25 January 2019

permission to unravel

Once again I wake in the early hours without any bearings, the small shaft of light coming through the blinds spinning. In my left ear, the hatefully familiar deep hammering noise. I shout out a string of curses, the worst that come to mind, while I stumble and crawl to the bathroom along the walls and on the floor, before the contents of my stomach rush up. I wash my face, blow my nose and as instructed, take note the blood clots shooting out from my sinuses. My knees buckle and I let myself fall.
Hours later, tamed by dramamine and the resignation provided by too many years of chronic illness, I am watching my GP's receptionist print out another sick cert.

It is my understanding of things in general that we all carry at least one demon around with us. They are tricky, demons, never showing their real face. And no, they are not obvious and have nothing to do with fear or loss or something that happened long ago.
The demon I carry around occasionally taps out secret messages, knocking inside my sinuses and inner ears, my brain. I have long given up deciphering. It's all code, acts of pure self defence, reminding me that he's still around, that he'll never leave. But then again, he'd be lost without me. So there. And for now, my demon comes with a sick cert. 

This year's first. 

Tuesday went in a blur.

On Wednesday, I had what my daughter would call a small massive melt down. I usually have one by day three anyway. By now, we are pretty blase about it. This time, I extended my repertoire in that I shouted and called R names. He shrugged it off and made tea. Secretly, I was hoping for him to at least lose some of his cool. But he never does.

By Thursday, I was back to coping mechanisms and managed to persuade a hotel manager to forgo the cancellation fees because, bullshit. Also, we are not going to attend my father's 90th birthday party this weekend, which is a relief in more ways I can express. 

Today, Friday, I am fed up and scared and I wish for - oh I forget, nothing, everything, whatever.

A few days into the new year, I cut the big toe of my right leg walking on this glorious, sunny beach after a swim in the Pacific ocean.  I had run into the waves holding my daughter's hand. We were giddy like teenagers on the run. Her baby, a few weeks old, was well out of sight and earshot behind the dunes, looked after by the men. And briefly, she was my little girl again as we were diving through the surf,  laughing, shouting with happiness.
The next day I had to show the red toe and my by then throbbing leg to a doctor, and I started a 5-day course of antibiotics. The toe got better, I forgot about it. 

What's this?, my GP said on Monday. This antibiotic is not authorized for use in Europe. Could be the cause of this flare up, tsk tsk etc. (But do I care?)


  1. Thanks for your comment Sabine. I stayed in Loreley two years ago. We attended the fantastic Night of the Prog festival. Its a beautiful place and so was the beer and food.

  2. As I have been sick this week I have thought so much about you. My illness is mild and yet, even that has led me down paths both familiar and strange, the way fever can do, and discomfort, and I was humbled, knowing that this is not just a temporary land that you dwell in, but one that is a place you so often find yourself. Times a hundred, most likely. As I am coming out of it, I am absolutely grateful for all of the small things that might be taken for granted but which I have been reminded are so important. This morning I lay in my warm bed and it was cold on my face and I thought of how enjoyable that was. I was not in pain, I was simply able to lie there and feel those things purely and sweetly. This is not much to ask and yet, if you are ill, not something you can really enjoy.
    I hate this un-ease that you experience. This damn random dis-ease.
    I wish I had some power to make you full of the ease of health again.
    I don't. But please know that I so often think of you and wonder at your strength.
    May this wave of it all pass soon.

  3. I don’t have words adequate to comfort you in this moment but please know I am here, caring, bearing witness, praying the woman running into the surf with her beloved girl finds her way out again soon. Love.

  4. Oh man. So sorry you're afflicted this way. I knew it was hard but this made it vivid :-(


  5. "They are tricky, demons, never showing their real face."

    Sending love to you, Sabine. I treasure the image of you and your daughter swimming in the Pacific Ocean at that beautiful beach. I groaned when I read that your GP suggested that your flare-up was due to the antibiotic that healed your toe. Whatever. Good to know that your toe healed. May some good come of the permission to unravel.

    Thank you so much for the link to Democracy Now! talking with Nathan Phillips, followed by Chase Iron Eyes and David Treuer. May more Indigenous voices be heard.

  6. Ugh! I can imagine being one that has something similar but not quite so severe. It’s hard to not despair at least a little bit. I’m sorry Sabine. I truly am. Hope you get back on your feet nice and solid soon.

  7. I have 2 friends with autoimmune diseases...we call them (among others) invisible diseases. I've got lots of lung problems, which knock me down many an unexpected time. I make clay dragons, and they usually are cute, but I realized they also represent the demons that I deal with. And when I make them snaggle-toothed with a silly grin, I realize (just now) that that is one way I show my own bravery. So glad you got that swim with your daughter. What a lovely memory to carry through this episode of pain.

  8. so sorry to read this. I hate being sick and can't imagine what it must be like to have a chronic condition, something you have no control over like just avoiding sick people. recover quickly and be well.

  9. Our bodies are such tricky things. Always doing something behind our backs without warning... and then... bam... the results. I so wish I were a magical healer and could fix it all with love.

  10. Everyone else has said what I might. I feel it, and send you my love and encouragement. In so many ways you are heroic. But I also want to say how happy it made me to read about your dip in the Pacific with your daughter. I'm glad you had that opportunity, that moment.

  11. I'm glad you were healthy while visiting your daughter, although I imagine that is cold comfort when faced with a flare up of your chronic illness. Perhaps it was the stress of the infection that caused the flare up. Stress is hard on bodies and minds. Hope you're feeling better soon.

  12. That sounds dreadful.

    I'm glad, at least, you are out of going to an event you didn't want to be at.

  13. At least you had the happiness of playing, carefree, in the surf with your daughter!

  14. Wasn't your Dad's 90th the occasion I was down to sing Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen to the gathered multitudes? All that practising and rehearsal gone to waste. Pfui (That's a noise that Frenchmen make in books. I have no idea how you pronounce it.)

    I've been watching the House of Commons on the Parliament TV channel. Do you realise you will soon become a foreigner to me. Never, I say. Never.

  15. What a beautiful photo. And illness, ug. I think we are only temporarily able-bodied. l am sick right now and relegated to the couch. It gives me permission to drink hot toddies with brandy which I don't really think helps...

    Hope you are better bye and bye. As we chug along in the new year. May the world heal itself with our help.