November has passed by in a blur.
Back in the middle of September I went to see my doctor about a pain in my abdomen. I’d experienced this a few times and was starting to think it maybe wasn’t just the effect of too much to eat or drink. The doctor thought it was serious enough to refer me to a specialist as soon as possible. The following week I found myself sitting across from a gynecologist who didn’t hesitate to tell me I would need to have a hysterectomy in the very near future. As I’m past the menopause I figured this wasn’t particularly good news. The MRI and CT scans subsequently showed a large mass. I was told that if I were pregnant it would be at the four and a half month stage.
November 3rd was the date set for the operation. Later in the day the surgeon stopped by to check how I was doing. He had a big smile and you would have thought he’d just delivered a baby. He spread his hands about a foot apart and said: “It was this big.” My melon sized ovarian cyst is probably now the subject of an academic treatise to be delivered at medical conferences around the world.
So, all relevant parts having been removed, biopsies taken (results have all come back clear) I’m now at home in the recovery stage. I think my wife is the one who will need a recuperation period after a few weeks of being my carer. But she has risen to the challenge magnificently, undertaking tasks that are usually my domain. Watching her change the duvet cover was entertaining, but I almost split my stitches when she struggled with the light bulb. I thought I was going to have to phone a friend.
I arrived home from the hospital on November 7th. Mourning the loss of a few redundant parts of my body faded into irrelevance when the following day the sad announcement appeared on Facebook of the death of Sandra Moran. Given the severity of her condition, this wasn’t unexpected, but it did seem to happen very quickly.
There have been many moving tributes to Sandra in the past few weeks from people who knew her well. My only contact with her was through Facebook and a few brief conversations at the GCLS conference in July.
As well as doing a reading at the conference, I had volunteered to be on a panel discussing research. Sandra was also on the panel. What I know about research would fit onto the end of a pencil compared to her knowledge and experience. However she was kind enough to say to me afterwards that she had peeked at my notes and was impressed. In this photo, from the expression on her face, I’m not sure if she was listening to my ramblings or thinking about pie.
It is sad beyond words that the world has lost this amazing woman. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is right now for her wife, family, friends, colleagues, students…and everyone she touched via social media. Her humour, generosity of spirit, and radiant smile…these aspects of Sandra will live long in our memories.
Both these recent events have reinforced in my mind what I know to be true, but often forget. Live in the moment…it’s the only one we have. The past is gone and the future is unknowable. Deep thoughts for a wet November morning but an apt time to reflect on the many things I have to be thankful for.
Photo credit: Thank you to K C Richardson