A New Year generally brings about mixed feelings. Traditionally it’s a time to reflect over the year that’s passed, the good and the bad – and also to think about your aspirations for the year ahead. It’s also a chance to draw a line under the negative, and to have a fresh start.
Over the last few years those goals for the year ahead have shifted quite dramatically for me. They used to be around completing my studies, and then became quite work focused – whether it was finding a job I loved, or making progress within my work. Taking the project I was working on forward, or becoming a manager. They may have also been more fun – like sharing memories with friends, going on holiday with family, or visiting new places.
Over the Christmas period I managed to meet up with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, and family members who told me their news, and it’s been playing on my mind ever since. They’re just getting on with their lives – getting engaged, celebrating promotions at work, looking forward to their holidays abroad, planning on meeting up for weekly squash. The kind of normality that’s just faded away for me. Thinking about the things that stick out for me from 2013 – they’re sadly mostly health focused, like being given the go-ahead for some new treatments, the nice consultants I saw, and the nasty ones. And then the biggest – having to stop working.
When I look forward into 2014 I see a couple of dates – the lumbar injections in January, the infusions in March. Then a whole lot of nothingness. I don’t know what will happen in 2014. Obviously no one does, unless they have a handy crystal ball – but every year since I was 15, my physical health has been quite rapidly declining. Each year I can cross a few more things off the list I can no longer do. This time last year I was just about holding a job down, this year I’ve spent more of my week in bed, than functioning.
Even New Year’s Eve itself was quite different this year. Having had a bad night previously, I spent most of the day asleep. I woke at 6pm, and it took awhile for me to even realise it was New Year’s Eve!
That said – if I continued to dwell on what’s changed or will continue to, or if I thought “well there isn’t any point anymore!” then nothing will improve. Instead it’s about shifting priorities – finding interests and hobbies that are manageable, and allow me to have things to look forward to without feeling like life has hit stalemate. Or even better, saying to myself, “I’ve survived another year. It wasn’t easy, it was painful – but I’ve done it, and can continue to do it.”
But if you are someone who is able to go to weekly ‘insert activity of choice’, head out for a drink with friends at the last minute, or can go on holiday and spend all your time planning what you’ll do when you get there – then treasure it. Please. Health is precious – and can vanish in an instant.