The hard yards and chinks of light

Have been at the hospital every day for the last couple of weeks for treatment, which has left me pretty exhausted and unable to eat much. So I’ve been trying to pick up chinks of light as the days pass; they’re few and far between so it’s like finding a beautiful shell as you walk along the seashore in bare feet.

A doctor pal came over for a cuppa yesterday and some much needed medical moral support. It was great to see her and she brought with her some macaroons and ginger and hazelnut dark chocolate. Result!

Flocks of children on the tube have delighted me with their enthusiasm for life, when I’m finding it hard to muster any at all. Yesterday I got up and inadvertently leant on two young girls’ fingers as the train pulled into the station. I apologised and they smiled so sweetly at me.

Cheese on toast, bananas, yoghurt and eggs are my staples now, the thought of anything green or healthy, which I’d usually love, is unbearable.

The lovely man who runs our local Turkish restaurant and who’s been flooded out with the recent tropical rainstorms gives me a daily update as I walk past. They’re well on the way to opening again – I reassure him that his customers will be knocking the door down to support him.

And as always the nursing staff – encouraging, concerned and efficient.

Not many chinks of light, but they’re getting me through the hard yards.

Hope for the future

Has been so disturbing to see the post-Brexit venom on all sides and instances of racism, like the young Polish boy today given a printed card telling him to ‘go home’. Police investigating and so they should.

But this country is a mosaic of many different groups and I came across two of the better versions today on my way to the hospital. Firstly the station was full of Glastonberries, young happy people covered in mud and still grinning from their weekend. Such a contrast to the rest of us rather glum commuters. Mud all over the station too, half of Somerset trailed through London.

Then on the train a flock of London schoolchildren come on, chattering at their happy primary school volume. They’d been on a museum visit and are talking excitedly about their favourite sculptures. A reminder that good culture will always inspire and transform.

I need to get off the train and they part politely to let me and my stick through. One of them says,’move out of the way for the lady’ and they part and smile at me. I smile back and thank them – this diverse group of Londoners are the real future for our country and they fill me with hope.



Have been knocked a bit sideways by current treatment and the Brexit vote. Bone achingly tired and going to buy the paper suddenly seems like a Herculean task. Sad at the Brexit vote, but we must respect democracy and try and build bridges between the different sides of this very divided country. The tone of the campaign on both sides is what worried me most;  we are a finer, more thoughtful country than that and it’s time we remembered it.

So bridge building between leavers and remainers important and bridges seem to be looming large at the moment – I keep dreaming about bridges between my old life and the new life and being unwilling to cross the bridge in between.

It feels as though if I cross the bridge away from my old life (which has pretty much been stripped away) then I need to rebuild a whole new life and I haven’t the energy for that or the will. I loved my old life, don’t much care for the present one and can’t see that the new life across the bridge will be full of sunlit uplands. More like the stormy, thundery, muggy rubbish weather we’ve been having lately.

I’m clinging to the old life by my fingertips and resolutely stuck on the bridge.

Fingers crossed for the vote

Anyone who thinks the UK is indifferent to the voting today hasn’t been paying attention. Went to buy a paper and the newsagent asked me if I’d voted and which side, then I went to vote and the man in charge told me they’d been queuing several deep when they opened and had a higher turnout than expected.

Met my neighbour, who’s 93, can’t stand unaided and has her arm in plaster. She’d ordered a cab to take her to the polling station and was firmly Remain. Old school and hardcore, but then her mother didn’t have the vote until late in her life, so she remembers.

At the hospital, the corridors were buzzing with political talk, the nurses asked if I’d voted and one told me excitedly that her son was voting for the first time and they were going to the polling booth together and then she was taking him out to dinner to celebrate.

A woman on the tube starts up a conversation about voting, we’re both wearing “IN” badges and she says we’ll have to emigrate if it goes the other way, but not to the US. I suggest somewhere in Europe might be appropriate and she laughs.

