29 October 2014

Sitting in the kitchen at 4 am, me and my old pal gastritis, we have been here before. Too often for my taste but who am I to complain. In the cup in front of me yet another herbal concoction with a fancy name.  I've tried them all. It's all the same, I could just as well drink a cup of tap water. Maybe next time. 
A hot water bottle in my lap, I try to concentrate on the novel I have been dragging around for the last week.  Nobody would notice if I just read the last page and get it over with. But of course that's cheating. I cannot recall most of the stuff I read anyway these days. Seriously, what is my problem here?

The moment of resigning. Unnoticed almost. One day you wake up and the territory has become familiar, the fear suddenly bearable, death has become a distant possibility again. The unthinkable has become routine. You have become slow, to the point of being lethargic. You withdraw, you spend time doing nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is all you have the energy for. None of this used to be acceptable. And so you have become a person you never liked. When you still had this abundant arrogance of being healthy, you felt - no you never even felt that, you took it as a given - that vitality was a birth right and - worse - an option.

Last week my immunologist told me that maybe I should be monitored a bit more closely, more blood tests, a couple of x-rays, lung function testing, the works. I successfully negotiated a compromise and we will compare notes in January. She mentioned that only 1500 people in this country have my level and combination of autoantibodies. Based on annual figures of diagnoses or whatever. Statistics. I have no idea but I wonder all the same, if ten percent of them have stomach cramps, that's possibly 150 people sitting in their quiet kitchens with a cup of herb tea waiting for daylight unable to finish a decent novel.


  1. I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing gastritis again, and I empathize with you and those 150 people you mentioned. Gastritis was part of my eating disorder experience. It seems so strange to me now how I welcomed the gastritis because I had no appetite and could lose weight more easily.

    I'm reading the book you mentioned a little while back, Illness. Thank you for suggesting that. Because of chronic allergies and narcolepsy and, until recently, headaches, I have never experienced full physical vitality but didn't know so clearly that I wasn't experiencing it until reading what I've read so far in that book. I have just always known that so many other people have much more energy and health than I did and felt vaguely ashamed of myself. More than ever now, I know that I don't need to feel that way, or at least not for very long.

    Doing nothing is part of living our lives fully and so is knowing that we are not alone in our limitations, and that, in fact, we are in good company.

    Just came across this from the Bhagavad Gita that feels oddly true to me:

    All this is full. All that is full.
    From fullness, fullness comes.
    When fullness is taken from fullness,
    Fullness still remains.

    Sending love and encouragement one day at a time.

  2. doing nothing
    simply seeing
    simply being?

  3. Trying, Nick. Always trying.

    Thanks Am for the quote and your kind thoughts.

  4. So many people I know live in pain, it kind of blows my mind. Everyday the ache, deep and without end. I have headaches and degenerative arthritis. I try not to take pain medication because I hate the other drugged feelings that accompany the diminishment of pain. Many years ago I once told a doctor, what I want is for you to take the pain away from me, not me away from the pain. I wish there were answers for you, solid and true. Something that would fix this, and that you would be utterly restored to good health. Thinking of you.

  5. Some synchronicity here. You had been talking about the moment of resigning. Yesterday, after reading your blog post, I came across this in 365 Tao: Daily Meditations, by Deng Ming-Dao. It is the reading for October 30:

    "Oh, I know. The purpose of following Tao is to be well adjusted. The secret of Tao is to know how to pass into old age gracefully. Yes, I know. But may I not still reflect on the poignancy of it all?

    To be fully human is to know resignation."

  6. I often return to this quote by Martin Amis, I find it quite comforting when I consider that apart from being ill, I am also getting old, which I often forget with all that other stuff going on:

    "Your youth evaporates in your early 40s when you look in the mirror. And then it becomes a full-time job pretending you’re not going to die, and then you accept that you’ll die. Then in your 50s everything is very thin. And then suddenly you’ve got this huge new territory inside you, which is the past, which wasn’t there before. A new source of strength. Then that may not be so gratifying to you as the 60s begin, but then I find that in your 60s, everything begins to look sort of slightly magical again. And it’s imbued with a kind of leave-taking resonance, that it’s not going to be around very long, this world, so it begins to look poignant and fascinating."

  7. Ah, that 4.00 am stint. Know it well. Really hoping the gastritis settles down. Ugh.

    And that Martin Amis quote is so, so true. I'm very conscious that there are a limited number of seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) left ahead to enjoy. They are finite. This is not depressing, it just heightens my appreciation.

    And your writing is fabulous.

    (Tried to leave a comment yesterday which seems to have vanished into the ether. But I'm not easily deterred!).

  8. I am sorry cramps are back. you write so beautifully of hard things. the arrogance of being healthy. one has no idea that it can ever be otherwise when everything works optimally. i look at children, young people, my own son, whose bodies move with ease and fluidity and abundant good health. i marvel at it. i can barely remember the time when i didn't have to think about walking. when I didnt have to say, okay now, hip, and joints in general, we're moving, we're moving, suck it up. I hope things improve for you soon. xo