Monday, 25 August 2014

Who's in Charge Now?

What seems like a lifetime ago, I was driving down the old A1 on my way home from playing my last tennis match away at Bedale. To my left, above the embankment, huge lorries were swooshing past northbound while I, below, was alone on the old road with my headlights streaming ahead of me. The next day I was due to go to York Hospital for surgery.

It occurred to me at the time that I could run away, not turn off at Ripon, and just keep driving. Except of course, that you can run away from everything ...except your own body. So I meekly went off to York the next day to begin the process that will take over a year of my life and, whether I like it or not, nothing is as it was before.

I can't remember a time when I haven't pushed my body. All those times when I have made myself run faster, cycle further, hit a tennis ball harder, do that one extra thing for work which makes a good job excellent or dance one more dance when my feet are telling me it's time to quit. And suddenly the boot, as it were, is on the other foot. My body is calling the shots and my mind, however much it protests, must submit. I've been a driven person, the classic 'completer finisher' all my life and it's a steep learning curve to let things go, as let them go I must.

I have to learn to prioritise. To do what's important rather than what needs to be done. Spiders will weave cobwebs, weeds will grow, filing will accumulate and someone - probably not me - will have to attend to such things. But really my priorities haven't changed. Children, my beloved, my wider family, friends  - and home, in the broadest sense of the word, so much more than bricks and mortar - those have always been what matter most. Will my children ever truly know that a spontaneous hug from them is worth more than rubies? That having them all at home, however fleetingly, is so precious. And that watching them grow has been the greatest pleasure of my life.

But there's one other priority now. There's only one person in this body. Only one who knows what must be done to keep sailing through these choppy waters. I am the single-handed yachtsman and I am, despite all my friends and family, utterly alone.  I can't share my pain and sickness, however much you or I may want to. It is mine alone.

I don't want to lie down, sit on a cushion or put my feet up but when my body needs this, I must, however reluctantly, obey. This is going to be hard.

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