Basically, from 9th November until the 4th January, I’m not in the greatest head space. These are the dates that my Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour and passed away. I really try my best to get involved with the festive season and I know there are always people much worse off but it’s still really difficult for me. I’m an extremely emotional person and just don’t hold it together very well sometimes. It’s made a little difficult because back in the day, I would reach for the bottle and drown my sorrows. I still haven’t figured out how to deal with my emotions without alcohol but i’m definitely getting better at it. I’ve never written about my Dad’s diagnosis because I find it so difficult to talk and think about. The day I took him into hospital was the day we were supposed to be flying to Fuerteventura. He loved the sun and he loved his holidays! I remember saying to him when he was sat in that wheelchair waiting to be seen by triage that we should be on a plane rather than waiting in a corridor. He didn’t really know what I was talking about. Earlier that day, when I went to check if he had everything ready for going away he looked at me confused. It was clear something was seriously wrong and that’s when I dialled 999. Unfortunately, that was the last day my lovely Dad stayed in his own home. I clearly need to get this out of my system because as I type tears are streaming down my face. There’s nothing quite like seeing your amazing Dad, who’s been your hero since the day dot deteriorate and fade within such a short space of time. He was such a talented man who worked as an engineer all his life and spent his spare time woodworking. He made kids toys and half the people in town will have something with his name etched into it. If you have, and you’re reading this, I’d love to know. Photos would be even better! Anyway, the doctors did a brain scan, took some blood tests and went through a few memory tests and after a few hours told us my Dad was suffering with the first signs of dementia. Now I know I’m not a doctor, but something didn’t seem quite right. Don’t ask me how but I knew there was something else and I was right. During the first couple of weeks I kept a close check on my Dad’s symptoms and although some of them matched the dementia diagnosis, a lot of them didn’t. My Dad’s symptoms would change from day to day and as the days passed nothing seemed to fit with what I was reading online (I know that’s the worst thing you can do sometimes). One day he could communicate, we’d have a conversation and the next he wouldn’t be able to and be really unbalanced and physical symptoms started to appear. It was really scary to see. It took a few days but I finally convinced the doctors to do another brain scan which happened 2 weeks after the original one. During this time I was holding down a steady job and trying my best to keep things together. I lived in Huddersfield at the time and my Dad was in Blackburn Royal, 40 miles away. I would finish work, be straight over to the hospital and drive back that same night. I felt like I’d been thrown on a roller coaster and had no choice but to hang on. I said earlier, I’m a very emotional person but major life events cause us to act very differently sometimes. I barely cried throughout the whole of my Dad being ill. I know how much he loved me and I didn’t want him to see me upset. Part of me was hoping he’d never know about his diagnosis. I can’t imagine how it must feel to know you’re terminally ill. The crazy thing was, during this time even though I was all over the place and struggling more than ever, I wasn’t drinking much. I knew I had to keep it together for my Dad. I knew when the brain scan was scheduled for and I’d not slept the whole night before. On that Thursday afternoon, I got a call from Blackburn Royal asking me to get to the hospital as soon as possible. My reaction was to ask the nurse what had happened and although she wasn’t supposed to tell me over the phone she said, “we’ve performed your Dad’s scan and we’ve found some abnormalities on the brain”. It was like I was expecting her to say it. Some people would have completely broke down but it’s like I went into coping mode, got my things together, went to see my boss and said “I’ve got to go, I’ll be back in tomorrow”. I got in the car, met my mum at a junction on the motorway and she drove us to the hospital. When we got there I had a few minutes with my Dad and the consultant asked to see us. We knew it was bad news when he was looking for an office to take us into. I’ll never forget those words “we’ve done the scan this afternoon and I’m sorry but your Dad has a terminal tumour on the side of his brain”. I felt like my world had fallen apart there and then. This all sounds pretty ridiculous in a way because my Dad was 76 and he’d had a ‘good innings’ as people kept saying. But he was still my Dad, who I adored and worshipped since a kid. The next 6 weeks were so sad, lovely, heartwarming, funny, tragic and wonderful all at the same time. I’m not going into the sadness because it was the most horrendous time seeing my Dad go through what he did but major life events bring people together in the most amazing ways. My parents separated when I was 21 and although it was amicable and they always stayed friends there must have been some things that had been left unsaid. My parents spent a couple of hours together one day whilst my Dad could still communicate. I don’t know what was said but to know they made peace with each other at such a sad time meant the world to me. Just because a couple aren’t meant to be together doesn’t mean they have to hurt each other. I’m supposed to be writing about how staying sober can be difficult this time of year but it’s turned into a little tribute ❤
My Dad lost his battle to bastard cancer on 4th January 2014. We had a wonderful, close relationship as I do with my mum and I’m filled with so many amazing memories. It’s not that I miss him more this time of year, I just think we’re reminded of our loved ones more because Christmas time is a time families come together. I do a lot of thinking when I’m driving in my car and most days this week I’ve cried on my way home. Not because I’m sad but because I miss him so much. Over the years this is when I would get home and open the wine. Drown those sorrows for a short time. Then wake up feeling awful, probably worse than I did before having a drink. I’ve been thinking about moderating and I’ve recently posted about it but those thoughts are fading now. I’m happy sober and I’ve worked bloody hard to get here. As much as I’d love a beer or glass of prosecco sometimes, I’m not wasting over a year’s sobriety for the odd drink. My Dad was never a big drinker and he hated how much I drank. I would take him for his Christmas dinner and he loved the whole day. Stuff his face at lunch time and chill with chocolates and TV for the afternoon/evening. Christmas Day is pretty quiet these days because it’s all a bit up and down for me. I don’t enjoy it because my Dad’s not here but I do try my best to make the most of it. Although I feel sad that my Dad isn’t here for Christmas, I do feel very lucky that I had the relationship with him I did, and I feel lucky I have the memories I have. I was with him when he passed away, staring into his eyes whilst holding his hand and telling him how amazing he was. I told him how much I loved him and that I’ll miss him so much. I told him what an amazing man, father and husband he’d been. I got to be there for him at the very last minute and a lot of people don’t get that chance. Although extremely sad, it was an amazing moment when my Dad left us. He wasn’t in pain, he was comfortable and surrounded by his family who loved him dearly, in Pendleside Hospice with the best care he could have ever wished for. I genuinely couldn’t have asked for more.
That one is for you, Dad. Xxx