So the reasonable people are out in force, not the ones who yell and shout, but the people who make up the backbone of this country, who are not inflammatory in speech or exaggerated in their claims. Just ordinary citizens going about their business today and part of that business was being counted.

Fingers crossed.

Arm wrestling

GP and hospital today, but first there is the arm wrestling. I’ve recently had a small op on my right arm and stitches are still in, so am not supposed to get it wet. Also having to use a special soap at the moment which involves a flannel. I’m right-handed. Still haven’t worked out how to hold flannel, shower head, wash and rinse without getting my right arm wet.

My hair needs a wash, but I also have to use a special shampoo and not get my right arm wet. So ablutions involve much bad language and spraying of the rest of the bathroom.

GP visit goes fine, she’s kind and solicitous as always. Get paper on the way back and the man behind the counter looks at me in alarm and asks what’s happened. How long have you got I think, but he means the stick, he’s only just noticed it. I’ve had it since Christmas, just got a bad leg, will be better soon I hope, I mumble. Should I be pleased that  he’s only just noticed, or does he need an urgent eye test?

Time for coffee and crossword before heading off to hospital again.

Weather unpredictable again

Wake up in a lather of self pity, unusual these days but I recognise the symptoms straight away. The long list of things that I can no longer do, the resentment, eyelids heavy and heart like a stone. I’d like to turn over and sulk for the whole day but urgent action is required, so I force myself out of bed and make a decent breakfast of fruit and yoghurt with  lovely seeded bread and marmalade toast. Then into the shower and dress.

These days are even harder to get going than usual, but I know that one step in front of the other is the key to things being easier as the day wears on. But it’s difficult to carpe the bloody diem when even eating toast requires monumental effort.

Then a pal I haven’t spoken too in a long time calls for news and the day brightens. Communication with the outside world is essential on these days and every little helps. Later in the morning a priest friend stops by and we catch up on mutual news and then talk about the spiritual desert I currently find myself in. He nudges me gently in a different direction and things don’t seem quite so desperate.

Lunch and then hospital again where the staff as ever are kind, professional and efficient. A woman is doing aromatherapy while we wait for our appointments, it smells wonderful and a gentle massage helps rebalance the world.

Take the bus home and buy some chutney which suddenly I feel I can’t live without a moment longer – need the spice in this palely loitering life. The sun comes out, there’s a crossword to do and a pile of DVDs to look forward to. I’ve managed to get off the self pity express and get some nourishment from the day, a small but not insignificant triumph.

Bouncing back

I don’t bounce back as quickly as I used to, some of the elasticity has gone. In the past if I’d worked my socks off during the week, a complete day of rest would have done it, now it’s more like two.

So yesterday I had a good sleep and lie in and then did a big shop for the week ahead. Lots of hospital visits ahead this week and I need to be able to just come home and eat nice food. If it’s not in the house, the temptation is to fast forward straight to junk. So the fridge has a whole chicken, good bacon, smoked salmon and then eggs, great bread etc.

The nearest I get to ready meals are those new pouches of mixed grains, spelt and rice, wheat and lentils and quinoa. Don’t really approve of them, would rather cook my own, but at the moment they’re practical and I always seem to cook too much of any grain and  end up resenting them after three days. The pouches are more expensive but I get two meals out of them.

Lots of tinned fruit and beans, creamed rice and ice cream for the very bad days and frozen veg, plus fresh leeks, avocados, cauliflower for a mac and cheese, tomatoes and the hated broccoli. I love veg but hate broccoli so it’s my offering to the health gods. Yes I know it’s good for me but it’s a close relation to sprouts which are the devil’s own food.

Then I had lunch with a pal and came home for a good long nap and stayed in bed and read. Also got in a good provision of library books so am not going to run out.

Today I was still dog tired, so after breakfast went back to bed and slept and read most of the day. Feeling better now so time to roast that chicken.

A gentle bounce to see me through until bedtime.