image of a stone carving

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

The Romans had a great time coining phrases that over the centuries we have come to use regularly in the English language. You probably won’t recognise them as Roman because we use their English form, like time flies, which in Latin is tempus fugit. Or the ever popular word good which in Latin is bonus. And who can forget the timeless and very current something for something which in Latin is quid pro quo, please take note Donald Trump that even in Latin it’s illegal.

It was in 1992 that Queen Elizabeth II used the Latin phrase annus horribilis in a speech to the Guildhall where she was quoted as saying the following. “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” Well, if it’s good enough for my Queen it’s good enough for me and so I declare 2019 as my own personal annus horribilis or horrible year.

The horrible year start to 2019 was actually in October of 2018. One of my two English Springers, Harvey, collapsed in late October of 2018 and was diagnosed with Ataxia, you can read about it here. On investigation our vet also discovered a large cyst had formed on his stomach so Harvey had to undergo two arduous operations and had to be kept at the vets for a couple of weeks to stop him moving around and causing more damage. This left the poor boy with sores all over his body. But both operations were a success and when we got him home we began the long course of physio to get him mobile again. But with mobility came stress and he was very restless at night and I had to sit up with him all night over several weeks while he got his mobility back, strength back and his stress of being caged for so long left him and he calmed down.

Just as were were getting Harvey well again he started sneezing. This was in the spring and by early summer we had him examined. We assumed he had a seed or something lodged up his nose, he was forever foraging in the garden looking for a lizard to chase or a tasty morsel to eat. It turned out a lot worse than we expected. Cancer had developed in his nose and it was particularly aggressive. By mid-June we had no option but to put Harvey down, the cancer having spread to his eyes and brain.

The summer was full of tears, pain and sorrow. But as we were coming to terms with the loss, our other Springer, Holly, suddenly collapsed in the same way as Harvey. This time it was diagnosed as vestibular disease, sometimes known as old dog syndrome. Holly’s was caused by an ear infection and with treatment it passed, but it will, and has, come back briefly. By the time winter was approaching we were quietly breathing a sigh of relief. But we then discovered a lump had formed on her right side which we took to be fatty tissue. How wrong can you be? Holly had mast cell cancer. The tumor was removed and so far has not re-occurred, but it may do at any time and we have to check for lumps regularly and she will need to be scanned every six months for the rest of her life.

Winter is still quite warm in Cyprus, up until and usually including December, so we decided to have a three day break at a Hotel 40 minute drive from where we live. After breakfast on our first full day of the break, I literally had another break, several in fact. On a rocky downward path a rock gave way, I fell and rolled downhill, breaking seven ribs. Ten days in hospital, a private hospital, read the story here to see why that was, and I was released with a bill for 4000.00 Euros.

There are only three weeks left of this horrible year, so I can only hope that nothing else happens and that 2020 is a better year for us.

And if you’re wondering what the Latin memento mori means, as depicted in the image with this piece, then look no further, it means remember that you must die. What a wonderful turn of phrase the Romans had. No doubt this phrase was suitably used when conquering their way across the Mediterranean and Europe. Or maybe their annus horribilis came when their empire collapsed and the dark ages ensued. You can’t get much more horrible than that.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

Coming soon, Living in Cyprus: 2019 – but for the time being, here’s a few free pages of Living in Cyprus: 2018


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