I’ve been going to Paris regularly for the last 20 years but with my mum being so ill over the last 3 years I was afraid to book any holidays where I couldn’t just jump into the car and get back home quickly so holidays had been put on the back burner during that time of caring for my Mum. Due to the complications of long term chemo my Mum’s kidneys failed 3 years ago and she became critically ill with septicaemia. It was a miracle she survived this and she was left extremely unwell and she came home from hosp to my house and stayed for around 10 months until she gradually got a bit stronger and managed to go back home. After the septicaemia she had to have 2 nephrostomy bags where tubes are put into your kidneys through your lower back and the three years of coping with these and all the complications which arose from them were far more difficult and distressing than all the rounds of surgery , radiotherapy and chemotherapy that my mum had to have since first being diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in her 40s
After dealing with very kind and caring oncology staff for so long it was a major shock to the system for us all to have to deal with the much more abrupt and seemingly uncaring staff in the hospital where mum was treated for her kidney failure. There were of course some lovely staff members but the sister of the ward wasn’t particularly nice and I felt she set the general tone in the ward and as my mum was a very quiet and gentle person I always felt very protective towards her when she was in such a vulnerable position. Due to it being such a traumatic experience for her she absolutely dreaded having to go back to this ward and unfortunately she was in and out of it regularly for a couple of years.
To save having to make any unnesesary trips to hosp in Belfast I learned everything I could about caring for and maintaining the nephrostomy tubes and asked the staff to show me how to flush them etc so that when they were blocked I could get them working again. At times my medical kit involved pliers and cocktail sticks and anything else I needed to get them working and poor mum was always so relieved she didn’t have to go to hosp! She said I was a superhero and her GP & on call docs at Dalriada were always so lovely and absolutely delighted that I could get them fixed as they were unfamiliar with the tubes and how they worked and they complimented me often on my plumbing skills!
So Mum really depended on me during these last years in case anything went wrong which it invariably did and I just wouldn’t have been happy to travel and leave her. When Mum passed away in April I read a quote by Robyn Hollingworth and it just resonated so much with me and how I felt about looking after Mum……
‘At some point the cared for become the carers and it isn’t a shame and it isn’t a tragedy and it isn’t a chore. It is an honour. To be able to return the gift of love that someone bestows upon you is a gift in itself ‘
My mum was the most selfless and loving woman who always cared so deeply for others and when I look back at texts like this from her it breaks my heart as she never ever complained no matter how much pain she was in and yet here she was apologising for moaning when nothing could have been further from the truth. She was the most amazing beautiful woman and I miss her every single day and I am finding that life after losing a loved one is a complicated and somewhat unpredictable experience that can floor you at any given moment. Indeed this was going to be a more lighthearted blog about Paris but once I started to write it became more about my experience over the last few years so I’m going to include a few Paris pics in it but will write a separate blog with lots more detail for anyone thinking of visiting this beautiful city. I have written a previous Paris blog a couple of years ago which can be found a bit further back for anyone interested.
My husband booked this trip to Paris for us after I lost my Mum as I was really struggling to take an interest in anything and would hardly leave the house and I think he was a bit worried about how it would go but we had such a lovely time albeit with a few wobbles and tears at random moments but in the words of Audrey Hepburn ‘Paris is always a good idea’ and once again this magical city didn’t disappoint and I’m already thinking about my next trip.