Monday, 27 December 2010

Over optimism, great expectations and differences

Peter and Santa Peebles 2010
Much is written every year about how many of us have too high an expectation of the festive season. I think I fell foul of this a little this year- and I think I can definitely be forgiven.
As regular readers know, this was the Christmas I wasn't supposed to see. And if it had been left to the local oncology team I definitely would not have been a participant. Making it through, therefore, is an odd experience, and I suppose if you haven't been through it I think it would be hard to imagine quite how it feels. I suppose a reprieved prisoner on death row might get it... that's as close as I can think of. I have sometimes felt like a last minute guest: delighted and surprised to be invited to a party which I really wanted to be at, knowing that the invitation only arrived in the nick of time.
So, expectations? Other half, teenager, mum and I were booked into Peebles Hydro Hotel in Scotland for Christmas. Four nights. 23rd- 27th. It is a great place to spend Christmas. Lots to do for everyone- an easy place to relax. The trip became the family goal, the light in a dark world, something to be aimed for and get excited about. Something for me to work towards as I convalesce( ARE YOU GETTING THE PICTURE........?)
I suppose you know what's coming. All of you who have similar 'damn and hell' type of festive seasons. Can you hear bells ringing?
Thursday 16th December Midnight. I woke up with teeth chattering violently, followed by dramatic soaking sweats. Sky high temperatures. Not good. Down the drain goes the three day break to visit other half's family in the North East. I had a wound swab taken and a water sample. The surgery rang to say the latter looked dodgy so I had to go straight away onto MORE antibiotics. I duly did so, and immediately developed an intolerance to them. I will spare the details. Needless to say they had to be stopped.
I crawled on through the weekend temperatures roaring and appetite gone again. Boy- was I feel sorry for myself? I looked like hell. I felt like hell. I felt the pressure mounting. And I was so tired ......... all those last minute jobs were not being attempted. I had ground to a complete halt. In bed. Asleep. Again. No appetite and brimming with self pity.
Monday limped around and daktari was on the phone again. He had some good news ( really?). No urinary infection. Brilliant. So could it be flu then- it certainly felt like it? No- 'it is a wound infection' he announced cheerfully. Welcome to new and different antibiotics. I was relieved that at least I knew what the problem was, but daunted that we were just starting to tackle it on 20th December. I continue to sleep, sweat, shiver and grumble... and grumble.... and grumble.
23rd December lift off to Peebles. I felt like death warmed up. I felt like hell on wheels. I looked like something from ' Night of the Living dead'. Other half had done all the packing. I had pointed weakly from packing pile to case. But I was DETERMINED to get there. After all..... this was the big pay out. The reward for being a good patient. This was going to perfect? Er........
And we got there. Brilliantly navigated through the wintry weather by other half. We made it. But inwardly I fizzed. I raged. I didn't feel much better. And I was so convinced I deserved to be better. It was nearly a week, but still I limped on with boiling hot face, or shuddering freezing body. This was my holiday in Peebles. And I was ill again. I felt guilty to be an atmosphere hoover to the others, sorry for myself and as angry as hell that I was missing out. Great expectations. Dashed. I slept on. I ate very little. I sulked.
And then on Christmas morning, I felt a lot better. Was I starting to recover at last? We opened our presents, we had a lovely day. I saw Santa. But I didn't finish dinner, and was in bed by nine. I missed the music and the dancing. Small but slightly optimistic sulk.
Boxing day. I woke up full of life after a lovely long night's sleep AND NO TEMPERATURES. No flannel on the face, no fantasies about rolling in the snow naked, no more layering myself up with woolies and hot water bottles when the cold struck. And energy. After a week of absolutely none at all......I could feel it fizzing through my veins. A song in my heart, a zest, and a bit of appetite....
So I sprang ( well....) out of bed. Breakfast ( yes food- finally!). Festive flower arranging. Fab. Sugar craft mice ( picture tomorrow- very proud of). Brilliant. Quick rest. Bar. Dinner. Cabaret. Coming to life and ready to start the holiday. 27th December. Check out. Home. Bah wretched humbug. I was starting to get into the swing of it all. And like Cinderella......... home too early.
And to cap it all we came home to very heavy snow. Sigh. More snow.
So, what have I learnt from all this? To be honest that is still percolating. However, I do know for sure that I had a massively over- optimistic view of how well I would be by Christmas. I am still amazingly frail and susceptible to bugs and beasties. I am glad I have an cheerful and determined outlook but sometimes it can trip me up and give me false perspectives. This can lead to disappointment. I don't ever want to become someone who always expects difficulty ( self fulfilling prophecy) but sometimes I need to be better at just accepting and enjoying things the way they are. I need to get better at letting go of frustration and irritation, and be more accepting and cheerful of the situation as it is. I have given the Grinch a run for his money this year- unattractive behaviour and not fun to be around. Understandable and forgivable, but toxic all the same.
To finish on high note. One thing I haven't had to worry about this festive system is overindulgence. For once, no post festive remorse and diet plans for me. A blessed change. I have lost lots more weight.I am getting to be quite the sylph. My liver is healthy and smiling as I haven't been drinking. I will enjoy looking at the sale clothes- for once I can shop anywhere.
The other thing I realise, having had a nasty blip, is how far I have come since 29th September... how much more independent and sprightly I am now compared to those first dark days. Much stronger, much more resilient, and hopefully wiser.
I hope your festivities went well. I hope the bugs and beasties, bad weather and lack of parcel deliveries didn't spoil your fun.
I will continue to get well again......I need to get a spring in my step for New Year's Eve.


