I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last wrote anything on my own personal blog.
A year ago, I was blithely taking a photo a day of the last year of my 40s and having loads of fun.
Then there was all the frenetic build-up to Conference in Brighton. The day after I got back, all of a sudden, my husband said that he was feeling terrible and took himself off to bed. You know how when you go down with ‘Flu or something, it just hits you out of nowhere? That was what we thought was happening.
By the Friday morning, he was still feeling lousy, but able to be up. At the weekend, I ended up having to take my son to Comic Con in Glasgow. On the Monday morning, I was due to head to Witney to help in the by-election and do some stuff for Lib Dem Voice encouraging people to go. I wouldn’t have gone if I had thought for a moment that Bob was still ill. He really seemed to be recovering. He was still a bit weak, but he thought he would cope. You can imagine how I felt in retrospect about that decision.
Unfortunately he was very sick indeed. When I got back on the Tuesday night, the resulting call to NHS 24 resulted in an ambulance being called. He spent the next 51 nights in hospital receiving treatment for an infection in his heart and then open heart surgery to repair the valve that the infection had damaged in its wake.
Vegetation on a leaflet, the cardiologist called the problem. How we laughed at the irony that a Lib Dem should have something wrong with a leaflet. We laughed because the alternative, of actually processing what was going on, was beyond us at that point.
Thankfully, he recovered very well from the surgery. His heart throws the occasional strop which means he ends up in hospital again but we really have been incredibly lucky.
For most of the time, I was pretty calm. I am by nature a worrier, but I found more strength than I ever thought I had and got through, if not quite unscathed, certainly unbroken. I had a couple of major wobbles, but I decided that if I should have another, I would just get up and clean my house. It wasn’t sparkling by the end. Adrenaline is a very powerful substance and I probably survived on it for about four months.
Another huge factor was the brilliant support I had from so many friends. If someone posts on Facebook that they are going through some trauma and you are wondering whether to say something, do. It really does help.
Then there were the people who made it their business to look after me in real life – Linda dragging me for curries and phoning me up to make sure I was ok, all those who came to visit Bob in hospital and who offered to do all sorts for me, my Mum and Dad for endless tea and sympathy and dinners.
Here’s the weird thing. I never lost my appetite. Even the day Bob had his operation, my mother was filling me up with her delicious home made lentil soup which I guzzled with enthusiasm even though everything about me felt liquid. I remember asking her how on earth I could still eat. She smiled and said, simply, “You’re your father’s daughter.” That’s fair enough. I don’t think I’ve often seen him lose his appetite either.
There is much to be written about our experiences of a year ago, and, who knows, I might even get round to it as the story starts to unfold itself on Facebook again.
However, it’s my experience over the last 24 hours which I want to share with you. I feel like I have been hit by a train. It’s like all the fear and terror has caught up with me and is standing in front of me, bouncing around so I can’t get past it. It seems determined to make me feel it.
Now, I suspected that this would happen at some point. The laws of the universe surely don’t let you away with your nearest and dearest having a life-threatening medical emergency without inflicting some emotional damage at some point.
So, I shared what I was feeling on Facebook, and, sure enough, my brilliant friends were there to reassure me that this is perfectly normal. Anniversaries of these things tend to do this to you and you just have to let yourself feel it and look after yourself.
In turn, I’m sharing their good and kind words with you in case you are going through similar or know someone who is.
I don’t know how long I’m going to feel this way. Maybe the little pinpricks at the back of my eyes that threaten tears, or the shudders of fear will disappear as suddenly as they have arrived, Knowing that this is something that just happens sometimes really helps, though.
We’ll get there.