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So Tired

I could easily miss a step, fall over like a tree in the forests and be asleep half-way to the floor.  I didn’t sleep well Thursday night.  The past few days I’ve had problems with what Helios calls “defecation frenzy”.  I didn’t miss work but I have had to take more time than usual to attend to calls of nature.  Thursday it was 4 or 5.  Friday it was 8.  This morning so far it’s been two and I’ve decided that I probably need to fast now to get it out of my system.

I dreamt last night I was in the US.  I was in the car with Foxxy (an old friend who, in real life, shares my name but with a slightly different spelling) and her boyfriend.  They were chatting away in the front of the car and, every so often, they would giggle at a shared joke.  I contented myself with looking outside the window.  We drove for some time to another city.  It was a beautiful journey – I couldn’t help but notice how green the grass looked.  The US is so vast!  For some time we didn’t see another car or person – which doesn’t happen in England.  It was pristine and I thought that if all of the US was so beautiful I wouldn’t mind living there.  However, things weren’t as nice when we got to the city: people seemed to be crossing the road any old where and we had to swerve to dodge them.  It reminded me a little of where my sister used to live – with University students flooding the streets to get to their next class on time.

We finally arrived at our destination: we were visiting our friend at the hospital.  I remember him from high school but cannot remember his full name.  He’s called John and he was in our gang.  He was the one that wore the T-shirt “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.”  He had had a car accident and had a number of broken bones.

We parked well away from the building to avoid paying the parking fees.  I put one sock on but the other fell down a crevasse.  I could have retrieved it but I didn’t.  I just put my shoe on my right foot.

I worried that the smell of the place would make me sick.  When I was in high school I made the mistake of visiting a friend who’d had a car accident and the smell made me sick – I had to run to the toilet!  Very embarrassing!

We weren’t allowed to see John immediately – which was a good thing.  I didn’t notice any overpowering smell – so I was OK there.  I started gearing myself up to see a John that looked a lot worse than he probably was (in order to honestly say how good I thought he looked) and I thought of things to tell him like “You look just like you did in high school – except for the odd broken bone of course!”

We were shown to a seat near a TV where there were some patients and visitors.  The visitors didn’t look worried – they looked dirty – like how I’d expect the residents of Dale Farm to look.  Dale Farm is a Gypsy site in Essex that has recently evicted half its residents because they only had permission for a certain number of mobile homes.  The story made national news and, politically, I found myself siding with the local council.  I just don’t understand the traveller way of life in order to understand their plight or why they choose to live the way they do.

In the dream I didn’t pay them any attention.  I was pacing and worried that I’d lost my right sock because (and we all know how odd dreams are) even though I’ve not seen John for at least 20 years, he’d given me that pair of socks and I didn’t want him to think that I’d lost one.  The next thing I know all the other visitors leave and Kate, my line manager and someone I really respect, smiled at me and said “We have to ask them to move – they’re always wanting to sell us their dead.”

I woke up with the word “Dead” ringing in my ears.

When Helios got up I told him that I thought I ought to fast today to get my bowel back to normal.  Helios suggested that indigestion may have an effect on our dreaming.  Then he said I should take a paracetamol and codeine.  I can’t help but remember what he said about his time in Kenya– he came back with a “shit yourself thin” diet!  Thursday I was uncomfortable but in a good mood all day.  Friday I felt a bit worse and grouchy.  Today I’m hungry and afraid to eat lest I suffer with more bowel trouble…

I’m going to have to go back to bed.

Foxy

More news

I was at home on Thursday night while Helios was at a Quiz Night with his work.  I took the opportunity to do a bit of tidying.  I walked from the bathroom to the kitchen and felt a crunch under my right slipper.  I wondered how a bit of plastic got into the bathroom but walked through to the kitchen thinking “I’ll pick that up in a minute.”  When I went back to the bathroom I discovered a half-crunched spider!  I have a hard time with spiders when they’re alive or dead.  It’s a proper phobia so I spent the rest of the evening in the living room, perched on the sofa like a parrot on Helios’s shoulder.  I waited Helios’s return so he could rescue me.

Later that night Helios came in clutching his prize – his team won the quiz (no surprise there) and I was treated to a blow by blow account of how many questions he successfully answered before he rescued me from the spider corpse.  Indeed, he answered 9 out of 10 questions correctly in the film round – all the questions were about James Bond films.

Of course, I’ve never liked bugs.  When my parents were still married they lived in a house near some fields.  I was about 3 when this incident happened and it’s Mom’s favourite story.  A mouse invaded the house and, when I saw it, I climbed Mom like a monkey up a tree while screaming “A BIG BUG!! A BIG BUG!! A BIG BUG!!”

I had a strange encounter at a charity shop this past week.  I let a man pass me by and he looked at me and said “Espionage?”  I can only image that he was referring to my appearance, I was wearing my red winter coat and beige winter hat.  I said “No, it’s just my hat.”

