Kittens on the internet
Funny, when I lived in Scotland there was an expression “mortalled”, to mean that someone was really drunk. It seemed like quite a sweet turn of phrase to me, without taking in any of the real implications; now the idea of getting mortalled makes me do a whole body shudder.
Yesterday I took Nick to the hospital to get his hearing aids repaired – a simple thing, but something about the miserable day, cold and bucketing with rain and having to splosh into a huge puddle just getting him out of the car, gave me the chills.
An emergency ambulance pulled up beside us and began to unload a scared, poorly woman on a stretcher. All around us were people hobbling, being wheeled, bandaged and scarred, pale smokers outside in dressing gowns and drips, everyone looking ill and, well, mortal.
Hospitals don’t usually affect me like this but it was like seeing the world through a different lens, a horrific one that I couldn’t shake off. How bloody fragile we are, that’s all I could see. And, for the first time, one day this will be me.
I’ve not been feeling very well this week, with stomach pains and back ache. Unusual for me. Something is not at all right. I’m generally strong as a Taurean ox and not given to imagining hideous illness every time I have a cold - although I did go through a childhood phase of acute hypochondria, thanks to obsessive reading of a Victorian medical encyclopaedia (quinsy, diptheria and palpitations in the space of a fortnight. My mum got rid of the book after she’d been about to call an ambulance then realized my “appendicitis” was on the wrong side. )
But this time, something is definitely not feeling right.
I’ve not been so well this year and apart from getting older, it doesn’t take much to guess why. Tinnitus, weird Raynaud’s type frozen fingers, feeling exhausted and dizzy. The stress of the last few weeks with ongoing neighbour problems and the man upstairs physically threatening Nick, and our attempts to get some support, has affected us all. With each day that I beg for help and no-one calls back, the acid bores another hole in my stomach and no amount of meditation or lovely spring blossoms or kittens on the internet seems to soothe the anxiety away.
And a friend died at the weekend – cancer. She was super-healthy, it just came out of the blue. It makes you stop and wonder.
It makes you face your own mortality.
What if there were really something wrong with me? But there can’t be. Who would look after Nick? There is Simon, and the carers who are gradually gaining confidence and my trust, and a handful of helpful friends and health professionals, but it’s me who pulls it all together.
I simply can’t afford to get ill. Trouble is, being a carer affects your health. Have you seen the statistics? They’re as scary as any Victorian medical manual.
But if kittens on the internet and walking in spring blossom help a bit, and taking Nick out to the countryside for a blast of nature and the heavenly hillsides, then that’s what I’ve got to do. I think perhaps it’s my quest in what is now my 60th year - to keep well, mentally and physically, because one of us can’t and the other one has got to.