#Throwback Thursday: Chasing Daylight byEugene O’Kelley

 

Approaching death, doing it in style

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Chasing Daylight is the honest, touching, and ultimately inspirational memoir of former KPMG CEO Eugene O’Kelley, completed in the three-and-a-half months between his diagnosis with brain cancer and his death in September 2005. Its haunting yet extraordinarily hopeful voice reminds us to embrace the fragile, fleeting moments of our lives-the brief time we have with our family, our friends, and even ourselves. This paperback edition features a new foreword by his wife, Corinne O’Kelley and a readers’ group guide and questions.

“Voicing universal truths . . . shared . . . simply and clearly.”-Janet Malin, New York Times

“Words to live by.”-Kerry Hannon, USA Today

“One of the most unexpected and touching books you’re likely to read this year.”-Edward Nawotka, Bloomberg News

“An honest, thought-provoking memoir . . . O’Kelly has many lessons to teach us on how to live.”-Steve Powers, Houston Chronicle

“[A] well-written and movingbook.”-TheEconomist.com

Our Review for Chasing daylight

I have been reading a beautifully written and thought provoking book this week, called, ‘Chasing Daylight’ by Eugene O’kelly. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did, for all sorts of reasons.

For a start, it is all about how he handled the fact that he had only months to live following the discovery of several brain tumours.  I thought it might be hard going, considering I almost died from a heart attack myself two years ago, and still feel I am on borrowed time sometimes.

I started to read, pleased to discover that he handled the news well, that he was determined to die with dignity… all very profound and somewhat comforting to me. He goes on to describe how  he said a pleasant ‘goodbye’ to all his hundreds of friends, and I found myself looking back at my own life. At what I had achieved, and what I hadn’t, and how many people’s lives I had touched.

Three quarters of the way through the book I began to feel sad – not for him, but for me.
You see, I know now for sure that my life has not been that exciting or profound. Too much heartbreak and disasters for a start.
I have been a loner for most of my life, which will probably be a good thing, as there won’t be masses of people saddened by my passing.

That’s if I decide to go (I am still undecided about that!)

Dylan Thomas once said that he would ‘rage against the dying of the light’ and I agree with him, as I still feel there is something I haven’t done or achieved yet, but there is still time!
Time to think about all the things I still want to do, or see, or achieve. ‘Never too late’ is fast becoming a mantra and I wonder what will happen next?

There is a lot to be said for dying suddenly. No time to worry about it or try to plan it, neither of which is very desirable. Mr O’kelly learned to meditate and unwind using water, something I have been doing all my life. Rivers, waterfalls, the sea, all have a deep profound effect on me. The only thing that does, actually.

So, ‘Chasing Daylight’ was sad but uplifting in a way. The fact that his illness was painless was a blessing and to be desired by all of us, and possibly what stops this book becoming a harrowing reading experience…

#Jaye’s Journal: January Week Two

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The New Year and the new month were slipping past me at an alarming rate, as I suffered the throes of one of the worst colds flu I can remember having and I was becoming more and more depressed.

I wasn’t doing anything, couldn’t think straight and I suddenly realised just how close to despair I was getting.

I was having small moments of pull yourself together girl and quite a few just have a look at the WIP… but nothing was working. Two weeks of solid inactivity, but it felt like an eternity.

Every now and then, I would have a day when I seemed better and the head would clear, only to be extinguished when the paracetamol wore off, leaving me a pathetic sniveling heap again. It wasn’t just the aching joints, headache and streaming nose, it had affected my eyesight too and I really didn’t need that to deteriorate too. The cataracts were doing a grand job of that!

I have been trying to keep on top of the emails and other small jobs, but anything else didn’t bear thinking about.

But that was the thing, I had been doing a lot of thinking. Not enough, obviously, to get me doing anything creative but at least the grey matter was trying to function. My WIP was beginning to haunt me. I knew it was a mess, with different piles of pages depending on what I was researching at the time and somehow never tidied up. Before I could move in any direction, I would have to sort through the entire 60.000 words and put them in working order.

