Pushing on regardless

Probably for the last 6 weeks particularly I’ve been looking ahead yearningly, expectantly, to a time when I might consider my state of health and being as ‘acceptable’.

In my mind at least, acceptable equated to minimal pain and much greater capability. I expected to be stronger in body, to the point I could walk down the street without fear of potential collapse. The pain I was less fussed about, though fully expected that I would breathe easier and the congestion I’ve suffered from would be gone, and probably with it the swelling.

From a purely cosmetic point of view, I hoped that my hair would begin to regrow as the swelling came down, and that I would get greater command of my mouth.

In the last couple of weeks there’s been a series of events that suggest nothing is as simple as that. I guess I knew that already, but I hoped for the best.

I ordered a new bed about two months ago. It was meant to be delivered within a fortnight, but a part was missing. I had to chase it up, and when they finally delivered it a month later they didn’t put it together, as requested. I slept on a blow-up mattress that night and then went into hospital for the next four nights. They finally returned last Wednesday to set the bed up.

I’ve spoken of my time in hospital. I picked up very well in there, but almost collapsed leaving the place. I‘d picked up diarrhea, which undid all the good work. I was frail for days after, and the congestion returned. My head would spin as my body sought comfort.

In the meantime, my work advised they’d paid nearly $1,000 to my account in error: could I please pay it back? It was a blow to my budget, but pay it back I did.

All this time I had my eyes on a trip to Sydney I’d booked in more hopeful times. As the day approached I was afraid that I wasn’t up to it. I feared that I would get there, take a turn, then be stuck. I was determined to make it, but wasn’t sure if it was wise.

It seemed even the gods were against me when I got to the airport on Friday. The flight left at about 11am; by 2pm it was back in Melbourne. A storm cell in Sydney had prevented landing. We sat on the tarmac for another hour, before finally we jetted off again. I arrived in Sydney at about 5pm.

The last couple of days I’ve spent in the Blue Mountains. It’s been very pleasant, though it’s tested me. Because I came away with a purpose I’ve wanted to do things, and I’ve been 2-3 more times active than before.

I tend to think of that as a good and necessary thing, though I’m not always certain. I feel like an invalid much of the time. Like a faulty part. I hate that and I push against it. It would be easier to stop, but if I never try how am I going to get ahead?

There was an episode on the way up which is symptomatic of much. We’d stopped at a second-hand bookstore to browse. We’d been there about 20 minutes and I could feel it wearing at me. Then I suffered one of the dizzy spells as I clung tight to a bookcase. In my head was some kind of crazy notion I was trying to figure out, as if it might cure my ills. I was like that for about 10-15 seconds before I came to. I had realised it was nonsense and knowing that broke the chain. I blinked, feeling weak and scared, but back in the world.

Otherwise, I need to take regular breaks to sit down, even if I’ve only been standing. I’m breathless often, occasionally without having exerted myself. But then I think, I can only get fitter by pushing the envelope – and I’m doing over 4000 paces daily, up from under 2000.

It’s frustrating, and psychologically challenging at times. I feel old and helpless; it will pass, I tell myself. I’m self-conscious about my appearance and wary of speaking too much – it comes harder than before, and with a thicker tongue. None of this is like H of before, and that’s the thing hard to overcome.

I don’t hide from it, though. I accept what is because I have no choice. I can’t hide away. I can’t take the easy option. I have to push, hoping it will get me where I need to go sooner.

I enjoyed my time in the Blue Mountains. Most of it we spent in Blackheath, where I have memories of a previous visit 30 years ago. I’m eating much better, which is a plus, but still not getting much joy out of it. In theory, I’m becoming stronger.

I’m back now at my friend’s house in Wahroonga. It’s very leafy and serene here. I’m sitting out on his deck typing this, in between reading. I might take a nap soon. It’s good to get away. Good to see familiar faces again, and to take in an environment far different to the stultifying world I’ve been stuck with these last four months. I return home on Friday.

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