Annual Camp in August, leaving his High School and moving onto a new school for the last 2 years of his schooling (although he should be staying on until the end of Year 13, he is still adamant that he wants to join the Army at the end of Year 11), has been made a Lance Corporal, laid the wreath for the Army Cadets at this years Remembrance Parade, become a fully qualified first aider as part of his cadet training and attended a training weekend at Yardley Chase where he has now almost completed his 2 star training. He did leave Explorers which was a sad time for me as he had been in Scouting for almost 9 years at that point but once he wasn't chosen for the World Jamboree to Japan he seemed to loose all interest in Scouting. All in all a good year for him. The only blot on his horizon was when taking part in his first contact training session of the year at a rugby team he had joined, he managed to dislocate his knee which meant that he was in plaster for almost 6 weeks and we are still rehabbing, at a point where he must not take part in any contact sports, can only gently jog (and that has only been in the past week) and he is to start a weekly knee rehab class the first week back in January - it will be a long and slow process but he needs to get it right to make sure that he can be as fit as possible for the Army.
My Dad's wife wrote to me in July to tell me that she basically cannot stand me and that she has no wish to have anything to do with me, hubby or Monkey in the future, but that she would not stand in my way if I wanted to see my Dad or brothers. How gracious of her!! As you know the feeling is mutual and that has make things easier from my point of view but its the way she can dismiss Monkey from her life so easily which makes it difficult for me to explain things to Monkey. I will keep her letter and let Monkey see that when he is older, maybe when my Dad has passed away and he wants to keep in contact with her, he will see that there really is no point at all.
My consultant at work was diagnosed with breast cancer in March this year and has been off work since. She has had 6 cycles of chemotherapy, followed by a wide local excision and axillary node clearance and then she went on to have 5 weeks of radiotherapy. She was 37 when she was diagnosed with no family history. She had recently split from her long term partner who she thought she would be marrying in the not too distant future but he had different ideas! She has now been given the all clear and is just waiting for things to be sorted for her phased return to work to be agreed and then how she will be working when she is back full time. I have missed her greatly and being totally selfish, I cannot wait for her to come back. I have seen her most weeks while she has been off and when we were at the Houses of Parliament for a meeting in November, we went on to see Les Miserable as a end of sickness treat - an amazing show if you ever get the chance to go.
I started my nurse prescribers course in September, and am really struggling with it - I am doing it at Master's level and really wish that I hadn't done it at that level now, but too late. I have about 5 weeks to go until I have to hand in my portfolio and hopefully that will be the major part of it done then, just the OSCE and the short answer paper to pass. I have however met some great people and am grateful for the support that they have been giving to me.
My Mum has been unwell once again. May saw her admitted to the local hospital with pneumonia where they also discovered a degree of heart failure. She recovered fairly well but it did take a couple of months for her to get back to her baseline. When she went to see a cardiologist in September for a follow-up appointment, they informed her that she had actually had a small heart attack and that she would need a cardiac angio to check the state of her heart. However, because of her kidney problems they would need to be cautious with the procedure. Luckily, Mum was due to see her renal doctor who on checking her kidney function said that she couldn't have the angio as it would knacker her kidneys completely. Anyway, things have bounced back and forth between the cardiologist and the renal doctor until it all came to a head last week when her renal doctor has said that she now needs to start dialysis ideally within the next month - to Mum this is a big shock - to me, not so. Having been a renal nurse for a large part of my life, I could see where it was going, but as my Mum usually thinks that I don't really know anything, I have kept quiet. Wrong of me? No, as even if I had warned her about anything, she would have just ignored it all. I do know that she likes her community renal nurse, so that's a bonus and she does listen to what she is saying. Mum thinks she would like to have PD - great, however, she does have bad eyesight and that will put her at risk of peritonitis. I have talked to her about this over the phone when she rang me to say that she would be staring dialysis soon, but she says that it will all be ok as she is going to do the dialysis overnight. Again, I don't think this is right for her as she has no room in her bedroom for the APD machine, and when I mentioned that she would need to clear out the small spare room to make way for all of the boxes and dialysis things that she would need, she said that she wasn't going to be doing that. I suggested at that point that she might like to have a chat with the community nurse to see what was going to be involved. I think I will be contacting my friend who still works in renal as a community nurse and asking for a crash refresher course in how to set up the APD machines!!!
Brownies continue to be a large part of my life. I am glad that I haven't been the District Commissioner for the past 12 months. I have stepped aside as a mentor and I am about to stop doing the DBS checks. I am now left with only the Brownie pack to run. I was planning on stepping aside from that in the summer but unfortunately, one of the other leaders chose the beginning of the summer term to tell me that she would be leaving which left me having to stay. I still want to leave, but at the moment we will be at 31 Brownies in January when we go back and that puts me in a difficult position! We only have 3 adults who attend on a regular basis, one of which is me every week and the other two do alternate weeks, so we do actually run on only 2 adults each week. I have Young Leaders (two of which are now 18 or will be when we return) but due to their A level commitments, they are not able to come every week and it all becomes a bit more of a nightmare as the 3 older Young Leaders will all take their A levels this year, and the 2 younger Young Leaders will be taking their GCES's this year, so the times that they will be able to come along will all reduce at about the same time! I have a great Brownie Helper who started with us in September and she has made a great difference to the help.
Then just as I was thinking that I was at last coming to the end of what has really been a bad year, a friend and fellow guider died suddenly and unexpectedly on the 12th December. She was a year younger than me, never appeared to be unhealthy (although I have since learnt that she did have some sort of heart condition which she had had since childhood) and was the local Rainbow Leader. I feel that I have had no right to be as upset as I was about her dying so suddenly, but thinking about things over the past couple of days, I think I have possibly reached my tipping point and this sent me over the edge into something I can only describe as devastated and depressed. I have tried to be the rock for everybody - being the previous District Commissioner and the new one only just being in post for a couple of months - people did seem to fall to me for advice and support. With my job, I am more than happy to provide the support, as I feel that sometimes group support is so much better for all involved but is has been hard coming on top of all of the other things that have happened this year. I have felt a fraud at times being so upset - I could be driving to the supermarket and just suddenly burst into tears. Her funeral was held on Christmas Eve. I sobbed all of the way to the church which was about a 20 minute drive. The church was packed and people were even just standing at the back due to their being no room to sit and it was a big church. There were about 20 past and present guiders there including the County and Regional Commissioners - it was good to see the people there. Her husband was stoic in church as were their twin 16 year old children. However, me and Kelloggsville went to the crematorium and here is where the tears really flowed. We then went back to the wake and spent a while talking with the twins and seeing that actually they were coping so much better than I thought they would. Her husband is a different matter - I'm not really sure how he is going to cope, but he does have many friends and family who will help him through this I know.
All in all, the year has been a busy one, with lots of sad times but good times too. Memories have been made and I am glad that I have had these too. I know that from now on, I need to live life to the full, grab what I want with both hands and never be afraid to tell someone that I love them as I never know what is around the corner.
This will be my motto for 2015 - Happy New Year one and all