Sunday, December 31, 2006

Acrobatics of the Absurd

To shift oneself from laying on ones back, in order to attain a side lying position, the first imperative is to shuffle the bottom up towards the top of the bed, elevate the upper torso and, only then attempt the rolling ritual. Several painful attempts, to do so, may well be followed by a marginally less painful manoeuvre; once a relatively comfortable recumbent position has been attained, the possibility exists that it may be maintained for at least 5 minutes before the familiar dis-ease once more re-asserts its control of the situation.

Extending the offending limb, downwards, may alleviate the sharp shooting pain or, alternatively, intensify the same troubling symptom. Screams, in response to the agony are permitted but are by no means compulsory; tears may be stifled back or permitted free reign according to the situation. It is important to remember that removal of oneself from the bed will at first require the exertion of sitting oneself upright before gently manoeuvring the lower limbs over the edge of the sleeping apparatus.


A totally sleep deprived, routinely fatigued, body is forced to exist in a state of constant alert.

For the past three nights, although totally shattered in mind and body, sleep has been a) difficult to come by and b) when it arrives, disrupted after a few minutes. Agony is too passive a term to describe the degree of discomfort, even though it is definitely agonizing. Nerve shattering fatigue seems to be overwhelmed by the degree of acute pain that sleep is ruled out as an overcoming option.


This morning, after a further night of doubt, sorrow and affliction, my body finally yielded to the overwhelming necessity for sleep and, for several late morning hours the pain was forgotten as I lapsed into the arms of Morpheus. For this I give thanks.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pillow Talk

After what has been my best Christmas for years, health-wise, the familiar tiredness and sundry aches, pains and sensitivities have returned with a vengeance. Although I failed to emerge from the duvet-realm, on Christmas Day, until well after (unbeknown to me) our guests had arrived, the day passed really well. Obviously, the ‘Journey To Bethlehem’, and subsequent viewing of Midnight Mass on TV, had taken a little toll on my stamina but, I still managed to remain in good spirits throughout the day without recourse to the seclusion of the bedroom.

By Boxing Day severe back pains had returned, alongside aching muscles in both arms and lower limbs. On Wednesday, after a late emergence into a day spent struggling with a frustratingly painful locking back, I had to call it quits before 8.30 in the evening. An additional pillow, under my legs proved indispensable, although its position underwent frequent changes, horizontally across my side of the bed behind my knees then, turned end on to proffer support from ankle to thigh. As the night ached along, the pillow was doubled up under my knees, whilst an additional support pillow was placed under my head.

Each laborious turn, from back to side, from full stretch to foetal curl, found me torn between a scream and tears. A tingling band, around the right calf, was swiftly transmuted into a full blown cramp before its further conversion into a pulsing sharp bruise-like pain, which seemed to percolate through every sinew of the offending limb. In the early hours, I struggled down the stairs to grab a cigarette and take some pain killers. On occasion the pain was more intense as I rested it on the floor but, at other times the discomfort was more intense as I raised it. A struggle back upstairs ensued and, I enjoyed an early morning cuppa with my beloved.

Ma belle assisted me in getting dressed, and saw me safely down the stairs once more, before she departed for work. The last couple of days have found me reluctantly resorting to a varied diet of Codeine Phosphate, Co-Codamol, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen tablets, despite my marked reluctance to take painkillers. In order to prevent any lapse into self-pity, I decided to venture down to Open Church, an intention swiftly thwarted by the lower limbs desire to collapse after each couple of steps.

My qualitative leap forward, in terms of my enjoyment of Christmas festivities, will prove a tremendous boost in my attempt to overcome the subsequent steps back!

I can still rejoice in this day the Lord has made.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

One More Step

Today's blog posting, 'One More Step', can be found on Mal's Murmurings. I suppose it could be described as a PROGRESS REPORT!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Malcolm's Christmas Message

This posting also appears on 'Hirsute Antiquity' and 'Mal's Murmurings'

I just sit and look across the room, my beloved lost in thought, a slightly perplexed smile on her face as she ponders the words she’s typing. I smile to myself, a token of admiration coupled with adoration. Sometimes, I lose track of time as I simply contemplate ma belle’s visage; I enter a wonderful world of devotion and love. It seems strange that no matter how much in love I am, it continues to grow.

