FROM THE HEART: MERRY CHRISTMAS AND REFLECTING ON 2020

Dearest Reader,

Merry Christmas!

This time of year has been something I have been secretly anticipating and counting down the days since the beginning of the month, when the clock turned over from it being November to December. Although, I am not normally someone who is a Christmas-y type of person who gets excited about being locked away in a boiling hot kitchen (Got to love Australia, right?) and spending countless hours wrapping presents and sustaining paper cuts. However, this year was and is completely different for me and my little family.

This year, I actually have Christmas and New Years off! Something that is unheard of within the medical and healthcare industry unless you hand in your intention of having the holiday season off well in advance, I’m talking years in advance and hope with your fingers crossed that no one else has had the same idea. Unlike last year where I returned to the workforce after having my son, who was 8 months at the time and getting married in September, I’m able to spend the next week or so with my feet kicked up or floating around in the pool with a mocktail and enjoying countless hours spent with family. Rather than pining for these moments while undertaking countless medication rounds and looking after skin tears and/or injuries.

While I am truly blessed to be in such an interesting and never boring field, it’s nice knowing that I get to have two years off in a row! Guess maternity leave will come in handy and it also means, I get to celebrate a new little one’s first Christmas and think of new ways I can create new family moments. Like the photos we took today in the paddock outside of my parents’ place and it’s these little custom moments that we started our first year of being parents and married that we look forward to continuing into the future and no doubt, reflecting on.

Speaking of reflection, I had a lot to learn this year and experienced a lot of things that most people wouldn’t think a Registered Nurse in Aged Care would experience. Firstly, I had some pretty intense discussions with God about the relevance of life and death, how some families can be completely and utterly different from the next one and how my belief in pain management is still as strong as ever. I also learnt, He has some pretty interesting things up his sleeve and delivered them one at a time when I least expected it.

In particular, my sister-friend who is a fellow comrade in the trenches, randomly called one day to see how I was going during the difficult times of Covid and being reminded on a daily basis of my little work community being in lock-down and how it was affecting not only my mental health and wellbeing; but also, those of my residents and fellow colleagues. After chatting for a few hours about work, Covid and the newly-discovered risks of what it can do to your health and married life, we signed off with a moment of prayer and well wishes. It was after this, I really learnt the importance of trusting in God and when I’m unsure of something or within myself, turning to Him has given me immense comfort and the unbelievable amount of hope that life will go back to a new-norm that we never knew of.

Even though I had all of the right intentions to dedicate time to working and expanding my little space on the internet, I took a step back for a few months as I had to re-evaluate a few things. I had to think about what it was that I wanted to write about, explore as a blogger and how I envisioned my space turning out. It also meant figuring out if I wanted to continue being a ‘lifestyle and nursing’ blog, something I originally started out all those years ago. Or, if I wanted to simply become a ‘lifestyle’ blog with no categories to define my work and interests. As such, I decided to throw caution to the wind and becoming simply ‘Eliza Darcy’, a blog that has no boundaries, limitations of what it to be discussed or has been stated and completely obeys the fundamental key and that is: speak honestly and truthfully.

Something of which I actively encouraged within my personal and work life.

During this time of self-exploration and discovery, I immersed myself into the truest definition of motherhood and everything that entails being a mama to a fabulous little boy. Seriously, I cannot begin to think of the milestones Blake, Mr. Darcy and I have endured and succeeded in over the past year but it truly has been a magical year for us all. From beginning to show signs of wanting to walk to running a mile a head of us, understanding the basics of road sense and safety, growth spurt after growth spurt, having multiple teeth coming in, flirting with women and learning ‘stranger danger’; alongside, myself experiencing the dreaded fear of waking up and finding my car keys and car missing as Blake has gone for a joy ride with his uncles…. The past 12 months have been a journey that I will never forget and cannot believe I have survived!