And this morning, that was what I did. The germs have retreated enough to allow a little get up and go to creep back into my life, and I now have a working copy of my manuscript.

Yay!

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Muddy Waters, Revisited…

History does repeat itself, and to prove it, this is what happened early last year…

Getting an appointment with my doctor is becoming impossible these days, as he must be the most popular person in Petersfield, that’s all I can say. For several days I tried, finally giving up and making do with another doctor.

I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, for me and doctors don’t normally get on. I swear they think I am a malingerer or something.

To be fair, she did check me over quite thoroughly I thought and did her best to assure me that there was nothing in my head that shouldn’t be there. The earache and four-week-old headache were dismissed, as it didn’t keep me awake at night so couldn’t possibly be that bad.  I don’t think she believed a word about my constant giddiness and nausea.  When I tried to describe the way my brain seems to ‘slide’ sometimes, I could tell she thought I was barking. A typical hypochondriac with possible dementia thrown in for good measure.

I left the surgery with a prescription for something to help with nausea, and when I got back home, I checked this drug out on the internet. Turned out to be a strong antipsychotic, not be given to the elderly or anyone with dubious brain activity. Taking it under these conditions, they said, “could result in death.”

Needless to say, that prescription found its way into the bin a bit sharpish. Whatever is wrong with my brain will just have to get on with it, or go away. I know which I would prefer!

In an endeavour to ease my symptoms, I decide to cut back my workload and time spent on the blessed computer. The optician had offered to darken my reading glasses to help with the glare, so I thought the future could be doable.

Once I took a good look at the situation, I realised I was on my own regarding my future.  Assuming of course, that I had one. It was up to me to find a system that would work, as the alternative didn’t bear thinking about. War had been declared between me and everything I wanted to do.

My eyes would grudgingly allow me a little time at the PC/laptop/kindle before throwing in the towel, so I had to come up with a decent routine.

The problem with my knees was more easily solved, a comfortable pair of kneepads and I was good to go. Something I was pleased about, for I tend to do a lot of work on the floor. (don’t ask!)

The constant tiredness, headaches, and arthritis would be harder to manage, but not impossible with the help of copious amounts of soluble paracetamol.

After a cold hard look at my workload, I realised I had far too many balls in the air, or irons in the fire, whichever you prefer. I had to get out the pruning shears and cut back some of the things that really weren’t getting us anywhere.

All that searching for the magic answer/angle had to stop too. My life had to be simplified if I wanted to come out of this mess in one happy piece!

A further post about how I chopped and pruned may well follow, once I get past the pain of deleting and unsubscribing all the dead or dying wood in my forest!

Fast forward 18 months and this all happened again this week.

I have often thought I was going around in circles, now I know I do…

All My Balls in the air…

 

This year is nearly over and has been one of the slowest ever.  The jobs are piling up, and my to-do list has never been this long before.

Under normal circumstances, this would not be a problem, but certain conditions are conspiring to slow me down. Whether it is due to a slowly growing cataract or not, my brain is beginning to tire easily, requiring me to break up the amount of time I spend at my PC.

I have been trying to arrange my working day to minimise the tiredness and still manage to be productive, but another aspect has decided to rear its ugly head. My memory always had its share of holes, but nowadays it has more holes than a colander. I can forget things faster than you can blink. So despite all my safeguards, it is beginning to look as though my days are numbered. But what does this really mean? Just how many computing days do I have left?

I am now 74, (although I swear certain parts of me are older), and have no intention of hanging up my mouse or my pencil, but it seems fate might have other ideas. All I am hoping for is the ability to take my foot off the gas pedal now and then. So I might not be posting as often, even though it really hurts me to say it. I have a feeling there might not be any new adventures in my marketing attempts either as I find it hard enough keeping what balls I have already in the air.

I started this post last week, and that was pretty much how I was feeling then…

Fast forward to today… Gallons of determination have arrived from somewhere, making everything look so much better than they did before.

