Friday 9 February 2024

Yesterday remembered today

Of days remembered

I probably have a knack for remembering dates and events, though I cannot say I have total recall of everything. Sometimes, things are not remembered at all, or the memory is a bit fuzzy. Much as I had many encounters with diaries growing up, I never saw anyone journalling anything, the most a diary was used for was appointments and at a stretch, a calendar.

Having a blog going back 20 years has offered key points of journalling, though not in the strict sense, I still find myself noticing and making notes in blogs that I can reference as an aide-mémoire.

Yesterday, all my troubles

I thought about writing this yesterday but here I am reflecting on the significance of yesterday today. The 8th of February; when I joined Twitter, I buried a friend, and it turned out to be my last session of chemotherapy.

Interestingly, the former happened in 2009 in the week that the 13th fell on a Friday and I joined the bandwagon of those caught in the grip of paraskavedekatriaphobia on what appeared to be the coldest day in the office because someone thought that would be our contribution to helping stem the problems with climate change. We were to wrap up warm rather than enjoy the ambiance of a comfortable office. My first tweet? See below:

Blog - Caught between Paraskavedekatriaphobia and Cryophobia

A sad tragedy, it was

Then in 2010, my friend Dick van Galen Last died on the 2nd of February, 8 days short of his 58th birthday, and hardly 2 weeks after he defended his PhD thesis, an event I could not attend as I was experiencing the most debilitating effects of chemotherapy two days after, I was so weak and for the first time, I had anti-emetic medication that worked a treat.

I had planned on calling Dick to ask about his defense as he had informed me in late December that he was having his PhD viva voce and I had made my excuses that I might be unable to attend. It was then that he told me he was undergoing treatment for lymphoma, I cannot remember if it was Hodgkins or non-Hodgkins. I quipped; we might meet for tea in the treatment room as we shared the same oncologist.

When my phone ranged on Wednesday the 3rd of February, the number ID came up as Dick’s phone number, but it was Ousman on the phone who was Dick’s lodger and he regularly came to clean my apartment, the news he had on the phone was that Dick had passed on, but he had refused to have Dick taken away, Dick was lain in his bed for his friends to come and pay their respects until the day of his buried. I cried all the way to Dick’s place.

Blog - Dick: As he lay

A man, a celebration

The morning of the 8th of February was a dreadfully cold winter morning, I got on my bicycle and rode to the St Barbara Cemetery where we all assembled in the chapel to give Dick a rousing and celebratory send-off, the crowd, especially of the youth that attended with the eclectic mix of different cultures and personalities was a testament to the person he was. The music as pallbearers carried him to the burial plot could not have been out of place at a carnival.

Blog - Seeing Dick Off

However, I could not wait to see him buried as I had another appointment, the 7th session of chemotherapy, with the 8th and what I had hoped would be the last scheduled for the 1st of March. When I arrived at the hospital, the nurses who also knew Dick were quite sad at his passing, one even indicating there was nothing to suggest Dick was at risk of death, he did not have the kind of prognosis I was given at my diagnosis.

It became the last one

Not a vein could be found around my hands up my wrist to insert a cannula for chemotherapy even after warming my hands in hot water than the insertion was further up the arm near where phlebotomists took blood.

Blog - Almost in vain for a vein

I did not know that session would be my last chemotherapy dose until a checkup over a week later in conversation with my consultant that they agreed that the focus should be on recovering my immune system and the chemotherapy had done its job fully as predicted by the consultant in September that the cancer could be treated if I tolerated the treatment.

I could have made much of yesterday and yesterday is a narrative that gives the past a telling different from when you are living in the present. Thank you for the past we can remember in words of triumphal living against all adversity.

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