karen gerstenberger said...

You are in good company with the expectations being a bit high around the holidays. Perhaps that dates all the way back to when we were kiddos. It only stands to reason, when added to your amazing recovery, you had a bit of euphoria added to your expectations. To have all of that energy stopped (temporarily but harshly) by that infection must have been a HUGE feeling of inertia. It makes sense to me, and I hope that you get a bit of a do-over with the family when you are stronger. Sending loving thoughts and happy new year blessings from here.

Lakeland Jo said...

Thanks Karen- I appreciate your kind words. I think what you say about euphoria is very true and I hadn't thought about it.

Maggie May said...

Sorry to hear about the blip. Glad you are well on the way to being over it now.
This time last year, I didn't know whether I'd be here either. Very weird feeling and a bit humbling.
Enjoy ourselves while we ARE here, eh!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

l'optimiste said...

oh what? 'I need to, I must, I this, I that...'

I'm SO glad you're better. Try to remain that way by NOT going bezzo!

fft - Christmas is a nightmare for most of us. Everyone is expected to be jolly, happy and fit. Well -from experience - Christmas is when everything goes wrong. Everyone is cross, miserable and ill!

And as for you - you have done amazingly well! Stop aiming for things - you are not an arrow - just chill and enjoy the moment...
We have a beastly 'fancy dress' party to appear at on New years eve. Oh joy...think I'll go as Cruella DeVille - white and snow covered ;)
Be peaceful, - long term, it's best. Wishing you the best possible new year - that is; good health my friend. I wish you that.

Clippy Mat said...

Jo: Hopefully this was a temporary setback on your road to recovery. You are remarkable. I just love your attitude and positivity and how you keep bouncing back.
This new year will be a truly wonderful one for you and your family.
God Bless,
Hugs :-)

Bragger said...

I am glad you are feeling better. I held my breath through the whole post, hoping that you got SOME sort of celebration in. Happy New Year to you and yours. May you continue to get better and better.

Angie said...

Yes, I suppose when we're kids and someone else is 'doing' Christmas for us we don't realise what it takes to make things happen. It's only when fate chucks a spanner in the works and we can't do the magic ourselves, as grown-ups, that we start to fret. Mild way of putting it!

Pam said...

I'm so sorry your hotel visit got scuppered and you are more than justified to have felt fed-up about it. You have been through so much this year. I hope you can enjoy the rest of the holidays and New Years Eve.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Jo, I am so sorry you had these health setbacks. I applaud you for pushing through the illness and getting to your destination. (not sure if I could have done this)
Having high expectations is normal....without those, we would be down all the time.
I hope you are still feeling well and will continue to feel well too. May 2011 bring you good health and all the love and joy you deserve.

Gill - That British Woman said...

That was a great post, I am glad you are feeling a lot better though and onwards and upwards through 2011.

Gill in Canada

Hadriana's Treasures said...


Sending you huge hugs. I hope we do get to meet up one day. I am guilty of expecting too much as well. Glad you got through it all.

I too am learning to take life one day at a time. I'm impatient and expect the fairy godmother to come along and wave her wand.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful and peaceful 2011! Hugs Hadriana xx

Sage said...

Oh bless, that was all you needed though glad to hear that you managed to enjoy some of the holiday... even bad times are good memories lol xx hope 2011 is a lot better for you and any time you want a break down here in sunny cornwall our spare room is yours for the asking.. xx

Irritatingly Optimistic said...

At least you had a totally acceptable reason to be Grinchy. Some folk are like that for no reason at all - and those bugs of yours must know that to get you well they have to knock you of your feet or you will take no notice and try to struggle on!

But glad to hear you did manage to enjoy some of the festivities.

Happy New Year!

organicharp said...

Feel better and better, Jo. Just wanted to let you know, too, that you are definitely part of the light in my sometimes dark world. May the new year bring you brighter and brighter days. x

Snowdrop said...


Shame you weren't able to enjoy all the festivities but it is an inedible achievement that you were there at all and this is down to your own internal motivation and determination.

Keep up the good work.