18 May 2021

 

In illness .... We float with the sticks on the stream, helter-skelter with the dead leaves on the lawn, irresponsible and disinterested and able, perhaps for the first time in years, to look round, to look up--to look, for example, at the sky.

Virgina Woolf

If it were not for my never ending monotonous litany of symptoms, which with predictable regularity is calling on me, my patience, my stamina, my stoic self - where would I be these days? Theoretically I am all for remaining stoic, after all it supposedly involves an indifference to high flying emotions, but in reality, that has never been my strong point, so it is hard work. Asking me to recollect myself - but as what? To reorient - but towards where?

Also, I consider one of my major achievements that - after much tossing and turning and chaotic thinking in the early, early hours - I finally allow myself to just lie there and Observe What Happens Next. I feel very Zen writing this down. Mostly, I am so tired by then that I fall asleep but it's the thought that counts, surely.

So yes, I have now managed the art of stepping back, mentally (having long since stepped back physically) from the ordinary claims of the world. But somehow, I still find myself walking on eggshells waiting for things to get worse, especially with the novelty set of side effects a new medication brings, the way it messes with the nerves along my legs and the - as yet - moderate hair loss. I am not so sure whether I am ready to swap my thankfully thick hair and the full sensory faculties of my legs for - what? I quite forget. Maybe a longer life? 

Next year R will turn 70, which makes him older than his mother ever was and almost the age his father was when he died. He is a picture of health and fitness and unlike his father was never a smoker and unlike his mother did not have multiple pregnancies and a massive traumatic car accident. Everything is stacked in his favour. 

When the first medical expert mentioned to me that my life expectancy will be somewhat reduced, I cried while waiting for R to pick me up. That expert was a piece of shit, really, because he urged me to get on the liver transplant list as, in his words, my liver had five years, max. But my daughter hasn't even finished school, I replied. (He was wrong. My liver recovered, while other bits have since packed it in. I don't think about it much.)

On Sunday, during my duty phone call my father in his nonchalant way mentioned that he has accepted to be locked up in this care home until his death. I almost replied, maybe that won't be long now. But I held my tongue. Whereas he felt it appropriate to add, you with all your health issues and medications, you'll probably die before me anyway. I politely changed the subject.

It is disappointingly cold outside, so that on these long bright evenings, we sit wrapped in blankets and watch the rain showers blowing across the lawn. Everything is lush and soggy and colourful to look at, the garden is enough. Almost.




8 comments:

  1. your father is such an insensitive ass. you're a better person than I as I would be skipping the 'duty' call. no need to make myself available to barbs, intentional or not.

    ah, Sabine I do wish I had a magic wand for you. I marvel at your acceptance (as if you have a lot of choices here). Zen = peace of mind.

    I go to the doctor and have all sorts of ailments some of which I take meds for others I decline. My husband never goes to the doctor, I mean never, he'll turn 70 this year also. He smokes, drinks, is overweight, gets no exercise and apparently has zero health issues. wtf! I take that back. he does have one obvious issue, his lungs from years of mold making, sandblasting, and smoking but still he does not go to the doctor.

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  2. Your father is, to put it quite bluntly, a narcissistic asshole. You deserve so much better.

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  3. I echo what ellen abbott wrote, "your father is such an insensitive ass.." Ah well, I guess some things never change. I spend long hours in the night considering how my body will make its exit from this life. Will I live as long as my dad (he died at the age of 73, and I am now 69). I know I won't live as long as my mom (she died at 92). Our bodies take their journeys.
    I wish things were easier for you and that doctors knew answers and medications didn't have side effects. I hope things improve, the sunlight returns and the garden grows with abundant beauty in every way.

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  4. I sympathize with your trouble sleeping. That would be the worst. When I can't sleep and have to just lie there in the dark wee hours, when no birds are chirping and it seems like the world has ended, I long for those first fingers of dawn through chinks in the blinds, assuring me that life is about to start up again, the birds will sing again, the sun will shine again, the garden will dry out again....
    All things I wish for you Sabine.

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  5. the thought of being wrapped in blankets watching the rain blow across the yard doesn't sound half bad. Usually I enjoy apartment life, but I think I have finally been inside for too many months at a stretch, with only brief interludes outdoors, and now not enough work to keep my mind off the fact that I am starting to suffer cabin fever. Too much body pain for long aimless walks, so I shall have to figure out something else. Awareness is a start.

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  6. Clearly your father is not one from whom you can expect comfort or understanding as you know, but expect that doesn't lessen the reaction to his words you feel. If he has been like this all your lives together that's one thing, but if as he as aged this has become progressively worse you might wonder if there's been a "wearing" of the brain cells and considered as such -- doesn't necessarily make it any easier to hear the words. Do care for yourself as best you can.

    My sleep patterns have changed in my latter years. Pain with some movements has decreased in recent months for reasons I do not know, but am grateful. If I am not falling back to sleep I sometimes turn on the radio to almost unintelligible sound levels which generally gets my focus allowing my mind to eventually drift off to sleep. Any music would have to be soothing instrumental, but even occasional commentary seems not to interfere.

    Too much rain some places, not enough others places as where I live. Have known both but we're left to cope with what we have where we are. Do stay warm, dry and comfortable as possible.

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  7. "Also, I consider one of my major achievements that - after much tossing and turning and chaotic thinking in the early, early hours - I finally allow myself to just lie there and Observe What Happens Next. I feel very Zen writing this down. Mostly, I am so tired by then that I fall asleep but it's the thought that counts, surely."

    Yep. Surely. An experience worth living for.

    Your father and my father (deceased since 2003 on St. Patrick's Day) share the peculiar ability to make inexplicably cold-hearted remarks to us. And yet, it occurred to me that your father is like a boy whistling in the dark. It occurred to me that he would be devastated if you were to die before him.

    "That expert was a piece of shit, really, because he urged me to get on the liver transplant list as, in his words, my liver had five years, max."

    I've been told by "experts" at various times that I needed a daily pharmaceutical intervention for the rest of my life. After learning that they were wrong, I've become wary of their "expertise." I take what I like from them and leave the rest.

    A friend of mine was put on a kidney transplant list 10 years ago. When he disclosed that to me in 2016, as we were getting to know each other, I looked at him intently and said, "You don't look like someone who is on a kidney transplant list." He laughed and remembered my words. He, like me, is 71 going on 72. He just celebrated his 2nd grandchild's 2nd birthday. He reminded me of my words from 2016, laughed again and said, "And I'm not done yet." I'm no expert, but I could see a mysterious vitality in him that the experts could not. I still see it. All the way from Washington State, I see it in you, Sabine. Thank you for music that is new to me. Sending love.

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  8. The Zen approach is the best approach for all of us, really, regardless of diagnosed or undiagnosed or misdiagnosed ills. Whatever's happening that day is what's happening. The future is unknown. The past is gone. Easy for me to say, I suppose, but I really believe that's the answer. As for your father, maybe he's insecure thinking about his own future, but that's still a nasty thing to say to you.

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