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A lookback at 2022

What a year it has been.

The last few months, I’ve been feeling extreme burnout. I was tired. Discouraged. Unmotivated. And disappointed that I did not achieve some of the goals I’d set for myself.

But I’m trying to be kind to myself. To take a deep breath—and give myself a pat for getting through the past 12 months.

After all, it has been quite a big year.

1. A year book-ended by COVID

We started the year by coming down with COVID. And we ended the year with the rona too.

The funny thing was: all of us had the exact same symptoms both times. But fortunately, the kids had it quite mild—just a fever and then they were back to running around and bouncing off the walls.

The hubby and I were the ones slammed. And I sadly had to miss my much anticipated Christmas celebration with my colleagues. Which made me sadder and sicker. But we pulled through it.

2. Alistair’s intensive treatment #1

The first half of the year was tough.

We started it off with Alistair’s Interim Maintenance phase. Which, we had initially thought, would be an easy time, because we were told that his body would be stronger, and he’d be able to go to childcare and socialise with other kids.

BUT.

He had to be hospitalised for five to six days every two weeks for his treatment. And it ended up being very challenging for us, mentally, physically, logistically.

His hospitalisation every fortnight meant our little family had to be separated constantly. Shaohen and I never stopped working full time too, so that was another ball we had to juggle.

‘Tough’ didn’t even begin to describe it. And this went on for three months.

It was also during this treatment phase that he had a seizure while at hospital. Thank God it was a short one. But, while we suspected that it was a febrile convulsion – as he had multiple viruses in his body at that time and was feverish later – he also had multiple high dose chemo treatments. So the medical team couldn’t say for sure if the seizure was a febrile convulsion, or a side effect from chemo. Or perhaps, a result of everything coming together at the same time.

Because of that, he had to be on Keppra, an anti-seizure medication, until today. We’ll be seeing his paediatric neurologist in January for a review, and hopefully he will be able to stop the medication soon.

3. Alistair’s intensive treatment #2

After the Interim Maintenance, it was time for Delayed Intensification, which I had dreaded.

During this phase, Alistair lost all his hair. It was overwhelming and confronting. Although, I must admit, probably more for me than for him.

The little trooper was a little sad when I prepared him for the hair loss. But when it was actually falling, he took it in his stride. He was only mildly irritated and mostly amused that he was leaving a trail of hair everywhere he went.

For me, every time I saw clumps of his hair on the pillow, on the bed, on the floor, in the shower… my heart squeezed and I wanted to cry.

When he was finally all bald, we got used to how he looked. He was actually quite cute, like a little Shaolin monk. In fact, I think being bald made him look a lot more mischievous and cheeky!

I’m glad though, that his confidence was not at all affected. Never once was he insecure because of his hair. And none of his friends made fun of him. I’m so grateful.

Towards the end of this three-month phase, his bloods started to crash. Although the medical team assured me that this was 100% expected, it was still tough to go through. His red bloods dropped to less than half of what normal people should have. Platelets were drastically low. And he was neutropenic.

At one point, the hospital called after his blood test to ask how he was doing, because his bloods were extremely low. While I was speaking to the nurse, Alistair was running around me, laughing and playing. He’s amazing!

But because his bloods were so low, he needed multiple red blood and platelet transfusions.

And then, because he was neutropenic, he had fevers and had to be hospitalised multiple times. Lots of trips to the emergency, long stays at the hospital, worry and exhaustion.

4. Cancelled holidays 

2022 was also a year of cancelled holidays. Many, many, cancelled holidays. I’ve lost count.

A lot of times, we were *this close* to going away, only to have Alistair be unwell. We’d have to cancel the holiday. Deal with broken hearts, tears, and wasted money.

Sometimes we wonder if we should even be planning any more holidays. Perhaps we should just stay put until Alistair’s treatment ends in 2024 before even thinking of having a holiday.

But that depresses us even more.

And I guess, like his doctor and nurses said, we just have to plan. We need to have something to look forward to. And those moments when things actually worked out and we actually managed to go away… Those moments were unforgettable.

5. Alistair in Maintenance phase

Now, let’s turn from the depressing times and focus on the good things that had happened.

Once Alistair was done with the Delayed Intensification phase, he started the Maintenance phase—which he will remain in until his treatment ends. This is a good phase, because he’s relatively stronger, healthier, and able to do most of the normal activities again like going to school, playing with friends, and swimming.

He’s still immunocompromised, which means every time he’s sick or has a fever, we still need to take him to the hospital. But he’s in a much better place than before.

So we’re trying to live life as normal as we can again. I’m still mostly working from home, but am going to the office at least twice a week now. Alistair went back to childcare a few days a week, and will be starting school soon. And we can all breathe a little bit more.

6. Successful holidays

In between all those cancelled holidays, we managed to have some wins.

We got to go to Phillip Island with my brother’s family when they came to visit. We also managed to go camping at Warburton and Wye River.

Also, for the first time, I went for a staycation with a mummy friend!

We didn’t go far—just about 20 minutes away haha. But we stayed in a fancy hotel and did nothing but shopped, ate, drank, and read books.

I was quite nervous about leaving the kids behind, no matter how many times Shaohen assured me that he could handle everything (He could. He did. He’s awesome.). I came this close to cancelling… but I’m glad I went. It was nice to have a breather for a moment. Even though I was missing the kids dearly and everywhere I went I was thinking ‘Ooohhh the kids would love this’, ‘Ooohhh next time I gotta bring the kids for this’, ‘Ooohhh should I get this for the kids?’.

Yup.

7. Other milestones and achievements 

  • I did The 100 Day Project again, and I enjoyed the experience so much. Once again, it allowed me to learn and improve my painting skills. While I only reached Day 83, I still consider it an achievement and am giving myself a good pat on the back for all that I’ve gained.
  • I learned how to crochet, and made a few amigurumi toys! I’d always wanted to make amigurumi, but never thought it would be too hard to learn how to crochet. So I’m pretty proud of myself for learning it!
  • I started a podcast: Stories of Yore. This is one of my passion projects I hope I’ll continue working on through the next year—without stressing myself out.
  • I also started a Substack where I focus on writing about, well, writing and creativity and books.
  • Amy had her first ever music concert, where she played the piano solo! And she played so well too. I was so proud of her, my heart could burst! For her performance, yes. But also for being brave and overcoming her fear of going on stage. And for being diligent in practising and preparing for the concert.
  • I’ve just picked up the ukulele, and I’m in love! Again, this has been one thing I’ve been wanting to learn since forever, but never got to it. But finally, a few weeks ago, I decided to just do it. My fingers and hands are so sore right now, but the pain is worth it!
  • A few other personal celebrations 🙂

So there you go. That was my 2022. It’s been quite a big year.

Now, we look ahead.

2023. A year to REST and BE STILL.

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply Chek Hui

    Blessed new year Natalie! Yeah you went for a staycation!! ❤️

    January 5, 2023 at 2:37 am
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