Tuesday, 28 February 2017

23/24th Feb 2017: thoughts for today, 18 years post stroke

I originally posted this as a note on Facebook on 23rd Feb. Then I thought why not stick it on the blog? Somehow it seems important to do. I mean even one of my uncles felt compelled to share my story. So here you go...

Thoughts for today, 18 years post-stroke.

 Eighteen years ago today I died. I had major surgery that took, in the end, well over 20 hours' of hard work because of complications that then required 2 teams and a third surgeon from another hospital for an emergency procedure. It also involved countless pacings upon the floor by the medics, orderlies, friends and family in the hospital and at home. During the op I also suffered a massive stroke.

To this day people are still unsure of what that means, what a stroke is, they do not understand the struggle or effect of a stroke and often think a stroke survivor like me is OK - because they look OK.

I just thought I'd remind people, and myself, about the brain injury that a full and complete stroke is and how it leaves its invisible scars. Because to be frank I am still coming to terms with its aftermath.

Here's what happens in your brain as it's starved of oxygen :

Every minute that a stroke occurs 1.9 million neurons, 13.8 million synapses and 7 miles (12km) of axons are lost... So for every hour the stroke is continuing that's like 3.6 years' worth of ageing in the brain. That's pretty scary, right?

Then when you realize that a complete stroke cycle ('massive stroke') takes 12 hours that's about 36 years' worth of ageing in the brain alone. Of course so far that's not even addressed the issues of what that translates to in the body and mind...

The damage that a stroke does can completely disable a person, even make them a 'vegetable' (a vulgar shorthand for entering into a permanent vegetative state). It depends entirely upon where in the brain it occurs. Mine was ' somewhere' vaguely at the back of my brain, one assumes in my occipital region, roughly into both hemispheres of the brain, slightly more damage in the right. So, I was paralyzed down my left side. I could not speak. In fact, the left hand side of the world was invisible to my right brain. Of course I was aware of it because I could see bits of it out of my right eye. But I couldn't turn my head that way. It was a very strange feeling. It was like a big dark wall had occurred overnight and I could not find a door to the left... So confusing.

But, I thank God I was only 24 because very quickly my speech came back and by the end of the first week I was hardly having problems with speaking, although finding words was very difficult. The rest of the 3 months I was in hospital were spent trying to get me back on my feet, fighting infection, having yet more surgery to give my left leg some skin grafts on the gaping wounds that needed to be inflicted to save the leg and quite possibly my life. Oh, yes, and recover from the heart surgery...

© S Deeming, 2015
The skin graft surgery put my stroke rehab on hold because I had to keep the leg still for 3 weeks. Mercifully the grafts took and after that I worked really hard to get my brain and left leg talking to one another again. Sadly my left arm, wrist, hand and fingers have decided not to listen to the brain very much and my brain has now become disconnected from the limb in such a way that I don't really know where it is most of the time. It's like an alien part of me. Hence my reasons for wanting to have the tattoo starting from the shoulder blade and going round onto the arm itself. I needed to be reconnected in a more visual way. It has helped a bit, but once the whole arm is done I think it will be much better.

Of course, seeing it is still not the same as feeling it. Last night for example, I was aware of pain in my left arm (a constant thing because the muscles are spastic - hypertonic - much of the time) but I had no idea where my arm was. I went to where I thought it was (by my side as I sat reading in bed) and I was horrified to find only the bedding. I literally had to put my book down to look for my arm. It was stuck between the bed and the chest of drawers. It was highly comical, but also totally unnerving. For a split second I thought my arm had actually fallen off. It was so lifeless and alien to me.

I'm not fishing for sympathy or compliments. I'm writing for myself. I'm writing to remind myself of just one set of horrific traumas I have survived and come through. I am writing this now before my brain forgets tomorrow what I remembered today: that a stroke is a devastating thing. I died during the surgery. I survived the surgery. But more than the physical death, part of my ability to recognize me died when those millions of neurons, synapses and seven miles of axons were expunged. That is a scary thought. I'm glad it's just my arm I do not recognize. What if I looked in a mirror and had no idea who the face staring back was?

