As you might have imagined, these were tough times, I had witnessed Nick becoming such a changed man, almost overnight from his diagnosis. I like to break him into two parts during this time, sick Nick and well Nick, because there was such a difference in the characters of the two. I guess you’d call it perspective, he knew he wasn’t going to be around forever, and with that, he became a softer version of himself.
He went from never saying ‘I love you’ to repeating it 100 times a day! He forgave anyone he had previous grudges with, he apologised to anyone he could remember giving a hard time too, because well Nick, could be very difficult, he was headstrong and this sometimes rubbed people the wrong way. But, sick Nick was a dream to be around, so sweet and sensitive. You could say Fatherhood helped this change along, but I’ll always believe it was because he was living on borrowed time.
We were together 24/7, we had a role reversal in our relationship, suddenly he needed me, I took over his role of being the ‘lead’, because I could see him slipping, and one of us had to be on top of everything. I got him his medication, made sure all his scripts were up to date, co-ordinated his appointments and chemo times, along with his scans etc. , talked to all his Doctors and went with him daily to the hospital, (he wouldn’t let me drive him there, that was one thing he held strong on!). We had become a tight little team, plus add a baby to the mix and breastfeeding and I was literally on the go, all the time! I would never had believed, that I could step up and be the person I was becoming, but I had no other choice.
Another reason why we were never apart, was a deal that we made with his oncologist that he would never stay overnight in hospital. Nick had a fear that if he ever stayed, he would never come out. And so, this is why we had such long hours at the hospital, trying to fit everything in. He was especially germ phobic during this time, knowing that any sign of infection would see him admitted overnight. We just became very used to the 45 minute commute in the morning, to start what he liked to call his ‘work day’.
One day, I actually let Nick go to his chemo appointment with one of his best mates, knowing there were no Doctor appointments and nothing too important to miss, I let his friend step in, so I could enjoy a rare day at home with the baby.
He came home from chemo all excited to tell me he had stumbled (yeah, right, bet he looked it up the night before!) across an AMAZING apartment in the heart of the city, that he thought would be perfect for us to live in. He had already spoken to the agent and she’d meet us the next day, to go over the details. Like most couples, we had discussed where we’d like to retire one day, (is that normal??) we had always agreed on settling in the city and living it up, with all that Melbourne had to offer. Nick had said, seeing as we couldn’t grow old together to do this, he wanted to make it our reality now. How could I not agree with him, plus the travel time to the hospital would only be 15 minutes tops, I was SOLD!
That one time I let someone else take him to the hospital, he bought an apartment on the way there! I couldn’t believe he’d even had the thought to buy a property, but real estate excited him, it was a sign of well Nick.
It was a brand new, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment and the settlement time was super quick, before I knew it we were living there. We loved it, being so close to the hospital meant we got to spend more time at our new place. Nick was so much more relaxed being there. We had awesome views of the city and of a night we would just sit and watch the city lights and action down below. If he couldn’t sleep, he’d walk the city streets alone at 3 or 4am, watching people stumble out of clubs and bars. He’d bring us back breakfast and tell me all about the crazy people he’d met. (Mostly, strippers paying their way through university and mates having brawls on the streets after a few too many!) I think living in the city, with the constant noise and action suited him, it didn’t give him much time to be alone with his thoughts.
On the upside, we were also more in control of visitors. When we were living in the ‘burbs, we had a constant stream of people wanting to visit, but once we were in our city apartment, only the people he wanted to see got an invite, by special request only. It was his haven, away from the constant demands of a house and garden, the apartment never needed anything done, it was sick Nick’s ideal life!
Then Nick came up with this crazy idea to have a first and last family holiday with our daughter overseas. We had travelled extensively before his diagnosis and he just wanted to have one last trip. We had the discussion with our oncologist, who advised against us going, but after much pleading, he finally signed Nick off for 2 weeks from treatment. We were going away, something we both desperately needed.
We had previously spent a couple of nights in the small town where my Father is from in Italy and Nick always wanted to return. He thought this would be the perfect place to get some time out, so he roped my parents in with us and we took a two week holiday stopping in London for a couple of days, then the beautiful quaint town in Italy and then a few more days in Rome, before returning home. (He even had a friend and his son meet us for the last leg in Rome, Nick really appreciate this too!)
The most relaxing time was staying with my Father’s relatives, they left Nick and I alone, no pressure to do or see anybody. Nick spent much of the time sitting under an apple tree, reading the Lance Armstrong biographies. (He never did get to hear about Lance’s doping allegations and fall from grace, what would Nick have thought then??) And while he was unwell and couldn’t eat much, he never let it ruin his time away. He was so happy to be away from the grind of it all. Plus he got to spend quality time with our daughter, walking down to the piazza every morning for coffee and pastries. Nick used the Italian he knew, to befriend the locals, pretending this all never happened, that cancer was still a word he knew nothing about. That holiday was the best thing we ever did!
I’m a firm believer that sick Nick had such a positive outlook on life, because he was fulfilling whatever he wanted. Sure, when we returned from our holiday, his scan showed that his cancer had grown another 2cms, (because of the pause in chemo) but Nick didn’t care, he’d been able to live a couple of weeks, like he was almost normal again and for that, it was worth it!
That’s all for now, please stayed tuned this Sunday 16th March for an extra special post, if you knew Nick you might have an idea what this is, but I won’t give anything away just yet!
Til next time, Michela x