Monday, October 21, 2013

the young visitor

this young sparrowhawk stopped by, Sunday lunchtime, for a rest on our summerhouse!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

minor travel major travail

Just where is that emotional stamina hiding; come to that, it would be useful if I could uncover a resource for topping up my rather limited levels of the physical variety. After a short trip across the Pennines, about which more later, even my already constrained ability to concentrate on any sustained reading has gone into abeyance. At least I’m hoping it will return! No matter how much I enjoy looking out onto the garden, the heavily overcast and frequent rain-sodden days do little for one’s morale.


After a morning of extremely vividly disconcerting dreams, I finally felt sufficiently alert to remove myself from the bedclothes at around 11.15am, thirteen hours after availing myself of their embrace. As my beloved doesn’t go to her place of employment on a Wednesday it made the rest of the day more bearable. By about 4.30pm I felt it necessary to rest my eyes, at which point ma belle enquired whether I needed to lay myself down on the sofa. At the time it didn’t really seem at all necessary but, within half-an-hour my legs began to suffer a dull throbbing ache, feeling as if they’d been waterlogged.


Finally I had to admit my OH was right and, I really did need to lie down; no sooner had I reclined, in supine posture, than my wrists began their far too familiar nagging ache requiring a swift application of splint supports. Just another ordinary day!




Now comes the report on that trans-Pennine journey, although, in terms of mileage, it was a short drive, to me the outward journey seemed a far too protracted arduous nightmare. Spastic colon, and acute diverticular discomfort set the tone of the adventure; within the parameters of a 70 mile route, I most urgently required a loo break on three occasions, the first of which required a diversion from the route we were travelling.


The SatNav redirected us, via the Old Skipton Road, across desolate sodden moorland. This route didn’t help at all as a kind of agoraphobic panic attack overwhelmed that attention which had previously focussed on my painfully aching abdomen. When we eventually arrived at the hostelry where we’d be spending the night, it was encouraging to see they had at least four draught ales on offer. As we approached our upstairs accommodation the heat in the hallway proved overwhelming, as was that which greeted us in the room.


That evening we attended a wedding party, the purpose of our visit, at a nearby Jacobean venue. On arriving at the venue, I managed ( whilst leaving the badly lit car parking space) to trip on a protruding step as ma belle and I sought the relevant hall entrance. The entrance was attained via an ill lit awning tent and, once again I tripped as my foot fell from the edge of the footway.

Not a good start; since my days as a union steward I’ve been well aware of health and safety issues, and the ill lit irregular causeway would certainly have been a major concern. As I’m prone to giddiness, and an associated fear of falling (such that I will only take a shower when my beloved’s around), I wasn’t able to relax at all.


Inside, the venue was disconcertingly sprawling and, we failed to find the quieter lounge. We spent best part of an hour, but seemed much longer, sat at a table in the bar area chatting with one or two family members. Just the noise of chatter became overwhelming; part of my illness means that I find it difficult to cope with crowds or noise so, really, I was in the wrong place. My total alcohol intake was less than half of the pint of ale I’d imagined I would enjoy.


Ten years on from succumbing to this condition (moderate Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), it becomes increasingly hard to understand that I once, not only coped with but, whole heartedly, enjoyed a quite gregarious lifestyle, pubbing, clubbing, politicking, wining and dining, leading  house groups and more!


Back at the inn, the landlady turned down the radiator at our request and supplied us with an electric fan and opened the skylight, the only window in the room, to allow some air to circulate. Most of the night was spent restlessly on top of the bed; music from nearby filled the air until 2.00am after which I became aware of the swoosh of traffic, presumably from the motorway. Further distraction was proffered in the form of other guests returning to the inn, as the floorboards groaned and roared their disapproval of human footfall. A worn out washer on the hot tap in our en suite, erratically appliqu├ęd a kind of water torture onto the other aggravating layers of distraction.


Having missed out on food the night before, I was looking forward to breakfast but even this hope remained unfulfilled. Still feeling rather stressed, and upset by and commenting on my trip up experience of the previous evening, I interpreted a nervous smile from Helen’s brother as a sneer and duly threatened to deck him. At that point I quit the breakfast room.


Our journey back across the Pennines was a far happier experience, travelling predominantly on motorways advocated by the disembodied voice of the SatNav.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

the space-hopper weighed down

A deep lethargic spirit consumes my very being; a lead weighted space-hopper would be about right as a description of my personage at 11.30 am. Last night was the worst of those seemingly endless, restless, nauseatingly painful nights that I’ve experienced in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, a disconcertingly discomforted restless night is currently par for the course, but last night was topped with added painfulness. Even my regular pre-emptive strike against nocturnal discomfort, amitriptylene and tramadol taken an hour or so before snuggling under the duvet, seems of little if any avail these days.


As I fitfully tossed, turned and squirmed au lit, post-nasal drip and gastro-oesophageal reflux added a further frustrating layer of dis-ease to the tenderness of cervical and axillary lymph nodes. Invisible clog dancers throbbed their way from armpit to elbow, elbow to wrist, before treating the rib cage as a xylophone. As I stretched my legs over the end of the mattress, my toes burnt as if they were being scrubbed with a wire brush. Once the nagging aches pulsed through my hands I decided to don my wrist splints which, somehow, seemed to gradually alleviate the pains in my upper arms.


Even the weather seemed to conspire against sleep, the roar of the wind was disturbingly amplified as I lay there, watching the flickering shadows which took on a somewhat threatening character in the darkened bedroom. An irrational childhood fear of the dark seems to have re-emerged recently, although it only applies to darkness within a building not in the great outdoors. Switching on a bedside lamp almost miraculously eased some of the bodily tension but, even then, only quite short snatches of sleep, from around 4.00am,were on the menu. It seems to be the rule that only unrefreshing sleep may be proffered to yours truly! The past couple of weeks have also seen an alarming resurgence of diverticular and spastic colon symptoms, no doubt contributing towards the sudden all enveloping exhaustion which erratically disrupts my daytime routine (or lack of such).


I am of course in that period of my life when I start to question how many of my ailments, or to what degree, they are symptoms of an ageing body as much as the manifestation of an underlying chronic illness?


Now, here’s the surprise. In spite of all the foregoing ailments I still manage to enjoy life, constantly amazed by the intricacy and complexity of the world around us, attempting to interpret one’s relationship not only to the earth and one’s immediate vicinity but, how we fit into the whole cosmic scheme. The joy that I gain by observing the sheer variety of flora and fauna, even just within the confines of our garden, still fills me with a sense of wonderment. That there is something, rather than nothing, into which we have been thrown, is cause enough for celebration; the love I share with ma belle Bright Light ultimately overwhelms a one time tendency of mine towards cynicism.