People, including, sadly, medics, assume that because I can walk and talk there are no lasting effects of this 'surgical complication'. Every day is a struggle. Every day is a battle. Some days I can barely scrape the energy together to make a cup of tea. Some days I can go for a walk. Some days I just have to sleep. Some days I have no words at all. Losing words is terrifying to me.

Each week I go to my therapist as we unpick 40+ years of immense trauma and I sit there and feel like I have nothing to talk about. 50 minutes later I drive home wondering how we got to discussing whatever thought that struck me in so much detail. Each week is like another resurrection of a piece of myself. PTSD, anxiety, panic and agoraphobia might be where I'm at right now, but I am not going to be 'here' forever...

Every day my head is full of noise, a Calliopean claustrophobia of negative thoughts, lies and nonsense that wants to hiss and wheeze like Stoddard's steam instrument and drown out my own Spirit's voice. But my Spirit IS louder and stronger than all of that bluster and wheeze. I am STILL here. I have risen from the dead. I shall continue to rise from the dead until every ounce of my self and my purpose here, however insignificant it or I may look to those who cannot see, has been used up. Not before.

Today I might well be afraid to leave my house, but I am fighting a battle inside and winning.



Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Falling Asleep of Grandpa George

No, this is not about Grandpa George Bucket, Grandfather of Charlie Bucket*, but about my Maternal Grandfather who passed away after breakfast (although I think he slept through breakfast to be honest) this morning, 15th March 2013.

Today was also the third anniversary of my father's funeral. And the week of the first year's mind of my friend Jackie's passing. So all-in-all a bit of a sad day you might say.

This morning started all weird. In fact the whole week has been weird emotionally. Last Friday (8th) was the third anniversary of Dad's death, but Sunday 10th was all about mothers being remembered for all the hard work they do for just keeping-it-all-together when the faecal matter hits the air circulating device... and for being - generally - jolly good eggs (and huggers). Mums really are quite ace. especially my Mum.

Anyway, back on point, this morning I woke up with an inkling that something somewhere was not right. But because I am mental I ignored the feeling. On our drive back to Mum's place we saw a funeral cortege waiting to make its way out into the traffic, both Mum and I silently taking stock of the "DAD" floral display in the hearse as we drove by and making our own silent prayers for the dear departed and their family and then, inevitably, pondering our own fathers. After we had passed by the hearse Mum proceeded to tell me the news that her own Dad had been taken into hospital last night after collapsing at the nursing home he was living in. His blood pressure had just crashed through the floor, and he was taken to hospital, still cracking jokes and being his usual crafty self.

It was a little bit later on, whilst I was in seeing my rheumatology consultant that Mum got the news that her father had actually passed away at 0940 this morning. She gave nothing away, and said nothing until after we had eaten lunch. Wise woman. I would not have been able to eat had she told me before.

My brain had already creaked into action as Mum was telling me all the news about Grandpa's collapse and we both knew that the weekend might bring some sad news. Neither of us were quite expecting it to be so soon.

Of course, my mind being the macabre and black (graveyard)-humoured place that it is, did grin inwardly at the thought of Grandpa passing away peacefully after breakfast - one NHS breakfast too far, I thought... Grandpa would have laughed, trust me.

I have so many emotions running through my being, for my Gradfather was a truly unique fellow. Definitely what you would call a "salt-of-the-earth" type (but more "sawlt-ov-the-erf" in 'is Cockney speech), Grandpa was always quick with a bit of lippy wit and unbidden 'advice'. He boxed at the legendary Repton Club in the East End, but didn't like the criminal crews that hung out there. He was, essentially, a thoroughly honest fellow. He worked hard for his family - just as well cos he and Nanny had ten kids!

