Dear Diary: Manchester is not by the Sea

The seaside, so often the facade of towns long closed down in heart and soul existing was not for me.

This was reflection and calm, the quiet, where people said a cheerful hello while you look out, a gas rig or two between your bench and Norway. A different place, a different sense of time.

A little calm so close to places so familiar and a life so very different to the one I have now.

My obligation fulfilled, respects duly paid, tears respectfully held back, and happy memories built upon the ashes of the past.

My dearest friends a comforting bridge, welcoming arms and helping hands, solace in the storm.

A place does not know, it does not remember, it meant no harm, it held no anger, it will not be bitter, nor will it be sad, it will shed no tears, knowing not the passing of our years. Those we bring, they are ours to leave or take away, memories are our own each day, and the stories ours to tell, like the place lest we too face away.

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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.

Dear Diary : In the Spaces

Right now I am sat in a neurology unit. I was admitted yesterday, I arrived at 3pm, got to the actual bed for me at 9.45pm. This will typify my experience, lots of time and space ….

Time to think, or to be precise, more time to think, but now out of my space.

It will come as no surprise that I and Mr Mouse are introverts, and that with migraines as a constant issue quiet space and time are a big feature of our day. A hospital is loud, its busy, and of course it’s being a bay of four, plus staff, it is a permanent social environment. It not only drains me really quickly, there really is no chance to recharge properly and sleep is disturbed.

It is something to get through, tests, and repeating the story while really running on empty, but more, it is a week away from being able to make progress towards my goals, its a week on hold. A holiday is part of my plans, its in and it builds me up; hospital breaks me down.

This is no fun, this is not how I want to spend my time, I have almost no independence, I don’t have the comforts of my home, I don’t have my life, which goes on hold, and I slide gently, however slowly, away from my goals, while mentally this is a struggle.

However, the added dimension is external. People expect that is is a fix, like these tests will find a problem and I will get fixed, or that I am here to get fixed, they are wishing me a good outcome, when really, I have no idea what a good outcome is.

It is almost impossible to explain that, not only may the tests not find anything, even if the tests do find something, it is entirely possible that what they find may have no treatment and that there is no fixing this problem at all. The possible outcome is, while I may pick up a label or definition, that will be the sum total of what is achieved and that there will be no help, therapy, fix or even particular management strategy beyond learning to live with it.

And people say don’t be pessimistic, not realising that, this static model is one of the more optimistic outcomes, we haven’t even begun with the progressive degenerative models.

Monday Night Reflection: Slow Boat or Express Train

I do make a point of writing my Monday Night Reflection as close to real time as possible and today is a case in point. Today I got news that following my twenty minute EEG, which was, of course, a downgrade from the ambulatory EEG originally ordered, I have after an administrative delay, being booked for a three-day ambulatory EEG after all. This suggests that the short EEG was not good enough to show me the door.

This is significant because I have felt that my recovery has been very much more slow boat than express train and that I have significant skills deficits that are not really coming back in the area of motor skills, something showing up in my typing error statistics which are up over 500%, if ever there was a measure that a skill was a bit affected. Although thanks to Grammarly, it would appear my writing vocabulary is largely unaffected, those who know me have noted that I still lisp, slur, stammer and have vocal issues previously not present and that my memory defects are noticeable, especially when I get tired.

So while I am no fan of a reflection heavily medical in focus, it is difficult because I am two people. The person I can talk about and the person I can not talk about too much; and at this present moment the person I can not talk about a lot is driving and in charge, it is a very important week, it is probably the most important week of my year in that life. This upcoming weekend being the most important weekend of the year for that life; without melodrama what happens will determine the rest of my year, where I go, what I do. So, rather unsurprisingly, the combination of my motor skill issues which massively impact that life, my problems writing, which are my other life, and my recovery which is all my life have given me what is, in the day to day, a very quiet life as I have had an extraordinary narrow focus as we as a team, been focussed on this one goal and getting through it.