All the routine stuff, e-mails, marketing, and social networking, is being done quickly and efficiently, well I think it is, and that’s what matters, isn’t it? My brain is happy, and if I could just get my muscles, bones, and eyesight to buck their ideas up, I’ll be good to go and laughing my socks off!

 

 

 

JAYE’S JOURNAL 18TH ~ 24TH June

 

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I haven’t been writing in my journal this week as I don’t have anything of interest to tell you about.

My life is wall-to-wall pain at the moment, and I am sick to my back teeth with the whole subject. I am not good with waiting, especially when it hurts, but have nearly finished the second course of antibiotics. Several bottles of my blood are winging their way to be tested, which might mean there could be good news coming my way soon.

I have learned one thing this week though. Writers should never get ill because our imaginations will try to kill us off in numerous ways. Fresh out of optimism, I have imagined countless ways in which I will stagger from this mortal coil and none of them are pleasant or even remotely romantic.

Deep down, somewhere the truth has receded to, are the memories of every test I have ever had, and the fact that almost all of them came back negative. Even when they weren’t, so this is probably my default setting!

I have always been a disgustingly healthy person, but also someone who has occasionally test driven emergency scenarios, probably for the benefit of the medical profession. It would seem that equally occasionally, I have to suffer for no damn reason too, with unexplained pain and symptoms. All of which eventually fade away, leaving no reason or explanation.

This time though, as I said before, I have a sneaky feeling they won’t be fading away any time soon. I mean, at my age I must have run out of lives by now.

The worst part about this week, all the above notwithstanding, is my lack of progress on just about everything. The memory of my WIP has receded into the distance, accompanied by the suspicion that I won’t be able to finish it. I am somehow managing to cope with the daily routine stuff, so maybe everything else is on a temporary hiatus?

I have tried very hard to encourage the grey matter to kick into action, but it’s not listening to me. Maybe the constant stream of paracetamol is affecting my muse, for she isn’t listening to me either…

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Jaye’s Journal: 11th ~ 16th June

 

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MONDAY: The new week begins and I’m not having a great time of it. The pain in my back continued over the weekend and shows no sign of abating yet.  I will try to carry on blogging as usual, despite being in agony, as I intend to keep up our presence on the web and work on my WIP, for it will give my mind something else to concentrate on. I’ll update you on this theory later in the week!

TUESDAY: The muscle spasms seem to have stopped and I am glad about that, but the pain continues.  Anita offered to massage my back with the Ibuprofen Gel and found some of the muscles in my lower back knotted into hard lumps. I am deformed!

My mood has sunk to a new low even for me, as I feel so helpless. The high spot of my day is staggering to the loo after climbing the stairs on my hands and knees!

WEDNESDAY:  I received a telephone call from my GP. The results of my recent urine test show a nasty kidney infection, so maybe the pain in my back isn’t from juggling couches after all! Antibiotics are winging their way to me, so relief should be arriving soon after with a little bit of luck.

THURSDAY: Another depressing day. Pain is no better and the frustration of being unable to do even the simplest thing is taking its toll. Everywhere I look, there are jobs that need doing, jobs I just cannot do at the moment and I want to scream, as in my depressed state I imagine I might be incapacitated for the rest of my natural life.

FRIDAY: I awoke the next morning with a strange revelation. The pain seemed to have receded a little during the night. It might have been my imagination, but it did feel different. I realised that it hadn’t hurt so much during the night either. One hour later, I knew something had changed. The crushing pain had indeed lessened and walking to the kitchen didn’t have my body begging to sit down.

Against Anita’s better judgement, I decide to have a shower, as I desperately needed one. We have a strong handrail over the bath, so all should be well. The pain passed an opinion on my activities later on, but even then, it wasn’t as bad as it has been.

I hope that I have turned a corner and will be back to normal in no time, although I do know I will have to be patient! All of which is a pain (no pun intended) as I have discovered that my muse has gone into hiding. Apparently, she doesn’t do pain!


