It's been nearly half a year since I posted anything here, and probably for the best, since it's been a pretty hellish time and it's unclear how things will go from here.
First of all, the winter, which got fully underway by February and peaked with the big blizzard on March 19, was uniquely horrible. Never experienced anything like it in my life. Thick sheets of ice covered the driveway and parts of the lawn from February to late March. Salt was useless. Even now, nearly the end of May, it's still chilly and gray most days.
Along the way, my plumbing went out for a few weeks at a time - and this happened more than once. Just after I got that under control, on March 5 as I brought in the groceries, my feet shot out from under me suddenly. I fell back into open space, my head eventually bouncing off the ice with a loud crack. Concussion, with all the usual earmarks - nausea, headaches, etc.
Then I began noticing that my belly would cramp up a few minutes after tossing a few shovelfuls of snow around - which I did just to clear a little around the car. (Otherwise I was happy to leave it where it was for the most part; this snow was frozen and extremely heavy, not worth breaking your back for).
Sometime in the past four months, well before this news, but in no less of a dark depression, I posted in the Brindi Activists group on Facebook as if in some sort of trance, "One
of us is going to die soon." I can't explain what I was thinking. It didn't come from my brain, it came to it, somehow.
By late March I had been to the doctors and even the ER a few times with pain and other disquieting symptoms, including a lot more chronic fatigue than I usually have. An ultrasound right after Easter brought the alarming news of a sizable tumor that stunned the doctors as much as it did me. It was followed by a blood test that strongly indicated malignancy. By that time I had done a little research and figured it out myself, albeit it an uncommitted sort of way.
I have ovarian cancer. Yup, that's me. The fifth leading cause of cancer deaths, it's particularly deadly because unlike breast cancer, it evades early detection. And by now my tumor, which is where my ovaries once were, is about the size of a grapefruit according to the last scan.
So instead of aiming for the appeal hearing that was to happen June 4, I am about to undergo a full hysterectomy in three days. And after that, a course of chemotherapy. The outlook is usually five years before the cancer comes back again, and let's be honest, it nearly always ends up killing a person.
Thanks to The Big C's arrival, I had to ask for an adjournment of the appeal hearing set for June 4. There was a double whammy of problems: with the intermittent pain and constant fatigue, there was no way I could complete another five sets of massive appeal books (now over 2000 numbered, indexed, and tabbed pages in six bound volumes) plus a new factum (brief) by the April 16 deadlines. Now the surgery makes even showing up on June 4 impossible.
And since I didn't know when I'd be well enough to complete all the paperwork, let alone appear in court, the judge simply set another day, June 24, to revisit the matter and set new deadlines. Fortunately the HRM prosecutor - possibly a first - did not oppose my request, and the judge - also a first - was more than willing to grant it without any of the usual admonitions or remonstrations.
It's taken weeks to absorb all of this. Friends and family, including my 90+ mother, have been amazing and supporting; a wonderful aunt in the medical profession has been even more amazing and supportive; but somehow I still cannot get a grip on it no matter how hard I try. Not that I've had much time for that, with all that needed to be arranged for a 4-5 day hospital stay and the weeks of recovery at home. It really takes a lot of work, just like when I prepared for a transatlantic commute, but with a lot more worry of course.
Granted, I had two or three cancer scares in the past seven years - but those were for Brindi, whose chronic pancreatitis (a gift from the SPCA) puts her at risk for even more deadly pancreatic cancer. In fact, she could have it at this very moment and I would not know. In 2012, Halifax's lawyers ceased allowing our vet to monitor her blood every month as she had done since 2010. This has not done much to lessen my stress and distress in all this time, I can tell you.
So if you are one of those who subscribe to the belief that trauma and stress can bring on cancer, well, I wouldn't say you were wrong. With no family history of this kind of cancer (and relatively little cancer at all), it truly came out of left field.
Day after day, people ask me, "How do you know Brindi is still alive?" Not exactly very considerate question to ask somebody in my position, don't you think? And it's not like I haven't posted so many many many time that I don't know, because HRM will not provide concrete medical information or any reliable information. I do not know how to force them to do it because the judges don't seem to agree that it's necessary. So now, quite frankly, I honestly don't know if I will still be alive to finish the onerous but necessary task of completing the whole appeal and getting her home.
For the same reason, I don't know if I will ever finish my house renovation. And not just because of the immense financial burden it poses, now that I've been drained of the funds set aside for it. I have a slew of other goals that would be nice to accomplish as well - finally finish my PhD, for instance, and get it published in some form. And things of that nature...
But I could happily scrap everything else and this world to boot, happily, if I could only get Brindi safely home and complete the work on this old heritage house as I planned it: the whole garage/deck, basement slab, window and door replacement, cladding, roofing, and oh yeah, a heat pump, what a nice thing it would be to have central heating again.
I never imagined in a million years that either of these tasks would prove so damned difficult.