It is partly frustrating that I have to separate lives, but it is a necessity, after all, I lost the battle for public identity to my abuser and this blog is for all those who like me lost that battle and have to find their voice. Because, I made it back, in that life although I am a long way from where I was, I am still on course to make my year-end goal, and I am still processing that. It is hard to reflect on anything else, it is dominating my physical and mental landscape that I left hospital first week in April will partial paralysis and speech issues not knowing when the next attack would be, the longest I have gone is 6 days without any sort of attack, yet despite all the issues and challenges, I am 6 days from being a competitive athlete again; taking my first step on the road to a World Championships where I am likely to be considered a legitimate contender.

How do you think about anything else, whatever challenges I face today, and I hurt, and I ache and my motor skills are awful, my coordination is woeful, the fact that is a sentence that is possible does not seem like it is real life. Yet, it’s my life, and I could very possibly be writing a Hollywood ending in my own little life.

So apologies, it’s not about Mr Mouse, it’s about Me, but not about me because my abuser is out there and she would ruin everything with her lies, so I don’t want fame or to be famous, so it’s not a big sport that gets into newspapers or internet headlines. The Mouse and I will tell our story together because it is our journey together, from the abuse of childhood and being held back for years by first an abusive parent and then abusive wife who would both sabotage or make me give up my dreams, telling me I was selfish to the wife who did more than just give permission, but who did what it took to put their wrong right.

Success may be a slow boat, it can be an express train, but it is never our own story, it takes people to help us, support us, open doors, believe in us and hold us up; every cliche about teamwork making the dream work is made real every time we come together and help someone even just a little bit.

After this week I am taking some time off everything, and I have been working on some poems to publish, I have to photography trips planned and my car will hopefully be fixed soon so I can make those, so gradually I am getting back to my normal. While hopefully, I can draw my line and Mr Mouse can create again; Mr Mouse is committed to a book called Squeeking At the Top of My Voice sometime late in 2018, I am really excited at what he has planned.

Monday Night Reflection: Nothing To See Here

It is difficult to reflect on a week, where, to my mind, very little of what happened is Mouse related. Mr Mouse, it would appear has not been busy. Where Mr Mouse was once busy sorting out and tidying around making sense of my world and doing a great job in the background of getting things done for me there is now space. Worse, a slightly sticky space bar is hindering my efforts, which is perhaps the problem.

At the moment all my sense are turned way up, sounds hurt, touches, tastes, they all cause physical pain at very low intensities, on a certain level, I am guessing this is what autism must feel like because input, is generally, not a pleasant thing. And life is all about input, sleep isn’t restful and tired, sick, nausea and generally feeling in pain in some way is what it’s all about. Creatively everything is dry, projects are dry, work is gone, nothing to do, no inclination to do it, and recovery has hit a wall with even physical progress coming and going. It has been another tough week after a tough week. So while the stats people could say the trend on the graph is positive, it is positive trend on trend, its a very slow trend and the negatives are big, the downs are big, the relapses are huge and the experience is anything but what someone would call fun.

It would be accurate to say, at least some, if not some large chunks of the time, I have started to feel more than just a little sorry for myself. Because, I am not going anywhere or getting anything done, and if I am making a little progress, one I can’t share it and two it is only back to a level far below the level I was at anyway before all of this started back in March. Imagine playing in an orchestra and then having to back and start grade levels, that is the equivalent. At the same time, the physical pain is intense and debilitating, my mind is working at a physically tiring level, so writing this is the mental equivalent of a workout when once it was easy to write and introspect. In fact, not only was it easy, it was a fun and helpful, now just writing an email to a friend is taxing and difficult as a task.

It is difficult because, I have to recognise that is, really, very early days. I don’t have a cast to see or a wound to see healing, which is a huge part of the problem, it is all happening in my head and inside where no one can see what is going on, and it is messing with my emotional and coping capacities as well as impacting on my personality. The impact is on how I see and feel about myself, there are suicidal thoughts and my self-talk is very negative, you could say I am depressed, but at the same time, I am not depressed in how I have experienced depression in my life previously. This is a complex awareness that I am two people existing in the same space at the same time failing to cope with the existence of each other. This is the stuff my Mouse used to handle for me, this is what I let my mind sort out in the background my focusing on positive goals and helping others. Those things do not work, I am tired, my concentration has gone and my memory awful, but of course I have not given up. The two, the depths of despair and abandonment alongside hope and optimism are together interwoven bound in single thoughts.

