taking a moment off
… to look back in time.
Some of my friends have, after reading through latest revisions of my “life presents its twists and turns” posting in its entirety, expressed some confusion. Despite the post from last year being quite long and detailed, they found it seriously shortened and over-simplified on some, for them, essential points.
Lately they have asked me if my relationship with Gunlaug Solås was not more than enough to make my choice an easy and quick “go for life” that November night in 2013. Why on earth did I have to spend hours thinking through whether to have surgery or not, while my life literally was hanging in a thread?
My answer to them has been, and is now, that “my relationship with Gunlaug was the only factor that complicated matters that night, because it involved the sole living person who meant enough to me to affect how I make serious decisions in life”.
calculating the risk of living
Living is by definition deadly to us humans – no-one has survived yet, but being ready to receive the message that you may only have hours left above ground, is usually not part of our “mental preparedness kit”.
I have been closer to death than that a few times already – hours would have seemed like forever back then, and I have had to think about life and death many times over the years. So, maybe I was – at least in some sense – better prepared than most when I got the diagnosis.
What I felt that I was not properly prepared for, was a condition “somewhere in between life (as I knew it), and death”. That is why I told the surgeon that I needed time to think it through … which is what I spent the next few hours doing.
I almost scared myself that night back in November 2013, as I did not notice any emotional disturbances from within as I slowly walked around in the dark in front of the hospital building.
I was quietly and methodically weighing back and forth between the few, very limited, options I had, and the potential outcomes of each. It was a dark night indeed.
I felt absolutely no fear of death or anything during those hours, and, seriously, I felt that everything I had going on in life was finished off and easy to leave behind right there and then. That is; except for my life with Gunlaug.
In my opinion: the main, and maybe the only, reason I feel I have had such a good life, is that Gunlaug has been at my side through ups and downs for nearly two decades. We all need someone next to us, and Gunlaug has been, and is, that someone to me; as I hope I have been, and will continue to be, to her.
No obvious reason for her to hold on to me for all these years, apart from that mysterious thing called love. For some strange reasons love has held us together, even if it has been strained really hard at times.
That girl is not only my wife, but also my very best friend.
Thus, what mattered to me that November night was: in this unfortunate situation I now found myself in, what would be the least damaging outcome for her…
Figuring out the outcome was like rolling dice, and I am not much for this kind of game when my own and my loved one's happiness is at stake. Right there and then I didn't have much choice though, I had to think it through.
Chances were that I might survive this ordeal but become permanently crippled – a condition “somewhere in between life and death”. I might for instance lose one or both legs in the process, or later, as the surgeon had informed me was a real possibility if the damage caused by blocked and/or reduced blood-flow had spread too far.
In addition to causing physical problems I would have had to overcome, being severely handicapped most likely would have turned me mentally into something I'd hate to be … something it likely would have taken me years to overcome, if I ever managed to.
a) If I had been living alone and only had myself to think of – as was the case up until Gunlaug came into my life, the actual outcome of surgery would not have mattered. No-one but me would have been directly affected by whatever happened at the operating table anyway, and I was more than ready to go.
b) If my relationship had been such that my spouse did not matter to me anymore, and/or vice versa, the outcome of surgery had not mattered. There simply would have been nothing to gain or lose either way.
In both cases I could have gone for surgery without thinking twice about it.
If I had come out alive but with a less than favorable result, I could have dealt with it pretty much as I found best afterwards, without affecting anyone but myself. Not coming out alive would of course not have caused me any problems.
As it were, none of these alternative scenarios was real – it wasn't all about me. Therein laid the problem I tried to find the best solution for that night.
I have had enough problems living with myself at times, despite Gunlaug's support. Coming home after surgery with a serious handicap and a dark mind, might make me more difficult to live with than I have ever been in the past. I have a strong feeling not even Gunlaug could have handled that.
why recycle history
Throughout her adult life Gunlaug definitely has had more than her fair share
of health-related problems to deal with, and far from all have had to do with her
I can not take the blame for much of that – it was before my time. But, I certainly did not feel that that gave me the right to load my problems onto her now … I had at least one other option…
No matter how strong our relationship was, and is … to take on
a care-taker and support role that might last for years, would in my opinion
simply be too much for her.
Becoming a life-long burden on Gunlaug, and/or making a split-up her only viable option (again), were outcomes I most certainly did not want.
Maybe a very selfish way of looking at it on my part, but just thinking
about how much it would hurt me to see Gunlaug struggle because of me in the years
to come, almost made me choose against surgery for fear it would not be entirely
As I saw it, if I could no longer be there to support her more or less in line with how she has been taking care of me over the years, it might, over time, be to her advantage that I did not return home.
