16 July 2017



Through the open window I can hear R digging out one of the compost heaps, the dull sound when the spade hits the sieve. He will be busy all afternoon, spreading the fine compost on the beds now that the potatoes and onions have been harvested.
Earlier, he picked the black currants and later, I will top and tail them for the freezer and on a cold day in the autumn, we will mash them and boil them and strain the pulp through a fine mesh and add some mint and vanilla sugar and a shot of gin.

Last night was awful, colicky and sweating, I walked and sat and got up again trying to find a less painful position, counting the hours it will take for whatever is tormenting my digestive system to pass through. I have had nights like this for many years on and off, maybe once a month, a gift from the immune suppression medication. And there have been nights when at 4 am I was ready to get rid off all my life saving drugs just for a few decent painless hours of sleep.

I have never been very good with sleepless nights. All this tossing and turning, feeding on buried anger, unsolved problems resurfacing, I would get so mad at R and the entire sleeping world out there, oblivious to my discomfort. And even now that I have mastered the techniques, the breathing, the progressive muscle relaxation, when I return to making lists in my mind, rework the details of pleasant memories floating in the Indian ocean, I still fell I deserve better, that all this is not fair.
If I don't watch it, these nights can be tricky, with many hidden traps, a lonely tunnel opening full of suspicious thoughts, unresolved conflicts, too many questions, ancient fears. And before too long, I am reduced to doubts about everything and nothing and furious with myself and anybody I can blame.

Next morning, sluggish, nauseous but more or less pain free, I get up carefully, slowly, yet full of hope and the night, it's just another memory.

A bit over seven years ago, when I had wept with relief that there was not only a diagnosis but also medicines to keep me alive, I just smiled at the expert who listed the most common side effects and risks and what I need to watch out for and so on. Fine with me, I nodded foolishly. I can handle that.

After all, the terminology is nothing but benign, side effects, something you have on the side. As in: Oh, by the way, you will develop chronic gastritis, your gums will constantly bleed with ulcers, your skin will bruise easily and you will develop an endless series of festering cuts and nicks and tears anywhere on your skin but generally in places where band aids won't stay put, and beware, they will take ages to heal (if at all).
Most of the time, I also forget to remember that over time the side effects 'have been known to worsen'.  I remember thinking, have been known, what a preposterous concept and of course, I dismissed it immediately.

As I said, I nodded foolishly. You learn an awful lot, I admit that. Mainly, that you need to get up in the morning and welcome the day, regardless.

14 comments:

  1. This reminds me of how when we get married we vow to live through sickness and in health and we have no concept of what that means but eventually, we learn.
    And I always think this is why older women cry at weddings- we know. We know. And we know how incredibly hard that can be sometimes but that yes, we mostly just have to get up every morning and welcome the day and also, keep on loving.
    The best we can.

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    1. You are so right with this. And still, even after 35+ yrs, I often almost beg my man to reassure me that he can handle it.

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  2. Your resilience is amazing. I was ready to call it quits last week because of the unbearable itch from a little bit of sunburn on my shoulder where I'd missed with the sunscreen...what a wimp! You are an inspiration. I'm glad at least for you that you wake each morning ready to fight all the problems again. I hope they will diminish with time.

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    1. Molly, I have had sunburn that was far far worse than a night of stomach colic. I can relate.

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  3. welcome the day regardless—wise words, thank you, sabine.
    xo

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  4. Beautiful post, ancient fears and all.

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  5. I can so relate to this post even as it doesn't pertain to me but to my daughter (and thus, me). The absurd language of sickness and illness -- the euphemisms. What IF we told it all like it is?

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  6. Sending love to you, Sabine.

    "... Like the ocean ..." (and music)

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  7. Thinking of you, hoping for nights of good sleeps and days pain free and wonderful. Sending you the very best wishes.

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  8. Should I be sympathetic or should I provide robust alternatives? I ask that question not having the faintest idea of what the answer might be or should be.

    In fact my immediate sympathy is triggered by your first para: the sounds and (by implication) the travail of R labouring with compost, a slave to the spade. I hate gardening not least because it has landed me in the most ridiculous of paradoxes. Presently I pay B, a near neighbour and an obsessive gardener, to cultivate my plot. Yet B is the same age as I am and is decaying at the same rate, albeit in different ways. Thus he may not bend (bad back) nor may he come up with, or execute, executive decisions. Irony of ironies yesterday I noticed that B was himself employing a gardener to remove a tree or bushlet which was beyond him. Yet if I were to search out a younger, fitter, more autocratic gardener would B be brought down with sorrow to the grave? Reminded of his own horticultural inadequacies?

    Meanwhile I suffer vicariously by reading your blog because I share the same initial (twice over in my case) with your distant labourer.

    All is not fair, you say. My initial impulse is to agree but I must be honest. On several occasions during a long life I faced terrible situations each with potentially life-changing consequences, though none involved matters of health. But, without rhyme or reason, certainly without foreseeable comfort, it was as if a greater force was intervening. On one occasion it is not too fanciful to conclude that the intervention prolonged my life and ensured my declining years have been passed in relative comfort.

    What am I - a shaky atheist but with no alternative to antheism - to make of this greater force? Randomness one may accept, but one tends to question beneficial randomness. As you are quite justifiably questioning malign randomness.

    Already this is far too long and there are still no useful answers. I must break off. I think there are benefits to be gained from acts of questioning, so long as these are pursued as far as you can pursue them. Taking advantage of the new options that arise out newly laid-down words. Sorry, no help at all.

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    1. When I say that all is not fair, I revert to my inner teenager and in my mind's eye, I stamp my foot and bang the doors. It helps - for a microsecond.

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  9. I think we all address side effects that way. I have only mild comparisons but when I had my recent skin surgery, I was surprised to find that some of the side effects REALLY HAPPENED and were not all that pleasant. I suppose it's an extension of the denial of mortality that most of us live in every day. And I understand about sleepless nights, and the relative enormity of the thoughts and problems that torment us in those hours. I hope your gastritis eases and you get some sleep soon.

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  10. God I know. My forearms are a mass of bruises caused by taking warfarin. I woke up about 3:30 a.m. last night and paced around until I felt comfortable enough to go back to bed and to sleep. I am not too disturbed by bad thoughts, and I wonder why, but I'm definitely not in a happy frame of mind at that hour.
    The opioids, which I need to treat lung congestion, no longer lift my mood, even temporarily, and I need to stay on a rigid schedule with them in order not to take more in an attempt to create that "high" again. My hearing is going, and I am starting to have tooth and gum problems. Cortisone is accelerating my cataract, and I will need surgery soon. And I'm only 6 months into treatment!
    On the + side, I went pool walking yesterday, and for 1/2 hour experienced total lack of pain and a warmth all over that lasted for several hours.

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    1. Oh Hattie, at least you had that pool experience. May the + side continue to provide such offerings. It's a hard road you are on, asking a lot from your body.
      Courage!

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