Christmas chaos ding dongs not so merrily into our lives

by Jeremy Miles

Things can only get better! Christmas has been hijacked this year by a number of unexpected events, not least my 84-year-old father being diagnosed with cancer and having to spend nearly a week in hospital. First they built him up with steroids and then gave him a hefty dose of chemotherapy. He was kept him under observation for several days as they juggled the doses of the drugs that he’ll probably be taking for the rest of his life and then monitored the results.

Dad was finally allowed home at 6.00pm yesterday (Christmas Eve). This was the best gift possible for my 86-year-old mother, but will she/they cope? Incredibly independent, mentally sharp and decades younger in attitude than their octogenarian status would suggest, they have finally realised that they’re actually rather old and that physical frailty has, quite suddenly,  become a serious problem in their lives. Until a little over a week ago they regarded the vagaries of advancing years  as a mere inconvenience, at worst a nuisance.

Now they’ve been fast-tracked into the twilight zone, picked up by myriad systems – the NHS, Macmillan, district nurses and so on. All this has come as an almighty shock. A massive change of fortune triggered by dad’s discovery of a curious lump in his neck while shaving and the subsequent medical investigations that swung into action almost as soon as he had consulted his local GP. In the short-term poor dad faces at least five more sessions of chemo and a very uncertain future. We keep our fingers crossed!

On a much more trivial note, we also suffered a bit of a domestic appliance disaster this morning when the new cooker that we took delivery of just three weeks ago  decided to have a nervous breakdown. Having worked like a dream since installation, the main oven chose today of all days to start only operating on slow-cook. Our splendid turkey has now been taken to a friend’s house and is currently gently roasting in an oven half-a-mile from our dinner table. Yikes! At least we were able to laugh. It might be a complete pain but when we think of the terrible things that happen to others – the sick, the homeless, the poverty-stricken and those in distress – we know we are very lucky indeed.

Footnote:  the turkey  eventually  returned from its travels wonderfully cooked.

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