I chose to go for surgery simply because the pain was about to become too unbearable to live through until I “died of natural causes”. Would have taken days, maybe weeks, to die, unless I quickened the process myself – which I did not like the thought of doing.
Quietly I hoped and prayed that “if they could not fix me properly, they would lose me at the operating table”. As things were, I'd rather be dead and buried, than alive, crippled and impossible to live with.
Obviously, they did not lose me, at the operating table or later. They also kept all my body-parts in place and in acceptable working order. How close they came to failure is not something that worries me now.
honey, I'm home…
For better or worse, I am still around, and at
For instance: when I go shopping or otherwise roam around in town, I doubt if anyone notice anything unusual in how I move. Thus, the outcome of the ordeal seems to be good, and I am getting, and feeling, better day by day in every way possible.
As blood vessels have been replaced and/or repaired, once I have
regained my physical strength my body may even be in better shape than it has been
for the last decade or so. That is: if I manage to quit my smoking habit in not
I have already tested my endurance capacity by walking up and down and around in the hills on the farm – two-three kilometers (a couple of miles) or so in total. Although damaged and cut nerves disturb a little, and some of the old weaknesses are felt, all in all my capacity is greatly improved.
Now I am well into the process of weaning myself off strong opioids and other pain killers, after having been on heavy doses – not to say “overdoses” – for more than seven months. The good thing is that I don't feel hooked on any of the medication, which makes it rather easy to adjust down as the pain recedes and the periods when I pretty much ignore that I do feel pain grow longer.
Slowly I am getting out of the medically induced brain-fog, and am able to return to a more normal life style. It is good to feel like a human again, as I certainly did not enjoy feeling like being a zombie with all the problems that caused.
Negative side-effects of the cancer treatment I underwent
this summer, are – for the time being at least – causing me lots more pain, problems
and irritation than the big operation back in November last year does. I should not have
bothered with the cancer treatment in the first place, and right now I feel like
I have been permanently vaccinated against any future “cancer treatments”.
Those troublesome side-effects of radiation and medication will hopefully go away too, eventually.
farm assistant out of work…
Gunlaug's quite understandable reaction to the crisis she found herself
in when I went down, was to quit dairy
farming in December last year. She found the work too much and too hard to cope
with while her was
totally out of action and would be for months.
As the farm is still actively run – mainly by others, and
there are animals roaming the pastures, we both now find not having to back it all
up with our own hands, to be a positive experience.
Life here on Gunlaug's farm is good – in many ways even better than before.
For the first time since I arrived at Gunlaug's farm back
in 1995, we can now enjoy many simple pleasures and not worry about anything but
Really simple things… like being able to sleep late one morning just because we want to. Or, that we now can go on vacations for days and weeks together, without having to hire in someone to run the farm for us.
This new-found freedom from chores feels really great, and we are making the most out of it.
I think this blog post covers, and answers, all questions anyone may have related to the choice I made a cold November night back in 2013. The thoughts behind it and a broad specter of processes around and following it, should also be well covered on this page.
If someone still thinks something is cut short and/or is left out in my writing on the subject, they will simply have to write it off as deliberateon my part. There will always be limits to what I will share on a public web site.
I have reached my carefully specified goal – what I hoped for when I went for surgery. “To be around to support Gunlaug much the same way as she has been taking care of me over the years”. Being in that position makes it all worthwhile.
Now I only have to keep this “mission” of mine going for as long
as it takes. For life that is, as expressed in our marriage vows 18 years
(You know: those few words at the end that are so easily ignored, or conveniently forgotten about, when life gets rough.)
Gunlaug shows in a multitude of ways that she is happy having me around, and with me being in good health and mood – not least the latter. Being in good health does of course affect my mood positively, and my wife's happiness and all the positive things going on around me here at home, tops it up.
That I still can make Gunlaug smile just by looking at her, makes me happy. And, the sheer amount of smiles and laughter we share in day-to-day life, is as clear a sign as any that our relationship is good.
Gunlaug's positive state of mind does of course rub off on me in every way possible – and the other way round, and together we keep on living, building, maintaining and planning into the future for this nice and cosy circle of mutual happiness we call “home”…
We really like it here…
… and that is all that matters.
06.aug.2014 - added a couple of paragraphs.
07.aug.2014 - slight revision.
10.aug.2014 - minor revisions + added "alternative scenarios" in main article.
12.aug.2014 - very minor revisions.
16.aug.2014 - minor revisions.
22.aug.2014 - added "other relevant links" in side-notes + note about cancer treatment in main article.
02.aug.2014 - added "nonconformity-freethinking-now-considered-mental-illnesses" link in side-notes.
last rev: 02.sep.2014