Now to think, we get to experience a whole new and completely different chapter of parenting as we bunker down with the delightful thought of having another little person to love, honour and cherish. It is something that I am nervous about but at the time same, absolutely giddy at the thought of bringing home a beautiful little bundle of love and deliciousness and know, (s)he will have an amazing O’Chunky family that will love them no matter what.

Outside of motherhood and my work life, I decided to give University another shot and decided to transition out of studying a Bachelor of Midwifery. Instead, I began my educational journey as a future Lawyer as I went about studying a Bachelor of Laws. While I had no unrealistic expectations of Law School being easy or something I could breeze through (because I’ve always a had a knack for understanding the Law and are passionate about it!), I also didn’t think I would turn up to university and running into someone who had been massively influenced by Elle Woods.

That was until Covid decided to ruin the idea of attending on-campus university and like everyone else around the world, I soon found myself clocking in my hours of study online and deciding which shirt didn’t appear too ‘mum-like’ or like I’d worn it again. By the fifth week of university, I’d given up all pretences of fashionable etiquette-ness as I had lost faith in humanity at that point of time and I was suffering from extreme morning sickness. I considered it a blessing in disguise that I was able to get away with looking like crap because I had completed my regular shift the evening before my classes, was surviving on minimal sleep and I didn’t have vomit in my hair or down my shirt.

While I was secretly scared of struggling with online university and not being able to physically discuss my concerns with my tutors or professors for the class, I experienced and learnt a lot about myself as a person but also as a student. I didn’t expect after having failed one exam because my computer decided to crash during the exam and not save anything and I struggled with my other class because the readings were ridiculous and well… a waste of my time; that when I opened my results for my first semester of studying to become a lawyer, I would pass!

I was in such a state of shock that I facetimed Lois and asked her to read out my exam results and confirm I had passed my first semester. Me! A dyslexic person who struggled with online learning, didn’t have any understanding or faint idea on how to write a legal memorandum, struggled with reading the 72 readings assigned each week and a dyslexic person who defied everything, including her own perception about herself, somehow bloody passed!

Even now, I really need to take a moment to thank the following people: God, Mr. Darcy, my family members, my tutors who received a million emails from me, my work colleagues and myself. Because without everyone, I don’t think it would have been possible.

More importantly, I am thankful for the undying support from my parents as I not only struggled with university but also, struggled with the realisation of having to face the reality of Lois having breast cancer. After many years of speaking out about breast cancer, checking your breasts and seeking medical advice if you find a little lump anywhere in your breast or unsure as to how to check your breasts; we faced a rather difficult and trying time this year. In February, a few days before my 30th birthday, our family were informed that Lois had breast cancer and would immediately begin physically prepping for surgery to remove her breast as well as mentally prepping herself to undertake chemotherapy and radiation. With the intention of further medication in the future.

There is something that snaps within you as a person when you hear the words “10-15%”. That was the definitive number given of survival of life if Lois didn’t undergo treatment and while the doctors and oncology team had initially wiped their hands of all ideas regarding treatment, we as a family decided to take it within our own hands and told them in no form or shape to “go fuck themselves”. That day, the Doctor’s discovered the truest definition of The O’Chunky team and how we wouldn’t let a little thing like, breast cancer, ruin our lives and Lois’. While it hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine as we’ve had to watch Lois deal with some pretty horrendous side affects from chemotherapy and knowing there was nothing, we could do but offer comfort and support; it was truly amazing and wonderful to watch as Lois rung the bell.

A bell that signifies the end of her chemotherapy treatment and that Lois had beat the odds of chemo. It’s something I still play to this day and cry or sob each time I see it. As I write this, Lois has completed twenty-something round of chemotherapy and has just finished her fourteenth round of radiation. It truly is something.

Before this becomes a thesis and I break down into tears while typing, I hope each and everyone of you have a very Merry Christmas and a safe one at that! I truly hope 2021 will be the year for you and with that, bring new blessings, discoveries, joyous experiences and an unlimited amount of success. Here’s also hoping that the bad luck of 2020 doesn’t continue.

Much love,

Eliza xx.

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