Helios has started a blog about his favourite passion: films.  Consequently we’ve talked about how we write.  His comment about my writing was – frankly – a little disappointing for me.  I just assumed that people reading me would automatically hear my voice.  He maintained my voice isn’t in my blog.  OK, I have to write about difficult subjects.  I think it’s important to sound intelligent when I talk about women’s health.  It’s not good enough to learn the issues and then talk about the nuisances in a condescending tone.  He has a point though.  It’s not me if I don’t sound like me.

Foxy

Accepting Suffering

Even before my father’s death I have been rethinking a lot of things.  I still consider myself a Christian but have found comfort with Buddhism.  So many people question God and ask “Why me?” – which is understandable if you have Parkinsons and you know it will kill you eventually.  However, I do believe that because Dad was never cured, and I know how bitter he was towards the end, perhaps he would have coped better with a bit of Buddhism.

 

One of the first points of Buddhism is that suffering is a natural part of life.  It’s not something that we can get away from.  For example, the story goes that there was a woman who had a baby but the baby died.  She goes to the Buddha and says “You’ve got to help me.  I’m at the end of my rope.  I don’t know what to do next.  I’m so depressed!”  (Aside: I just love the fact that even all those centuries ago people wanted a quick fix to their problems!)  The Buddha said “I can help you but you need to do something for me first.  I need a mustard seed from the house in the village where no one has suffered.”  So the grateful woman trots back to her village and proceeds to interrogate everyone there.  She quickly discovers that every home had experienced suffering.  She even discovered that some people had suffered more than she did.  She never obtained a mustard seed but she did gain comfort…

 

Buddhists do not believe in a deity.  Without a deity you are liberated from the question “Why me?”  You are liberated from the notion that you are being punished for some sin that you may or may not have committed.  Instead you are forced to try to make good your life as it is today.   As with my dad having Parkinsons, sometimes there is no good reason for what happens to people.  There may not be a deity out there judging every move you make and meting out punishments according to each wrongdoing.

 

I find this thought comforting with bearing the burdens of my illnesses as well as bearing the burden of my father’s short and troubled life.  I try to make today matter.  I try to live my life in a way that I can justify.  I try to make the world a better place for everyone I meet – from the strangers I smile at on the street to my family who I try to protect.  I hope that by doing good things, that good things will come to those I love.  Karma: what goes around comes around.  Of course that’s not what happens to some people but, for the most part, it’s been my experience.  I’ve had a few hard years but now I’m having a few easier years.  All things considered, I consider myself lucky when I have enough of a support system to help me carry my woes.

 

I hope that when I go back to Christianity, I am accepted back with open arms.  You know what I mean, I mean that tingling feeling I get when I pray for forgiveness of the things I have done and the forgiveness of the things I’ve left undone.  For the moment, I’m looking into new ideas and applying that which I feel is right to my life.  Perhaps a new view of suffering is just what I needed?

Foxy

A more innocent time… 11th September 2011

I grew up in the Midwest United States.  It’s a flat region.  The land is flat – like a piece of paper.  Indeed, it could be considered to be flatter thanNorwich!  The land is vast and featureless.  There the farmers grow corn and beans.  In fact, have you ever seen North by Northwest?  You remember the bit where the protagonist is running away from the airplane that’s coming?  That was filmed in my region!

The winters are unspeakably cold and are characterised by snowstorms so violent that you can’t see your hand at the end of your arm; ice storms that create beautiful but deadly sculptures on the trees and fences; and wind that makes snow drift like sand in a dessert.  It can be a cruel place to live.  I think the people who stay have a rugged determined streak.  The place has a beautiful barren quality in the winter.  If you grow up there, you can’t help but be a strong individual.

The summers are equally taxing.  I will say it’s hot but that is something of an understatement.  It’s a sweltering hot.  The humidity, without a cloud in the sky, can easily reach 98%, 99% and even 100%.  Imagine a Turkish bath but with the sun beating down on your head…  As an Englishwoman, my first instinct is to open the windows in the flat if I’m hot but in theUSI close everything and turn on the air conditioning.  For example, I remember my ex had a hard time with this concept; I’d notice he’d open the window of the car and I’d tell him to close it again: it was hotter outside!  It’s little wonder that we don’t spend a lot of time in the sun!

I grew up in a more innocent time.  Terrorism was something that happened to other people in other places.  As much as I see that Americans were wrong for believing that two oceans would keep out the madness, at the time I didn’t appreciate the cocoon that I lived in.

On September 11th 2011, with 5 hours time difference, it was the afternoon when I first got an email from a friend about the attacks.  The first thought was that it was a tragic accident.  The next few hours, with yet another plane and another plane going down, we all wondered with horrified awe “What next?”  Although I didn’t know anyone there, I couldn’t help but cry.

My ex husband was due to be on a conference call with someone in the World Trade Centre and, frustrated, he left the meeting room to find out why he couldn’t get through to find no one could get through to New York.

A few months later my ex and I travelled to the South of France.  We overheard some Americans behind us in a queue talking about the new and severe safety procedures put in place when they travelled.  My ex – in a very loud voice – said “New Yorkers got what they deserved on September 11th – they’ve been funding the IRA for decades!”  While my ex believed the attacks were a consequence of meddling in international politics, I focused on the future.