And this is where my Mum and her nine younger siblings grew up, nice:

Rothschild Buildings, Whitechapel
pic: via googleimages

Despite his protestations to the contrary, he  had the vocabulary of as learned a fellow you ever could find, but he simply chose to punctuate it with the language of the barrack-room and everything was always more than just a 'thing', it was a "fuckin'fing" (one word).

Grandpa and I had a very interesting relationship. As a nipper he scared the crap out of my brother and I when we went to stay with him and Nanny in London, with his punchy humour and the baseball bat he always kept by his bed, and the cane that he would regularly threaten my brother with if he stepped out of line and of course all the swearing... It was deliciously exciting and deeply unnerving. We thoroughly loved him.

Then, a little over a year after my Grandmother, Rose, passed away I got a job in London and went to stay with Grandpa until I found an affordable flat. After ten years, and a minor stroke, Grandpa upped sticks and moved into a care home. During those ten years Grandpa and I talked about just about everything that there is to talk about, we argued, fought, hung out together, watched football world cups and rugby world cups and six nations together (the rugger-watching was at my behest - Grandpa was a big football follower, being a west Ham fan, unsurprisingly - and wasn't too keen on rugby at first), drank beer and played hundreds of Scrabble matches. I even managed to get grandpa to not annihilate the vegetables in the short time of two years... As a help to his eldest Grand-daughter, Grandpa would quite often "stick some grub on" for my return from work in the early days - what I was faced with was unfailingly inedible mush: Brussels sprouts and potatoes and cabbage that had all "been on a low light... since abaht free a-clock, gel". MmmmmmmmMMM, tasty.

After a couple of years Grandpa was quite happy for me to do more of the cooking (yay, blessed al-dente carrots!) and contented himself with winding me up by standing at my elbow and telling me I was doing "that" wrong - about evryfuckinfing...

Despite the incredibly frustrating (almost)daily kitchen-commentary and occasional row about that, Grandpa and I fell out most about only three things: 1) God; 2) Education; and 3) Fester and Septic

1) God: I have seen the prizes my Grandfather got (books and a bible or two) for his attending and singing in the choir at church as a wee'un, but it was WWII what finished off his belief in a God of love. He was posted in Italy towards the end of the war and his battalion happened to discover, and then were tasked with digging up and re-burying, mass-graves of thousands of bodies of children murdered by the Fascist regime of Mussolini and whoever else thought that children were good for so little that they deserved to die. It is sick. It is evil. But it is humans what do these things. I am sickened by what we humans do to one another but trying to explain just exactly why God cannot do some things despite His being omnipotent is not at all easy, or entirely satisfactory, because I can't always see the bigger picture; I can but hope and pray that some mote of the Truth took root deep within.  Grandpa and I would watch all the nature documentaries that we could (all in the days before recordable TV - and neither of us could be arsed with the video recorder) and it was then that God was always brought up - and only ever by Grandpa. He would say at the end, "if YOU want to try to talk to me about any type of a God, well -  it is there - in Nature". Beautiful. So absofrickinlootly true. And I would always reply, Amen, Grandpa!

2) Education: Grandpa was all for education. He was of a generation where most kids left school by the age of 14. Only posh kids in posh schools done exams... He had encyclopaedias, dictionaries and thesauruses in a small bookcase and if you asked him a question he would direct you to the books first. Not because he didn't know the answer, but because - whether he knew or understood it or not - he valued books, book learning and solid research. However we fell out about higher education, education for girls and education for me. My grandfather wondered what the use of educating me was given my "elf issues and disabili'ies" and the fact that I was a girl. Girls grow up, get married and have kids. Right? So the feminist in me raged at what I perceived to be active misogyny. With hindsight - and age - I realize that he was most definitely just a man with the cultural male-brain of an early 20th Century chap.  But he also could not get his head around the idea of studying something for the sheer pleasure - if there was no concrete purpose to some(f'n)thing it was all a waste of time. We agreed to disagree. And then argued about it again and again anyway.

