From a Bit of Fanfare to the Pit of Despair

Warning: This post is very much a stream of consciousness. I noticed on proof-reading that there is a distinct lack of structure and flow. I usually realise this when editing but have decided not to do anything about it on this occasion due to a lack of energy for reasons that will become clear.

The last week has been an emotional rollercoaster. I spent most of the week (in fact, most of the last few months) doubting that I would make it to my dear friend’s wedding on Saturday in the Lake District. It wasn’t until Thursday that I felt like the energy tide was turning in my favour and I dared to go out and buy the silver trainers that would replace the pretty silver shoes that Bridey had bought for us months ago (i.e., when I could walk without the splint and a limp).

Friday brought another dear friend over from Switzerland for a flying visit. It was just lovely to see her and it meant a lot that she came all that way.

Friday also brought a decision to travel over to the Lakes that evening with my parents so that I could get a good night’s sleep before making a last-minute decision on Saturday morning whether I felt up to the wedding. Assuming I was up on Saturday and raring to go (it’s all relative!), Graham would bring the birthday boy and his big sister over for the celebrations.

I should add that Lady Rent worked her seamstress magic to avoid me embarrassing the Bride by wearing the only clothes that currently fit me: the casual comfy trousers and tops from Asda that would be described by Ted Baker as loungewear. The fat lass bridesmaid’s dress had been delivered on Wednesday. It was ordered relatively recently to replace the dress that was ordered a couple of months before the Squatter was discovered and the Steroid baby forced me to eat at least eight meals a day and put on a bit of weight. The fat lass bridesmaid’s dress was fine around the midriff but I’ve always been a classic pear shape and, unless the Steroid baby had added a stone (at least) to each of my boobs, it wasn’t going to fit around the top half; to say I’d be letting it all hang out without major reconstruction works (on either me or the dress) would be an understatement. Anyway, Mam not only saved what’s left of my dignity by taking in the sides, she took several inches off the length and sewed (by hand) all three layers of the dress to avoid me tripping up. She only stopped sewing on Friday to eat, drink, pack and travel over to the Lakes and finished the work at a quarter past midnight. Is there no end to this lady’s talents or commitment?

Matron of Dishonour

I preserved energy on Saturday morning and neglected the Bride. I left her in the very capable hands of the other (seven and a half months’ pregnant) bridesmaid and got ready in my room. Graham and the kids arrived in between us getting Leo’s birthday presents ready:


and, the make-up lady and hairdresser arriving to do their best with what they had to work with:


Yes, that’s a combover to hide the spike that’s grown in the four weeks since Mr H hew a Halloween highway into my hair.

The day was physically demanding as it was the most I’d done in over five weeks. I walked down the aisle behind Bridey (relying on my trusty splint that fit beautifully into my new silver bridesmaid trainers and holding on to said heavily pregnant bridesmaid for stability) and made it through the church service relatively comfortably.

Outside the church, we posed for an official photograph and this photo was captured from the side by my multi-talented Mam:


I then had a two-hour rest before the wedding breakfast and speeches. By the end of the speeches, I knew I was done for the day so I quit while I was ahead and didn’t make it to the evening reception. I was incredibly tired for most of Sunday and Monday, but it was worth it. I knew it would be tiring to attend the wedding but felt, as long as I thought I was physically able to attend, I would give it my best shot. I believe that the exhaustion I have felt in the last few days would have been far exceeded by my emotional devastation if I’d not made it.

Saturday brought the joyous yin of seeing both my son on his first birthday and my dear friend marry a man of whom I approve, but also the emotionally draining yang on many levels.

First, my Drama Boy turned one. There is no doubt that this would have been enough on its own to fill my emotional bucket to the brim. I was terrified and convinced when he was eight days old that we would not be bringing him home from hospital with what turned out to be viral meningitis. For him to survive that and to come through a viral chest infection at Christmas, colds (he had a cold for 14 out of 18 weeks at the start of the year) and feeding difficulties with reflux until he was about four months old, his birthday was a milestone to bring tears to the eyes as he’s come so far!