We’ve gradually completed the Christmas decorations and enter into the magic of the season. Most importantly, for all the gewgaws with which we surround ourselves, we remember that our real celebration is of a helpless child born to a teenage mum in an occupied state in the Middle East. Research suggests that this child Jesus would most probably have been born around April but, I rather like the way Christianity has assimilated this pagan feast time to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Those who choose to follow the way of the Christ child should not seek to separate themselves from the world but always be there alongside those they can assist in a far from perfect world. Christians are to be “in the world but not of the world”; it’s never enough to accept the world as it is but, rather, we have a duty to transform it.

Just as our Christmas lights and decorations transform the darkest time of the year; Jesus message was to turn the accepted values of the ruling elite on their head. Sadly, just like we put away the lights before twelfth night so, through the centuries, have some of the ruling elites served to restore the injustices which Jesus challenged, in the name of Christendom!

May the message of Peace On Earth and Goodwill To All Men be taken seriously in this twenty first century of the common era.

Just as my contemplation of my beloved gives me such a warm glow, so does the true meaning of Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Positivity and negativity vie for dominance in my outlook; the positive frequently requires a conscious effort, whilst the negative surreptitiously manoeuvres itself into my soul whenever emotional and physical stamina is at low ebb. The approach of Christmas is having an emotionally bad effect, as I go through my address book and see the number of “friends” who’ve never been in touch at all since health problems removed me from the socializing circuit. Those who I used to regularly meet up with at gigs, concerts, art previews etc. have never bothered to make any contact, whilst others I knew on a more casual basis, even as a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear, still do make the occasional contact. Of course, not being able to go out to work narrows enormously the number of people one is likely to meet! My primary local contacts now tend to be those I meet at ‘Open Church’ and, I quite often feel that those friends I’ve met only in cyberspace are truer friends than many of those with whom I had more frequent “real life” contact. The internet is truly a lifesaver.

Real world friends can almost be counted on the fingers of one hand, apart from some who simply maintain the annual Christmas round robin type of contact. At the worst moments, I feel like I must have betrayed people by not being able to socialize, albeit by force of circumstance rather than choice but, at this time of year the sense of isolation bites much harder. Isolation is frequently more difficult to cope with than the, at times excruciating, pain and fatigue which initially forced one into the limbo of seclusion. Unfortunately, the effort required for any degree of socializing demands such a heavy payback, and only a fool could look forward to payback time!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Missions Accomplished

This post also appears on 'Mal's Murmurings'

Finally, after previous futile attempts at both collection and delivery, the Futon has been delivered (by my beloved) to its new home in West Yorkshire. Its departure will be little lamented. I hardly anticipated the aggro that one could expect in trying to give away an item of furniture but, at least we now have a fraction more lebensraum.

If our younger daughter doesn’t require the other futon, when she moves into her new home, we have a prospective recipient who lives locally. As the previous one was advertised on the local ‘freecycle’ site, I had expected someone who lived more locally to want it (rather than someone living thirty to forty miles away); being let down on three occasions by the first person, who failed to collect at pre-arranged times, and then the difficulties experienced in getting the item to the eventual recipient, I will in future only advertise small items on the site.

I ventured into town once more, this morning; whether I would venture there without the assistance of ma belle chauffeuse is another matter but, it certainly feels wonderful to have a semblance of normality in my life. It really is amazing, the everyday activities that we take for granted and, my past few years of rather restricted activities have taught me to appreciate the potential pleasure of being able to embrace the most mundane of routine tasks.

Where once I was aggressively frustrated, with the interminable list of (apparently) unrelated ailments and discomforts, consistently pushing myself to the point of collapse, I have, consequent upon obtaining a diagnosis, learned how to manage my condition. Physical and emotional stamina may only be at 30% of their pre-illness levels but, alongside this modest improvement, my powers of concentration are also showing some signs of restoration.

I rejoice in this day the Lord has made.


I have, this afternoon, posted a new poem, ‘TRANSFORMED (for Helen)’, on ‘MAL’s FACTORY’.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

... and tired of journeying too!

Following on from my “tired of waiting” Freecycle experience, today’s late afternoon and early evening witnessed my tired of journeying mode. This morning, a delightful Kenyan-born lady arrived to collect the futon, which I’d advertised on ‘freecycle’. Unfortunately, it proved impossible to fit the component parts of the futon into her car so, when my beloved returned home around 3.30pm we decided to put the futon into the back of our car and, contacted the lady who had called this morning.