3) Fester and Septic: This argument makes no sense if you have never had friends that make up ridiculous nicknames for one another (in fact it makes no sense. Period.), but in brief, I have a friend who received his monicker, Fester, partly in response to his quip about me being all 'septic' after getting an infection in hospital (and his kids thought it HIGHLY amusing to call me antiseptic (Auntie Septic), and partly because he looks kinda like uncle Fester (tee hee). Got that? Right, so then, back in the fabulous days looong before we all had mobile phones glued to our palms or computers in our homes and our own personal email address (and only had internet access at work), people used to write letters to one another.... well, my friend Fester and I would write with news periodically, but fester would insist upon writing "Septicus" as my name on the envelopes. This greatly irked Grandpa and eventually he started opening my mail and then decided that Fester was a truly vile person and behaved in an absolutely appalling way towards my friend and brother in Christ. I was incensed by the injustice of the opening-of-my-mail situation as well as Grandpa's sense of humour failrure about the nicknames in the first place, but both 'men' refused to back down and I was furious with both of them for being such stupid harrises. Of course, Fester still finds it highly amusing. See, boys never ever ever grow up!

Apart from the three main sticking points, Grandpa and I had a pretty decent friendship and I loved the days when my late Auntie Barbara and I took him out to the Museums or to watch the football; or just the days when we hung out at the weekends and had a few beers and put the world to rights (and had no rowing, just mutual distrust of the "useless mob up westminister"), or when my friends Matron and Boadicea would come, stay and wreak havoc and leave. At the end of every day Grandpa would say, "goodnight gel, see you in the mornin'".

Only this morning, he didn't get up. But at least he did manage to fall asleep last night,  unlike so many nights before.

Night night and God Bless you, Grandpa George.

* if you have no idea who, on God's green Erf, Charlie Bucket is, you will find him lurking in the pages of some Roald Dahl books... (and I will disown you)



Tuesday, 5 March 2013

blogging for the brain?

Now then, let's not all die of shock at the sudden 'productivity' on this little blog. I have been struggling enormously with my brain, and it has been fighting me at every possible opportunity and has, for the most part, got the better of me...

I wondered whether writing more often might actually help my brain to process info, and to fire on more cylinders than the half-of-one it seems to be running on just lately. This is an experiment in trying to heal my brain. Should I start a whole new blog dedicated to my disappearing neurons? I'll try it out here, and you can let me know what you think...

Firstly, one can assume that the posts will likely be disjointed and perhaps not even coherent, so I will totally understand if you are just left confused; consider that confusion a small gift of insight into the struggles of this little Loris's brain matter.

For quite some months now things have not been well in those little grey cells. Quite apart from the obvious traumas of two TIAs in the last quarter of 2012, I seem to be having more and more problems with my memory. We are now at the stage where I can no longer remember whether I have taken my medication. It really is just as well that I have FINALLY been taken of my anti-arrhythmia medications - yeehaw! - or I might be in dire straits.

That said, my blood might be clotting quite nicely in my veins for all I know. Best write a note-to-self re another blood test then... so many things to remember, so few neurons to do it... ;)

Anyway, back to the original point, which is the experiment to see whether my writing gibberish can improve my concentration and cognitive processing abilities. I am waiting for a brain scan to see what damage there is to my poor cerebrum.

We all know by now that I am endlessly fascinated by the quirks of my mortal coil and consider what a terrible shame it is that too many of the medics I meet forget that each quirk bit is connected to another to form a whole person and thus fail to address the assembling gaggle of glitches with any degree of seriousness. Well, except for one rather exceptional medic, known simply as "Ooh, 'e's a lovely man! (you don't mind waiting to see 'im you know.)" (or, Dr O'Halm, if you'll allow), on account of the way people talk about him whilst waiting in the outpatient department! One mention of the dreadful dizziness that has plagued me daily for almost 8 months now, and he ordered ECG tests over a week (revealed nothing - or rather the dizzies are not cardiogenic); then ordered brain scan (waiting for this to happen) too see if it's a brain thing... and chased up the hormone docs and a bazillion other things... see - he understands that the whole person just so happens to be made of many smaller parts that all need to work together....

