Tag Archives: personal blogging

About combining blogs with running a company…

Hello everyone!

In normal circumstances, this would be a lovely post announcing my come back on the blog but unfortunately, the circumstances are far from normal, still. Without going too much into detail, let’s just say that combining a book reviewing blog with running a company during the most active period of the year was a bit ambitious. And that’s mildly put.

In August, I had to take over my mum’s position in our company without any experience and my mum has been the oil. Without her, everything falls completely still. So being thrown into a job with the responsibility to provide work for an entire company AND to keep the customers happy was…challenging to say the least.  At some point in September, I found myself not only taking over one job, but two jobs too. Crazy days, weeks and months have passed since then while I sort of managed to cope with the workload and writing my book reviews.

Until I no longer did. It wasn’t pretty.

I needed to make an important decision in October. My days existed out of work, stress, and more work while I only saw the piles of files grow bigger, the notes of phone calls I had to return grow messier. I worked all day long and by the end of the day the pile had become bigger instead of smaller.

I’m a perfectionist, so the need to read a book per week and write a review for my blog was always present. I saw the deadline and became angry that I was too tired to read, too tired to write, too tired to upload. I felt as if I disappointed my parents, our clients, our employees and in the end, you, my lovely readers too.

I felt like a failure.

No one was happy. I was angry and sad. There have been moments when I doubted myself. Times when I felt as if no one cared what I did. It’s not a healthy thought but taking a break from the job I was entrusted with, wasn’t an option. If I took a break, then an entire company would fall still. Impossible.

So to say I was (still am) underneath a lot of stress, is really making an understatement. Either I could continue doing everything the way I was doing it back then, or I could start with taking things slow. I decided that the company was more important than my hobby. There was no extra energy left so the energy that I had, I had to use wisely. No matter how much I wanted to keep this blog alive, it wasn’t an option anymore.

Today, I feel better. A bit more relaxed but returning to weekly updates is still too much to ask and for that I apologize. I hope you all understand and haven’t given up on me yet. I’m reading again, albeit slowly, and hopefully, I find some energy to write reviews during my breaks but for now, it will all happen behind closed curtains while I prepare my blog for a come back in January.

Soon. Not long anymore. But not quite yet.

Until then.

Fien x

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Darkness from Within

Tears.

They make my eyes burn, make my nose itch. I hate them. Yet, they are turning into my best friend rather quickly.

I feel so angry. With the world. With my family. But most of all, I’m angry with myself. I don’t know what’s wrong. I should be glad. Relieved. Enjoying life. Instead, I lock myself up and hide behind my pile of books, devouring one story after the other until morning turns into evening and the sun changes into the moon.

My heart squeezes in pain (longing) when there’s a new adventure with a handsome hero with strong arms protecting our heroine and although this is far from reality, I secretly wish this could be mine one day. Sometimes.

When I feel lost and insecure. Alone. And scared. When I turn away from everyone, pushing them out of my life and lie down upon the bed, closing my eyes. When I wish someone would be here to help me out of that dark state; to wrap their arms around me and whisper it will be okay. To feel their breath touching my skin softly and know when I close my eyes tonight, that someone will make sure that when the sun of tomorrow starts to rise, it will warm me inside and help me to find my smile again.


I haven’t been blogging a lot lately because I’m struggling with a lot of messed up emotions. This being a snippet of the best part of my week. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me and I’m trying my hardest to climb out of this darkness. However, at this moment, even getting online feels like climbing a mountain. I hope you all understand the lack of (happy) posts and reviews but I thought you should know what’s been going on.

I promise I’ll make up for it when I feel better again.

P.S. There will be a video online soon that’s been LONG overdue but was recorded on the first day when this mess started. Which is probably the reason why I’ve been postponing the editing/uploading… *coughs*

Until a much happier post!


#11 Sometimes, it’s okay to think of the children too

It’s raining outside and the clouds are floating rapidly above my head, swirling and twisting into a different shape before they carry on and forget about me watching them. And I think: I feel so much like that cloud.

I’m pushed and pulled towards an unknown destination, constantly reshaping and changing and never staying the same. I’m angry and upset and alone. I’m a volcano, ready to erupt the moment someone steps on my toe and then I burst into tears and I yell uncharactistically and deflate. Empty and alone again. And then I think: why do I bother?

Why do I bother to care and give and tire myself out when no one truly cares about me? When there’s no one there, here, to listen? When there’s no one spreading their arms and wrap them around me? When there’s no one to hold me while I sob?