We obtained directions from the web before setting off on our journey to Keighley. There were stages of the journey where the travel instructions proved confusing and, the hold-up of the traffic through Otley had not been foreseen. We did eventually find Halifax Road in Keighley but, shortly before this, we realised that we had neither the address or telephone number of the potential recipient of our gift. We vaguely remembered the house number was something in the three hundreds but, found it impossible to keep tabs on the passing numbers. Even earlier in the journey, I’d struggled to overcome a panic attack and was suffering quite severe sensory overload from the lights of oncoming traffic.

Needless to say, I became increasingly stressed and, unwittingly, managed to transmit this sensation to ma belle chauffeuse. So, mission unaccomplished, we were homeward bound when the real fun began as we took a wrong turning which led us over Ilkley Moor, only I wasn’t “Baht ‘At” but, had rather rolled the brim of my thermal headpiece over eyes and ears to alleviate the aforementioned sensory overload. Eventually, as we approached Otley there was a diversion as no access to the town centre was permitted. Fortunately, the diversion led us onto a route with which my beloved was quite familiar and, we eventually arrived home some three and a quarter hours after our departure. I am a poor traveller at the best of times but …. I leave the rest to your imagination!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New Blog Posts

A posting for today, "Mal's New Moves" , can be found on 'Hirsute Antiquity'.

On 'Mal's Murmurings', today's new posting is "So tired, tired of waiting ...".

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Quest Fulfilled

Despite my relative inactivity, I still find it difficult to make time for contacting friends and acquaintances online, no matter how strong the intention. If I relied solely on handwritten letters, despatched via snail mail, I'd be even more guilty of neglect.

For the past few weeks I’ve renewed my quest for a faster computer, with a decent graphics card and a couple of gigabytes of RAM. The original quest began back in the summer months but I kept putting it on hold, somehow, the recent ‘down’ phase of my existence added impetus to the quest. I realize that may sound quite absurd but, the truth is, as my already meagre powers of concentration seemed to be in under-drive I rediscovered my facility of absorbing technical specs of computer kit. Many short sharp visits to back issues of PC magazines, and PC related websites, proved a delightful distraction from my familiar catalogue of aches and pains.

Severe back pains sustained their attempt to divert me from my quest for the computer grail but I boldly fought against the odds! After Tuesday afternoon’s acupuncture session, I felt sufficiently energised to venture down, the following morning, to the local PC emporium and drooled over the machine that I’d more or less decided would meet my requirements. The fact that it was also equipped with both analog and digital TV cards seemed to sway my beloved, the idea of having digital TV upstairs as well as in the living room appealed to her. We decided on a 19” widescreen monitor to complement the base unit and a set of JBL 2.1 speakers added the final touch.

The setting up process started on Wednesday afternoon, not without its moments of frustration, continuing on into Thursday afternoon (not a sustained effort you understand). As I’m still hanging onto the laptop and my old PC, I’m not in too much of a rush to install some graphics and DTP programmes as, its maybe time to upgrade from my current programmes. Of course, the primary reason for the new machine is to facilitate my graphics work but, I’m not going to rush things.

It seems quite strange that it wasn’t many years ago that I reluctantly succumbed to using my beloved’s old PC, that she’d used for lesson preparation in her teaching days and, agreed to go ‘online’. My only previous experience of computers had been when the whole stock and accounts procedures, where I was employed as Office Manager/Accounts Manager, was transferred to a computerised system in days before PCs were an option. In this situation, working as a VDU operator, didn’t have half the appeal that the job had previously held. [It’s strange that I should have lamented the loss of my hand-written double entry book-keeping etc., especially as someone who always hated figure work but, that’s another story!]

Within a few weeks I’d put up my first website but, it took quite a while to discover the delights of the ‘blogosphere’. Helen’s old machine had a mere 1GB HDD and upgraded to the RAM to its maximum of 96MB. It wasn’t too long before Beth’s partner made me a new machine. As I succumbed to ME/CFS, and much of my real world socializing was drastically curtailed, the internet provided me with a whole new world to explore. I shall be forever grateful to ma belle for pushing me in this direction. Meantime, when Helen had to retire from teaching for health reasons, part of her recovery programme got her involved in learning computing skills and, I found myself being called upon for troubleshooting purposes.

Forgive the rambling – the keyboard just took on a life of its own but, a degree of weariness compels me to slump down in front of the telly. Stamina levels, you will be grateful to know, have temporarily curtailed today’s rambling.