Poetry Corner: Only Torment Can Fly

No demon today, the well is dry

Nothing but the anguish of an empty cry

Barren where only torment can fly

 

The angels they left, the devil cares no more

Death stares you down, the coward evermore

Only fear and terror take flight to soar

 

No shelter, no warm place of comfort and rest

No warrior, you failed life’s simplest test

Look closely at the misery of your very best

 

No place at Valhalla’s table, no ride in Elysium’s fields

There is no room for me in my Fathers’ house,

No echo in eternity, no final journey fallen on my shield

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Dear Diary: Monday Recognition

I am up, out of bed, my wife gets me up and makes me breakfast bless her.

I guess forgetting to eat for three days may have given the game away?

I am here, doing that thing I do, except. previously in my life, I had stuff I just had to or my life would have collapsed. You know, no house, nothing collapsed. Now the problem is, if I do nothing, nothing collapses.

Nothing would change if I did nothing, the bills paid, my wife would get the shopping and pick up every bit of slack, and wouldn’t hate me for it. In fact, the more I deteriorated, she would worry and look to get me help, and do more to help me get better, being left to rot, would be the very last thing that would happen.

So how do I cope, I have nothing to do, no job left, everyone survives well without me, but I know I am not causing anything to miss a beat either.

The world really wouldn’t change, it wouldn’t miss me because it already doesn’t.

Dear Diary: Proof of Something

If I am proof of anything it’s hard work doesn’t pay off, practice doesn’t make perfect and what goes around doesn’t come around.

In reality, you have to be working hard on the right things in the right way, it has to be perfect practice, life isn’t even remotely fair and the universe simply does not care at all.

Ultimately the world will neither miss me nor mourn my loss, I matter only so far as I decide that I do, beyond that, I don’t matter at all. I lack both relevance and significance. My existence continues in large part through luck and cowardice; mostly cowardice.

I live a life of pretend and make believe. I pretend what I do has significance, it matters, it counts, that somehow my life is worthy of something, that I as a person have value and worth. In my make believe world I am wise and knowledgeable and people look up to me and value what I say, they support me and believe I will succeed, that my endeavours valuable for my part I pretend along that my life has value with them.

I know, I am, sadly, and I wish I was not, completely aware, of the sham and masquerade.

I am playing along like it matters because it’s all I know to do, but I do know exactly what is true.

 

Dear Diary – After the Hiatus

From Monday 3pm to Friday 3pm stuck in Hospital doing my best not to die of boredom, with so much empty space.

The reality was I shut down. Just to be able to cope I had to not think, no internalise, not be in the moment, not fully present or engaged, and not full focused at all on the future, the past or the present to detach myself from reality and the enforced artificial rules of the situation and my disempowerment.

I survived, the week was an unpleasant dark shadow over my life, holding the time before it in a strange semi-suspense because I knew at some point, coming at short notice, everything had to park for a week. Sensibly, nothing unparkable could be started. Not quite on hold, but really going forward fully either.

Now I am out, I am of course liberated, I am free to do whatever it was that I was unable to do before. Which was?

That is the question, in March so much of what I was doing got ripped away, I hate the melodramatic sound of that. But a few months down the line, it feels more that way now because back then there was the promise that certain things were temporary, that the losses inflicted would be short lived.

Reality has dawned; and I am living with and adjusting to, the new landscape, the shifting sand of what abilities retained, and the extent of skills lost. Those projects are on hold while I have to go and re-learn skills that I need in life. From fine motor skills and co-ordination to emotional intelligence and resilience or understanding, it feels like everything has taken some sort of damage. It may not be impossible, but it is going to take some time.

Of course, I have sabotaged self. My remarkable apparent comeback at the end of May and my stubborn refusal to quit doing whatever I can has led people to think I am ok, after all, here I am living life. That is what you see.

How could they know, the physical pain, the emotional difficulty, the depression, the despair, the frustration of knowing you once could and now can’t; of course they have no idea. And, really, now words can tell the story of being trapped knowing its gone and you might not get that back, or the frustration of being expected to operate on a level you can no longer reach. There is no way to say, this life, the one I was breezing through with ease, no it exhausts me before midday, those things that I could cope with and a hundred more on top, I am crushed by half of them or less, and that finger tapping sounds like you are taking a sledgehammer to my head, but its ok.

The break is over, it is time to move on, step by small step, practice, fail, get up, fall over, get up, make a mess, clean up, carry on, and so on, and so on, every day, every day trying, just trying and hoping to work a little way back, a little way on the dream, and little bit better than yesterday.

Monday Night Reflection: Moving Forward?

This has been a difficult week. I wrote my last reflection sat next to a hospital bed, and here I am back at my desk, that bed does not feel a lifetime ago. Quite the reverse, hospital feels far too close, and I am finding it difficult to impossible to move forward or get away from that medical experience.