I love my mum, my family and my friends and it warms my heart there are so, so, so many people thinking of her, supporting her, sending her unexpected but so much appreciated flowers and cards; but at the same time, it hurts because no one thinks about the people who have to watch all this sadness from a very close position.

When I go outside, everyone is all about: how’s your mum? And I reply: she’s okay. Fine considering. While I think: if only you knew the pain she’s in but I don’t want to tell that because that would make the conversation awkward. What would you say to that? I hope she feels better soon? Well, yeah, me too. And then those people continue: it’s really sad how many people die of cancer before the age of sixty.

Wait.
What?
STOP.
This is NOT why I got outside for!

I reply (rather coldly may I add): well, people have always died whether they’re young or old because of cancer or not. It just happens. And they keep talking and talking about cancer as if that’s the ONLY topic they can talk about with me. As if I don’t hear about cancer every day. In every conversation. With each person I come in contact with. At least twenty times a day.

That’s where I crack. People mean well by asking about my mum and I understand they have a need to say something about cancer but then they move on and leave me standing on my own: one huge emotional volcano waiting to burst as soon as I get home and spending my night curled in bed crying because I am hurt, scared and alone and wished someone would ask, after they asked about my mum and talked about their general cancer topic and have ripped my heart out and taken all my positive thoughts away: but how are you feeling? How are you coping?

The idea of losing my mum hurts so much that I can’t breathe. It makes me physically and emotionally sick. If I were to lose my mum today, the most important person in my life would never experience the mile steps in my life: she’d never meet my future husband, she’d never be at the wedding, she’d never see my house nor meet my children. She wouldn’t be there when I’d be needing her the most.

I don’t have a significant other half to pour my feelings on. I don’t want to burden my feelings upon my mum or dad either because they already have a lot to deal with. But where they find support from me, my brother, my family and all our acquaintances there’s no one out there giving me words of support during my worst moments in all of this. When I have a tough moment, I have to deal with my depressing thoughts on my own and it hurts to be alone during this.

I wish people would look beyond the obvious and think about this more broadly. When there’s cancer in a family, the children (whether adults or not) are affected too. Reach out to them, give them a supportive hug, hold them.

Because they need it too.

#10 The Ugly Truth Diaries – Writing101: Serially Lost

Cancer is a sneaky bastard. It lurks, waits and then strikes when you least expect it. Not once, not twice but all the time. Even when you know that parasite is playing house in someone’s body, it can still take you by surprise. It forces you to revalue your life. Especially when the strongest person in your world stands before you. Weak. Trembling. Pale. Mouth covered in sick. Hairless.

And that’s when I realise: I can’t do anything to make her feel better. A sense of lost rips apart my heart and I try hard, really hard, not to cry it out in emotional pain. My view of life has been tested before but my automatic view of the role I play in relation to my mum, has forever changed. She used to be the one to comfort me and be strong but now the roles have been swapped. The young woman from last June is forever gone.

It’s been another rough week and an outsider wouldn’t have been able to notice how much things have changed since I’ve been back from Rome. Past the walls of our home, I try not to talk about my mum. People ask about her but I return their questions with ambiguous answers. I don’t want to tell the truth because the truth is ugly.

The truth is: my mum slept for five days after her hospitalisation, barely able to wake up long enough to eat.

The truth is: my mum can’t eat anymore because her oesophagus has been temporarily damaged by the radiation.

The truth is: my mum cries when she tries to eat because it hurts so much.

The truth is: my mum gags the moment that little bit of food touches her stomach, as if something’s burning deep inside. Which it most likely is.

The truth is: my mum can barely (and not even that at most time) hold back her medicine to protect her oesophagus and stomach.

The truth is: right before I typed all of this, I was in the bathroom with my mum grasping the sink as if her life depended on it. She gagged and threw up all her dinner in a time range of ten minutes. And she stood there, so weak and sad and sick that all I could do, was hand her that glass of water to rinse her mouth and rub her back. All I could do, was help her to the shower and get rid of that dirty, empty feeling.

She’s lost over 7 kg in the past week and all I can think of is that tomorrow will be another day and it will happen all over again. The chemo is working. The radiation, although done now, is still doing its job. It’s the reason why she feels miserable. It’s the reason why she can’t eat.

Her final chemo session is nearing but I truly hope that she can start to eat soon. Although her blood values were good on Monday (6,000) I fear that if she can’t have a good week before her next session, it might be postponed.

The end is near but it feels farther away than ever.

#9 The Ugly Truth Diaries – Third chemo session

I’m back from Rome and a lot of things have happened while I was there. The obvious, indulging myself with Roman culture, and the not so obvious events will be talked about in a different post so keep an eye out if you want to read about my adventure in Rome (handy tips included if you’re visiting soon!).