Hmmmm, one body, many parts... Kinda reminds me of something else. Oh yes. Church! But that is a whole other topic of conversation.

Anyway, If you have any other ideas on how to help my flagging neuro-gloop, please let me know. I will endeavour to write something else this week...


Monday, 4 March 2013

From sofa-surfer to homeless hosteller...

Things have been Ker-ay-zeeee since Barney posted a little something at the back-end of last month.

After 18 months of prevailing upon my friends and family stealing their warmth; hugging their cats; eating their food; wearing holes in their carpets, sofas and spare beds (and sometimes their clothes and definitely their patience); and clogging their plugholes with head-hair of varying shades of black/red/purple and of entering into yet more battles with my crazy-assed body I caved in.

Little bit by little bit, you understand...

First, I had to address my ridiculously persistent pains and dizziness that had caused so much aggro in the Michaelmas Term.

As a result, next I had to drop the studying, although my College, a place that has a remarkably high number of compassionate and wise academic staff and creative administrators, have made every measure possible to ensure that I remain enrolled and registered and studying one module (so that I do not go completely mad with boredom - oh the irony!) for the remainder of this academic year. Go lovely Heethronions!

And then over the Christmas vacation...

I finally admitted to myself that I am, in fact, a homeless person.

At first I was fully resolved to go this Borough or that Borough in Londinium, because I have friends and my Church family there, I study there and I have lived there for almost 15 years. I would do this first thing in the anno nova.  Definitely staying in London.

Christmas Day was spent with the Shteebious, Sir Merrickus, Buttonski and the Depressed Weirdo, not forgetting MonkeyPodge either. It was a fabulous day of much eating, good conversation, silly hats, wind-up santas and the obligatory Christmas-present movie, this time it was Shteebious' one:  and joy of joys, the DW & I did not get fleeced by the cab company to get home to maul the Psycho and the Macavitas.

Boxing Day was quiet. The DW went out. The Loris stayed in. As I fell asleep that night I had an epiphany.

I awoke thinking that maybe I had finally taken leave of my senses. But no, the thought of the night before remained: I should move to Bournemouth to get all the health stuff, if not sorted then at least under treatment/management, and then aim to move again in a year or 18 months' time. I talked it through with DW over tea (me) and coffee (DW). I felt a peace I'd not felt in months. Arse. I don't want to live in Bournemouth. I don't know why. It's quite nice there really. Well, I would think more about it, but studying in London meant that looking for s/where to live in London made more sense, surely? I flew out the door to get to Victoria, and only just managed to get on the coach. Bloody buses...

On the coach the reality of the epiphanos - the light-bulb-moment - sank in. But I didn't really want it to. I have a fabulous family in London. GU is my home. But the call to stay in Bournemouth would not go away.

God clearly has something up his enormous sleeve, but I am not happy. I get off the coach and sit silently in the car until I get to the Mothership. Then as we make tea together I tell Mater that maybe it would make sense for me to stay in Bournemouth whilst all the consultant appointments and scans and so on are going on so I might need help to figure out getting housing-help down there. The look of relief on her face pulled at my chest. So yes. God is up to something here...

2013 dawned on us and then the drive to get to the housing office kicked in. A friend from StS Church, known as B-U-Mmy (yes, v funny), offered to take me to actually go and declare myself homeless. I was terrified.

It turns out my fears were unfounded. Both the officers we saw were lovely, kind and not at all patronizing or dismissive. In fact they were super-efficient. I left having filled in two forms and been given an appointment for the following week for an assessment interview.

The following week I had my interview, was asked if I would consider going into a hostel and (after seeing a look of terror flit behind my eyes) was offered the opportunity to view the hostel the housing officer (HO) would place me in and told it would only be temporary but would mean I would get a support worker much more quickly. An appointment was duly made to view the hostel the very next day. I left feeling a bit scared, but fairly well filled with hope and expectation.

