14 February 2020

Currently, I can touch with my tongue seven open sores inside my mouth. Not too bad. I've had more. Once upon a time in my innocence I tried herbal rinses, sage tea, mint concoctions. Now I go straight for the hospital size tube of chlorhexidine forte and lather it on, reeking like a dental clinic.

Things have been rough recently. Don't ask. Winter. Cold air. The News. My aching hands and feet and shoulders and that whole chaotic mess of a compromised body. The exhaustion. Feeling too sorry for myself. The medications. Always that. I am a bunch of  walking side effects. Sometimes it's a bit much. I know it could be worse, don't fucking tell me how to cope. Don't even start.

I am working, I carefully design my days so that I can spend four to five hours at work. My golden hours, my smiling face. Two cups of coffee before I leave home to keep myself upright until I force myself to walk up the stairs of the multi storey staff car park and drive home with the radio keeping me awake. My friends in HR calculated that I have 461 working days left before retirement. At night, I do the numbers, substracting leave entitlements and overtime and public holidays. Like counting sheep.

The news. I read. I watch. I listen.
The Syrian nurse (he really is a fully trained surgeon but has no papers to prove it) who works a floor above me laughs into my face, I am going insane, does it show? Nine years of war and nobody cares.
There is a scene in For Sama (this important documentary is free online) on endless repeat in my head, the scene where the pregnant woman is brought to the underground hospital where the blood runs along the floors and the doctors deliver her baby by emergency cesarian while she is unconscious. The rough way they rub and slap that newborn until it finally finally draws a breath and screams. Life and death in war on earth. This is where we are stuck.

Last week we saw the first bold attempt of the fascist right wing party to uproot our democracy here. They failed.  But, history, people, history.

After breakfast I watch my grandchild climbing stairs with concentration. I will not allow myself any speculations about this child's future. In the evening, R rubs arnica ointment into my shoulders, hands and back and we both believe for a while that it helps.
"Most people want to believe in the idea of a just world. They want to believe that the consent of the governed still matters, so they try to give it in retrospect. Because for most people, these are crimes so enormous they undermine our sense of safety, crimes so big they can’t be allowed to be crimes at all. And that’s a kind of innocence we can no longer afford. It’s happening all over the world, wherever swollen strongmen swindle their way into power. It’s happening in India, in Britain, in Brazil. And wherever it’s happening, the center ground, people who believe in the “decency” of the system, are clinging to the swinging basket of institutional checks and balances, holding their breath as the ground disappears and the air gets thinner, wondering if it’s too late to let go."
Laurie Penny

Today is Valentine's day, that sticky commercial ritual that arrived here in Europe along with coca cola and fast food. Everything is sugar coated if we let it. But remember. Sugar is bad for you.


Anonymous said...

This has been a long winter. So full of sadness and disappointment on such a big scale it's hard to grasp the vastness of it all. Our bodies sometimes adds to the pain. We watch the world unfold and come apart at the seams. We suffer in so many ways. It's partly why we listen to music. Those voices, those lyrics that heartfelt moment of trying to share this thing we call being human. Thinking of you, Sabine, here on this planet we share. I'm thinking of you. Thank you for this song.

ellen abbott said...

I was thinking about you today, wondering how you are, you've been quiet. so now I know. the world is going to hell in a handbasket. cruelty and power is the game of the day. border patrol is getting ready to deploy swat teams in tank like vehicles bristling with war machines to our sanctuary cities to hunt down and capture our undocumented citizens and throw them in concentration camps until they get booted out regardless of how much they contribute to the common good. we are horrified by the cruelty of Trump and that one house of congress enables it all.

am said...

Today in an extended conversation with friends of various ages, the topic was love. When I think of what love is after reading your post, I think of you and R, your daughter and son-in-law, your grandchild climbing the stairs, loved. I watched the trailer for For Sama. "Resistance." "Love." Thank you for mentioning it and giving the link and always for what you write.

Barbara Rogers said...

