The Big C – And I don’t mean Cancer.
My last update on here was August 2020. The year millions of people had their lives affected by some unknown virus called Covid-19. I have so far been very fortunate and haven’t caught it, nor have my immediate family. But it’s now 18 months down the line, Covid levels have increased again in the local community, and it is rife in the schools. I am waiting for the day that little test strip has two bright covid lines on it.
At the start of the pandemic, at the end of March 2020, I was placed on Furlough. Each month I, like my fellow IT friends, was wondering when we could go back into the office. We all naively thought it would be ‘ok in a few weeks’. I received the government’s letter to shield, so I took the opportunity to do a couple of small gardening projects, as the thought of being inside for 12 weeks was making me anxious.
I also decided that I would FINALLY finish a book I’d started writing in 2011!
Becoming A Mum – They Didn’t Tell Me That!! was something that was ALMOST finished.
My stories of pregnancies and motherhood, mainly anecdotes and quips throughout the years, and written in the same way as Cancer – Me Really? In my strange little way.
The book initially had nothing to do with Cancer.
But to finish it, it wouldn’t feel right if it wasn’t mentioned, especially about how it affected the children. After all the book was about them. But I didn’t want it to draw attention away from the main theme of the book.
So I spent my furlough time writing, editing and writing more. It was finally finished, and I thought well one day I will get it published, I said very unconvincingly. I’d always said one day I’ll be a millionaire writer haha. Hmmm…. bit more work involved in that one I think!!
Another End of an Era
Five months on furlough, 3 months of that shielding, home-schooling two bored children, and all of a sudden I had bad news I never expected. I was being made redundant from the company I’d worked at for the past 12 years, Condor Ferries.
I was devastated. They were my work family. I loved the job and the people.
Yes – I knew the Company had been hit hard by the effects Covid had on the travel business, but surely it was going to pick up? They needed our small IT department! They needed me surely! Unfortunately, costs had to be cut – someone had to go. I lost that battle.
What was I going to do…? Who would want to employ me with my medical history?!?
I couldn’t NOT work. I was so worried, and I know I was pretty hard to live with during that time. I had a short fuse and EVERYTHING upset me.
It was a horrible time and on that last day of my employment, I was stuck at home. It was just surreal. I’d always thought if I’d left there, I would have a leaving ‘do’, see everyone and say my goodbyes properly. But there was no one in the building to say goodbye to. I’d been through so much in those 12 years, work-wise and in my personal life. They were so very supportive during my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I couldn’t have asked for more from them. I don’t take that for granted either, as I know many don’t have that support from their employers.
Eventually, when the tears stopped, I got myself together and started looking at options – maybe I could get away from IT Support and do something else…
Reality check – Covid. Now is not the time to start being fussy about jobs.
I needed a job, and with the job market flooded with people in the same boat as me, I had to work hard to persuade someone to employ me.
Lightbulb moment! Maybe I could try and get my book published!
In between job hunting and staying sane trying to do the whole home-schooling thing? Hmm.
Pause….45 minutes I’ve been waiting so far for my ultrasound…watching people going in and out.
Oh well, no point moaning, let’s continue writing.
This book was important to me, one of those things I wanted to ‘tick off the list’ as accomplished. But earning money had to take priority. I was advised to update my LinkedIn profile, a business network website where you can create a profile and build up connections in the business world and as I found out, very handy when looking for a job.
The day I put that profile together, an agency called me, and I had a couple of interviews lined up. I was shocked. Pleased, nervous, but shocked. Right, get a grip girl, head in gear, no waffling, do your hair…
In fact, there was a LOT more to think about when attending an interview during lockdown. Click here to see my Tips for a Successful Interview…
After what was a successful interview, I was offered a part-time job on the IT Service Desk for Bournemouth University. It was a start, I thought. In the work climate, I was counting my lucky stars.
In between that, I could concentrate on the book, I thought.
November 2020 arrived and so did ‘Scanxiety’ again. That time of year when the boobs get poked, prodded, squeezed and squashed to an inch of their lives. It doesn’t bother me getting the scans done, showing the ‘girls’ off. It was waiting for the results. Fortunately, on that occasion the bumps found were scar tissue, so the mind was put at rest (until something else triggers the mind again!).
The job at the University (working remotely at home) was a shock to the system. Starting with a University, at the start of their academic year, dealing with Support staff, Academic staff and students calling up asking for IT help, I wondered what on earth I’d agreed to do!!
I was contracted for 12 weeks initially and wondered if I would last. Condor IT department was used to supporting 500 people, with around 400 calls/emails a month. Bournemouth University were supporting 14000 students, 1500 staff, and taking 200 phone calls a day in the department. But I found myself enjoying it. The people were great, very supportive. They got to realise that if on a Teams call I was ‘Claire-ing blankly’, they just repeated themselves!
My brain!!!! The brain fog from Tamoxifen (and age – let’s not be shy about it) and I spent a lot of my time saying:
But eventually, information started to sink in and I was taken on fixed-term in January 2021.
My Book Got Published!
In between work and home life, I decided to make contact with some publishers and was very pleased to finally get my book published in March 2021.
This took over my life for about 5 months and I am going to do a push for Christmas 2021.
“Whether a mum of grown-ups, teens, the tear-away toddler’s mum, or brand-new mummies, this is an opportunity to remember, relate and even giggle a bit with me.
Or at me – whichever you prefer”.
If you would like to find out a bit more about my book, please go to www.clairedevans.co.uk
Will this ever end?
Back to health matters, I was very good when it came to taking the Covid precautions. I shielded, stayed in, went for a walk around the block for an hour during quiet periods as my exercise, and wore the masks. I didn’t put myself at risk. A year later and after the second lockdown though, I was well and truly fed up. Working from home all the time, not being allowed to socialise, I was missing seeing people in person.
I started to comfort eat (my way of dealing with anxious situations). Lack of exercise, the ‘covid kilos’ piled on.
Paranoia set in – upset tummy; has that mole changed? Why won’t that pain go away in my side? I’ve got a cough – it’s not covid, what if it’s something else?
Too much time on my hands sitting and over-thinking. I managed my mind with a mixture of Work stuff, getting the children sorted for September – one starting year 9 in a new senior school, the other starting College – and most importantly I found: making contact with friends and making that effort to see them. And it worked.
Interaction has also restarted with the University too – going on to campus once a week, then twice a week, and it has helped a lot. Especially with distraction. Which I am finding out now. Brings me back to this moment in time, having been poked, prodded, scanned and punctured.
But I am not complaining. The NHS has stepped up again for me, making sure my concerns were checked and not just dismissed.
It’s the waiting game again.
To be continued.