The Rotty (as some people call the lovely woman who works at the hostel) was incredibly understanding of all of the processes by which I came to be 'homeless' (and she told me to stop with the speech marks, and that I am a REAL homeless person, not a pretend one!) and said that I'd be fine in the hostel. But no rooms at that time, but I asked to go on their list and was told I'd get a call as soon as a room came up.

I was expecting to wait for ages. Exactly one week later (a Friday), BOOM! (in true Danny Messer style) - I got my room at m'hostel, M'H. The following Tuesday I met my Floating Support Worker, and here at the end of my first full week there* I have already seen two flats (both rejected as the landlords say no to people of benefits *GRRRR*) and have more lined up to see at the weekend.

(* actually, this was posted just as I entered my third week in the hostel! - my brain is on the blink, clearly...)

On the day I got the call to move in to the hostel I sent out a desperate prayer request message to several peoples. The response was overwhelming and most messages had me in tears... (All good though, guys, thanks!)

Since then, the emotions that have been running riot in my head have ranged from fear to helplessness to joy to frustration and all stages between. I've laughed, I've cried, I've been grouchy and snappy and I've especially been worshipping God and singing back in Praise! I am knackered! But content.

Today I decided to consider this another adventure, not just a stepping stone, but a little extra-dollop-of-craziness adventure along life's already rocky road. Then I remembered that Jesus was 'homeless' in a "no-place-to-call-his-own" kind of way but that didn't mean squat to him. He was on a mission and he knew that this world is not our real home. We are all homeless, vagrant people in this world. Yet in the 'flesh' we still need somewhere to lay our head that is safe, and a shelter from the elements, so we are back to hunting down flats...  Today, as I washed some dishes, and contemplated the differences in spiritual, physical and legal perceptions of homelessness, I heard the disciples asking Jesus where he stayed, and he said, "Come and see!"... but there is no notion of where they went but I suspect it was a mud extension on his mother's house with a sack of straw in the corner to sleep on.

Oh yes, Jesus is definitely up to something.


Saturday, 26 January 2013

A little note from Barney James...

Crikey O'Reilly! It seems that the Loris has rather neglected her blogosphere this past twelvemonth for which she does apologize. (Mind you, Dave and I have also been rather lax in reminding her to write to you all and it is only now that I have just remembered again. Sorreee.)

Soooo, what have we all been up to? Well, the Loris has been really quite poorly, and has got very depressed (but, Praise God!,  not because of another evil invasion of those beastly evil DMoDs) with her general lack of energy and motivation, and because she just  feels so rubbish all the time. But mostly she is very sad because her Brains is not working very well and she cannot understand what she is reading, or write properly so her studies have been affected once again. She whispered in my ear the other night that she was too scared to go back to her College because she is so far behind in her Hebrew now, but she is trying to start from scratch. (Between you and me, I KNOW that she will be able to catch up, but she is feeling very disheartened at the moment. Her Heethronions are most supportive and Dave and I are very proud of our keeper.)

The other day I had a message from Dave (who travels everywhere with her, often without her knowing) to say that she almost passed out when she was washing the dinner dishes. She is so very dizzy all the time and we are worried that she will fall over and break her head, like what happened to the penguin the Loris' Mater bought her a few years ago.

The Loris has recently had a scan on her spine to see if she has naughty bones and nerves because her walking is not too good either. She has also had some electrodes stuck to her heart to see what is working, or not working, but the machines couldn't get good data, but she hopes they got enough to help the doctors - and her - to work out what's going on and to make her better.