Thanks for sharing this music...beautiful. It's no fun sometimes being human, living in these bodies. I salute you for your efforts to deal with all you've got on your plate. I recently read Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers...a lot about how we tend to trust people innately.

My life so far said...

I had a patient at work this week who was knocked flat on his ass by his chemo. He looked and felt like shit. He just waits, waits for the effects of the chemo to pass. Waits to feel better. Watches the clock, waiting. Another day gone.

I'm sorry your illness is kicking your ass again. I can't even imagine how difficult it would be, waiting to feel better, not knowing if you will feel better. Just waiting.

I'm glad your grandchild is there though, small children, babies, they are what give all of us hope that there will be a tomorrow. Sending hugs and love.

Ms. Moon said...

I so often feel at a loss for words to comment on your posts. What can I say that could possibly make any difference in your life? Look at me- a person who falls apart at the first sign of difficulty. Your strength looms as large as mountains to me.
I guess what I can say is that I send love to you across the miles along with recognition of your strength.

Colette said...

I'm sorry you are in the midst of so much. I'm holding you SO close to my heart right now.

37paddington said...

It is happening in America, too. Fascism is here. The rule of law has been shown to be a paper tiger. I am sorry you are struggling physically. I sit here in my own compromised body, shoulders and back and neck aching after this weeks bout with the physical therapist. I think whatever we did has made everything worse. I hope not but it feels that way. I know about the smiling, the forcing your feet up steps, the brave face. Cheers, my friend. Sending you love and strength and wishes for relief from pain.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I don't think I can watch that documentary.

I am sorry about the mouth sores and being so physically unwell. I went to a doctor today about a UTI and almost laughed at how it paled in comparison to how I felt in chemo. Being ill sucks. Sending healing wishes your way.

A Cuban In London said...

Sorry to hear about the mouth sores.

Laurie Penny is one of the finest social commentators in the UK today. I used to follow her when she was still a blogger and before she started writing for the New Statesman. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Sandra said...

Thank you. You help me get through the week. Good to know there are kindred spirits.

Elizabeth said...

I am so sorry that you're hurting -- in every way, it sounds, right now. I'm thinking of you and wishing you well.

Roderick Robinson said...

I can guess how you cope - you write.

Just to show how ecumenical I am these days, I'm listening to, and reacting to, a dozen pop/rock songs which may or may not qualify as classics (Guns 'n' roses, Sweet Child; Dire Straits, Money for nothing; Michael Jackson, Beat it, etc. List provided by my elder daughter) to see what impact they have on a mind brought up on Schubert, Schumann, Mozart and all those other German speakers.

I don't always play your recommendation but in this instance I did. For what it's worth my judgment was favourable but what struck me was the format: very short vocal lines, a reasonable emphasis on comprehensibility, comparatively restrained backing, much musical repetition, a rather more forceful middle eight, and - of course - miserable sentiments. I don't listen to much pop/rock (or whatever the cognoscenti label is) but I realise I've heard quite a few songs which appear to belong to this genre. Does this genre have a name?

Joared said...

Oh, a very moody, almost hauntingly so, Valentine's Day tune! I stymie my tendency to want to offer you comedic coping suggestions since what you're experiencing seems all too serious. Having provided swallowing therapy which can encompass a variety of complicating factors, I think of you and your possible oral intake challenges. I marvel at how you manage to persevere with working toward retirement and can only wish you as many minimally unpleasant days as is humanly possible.

As for the state of the world, I'm reminded of a cartoon I just distributed to select friends showing a young boy introducing a cane-carrying, obviously geriatric, body bent old man wearing glasses to his classmates in a Show and Tell experience. The boy says: "This is my grandfather. He's going to explain why this country is going to hell in a handbasket."

The other cartoon I sent said: "Don't make old people mad. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off." Even my several decades younger children enjoyed these.

I keep renewing my spirit to tolerate so much of the news in my country and around the world in order to stay informed. I'm frustrated with the physical and other limitations especially I have at my age now, but remain determined to exert whatever energy and means I can to counter the forces threatening freedom, tolerance and peace in my country and the world. You keep hangin' in there!