Bridey had already booked the wedding way before Leo was born and was the reason that she picked it as what turned out to be the winning date in our birthday sweepstake. I remember being in the Special Care Babies Unit in the RVI watching while the doctors and nurses assessed him during the Meningitis times. Among many other things, I remember thinking that, if he died, I couldn’t possibly attend a wedding even for my dear friend on what would have been his first birthday. Thankfully, he made it through but that’s another emotional memory that went through my mind on Saturday.

Thirdly, I was there to see my boy turn one. I know he won’t remember it but it meant a lot to me. I don’t know how many more birthdays I’ll be here for, which made it all the more special for me to see him while making it painful to think about the future.

A week ago, I rated my chances of making the wedding at about 30%. To be there at all was amazing and I’m eternally grateful to my parents and Graham for sorting out and implementing the logistics of getting us there. I added to their “regular” stresses with worries about what would happen if it was too much for me, i.e., if the Blues and Twos were required again. This thankfully wasn’t the case for me but it was for a fellow wedding guest. Graham’s heart nearly stopped when he returned from getting a breath of fresh air to find an ambulance outside the hotel. I wish the lady well who was unfortunate to need an ambulance.

I didn’t help the Bride at all on her wedding day and I didn’t see her until she arrived at the church. I would find it emotional in the best of circumstances to see her looking so beautiful, radiant and happy, about to embark on a walk down the aisle, but this was only topping up the emotional cauldron, which was threatening to bubble over.

I have found the weddings of people I love to be emotional. I just about held it together during the service except when our dear Bride emotionally said her vows with her voice breaking. That in itself was enough to make my eyes fill up. I then thought back to my wedding day when I felt overcome with emotion during my vows and my voice broke saying “’till death do us part”. In light of my current predicament, that memory is incredibly poignant.

The Monday after the Weekend Before

Yesterday, I was therefore physically and emotionally exhausted. I know from experience that exhaustion brings vulnerability to dark thoughts. Among a thousand things going through my mind yesterday were reflections on the above and the following:

1) What’s the point of building up a bond with the kids (and Leo in particular) when it’ll just be harder for them to cope when I’m gone?

2) What’s the point of having the treatment ahead of me when it will, at best (in all likelihood), postpone the inevitable and add to the strain on those around me, particularly Graham and my parents?

Yes, I was, to the possible relief of those worried that I’ve been coping “too well”, in what I believe is termed the pit of despair. With a good rest yesterday, apart from a trip to the hospital to begin the mask-making process (of which more in a later post), and a good sleep overnight, I’m feeling less tired today. I had the second trip to the hospital today for part two of my mask-making and then had a trip to Asda before resting from all that excitement. It’s my MRI scan on Thursday then CT scan on Friday. Tomorrow is a day off so I’m hoping for rest.

In summary, I feel less like I’m in the pits and more like I’ve regained my wits. I can therefore see a bit of the woods for the trees today and counter the despair with a bit of logic. Another good sleep tonight will do me the world of good I’m sure.

Thanks for all the ongoing messages of support and for the birthday messages, cards and presents for Leo. I’m falling further behind than usual in replying to correspondence (as in, a few months) and I fear I’m not going to catch up. It is an utterly selfish request but please can you keep on sending me news (big or small) or messages of support even if they go unanswered? They do not go unread and mean a lot.

Seizure later alligator.



5 thoughts on “From a Bit of Fanfare to the Pit of Despair”

  1. well structure and flow intact I’d say Mrs Cole. You’re lucky I’m not your mam or you’d have walked behind your lovely friend wrapped in purple material with a safety pin holding it together. You all look stunning in the photo- who would guess the emotion behind that pic? I’ll pop down with Leo’s present soon x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely photo Rachel. Glad you made it to the wedding. Trust me they will remember you with love and prise simply because you have bonded so closely. Thinking of you often brave lady. Alex will be five on Friday an is so excited he can’t sleep and is saying ‘birthday people shouldn’t have to go to school’…fat chance says Suzie….Molly continues to be mad….

    Liked by 1 person

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