That thin line that we all walk. You know, the one that requires balance and concentrated effort. The one that you lose your footing on from time to time, causing you to gasp and reach out for something that’ll save you from falling. The shifting, invisible division between good fortune and bad, happy and sad, genius and madness. The difference, all too often, between life and death.
I’ve neglected this blog all too often, for the lack of something interesting to say. But in recent weeks, I’ve had so much I wanted to say, but have been, until now, unable to type the words. My wife, Mags, was officially diagnosed with a life threatening condition on the 1st June. She underwent major surgery nine days later. A seven hour operation that only 15 in a 100 pancreatic cancer patients are offered. Only 9/100 actually undergo the full procedure. Despite the wonders of modern medical technology, CT scans don’t always show everything that’s lurking. A point put to us only minutes before Mags went to theatre. They have to be honest. Proof, if proof was needed, that the truth can and does hurt.
The operation was a success, and Mags is now in week eight of recovery. She’s eating well, and her energy levels are returning. We walked almost 2km yesterday. She will need to take pancreatic enzyme supplements before every meal, for life. No big deal in the scheme of things. She isn’t diabetic, but still checks her blood sugar levels once a week.
Soon she will begin six months of chemotherapy. She is petrified. Who wouldn’t be? 12 cycles via a PICC line. The last of three concoctions are delivered from a pump which is worn at home, and removed by a visiting nurse after 46 hours. Then 12 days rest before the whole process begins again. This is what her oncologist calls ‘insurance’. It’s brutal, but it offers the best chance for the best outcome.
So this where we are at folks. One day we were enjoying a family outing, all picnics, fresh air and sunshine. The next day, literally, symptoms presented themselves. The thin line had turned into a tripwire and sent us sprawling into a world of urgent blood tests, worried expressions, scans and consultations. Suddenly we were holding on to each other. Nothing else would do. Suddenly we couldn’t think of anything beyond living. Suddenly our world was distorted and unrecognisable. It was a place that invited us to sink, having discarded the crust of certainty that had proved so dependable throughout the years.
We have shed tears and shared fears and, even though we’ve been together for the better part of half a century, we now know the most startling truths about each other and ourselves.
Dear friends have urged us to stay strong, and for the most part I believe we are doing just that. And we are looking forward, feeling for that thin line one tentative step at a time.