At the time I said to anyone who would listen that we shouldn’t send troops over to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Because Americans felt they had to do something, I advocated sending over the Army Corps of Engineers to Afghanistan and building hospitals, schools, irrigation systems and roads to encourage farmers to become builders and, those that remained in farming, should be given help and advice from the Americans to ensure that they grew food – not poppies.

Of course having a more positive response wouldn’t cure the world’s ills, but we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today had we looked at September 11th as an opportunity to break out of our cocoons, to show that we value life equally across the world, to provide inspiration for the politics of understanding and forgiveness.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to draw a line under something horrible and, by doing something positive in response, the world benefits.

Ten years later my life is a million times better than it was back then: I’m married to the love of my life; I have my multiple diagnoses for my chronic illnesses and, thanks to plenty of time and effort, I manage them reasonably well; and I live in a quiet village and enjoy a relatively stress-free life.  Unfortunately, some people haven’t had such a positive decade.

Peace to you and yours.

Foxy

 

Let it be

It was just over a week before I was born when my Dad’s brother died in a car accident.  Because I never knew Uncle T, I could only surmise what he was like.  I was too young to know what questions to ask to know his essential personality.  (Which reminds me – I really must make a list of questions to ask my family before I travel to the US!)  I know he was a big man, and in those days his size was unusual.  If he had a similar car accident these days he probably would have survived.

Uncle T was buried in a village in the Midwest of the United States close to where the family lived not long before I was born.  I’m sure my arrival – along with the fact I had 10 fingers and 10 toes – mitigated their pain.  Someone died, someone else lived.

During that time The Beatles had their Number One hit “Let it be”.  Although I think it was written by Paul McCartney to help him say goodbye to The Beatles, my father found the song helped him in his grief.  I gave him a cassette tape with Beatles tunes on for Father’s Day one year.  Dad told me about his brother and how he died before I was born.  It’s strange how essential details of our existence arrive into our lives as if by accident: had I given him something else I’d never know…

Consequently, I’m finding that “Let it be” is helping me.  Dad is now resting beside his brother in the cemetery just outside the village.  A pathetic few words indicate that he existed.  A few sad numbers clock the days he spent living in this world.  A happy likeness adorns his stone – a photograph taken when he was 18.  He was full of promise then.  He didn’t have Parkinsons then.

“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be.”

When I was younger I used to think that Uncle T was a kind of guardian angel to me: I was told that he was keen on meeting me but never managed it.  Whether Uncle T was looking out for me or not, the fact that someone in the family died so close to my birth has always reminded me that we have to focus on the positives in our existence.  Someone dies, someone else is born.  There is a balance of pain and joy.  We would never fully appreciate happiness without suffering.

I’m the kind of person who, while I find suffering as difficult as everyone else, likes the cyclical nature of existence.  I always know what to expect – there will always be pain and joy throughout our lives.  You can’t have one without the other.

After all those years, losing his brother was such a traumatic experience that Dad got emotional when he heard “Let it be” that Father’s Day.  I think I’ll always cry when I listen to “Let it be” too.

“There will be an answer, let it be”

Foxy

 

Five Things Friday

  1. My scary work project is finally nearly over.  I’ve been amalgamating two filing systems into one new system for the past few weeks.  Today I finished removing the files from the old systems – except for those that are currently being worked on.  I spent the afternoon beaming and smiling around the office.  It’s so nice to see an end to a long slog!
  2. A sleeping bag arrived today for Apollo’s visit.  We bought it online.  The neighbours are going to let us use their 3 man tent for the duration of his stay.  I’m really looking forward to showing him around!  He arrives with us the weekend 13/14th August.
  3. I wasn’t surprised that Amy Winehouse died.  Sad but not surprised.
  4. I generally don’t like fish – I think it’s due to my Midwestern US upbringing.  The closest body of water was several hundred miles away.
  5. My favourite cartoon is still Calvin & Hobbes.  Classic!

Five Things Friday

I saw this on Wishfulfillment Everyday and thought “what a good idea!”  Here’s five things for you:

  1. As you know I’m on my second marriage.  What you don’t know is that we probably watch far too much TV.  We religiously watch Top Gear every Sunday night.  We’ve seen all Star Treks – the original series, TNG, Voyager, DS9 and Enterprise.  We’ve seen all of Babylon 5 twice.  We’ve also seen all of Stargate and Stargate Atlantis.  It’s official – I’m a nerd!
  1. I only shower twice a week because I have long hair and very dry skin.  Although now I mention it, showering is a spectator sport in my house.  Occasionally I try to make the excuse of chatting to Helios when he’s in the shower but I usually just go to watch the show…
  1. Occasionally I buy generic presents on sale in anticipation of Christmas and neighbour’s birthdays.  This year I’ve taken all the ones I can find and have put them into a raffle as prizes for my Relay for Life – Cancer Research UK charity event this summer.
  1. I love baking cookies but find the dough a bit hard on my wrists.  I regularly have Helios’s help with the mixing.
  1. During the week I have eggs for breakfast but at the weekend I regularly have beans on toast with cheese and jalapenos peppers.

Foxy