Being gone while my mum had her last week of radiation therapy, was not easy. I missed her so much but being away for a few days helped to release the stress that was taking over my health. I finally got some rest (and some nice, hot weather after a month of typical Belgian rain). However, relaxing lasted until Thursday.

That’s when I received a phone call from my mum. She had her blood tested on Thursday to see if she’d have enough WBC (=white blood cells) in order to start her third chemo therapy on Monday. Unfortunately, her count was 900. Too low. Chemo therapy delayed. Another slap in the face. She needed 1,500 minimum. Although postponing the therapy isn’t necessarily a very bad thing, for the success of the therapy it is recommended that everything can continue the way it’s planned. But emotionally, let’s just say it’s a lot tougher to hear it’s delayed because a thousand different questions go immediately through your head: how long will it be delayed? A week? Do we really have to go through this a week longer? Won’t the delay give the tumor time to grow? Or adapt? Can tumors adapt to the therapy? 

Of course, this news had its effect on me while I was in Rome.

When I woke up the next day, I wanted to go home. I wasn’t interested in Rome anymore. I wanted to be with my mum and hug her. I was in the worst mood ever and I feel sorry for my cousin, having to undergo this but I didn’t care about the Colosseum or the many shops we could visit. I wanted to be home. And it was too hot anyway. But when I heard her on the phone again later that day and that she was resting a lot, I felt better. If only just a bit. She also mentioned that she had to return to the hospital on Monday for one more radiation and that they would test her blood again.

I came back home last night around 2am. I had just enough time to hug my mum, tell her about the crappy flight (it got delayed) and then went to bed because I knew she had to get up early (and so did I, back to work I’m afraid). By the time I was up, she was gone with my dad. Around lunch time I received a phone call: her WBC were 4,000+. She immediately had to stay today for her chemo and thankfully, she was prepared for this scenario. Although I’m truly relieved that the therapy didn’t have to be postponed, I’m also sad that I won’t be able to talk to my mum properly for the next few days.

I don’t have time to visit her in hospital because I have to work until 6.30pm and by the time I’d get to the hospital, visiting hours will be almost over. I also know she’s not really up for visitors while she’s there, the chemo taking its toll on her body (and will continue doing so for at least a week). I miss her and I want to talk to her about Rome. I want to hug her so badly.

But, I should be grateful that everything continues as planned and while I wrote this I remembered another particular phone call in Rome. Sometime during August, my mum had another PET-scan as preparation for the radiation therapy and then they had noticed that my mum’s tumor had shrunken after her first chemo therapy. This is super good news and had me so excited!!

Perhaps there’s still hope that this nightmare will be over soon but I won’t get myself overjoyed too much. We still have a while to go but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter as we near it.

Until the next post!

Fien

#8 The Ugly Truth Diaries – Clovers & Letters

“If this therapy doesn’t bring any changes to my cancer, then I don’t want another one.”

Those words are hunting me. Hurting me. Upsetting me. And they show how tough the last couple of days have been. My mum isn’t well. Her therapy is going great so far but her spirit to fight is gone. Although I know she’s a strong person in the end, she’s someone who’s easily depressed by the slightest obstacle when fighting a battle that seems lost to her.

Swallowing has become difficult now that they’re combining chemo with radiation. Her blood pressure varies each hour, going from extremely high to normal, back to too high and then to too low. It makes her dizzy. Her stomach is upset with the chemo that’s still in her body from last week’s treatment and the radiation makes each day a very long and tiring day. Going twice a day to Ghent easily takes up 4-6 hours. 168km a day. That makes it 20-30h in a hospital and 840km a week. And this multiplied by three.

So of course that would make her tired. And I understand that it does, but hearing those words today, ripped my heart out of my chest and now it feels as if whatever I’m doing is so pointless. Reading a book doesn’t inspire me. Writing takes too much effort. Even opening the laptop is becoming a pain because there’s no energy left.

And yet, when all seemed lost in our despair, we received a nice and beautiful card from someone we didn’t expect it. It contained a beautiful letter with such supportive words that I can’t not mention it. Inside this card, there was something wrapped in paper.

Fragile.

We unwrapped it carefully, curious to find out what it could be, and there it was. It was green and a symbol of luck: our own freshly plucked four-leaf clover.

It made me smile and describing how warm it made me feel inside wouldn’t do it justice. To know someone was out there, thinking of us and willing to take time to write a letter and find that lucky clover is beyond words. I’m so thankful for this gesture because it means so much. It means the world. I know today will be a dark day but tomorrow is a new start. So thank you to everyone who sent us flowers, cards and emails or tweeted me with support. Know it’s been appreciated and they helped us to go through dark days like today.

