Prepare yourself for a very small self-pity party but 2016 sucked.  The big one. I’m not just talking about my diagnosis of cancer.  No, that is simply the icing on the cake to happen late December just days before Christmas…  At least now I have a valid excuse for not enjoying this time of year.

The year actually started off pretty good or simply status quo.  In May I was able to attend BEA, BookExpo America, in Chicago and spend a week with a dear friend.  Hands down the highlight of my year and I am eternally grateful I was able to have this once in a lifetime experience.  Our second trip to Chicago in August with the husband was also lovely.  Stayed in perhaps the nicest hotel we have ever been to and had an amazing view of the city.  The third positive of 2016 was the birth of kittens on the property and that three of them now have permanent inside homes with us.

So what all made this such a crappy year?  Most of it was losses.  When you have geriatric pets the odds are they won’t be with you much longer.  In July we decided to put to sleep our 16-year-old Corgi mix dog who was blind and losing his hearing.  It was hard but it was getting more and more difficult for him to get around and I didn’t want him to go through another winter.

In early September I decided to rehome my horse and while I knew it was a tough decision I was blown away by how truly hard it was on me emotionally.  Even though I knew she was going to a great home where she wouldn’t be alone anymore I missed her.  I cried over her right up until the day my cat, my favorite, my best friend had an embolism and had to be put to sleep.  That was simply devastating.  I will always feel her absence.

At the change of month into October we did have another short trip to Lamoni Iowa where we got to celebrate my 20th honor year class and were able to visit with more beloved friends while we were there.  It was a wonderful trip but I was already starting to worry about money with our growing credit card balance (that still isn’t paid off….).  I was also starting to feel crappy and had irregular bleeding.  When husband and I think back we believe I had been getting progressively worse over the past few months as well as suffering from depression over the losses.

In November we didn’t lose any more animals but I did lose my truck, which was also more distressing than I thought it would be.  A mechanical problem came up and we decided we couldn’t keep it.  So while my husband took his vacation we looked for a new car and I said good-bye to my beloved truck, which I pouted over for weeks.  I kid you not.  I wouldn’t even ride in the new car I was so upset.  It seems silly now, but at the time a part of my identity was wrapped up in driving a pick-up.  I also hate shopping for new cars with the passion of 1,000 white hot suns. So I didn’t think anything of it when I had a second period that week.  I simply thought it was stress.  Later that month I would also visit the urgent care clinic with upper abdominal pain.  They couldn’t find anything wrong with me but suggested I talk to my regular Dr when I saw him on December first.

December first I had an appointment to get my thyroid tested for the year and I mentioned the pain.  He took a look at the tests they ran and poked around my belly and asked if I still had my gallbladder which I do.  He wanted to take some other labs and mentioned that there was blood in my urine.  I told him about the spotting then and he managed to talk me into seeing a nurse practitioner in Clinton to have a pelvic exam.  I’m not sure why I agreed it isn’t something I normally would have done but I had him make the appointment.  Between his appointment and the 15th, I had the worst period of my life.  I bleed through my clothing several times and would actually just stand in the shower to bleed so I could clean up afterward.  It wasn’t too scary but I knew something was wrong.  It was at that appointment on the 15 that they found they performed the biopsy and the next Monday they told me I have cancer.

The next few weeks have been a blur as we prepare for my hysterectomy and I come to terms with the fact that I have cancer.  I’ve had my appointment with the surgeon and my surgery is scheduled. I have had my pre-op tests and even found the courage to look at the results of those tests online through the hospital’s MyChart website for patients.  I don’t understand much of it but there are some other issues I might be facing in the future health wise.   The Final headache of 2016 is receiving new insurance cards in the mail and learning that our policy changes slightly next year.  We still have insurance but I don’t know what this means for my surgery.  Fingers crossed when I call the University Hospital on Monday nothing changes and I can still have my hysterectomy on Thursday.

So yep.  2016 sucked majorly with the exception of a few bright spots.  I’m not going to be too optimistic about 2017 because I still have cancer after all.  I’m going to start off the year with surgery and possibly other treatments.  I know I am better off than many.  I am grateful for all the support from my family and friends.  Your kind words mean so much to me.  I am also blessed with an amazing husband who is the center of my universe.  I don’t want to become a burden to him and hope that he doesn’t end up resenting me.  It can happen when one spouse gets sick.

There was so much more, of course, the fact that we elected Trump to the White House for example, but I figured my bitch list was long enough.  I do hope the next year is better, but if it isn’t there isn’t much I can do but put one foot in front of the other and struggle through.  Life is not permanent.  Life isn’t always good but another side is that it isn’t always bad either.  We simply need to handle problems as they arise and enjoy the joy where we can find it.  Life is about experiences and even having cancer is an experience.  I need to take what I can learn from this and move forward.  Maybe I will leave 2017 with more humility, compassion and strength than I begin it.  Until then, though, 2016 can kiss my ass.

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