Loris says she's hoping that they are going to put in a little Bioelectric Spybot that will sit near her heart and record what the naughty Conduction Fibres are up to so that she won't have to have stickers all over her torso any more causing these horrible scabs and scars. She's also hoping she might get a brain scan to see what the Neurons are up to, as she has had mini strokes this year and she keeps losing her words. APHASIA is what she says it is (she helped me look it up to learn it). (Dave and I are very very very scareded about a Spybot living inside the Loris. We are very worried that it might try to take over and make her not be like the Loris any more. The Loris says this is nonsense, but me and Dave never trust these Robot types. Loris also says that Jesus is bigger than all of our fears so me and Dave are going to try a bit harder to listen to what the Jesus says, too.)

Dave and I are happy to be hanging out with Macavity and his adopted kid, Psycho, at the Depressed Weirdo's when the Loris is in London. There's also a bear that lives with us there, called Bouffle, he is very cool. Dave, as I might already have mentioned, is tasked with travelling with the Loris to keep her company, as he helps to de-stress her (mostly) when she is away from her room.

As for me, well, I got a New Hat! That was very exciting. I had one a while ago, but sadly it got lost. Whenever I go and visit Harvey at Dr Goth and the Polar's house we compare hats. He got a new one too!! (I'll try to get a picture on here soon).

That's about it, really. The Loris is very excited because many of her friends are having babies this year, which means she gets lots of hugs with babies. Dave and I are a bit worried that we will get mistaken for food and get gummed by the wrigglers, but we shall see...

Have fun all, and enjoy the snow! :)

Barney James, Dave - and the Loris!



Sunday, 13 May 2012

First Quarter, oops, First Third, 2012. Oh my! How time flies by!

It's scary how the days, weeks and months rattle on by as family and friends go about their lives, and I crawl through life on hands and knees as the Depression Monkeys of Doom scream, shout, stamp and scratch their way around my brain. It has been another sorry start to a year in many ways, but the first quarter of 2012 had also been a time of many little victories.

At the beginning of the first quarter (the beginning of Lent Term) Dr Goth and Mr Polar invited me to stay at the  "Mr Polar's Home for Mentally Divergent Wimmins", or just "home" for DrG & MrP. I accepted and that first weekend of the term I moved some stuff over and The Mater helped with the project, very kindly, I have to say. It has not been easy for her to not only have me at home after years and years of my being in London, but also having me at home and trying to understand depression, firstly, and secondly how depression is affecting her daughter.

Much as I may  be incredibly frustrated or hurt by some of the reactions my current state of mental illness has elicited (from some amongst my friends and family), I do understand that it is not at all easy to know what to do when faced with a grown woman (especially if she's your child) who is apparently incapable of looking after her own well-being or even caring about these things. This is not something a Mr Bump sticky plaster can fix, nor even a hug, a cup of tea and a fluffy bunny on my lap (although all of these things are lovely and make me very happy).

This is something that is serious, that is almost impossible to quantify or describe, painful yet numbing, low mood yet high emotions, crippling yet exhausting, folding yet unfolding, utterly debilitating and inescapably isolating. The isolation is bidirectional. It comes from within me, I neither have the desire nor the ability to engage in what is going on around me for I am exhausted by the constant chatterings and batterings of the DMoDs; it also comes from without, others withdraw because I am uncommunicative which a person might perceive as aloof, uninterested, uncaring, lazy or rude. I am none of those negative things (despite what the Monkeys might say) - I am just lost in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, it seems.

These things aside I was looking forward to being a bridesmaid at my friend's wedding in March. At the end of February things went a bit to pot again and I had started to shut down from the world once more. I hadn't noticed. Dr Goth had and she encouraged me to go back to the GP. In early March a friend of mine died and it really shook me. I hadn't realized she had recently got out of hospital, but I'm glad she didn't die there, strange though that may sound. Jackie had fought hard, but the last couple of years had been especially difficult. Jackie was just 44 years old. Six years older than me. It sucked and hurt so much. Every death of a person you have known and loved is painful. Sadly, I have lost many friends in the last 20 years - it's what happens when you work for a charity run by people with complex heart conditions. You make friends quickly and sadly, you sometimes lose them just as quickly.