 

 

 

History Repeating…

 

 

 

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image by Pixabay.com

 

 

I have always wanted to believe that history doesn’t repeat itself, and prayed that I would never have to relive some of the pain and tragedy that has stained my life. This, I have discovered, is merely wishful thinking, although, thankfully, I haven’t had to relive the heart attack and cancer.

I have discovered that we can repeat other people’s mistakes too, often some that we swore on a stack of bibles we would never do. For example, my life has almost been a mirror image of my mothers, something I really despise myself for. Some of the things I have done, I did without the knowledge that she had beaten me to it, so to speak, so what’s all that about? Are we destined to do certain things, or is it merely coincidence?

Early in my life, I suffered from back pain. Over the years, x rays revealed nothing and I was told repeatedly to go home and rest. After twenty years of this, I broke down and begged them to do something. A special x-ray, involving injecting dye into my spine, revealed several crushed discs. I was literally on the verge of paralysis. Recovering from the surgery was a nightmare and I literally had to learn to walk again. It was all worth it, for in the 30 years since I have never had a backache.

But…

The nagging pain in my hip has been gradually getting worse for months now. It could mean a new hip, not something I envisaged at my time of life. The pain spreads across the base of my spine, reminding me all too well of the years I suffered from my back.

I have since had an appointment with the doctor to discuss the findings of the x-ray and subsequent treatment. According to the x-ray, my hips are fine, but there is substantial arthritis in my lower spine, so the pain won’t go away and has to be managed. Before I went, my imagination was running riot, reliving the awful memories of so long ago. If I had to choose which horror to repeat, it wouldn’t have been that one, so this at least was a blessing.

What I need now, is to adjust my diet to try to relieve arthritis, so any advice on this score will be most welcome!

2018…

 

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image by Pixabay.com

 

It’s as if we are on a merry-go-round, and everything is becoming a blur. This was brought home to me this morning as I drank my first cup of tea. I was watching the sky get lighter, gradually changing from inky black to grey, wondering what kind of day it would be.
Would it be boring, or eventful maybe? Busy, for sure, my cluttered desk an indication of that. As I watched, gentle fingers of soft pink stretched across the gradually lightening sky.
Even as I watched the wonder of it all, it faded away in an instant, leaving no trace behind. It made me think of all those sunrises and sunsets of my youth. Was it my imagination, or did they seem to last longer?
Was my memory at fault, or has the world become a much faster place?

I didn’t make any resolutions this year as I couldn’t bring myself to think positively about anything much. Two days before Christmas, I had my second annual mammogram to check if the monster in the woodpile has returned. They never tell you at the time, and the letter took an age to arrive. Luckily, the results were clear and I can breathe again until next year.

This ongoing personal drama has been a timely reminder that time is not elastic, that no amount of cramming and stretching will make it grow or change the outcome.

I didn’t want to write this post, but I thought it might help me to wade through the gloom that tries so hard to envelop me, allowing me to see the light that I know is still there somewhere.

Yesterday, I had an x-ray to see how bad they think my hip is. I am not expecting to be offered a brand new one just yet, although it is possible. It is more likely to be something else to be endured because of my age, and I will just have to give up trying to walk into town.

If I could afford it, I would get myself one of those disability scooters, or zoom buggies, as I call them. Although I would probably end up being banned, as the thought of whizzing around town is very appealing!

Then there are the cataracts. Last time they checked, they weren’t big enough to warrant being removed, so my eyesight is getting progressively worse.

I usually manage to smile at adversity, being an optimistic soul, but since my new teeth are the most uncomfortable things I have ever put in my mouth, that pleasure has been denied me too. I have an appointment next week to see if anything can be done about them, but I am not holding my breath!

So you see, all of these things have rubbed most of the New Year gilt from the gingerbread if you know what I mean. Finding something to smile about gets harder each day, and it is only my online friends that keep me going…

My New Year Resolutions may never make an appearance, but keeping my chin up is probably number one on my list!