The thing with sending Christmas cards is that you get to catch up on people's news. My friend Barbara rang me on the weekend as she had received our Christmas card.
Barbara was the first midwife I worked with when I started my midwifery training. She was my community midwife mentor and played a huge part in getting me through the three year course. She looked after me when I had my first son J several years later and enabled me to have the home birth experience I wanted. She was an inspiration with her running too, completing many races.
She has been talking about retirement for years now as work has become increasingly stressful. I haven't seen her for two years because of her busy life with work and family etc. In last year's Christmas card she promised to visit us in our new house when she retired!
As we talked I noticed her speech was slurred. She told me she had a stroke 8 weeks earlier while out running with a friend. The Air Ambulance picked her up from a field and she had spent 8 weeks in a stroke unit and had just come home. She has limited use of her right arm so is unable to write. She said the stroke was due to stress from work and her blood pressure had been very high.
R and I are on a mission to pay off our current mortgage within 10 years. This will hopefully enable us to have the finances to be able to offer the boys the chance to go to university without accruing massive tuition fee debt. There will still be living expenses to consider though. Despite this I am not tempted to work more hours. I try to spend wisely and avoid unnecessary expenditure, excluding cups of tea at the gym with my mates, those conversations are life's essentials!
I hope Barbara recovers and is able to enjoy her retirement and gets to do the cycling she and her husband had planned. I hope her stroke doesn't hold her back - but I am afraid it might. I am looking forward to visiting her soon when she feels well enough.
James with Barbara the morning he was born at home in a pool with Barbara's assistance!
James on his first birthday with Barbara