If you know someone with cancer, send them a little letter or a note. It doesn’t matter what you say as long as it’s truthful and that you’re thinking of them. Because that’s all that matters.

It’s heart warming to know we don’t have to be alone to carry this burden.

So thank you.

#7 The Ugly Truth Diaries – Losing hope

Today, they took away our hope.

I can’t breathe. My hands are shaking and I feel dizzy. I’m losing  control, I’m losing my hope. I panic. It feels as if someone’s pushing a cloth against my mouth, as if someone’s pressing a hand upon my chest and I scream but there’s no sound. I kick but I don’t get free. I’ve been pretending to be strong for everyone but I’ve been struggling to cope since last Thursday, a worry slowly building inside my chest.

Being yelled at on the phone by a client (we work in the construction sector) because of something I couldn’t do anything about, shattered me. She called me rude and unfriendly while I apologised multiple times for the delay. Told her I’d be able to give more information this week but she wouldn’t accept it. Something stupid as that, something so ridiculous, has knocked me down and ever since then, I haven’t been able to crawl back from that thought that I don’t matter and I’m just one piece of shit trying to please everyone’s life but getting nothing in return.

I know that’s selfish. I know but – and don’t get this wrong – everyone’s asking about my mum and she gets all the support one needs going through this and of course everyone cares about her, I wouldn’t want it any other way – but I suffer too. I’m scared that I will lose my mum and end up alone without my best friend. I’m the one who tries to motivate her, listens to her and hold her when she cries, be with her 24/7. Staying positive for everyone all the time, is exhausting. I sleep 3h a night and even then, I wake up in cold sweat, hyperventilating. Everything hurts. I’m stressed but the moment someone sees me, they don’t ask “how are you dealing with this?” but “how’s your mum?” and I don’t mind but I could use a hug too. I could use someone to listen to me too. I could use a shoulder to cry on too. And if they do ask how I’m doing, they don’t expect me to say “Crap. I can’t deal with this anymore.”, they expect me to say “Okay. Fine. Considering.” because I’m not entitled to feel crap. I’m not the one with cancer. I’m the one who should stay positive and help my mum out as much as I possible can.

And it is okay for them not asking because my mum deserves all the support in the entire world. But it’s just…I’m feeling desperate and alone and crap and it’s killing me ever since that woman yelled at me and told I was unkind and rude (while I never yelled and only tried to reason with her). I don’t think I deserved this.

And it makes me wonder: if people are allowed to yell for something as stupid as a screen blocking flies from getting inside her house being delayed by one little week; then I’m bloody well allowed to stab her with a knife and tell her to shut the fuck up and get a life. Seriously though, where has respect gone these days? I deal with people like her every single day. What makes them so special that they are allowed to yell at me? Call me names?

So with that being said, this is how I’ve been feeling since Thursday. Yesterday, I got a panic attack during work. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. I shut down. My mum’s started to lose her hair now and I knew this would be a difficult moment. It hurts to see this happening. It just hurts and I can only imagine how it must feel for her.

Today, she had to go back to hospital for blood samples and see if she can start another chemo session on Monday. Luckily, she can. There’s not a problem. However, the oncologist-nurse started talking about something; an evil word was mentioned: palliative care. Our world fell apart. Palliative? She’s not dying. They told us she isn’t. Why, why, WHY say this?! WHAT IS GOING ON?!

It’s for research. If they could follow her up perhaps. But she’s not dying? Why would she need palliative care then? It’s confusing and it hurts and right now, I could be sick just by the idea of her dying. I don’t understand. My mum’s hope is completely gone. She’s pale and I am panicking. How can I interpret this? What did the nurse really mean? Did we miss something valuable? Did we not hear them say: we are going for total cure? Did they really say: “I’m sorry but curing is not an option, she’s dying.” and we totally misheard this?

So I try to cheer her up, like I’ve been doing for over a month now. We have been worried about next week when the toughest part of the treatment will begin and watching her lose all hope now, is  upsetting. So while I deal with her emotions, I push mine away again.

As soon as I’m alone, I sob and crave a pair of arms holding me, comforting me. I need someone to tell me it’s going to be okay even if it might not because I’m so, so, so alone. There’s no one here I can talk to, no one that cares because those who care (my mum and dad) don’t need to see me like this. I’m their positive rock they’re leaning on at the moment but I can’t do this anymore.

I’m tired. So tired.