So that was Christmas, as John Lennon sang, and what have I done?
Slept, mostly. Boy, have I slept, like a cat, like a baby, more than I can ever remember sleeping. Sleeping in the afternoon. Turning in early. Waking up at the normal time and then going back to sleep for another two, three hours.
I’ve been ill, though. Proper, knock-you-down-where-you-stand, incapacitating flu, where you just have no choice but to go to bed and stay there.
Thank goodness for everything stopping for Christmas Day and then that sleepy downtime between Christmas and New Year when we hadn’t got much booked in anyway.
It’s been a week now and the aches and whirly bedrooms are abating but I can still feel the virus running through my system, the cough is still hacking out of my lungs and I’m weedy and can’t martial my thoughts two miles ahead the way I usually would.
Simon took care of everything – cooked, entertained, chauffeured, ministered to bro - all the things I would normally do – and the children have been to visit, and he’s had a really cracking Christmas.
His fridge is full of cheese and home-made trifle and he’s been given enough chocolate to last him, ooh at least til the end of the week. I am so grateful.
And relaxed. Sleep is such a healer.
But during my long, fevered Christmas night, so delirious I was hanging upside down out of bed trying to cool my forehead on the tiled fireplace, awful thoughts were pounding through my head and one thing was clear : I can’t keep it together indefinitely the way I have been. Something had to give.
Simon has been beyond spectacular and what I’d do without him I just don’t know, but he still only takes care of the basics. I’m the one who keeps it all ticking over. And what if it had just been me and bro? This was one time when I couldn’t just stagger through, feeling a bit rough but coping anyway. I couldn’t even sit up.
So yes, I feel that this illness and enforced rest has taught me a lesson: understanding my limits.
I’ve talked in the past about needing to ask for help more, and here and there people have offered, and some really do help already, with lifts and little socials and just invaluably staying part of the picture.
But I think I've inadvertently deflected other overtures because it is always hard to explain what kind of help we need exactly when the needs can be so amorphous and yet so complex. And you’ve kind of got to know Nick to know what to do. So a lot of the time it is just easier to get on with it all myself.
But I don’t think I can do that anymore – even with Simon's fantastic back-up, there is too much, it’s too big for us both to deal with on a sustained basis.
When Nick had his service assessment recently, the lovely case manager from the Neuro team put it very well. She said, although Nick appears to be living independently, making his own decisions, we all know that he isn’t really able to do anything without constant intervention on all levels.
So I’ve been thinking. We need more back up, and I need to ask for very specific help and more of it.
I'm still trying to figure out what could be most useful, but I think it would be social. I'm thinking of a pool of people I might be able to call on, to go in and visit him for a glass of wine (there's no point me saying "for a cup of tea", now, is there?) and a chat, or to discuss what's in the paper with him, or read him a chapter of a book, or take him a rice pudding, or even just pop in to check that everything is running smoothly, just so that I'm not always the absolute first point of contact all the time for everything.
I don't know quite who they'll be, these good soldiers, but if you're reading this and get a call from me, don't be alarmed - after all, you can always say no. But I need to start opening up the conversation, and it seems as good a resolution for 2019 as any.