The following week I saw the Practice Sister and she upped The Happy Pills by another 50mg. Two months on and I'm not sure it's made the slightest bit of difference.

Anyway, as I walked out of the GP surgery I just started to panic massively about the upcoming wedding and just felt that I couldn't be involved. I had missed the hen party, I hadn't met up with the other girls, I was just retreating further into my shell.

After much prayer, panic, wringing of hands and arguing with myself, I emailed the Holy Handcrafter of Antioch and explained why I couldn't do the bridesmaid thing. The HHA was - understandably - upset, but totally understanding. She was most gracious on the wedding day too. Had it not been for the fact that I had a lift all the way to Jorvik, I don't think I would have made it at all. Not out of not wanting to be there, but because the fear of the outdoors outweighs everything else at the moment.

The wedding though was an absolute joy and delight. The bride looked more radiant than I have ever seen her look; I was really stoked that all her Pagan friends came to the church service - which included Holy Communion - a very important factor for the HHA and her Viking. It was a most amazing witness to the Glory and Lordship of God and the church was literally filled to the rafters with His presence and the company of angels. It was awesome!

Since then, though, the Monkeys have been pissing me off with their constant yawing. I am utterly exhausted. It took me almost three weeks to write one essay because my brain just will NOT engage and focus.

And now, my first exam of this year is tomorrow, 14th May, and revision has been S-L-O-W and virtually non-existent because of this pigging brainstall.  Ah well, it'll be an interesting afternoon on the morrow. In fact, I am sure that it will  be OK. I have a peace about it (which I hope I am not mistaking a denial for...).

Glory to God for his faithfulness and his love and his mercy. Heaven knows how much I need those things!

Take care all,



Saturday, 31 December 2011

Waning 2011 : Waxing 2012

So, I am now woefully behind in my blogmutterings. I Have just got off the phone with The Hev and The Shteeb and it would seem that my arse has been kicked back into action. :) My apologies to all who so desperately wish to read my crazy ramblings. and believe me, lots has been happening. I mean, I have only just posted about my hospital stay in October, for crying out loud. I've not yet even started the one about the op in November... What a pathetic correspondent I am become.

Janus, Vatican Museum
Photo © Fubar Obfusco
Anyway, we now find ourselves gazing heav'nward once more as the waning of one year is eclipsed by the waxing of the next. It is at around this time that this little Loris recognizes the quickening pace of the heart, a rush of blood to the head and a cold hand of fear accompanied by the faint freezing, mocking whispers of the Father of Lies as excitement, hope and promise of new and better, good, things for the new year ahead claim a momentary epiphany, that 'Janusian anxiety' arises. Why does the exuberance of seeing the New Year in always feel so hollow the moment the clocks are done chiming the new day in?

What is it in our collective consciousness that seems to thrive on setting ourselves up for dashed hopes and dreams? All over the place people are setting, discussing and promising faithful adherence to another set of New Year's Resolutions, largely consisting of the hundreds broken in the preceding years, which have all been railroaded by the end of the first week of the year (to a greater or lesser degree). Why on earth do we bother with this farce?

I think it lies in our need to keep going, to set goals that are attainable (because we ourselves set them) and provide ourselves with rods for our backs that we can then beat ourselves up with during Lent. Well, OK, that is a bit harsh, but it does seem rather a fair comment for some... Goal-setting is important in terms of sticking on track, making it through each day and so on. We seem always to be so full of hope as one year draws to a close and another one opens. We dust our grubby failures and broken promises off from our past year and long to get more done and do more right things the right way - this year...

Cyan Sky
© The Loris, 2010

One way or another I think that we area all approaching our new years with high, high hopes and hoping - above all - not to make the same mistakes as last year... That the new year dawns tinged with a blue feeling shows that we already know we are not going to measure up to our own marks.

So this year, as with the last three decades of resolution-making, my only plan for the year ahead is to make it out alive.

Whinge over, I hope you all have a healthy, happy, fun, silly, intellectual, meaningful love and laughter-filled 2012