As for here… 2020 was supposed to be a fabulous year. I had been studying Italian for years and had a solo two-month trip planned to Italy, including a gorgeous studio apartment in Florence for a month. I was taking a couple of European history classes at UVIC last fall and winter. The plan was I was going to fly to Rome on April 6. Everything was arranged and paid for, including Easter Monday breakfast with the Pope (lol) and my annual pass to the Uffici in Florence. My bag was packed. I was still hoping and wishing all would be well at the end of March. Then KLM canceled my flight and AirB&B canceled my studio. I’m still grieving that loss. Unfortunately, the year from hell didn’t end there.
Long story … probably not short. Days after viewing the solar eclipse in totality, in Lincoln City, Oregon, in August 2017, I started experiencing a sound and vibration thing, occasionally. I thought it was the laundry room beneath us in the hotel, then it was the neighbour’s hot tub, then it was the new heat pump system installed in the church on the hill behind our house. Then maybe it was the city’s water main, or maybe BCHydro had something to do with it. I experienced it in our house and in our yard and on the driveway. It was weird but it was still sporadic until September of 2019. It had been off for a couple of days, in fact, I had told Eileen that it had sounded sick before it went off. Then, on September 9th, it came back on with a vengeance. So much so that I had run out of my house because I thought the house was going to fall down. Weird, eh? The real problem was when this thing ramped up I would get nauseous, dizzy, and walk into walls.
By this time I was heavily into my trip planning and studying at UVIC. So, I spent most of my time in the library and finding excuses to stay at friend’s houses. My GP had never heard of such a thing, but she was going to get me some psychiatric help. I had a cat scan on January 3rd. My brain is totally fine, even quite exceptional, said the neurologist. Anyways, I was ready to try anything and if it was in my head then “let’s get it out of there.” I started an anti-psychotic and started seeing a very nice doctor. Of course, nothing changed. By now we had decided to sell our house and I had moved into an apartment in Langford, still part of Greater Victoria, but what we call the Westshore. So, I’m prepping for Italy, prepping to sell the house, going to school every day of the week, and living on my own. Eileen wasn’t going to move to the apartment until the house was on the market sometime mid February. Then I was told I had breast cancer. Sheesh.
So instead of going to Italy on the 6th of April, on the 8th, I was in a deserted hospital (because now it was a total lockdown and only “emergency” surgeries were happening) having surgery. The surgery wasn’t so bad, they only took a part of my right breast. But a few days later I got the news that the margins were not clear and I would need more treatment. Normally, it would be radiation, but I have something called Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome and the radiation would not only fry my skin but likely fry my lungs. So that treatment was ruled out. I was told that if I did nothing I would have a 30% chance of recurrence in the next 10 years. Honestly, I was good with those odds, but no one else was. They wanted to take the whole breast. They could do reconstruction they said! I had less than 6 months to figure it out. Well, Eddie, the fakest thing I’ve ever done is wear some lipstick and mascara, I just didn’t see myself with foobs (fake boobs) and even worse I didn’t see myself with just one boob. If they wanted one they needed to take both. That was a struggle against the patriarchy, which I eventually won.
By the time May had ended, we had sold our house (and downsized all our stuff) and now we were living in a small apartment. By the time June came around, we had purchased a much more spacious and brand new condo. So, basically, we moved twice last spring.
My surgery was on September 8. Eileen, a senior school science teacher, had been working from home since the original lockdown in March, now schools were open but she took six weeks off to look after me. The “disturbance” was far more subtle here. I was talking with a very nice psychiatrist from the cancer society. I came off the anti-psychotics as they were doing nothing and he suggested an anti-depressant. There was CBD work, more counseling, lots of talking, but the sound and the vibration remain.
I didn’t feel so great for a few weeks after the surgery. I barely got out of bed as there wasn’t any place to go. I quickly became addicted to the news, to CNN and MSNBC, to the entire election story…. except for when Trump was saying anything, then I had to switch channels or close my eyes. Egads, what a mess. So… besides keeping an eye on our neighbours to the south, who mostly seemed to want to give up their democracy and install Trump as King/Dictator, I was healing and not doing too much.
But it isn’t over yet. On the night of November 3rd I was all ready to watch the election results when I had some horrendous pain when I tried to breathe. I seriously couldn’t breathe. Eileen called 911 and within minutes the fire department and two teams of paramedics were standing in our condo … all dressed like covid-19 aliens. They started giving me oxygen and I started to feel better. Then they gave me fentanyl and packed me up for a trip to the hospital. I spent 24 hours in emerg, then three days in a ward. Cause: I had a shower of blood clots in both lungs. IOW, had it not been for 911 and the speed for which I was given oxygen, I likely would not have been here to write this story.
I’m still recovering, and on blood thinners for another 3 months, but it gets better every day. They said the pulmonary embolism was provoked by the surgery in September, so chances are good I’ll be fine. But there will be more tests, yada yada.
Oh ya, the pandemic. All I really want to do I go hang out in Starbucks, or go back to the library at UVIC.
So that was my 2020. As I said, the plan was to have a fabulous 2020. Best laid plans…. Now I just look for a little fabulous in each day, twinkly lights, yummy food, a walk, an exercise class, sunshine, hummingbirds. We had 30cm of snow here on the weekend. It was so pretty and so rare. Now it’s just about all melted and soon the spring flowers will start to pop.
I’m still involved in web stuff. https://cozyhost.ca My social life revolves around a group of awesome engineers and others who like to fiddle with raspberry pi and different controllers, networking and coding. We used to meet in person at least four times a month, now we meet using jitsi or zoom and have a social thing via jitsi on Friday nights. https://vicpimakers.ca
Eileen retires this year. She was going to retire last year, but when the pandemic and cancer and moving happened, we decided maybe one more year working wouldn’t be the worst thing. Last spring everything seemed so strange that sticking with the status quo looked good. Anyways, June will be the end of it, at least at SMUS, and we will be free to travel… when we can travel. The plan is a trip to Yellowknife then Kugluktuk, Nunavut. We also want to take the ferry from Prince Rupert to Skagway then rent a car and drive to Whitehorse. That will complete our Canadian geocaching challenge. Then a trip through the southern states. We geocached 30 states in 2014, but Mingo Kansas was the furthest south we got. Finally, a trip to Hawaii will complete the USA challenge. I had some European geocaching in mind…. oh well.
Do take care of yourself and those loved ones, Eddie. Stay tuned.