The Duchess of Hazard

I am the Fun Police.

At least as far as my daughter goes. She wants to take her scooter down a slight incline and I’m there, sucking my teeth on the sidelines, hardly daring to look. She wants to do star jumps on the trampoline and there’s my face, moulded into the mesh like a bank robber.

Yesterday, a group of us went to Newby Hall. Fun central, as far as kids are concerned. Water fountains to jump in. A lake to paddle in. A zip-wire to…zip down.

All potential death traps. Lynn Faulds-Wood has got nothing on me.

Water fountains = slip hazard.

Lake = drowning hazard.

Zip-wire = one way ticket to paraplegia.

Friends will testify that I have always been on the cautious side. (Except after a few beers – then I’ll do owt). However, since M died, I have become convinced something is going to happen to take my child too. In fact, my buttocks have been permanently clenched for eighteen months.

Prior to this, it was my own health which caused me anxiety. Everything took on catastrophic significance, from headaches (brain tumour) to athletes foot (skin cancer). It was a psychological unhinging which was attributed to M’s sudden illness and near-death in 2008. Finally I was told I had ‘Health Anxiety’ by my weary-eyed GP, who just wanted to satisfy me with a diagnosis of some description so that I would fuck off and leave her alone.

Since M was taken from me though, my anxieties have been transposed onto my girl. To the point yesterday where I was so caught up in worrying, I forgot to take her bathing suit and she refused to go into the fountains nude.

Instead she stayed close to me, wrapped up in the safety of the towel.

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The Prophecy of the Bald Surgeon

Agadoo

Agadoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a crash outside our village this weekend. Ambulances, police cars, rubber-neckers, the lot.

My heart sank at the prospect of fatalities. Which poor sod would get the policeman at their door telling them that their loved one was dead?

Whilst no less devastating, losing your spouse suddenly is a different experience to watching them succumb to a long illness.

You have no time to prepare, to say goodbye, for them to make any last minute confessions or request Agadoo be played at the funeral.

Equally, you don’t face the agony of the slow diminishment of the person you love, of steering them through the realities of imminent death and the fact that they will never see their kids grow up.

In a sense, with M, we went through both of these scenarios.

He fell ill, suddenly and catastrophically, in 2008. He was wheeled into emergency open-heart surgery, not knowing whether He would see daylight again.

But He survived, and the prognosis was good. A ‘normal lifespan’ was to be expected, according to the Bald Surgeon in the Blue Scrubs. (How I came to fear the Bald Surgeon in the Blue Scrubs  – he and his team of wingmen would come sweeping onto the ward and announce yet further obstacles to M’s recovery – collapsed lung, mild mid-brain stroke – but despite it all, we were discharged with the belief that a ‘normal lifespan’ was to be expected.)

I had watched my beloved suffer though; I had seen the fear in His eyes. His rehabilitation was gruelling, but His determination to live somehow over-rode every setback.

It seemed like God’s final insult, therefore, to have finished Him off in the way He did. Unceremoniously, with no regard for how far we had come.

So much for God and Bald Surgeons.

On homesickness

Nostalgia's not what it used to be

Nostalgia’s not what it used to be (Photo credit: marc e marc)

In one of those weird moments of simultaneity, after I wrote yesterday’s post about homesickness, I opened my bedtime reading to find William Fiennes talking about the same thing. (Although he made no reference to projectile piss at a Madness concert.)

Fiennes describes how the condition was given a medical designation as far back as 1688, by a Swiss physician named Hofer. He called it ‘Nostalgia’, and described it as a ‘serious disease’ characterised by the following symptoms:

‘…continued sadness, disturbed sleep either wakeful or continuous, decrease of strength, hunger, thirst, senses diminished, and cares or even palpitations of the heart, frequent sighs, also stupidity of the mind – attending to nothing hardly, other than an idea of the Fatherland.’

The idea was picked up again in 1754 by a fella called De Meyserey, who observed ‘nostalgia’ in a military context. He emphasised the importance of ‘keeping any soldier who showed signs of homesickness busy, diverted, occupied by tasks or vigorous activity. He recommended medications that would allow the blood and humours to circulate more easily…’

Anyone who has experienced grief will recognise the symptoms, and the prescription for its ‘relief’. Diversions, medications. Anything to help contain the spread of the ‘disease’.

The passage in Fiennes’ book (The Snow Geese) helped elucidate my feelings of ‘homesickness’ within the context of my grief.

For grief is a ‘sickness’ in itself, impacting on every aspect of my new life. And as far as I can see, there is no cure other than to keep going.