I have been blessed by lots of support and genuine concern for my welfare which has really been humbling, and talking to those people and keeping them updated with how I am doing has been a great reminder of the great people I have around me. There was also the complication that I left hospital without a diagnosis or even an explanation of what had been happening, just follow up, which would rule out certain options.

It was frustrating, partly because I had nothing to tell people, partly because I had no treatment and no prospect of treatment, but mostly because Doctors were not listening to me, and not taking what had happened seriously: even to the point I was told “I am not concerned because this is nothing serious”. Now this may be a terrible attempt at being reassuring but when you have been ambulanced in straight to resuscitation twice and your wife was told to prepare herself for you having had a major stroke once, and she has been prepared by the ambulance telephone operator to give you CPR and asked if there is a defibrillator handy it is anything but helpful.

The medical experience has been all of my experience, and even now I have seen a GP and gotten on a treatment for the most likely diagnosis of hemiplegic migraine, and am able to tell people a more positive set of outcomes, it is still difficult to move forward. I still have to be supervised, and my return to a normal life is what an employer would call “a staged return” to normality, which is tremendously difficult.

Everything in life is starting from the beginning, my business project is stopped, my writing projects stopped, everything stopped, my office is a mess, my desk is a mess. More than that my confidence is in pieces, and I am having understandable trouble sleeping, while I am exhausted at very low levels of activity. The road to recovery is a cliché phrase, but it is also a very accurate description of the process. A process I have to take carefully because although we have a great working theory, we have no trigger and no explanation as to why this rare form of migraine has started in my forties rather than the average age of onset of 17. I am rather old for this to have started.

It is really difficult not to over-think and over-analyse every feeling, twinge, and the rather nagging headache that comes and never quite goes. Plus, there is the reality that some symptoms can take a few weeks to wear off, in my case the most obvious one is a stammer that I never used to have. A return to normal is also a little more difficult because at the moment I have a weekly trip to a not local hospital for another issue identified to be treated, and quite a few extra pills that more than likely I will have to take for life now part of my morning routine as a little reminder of my fragility.

I am not taking this as negative, it is great that I have had potentially serious health issues addressed before they got that way, and it is awesome to have a GP who works with me and who steps up when other medical professionals have let me down. I have had lots of scans and test that have revealed I am very healthy internally and have raised things that can be addressed in plenty of time.

None of which has moved me psychologically away from my hospital bed, mentally I am still a patient. Creatively I am literally an empty space, writing about my experience is dull and lifeless, there is nothing there, I cannot create from it, and I feel like my brain isn’t back yet, it’s a lot of locked doors and I have lost the keys. Writing this reflection was a challenge because I only had one subject to write about, and I didn’t want to write about it. The reflective framework suggests that I use the experience to inform future behaviour or practice, and even am able to identify what I could do differently. I cannot see anything I can do differently when I was a passenger taken for a ride by what was happening, sometimes very literally.

As I wrote last week, I cannot bring myself to take the easy route of claiming some epiphany about the wonderful gift of life and how precious I have realised it is after what has happened, the truth is I haven’t had that sort of light-bulb revelation at all. As time as has passed, I have started to see how this three weeks has changed or could change both my wife and me. For her, I see real positives when she realises how awesome she was, not in that terribly overused, found strength she never knew she had way, because I am pretty sure she knew she could be phenomenally strong, a reminder or a revelation of the extent of that strength, I will give you that. No, it’s deeper, she was capable, she made great decisions, and although she was worried beyond my comprehension she managed it, didn’t ignore it suppress it but acted appropriately and constructively through an incredibly difficult and challenging situation. I hope she walks away from this with her confidence in her capabilities raised and her assessment of her abilities and judgement moved up closer to the level where the are and she stops underestimating them a little more.

For me, probably not what people would expect. I realised how close I am to having a perfect life, and that sadly, money is what it is going to take. I have an amazing life, but it is insecure, money will make it secure and add stability and certainty to it. That is not so I can take more risks or necessarily have more material stuff, I have way too much stuff and there really isn’t anything I need, maybe some cool enhancements, but that’s always going to be so. No, it’s a case of making life secure, and so that I can compete and we can have a holiday so that we can go back to having a car each. I’ve realised I need to make my dream less precarious.

What I do not know, where I really do need the epiphany is the how.

Poetry Corner: Rain

Plans are ruined, the day is spoiled

My work, labour and ceaseless toil

For this one day, to live, breathe outside

Promises as if snatched from a child

 

Tapping like torture on the glass

Looking, hoping praying you’ll pass

Relentless, ceaseless soggy legacy

A week I’ll wait, wait to see

 

So it rains, today, no great unknown

Could have been great, not inside alone

Adventure or solace, spirit set free

Imprisoned left to rot, just me