The past is the past, and this has happened, the future I thought I had, it is not the same, and where I had a plan, I do not even have a plan about how to plan anymore. I would say I am fighting, but I am, it feels, more trying to work out who the opponent is, before I start fighting back. So far it seems the opponent is me, or more precisely a me that has started to malfunction and is apparently going to start working again spontaneously. There is no fight, just waiting, which is perhaps, ultimately, why I cannot cope. Previously I have a process, a fight, something to do, and this time, all I can find is, wait and time does the job. Great, if you are on the express train, not so great for those on the slow boat. I think I didn’t get off the harbour here.

The purpose of reflection is to do, and that is where I am coming up blank each and every time, I have no do. So far, it’s do what I can still do, setbacks like getting food poisoning included, and keep looking for new opportunities and avenues to make progress, even if, so far, they have not opened up or become apparent.

Monday Night Reflection: Trying Not To Get Medical

It has been a difficult time; and honestly I am still in a difficult spot. I am sat next to my hospital bed writing on my netbook hoping the rather poor wifi will let me post this. At the same time, I want to reflect in a relevant way about my life, what I have learned, and what is important to me without turning into a rather dull medical saga.

What I am in the middle of is serious. Luckily for me it is not a stroke, and not a TIA either, so my brain hasn’t been damaged by what is happening no less than 4 times a day. Which looks like a stroke, right out the text book. So it scary to be around and its down right terrifying to experience because I am fully conscious and thinking but only able to hear. Before usually slipping unconscious anytime from 5 minutes to an hour after an attack starts.

I am not going to detail the medical stuff, but I’ve been discharged from 2 hospitals being told it’s not a stroke so there is nothing wrong. That is a story that will be told offline in offices with legal people present. Which presents a challenge. Clearly, this has been the majority of my experience coming the day after my Reflection on Logan. 

I could decide to write about an epiphany experience about having my eyes opened to the value and gift of life, but that would be the very worst sort of lie. Deception is not my aim. I already knew that I was a small amount of income away from the perfect dream life, and that that distance was both small and not terribly bothersome. Perfection could wait while I enjoyed the fantastic opportunity I had. My goals have not changed, although I have had some ideas on how to bridge the income gap, they are ideas, and I have made small priority decisions, after all, I have had a lot of time to think. Not being able to move or speak does that. I have evaluated positions I held and decided that there are things I can do differently and opportunities I should not dismiss out of hand.

So I am not radically revamping my blog, I am not changing the direction of my life, in fact, I am more convinced that I am on to a good thing and the goals I have are smart enough to serve me well. My commitment to my craft and project is largely unchanged although I always knew I had to look into my time management as well as being a little more organised so I could get ideas out of my head into a secure parking space quickly and then find them again. Things that I haven’t necessarily made a priority, and I want to use better time management to work on the things I want to be working on, and measure my involvement in fun distractions. 

I will probably get an XBox One too, I always loved Forza and my eldest son plays it as well as other games, so I get a bit of mindless distraction and can get a closer to him (My children from my 1st marriage live with their mother). Which may seem to contradict my commitment to be productive with a weak excuse, but the aim is to do things I enjoy and relax me, and to manage my social media involvement. To date, I have used social media as a distraction and I want to lose that aspect and concentrate on connection and positivity, which is what I love doing.

Which may turn out to the light bulb epiphany moment in my current experience. Making explicit that I love to help others and that having a positive impact is something I find fulfilling and rewarding to the point I chase that drug with all the manic drive of an addict in withdrawal without any conscious acknowledgement that this is the case. And perhaps, even, an element of denial and a desperate maintenance of cynical observation to mask that actually that I care so much that I get hurt and used. 

I don’t want to tell my story just to tell my story, that is pointless. If I tell my story I want it to establish my credentials as someone who was not born extra-ordinary, who has no super-power like talents, and is very much a non-remarkable specimen. If I possess any attributes it would be stubbornness and stupidity. Too stupid to know when I am supposed to be beaten and too stubborn to give up even if I did. A genuinely mixed blessing. However, this is why I want to help others be everything they can be, love life and live a fulfilling life chasing goals, not dreams, goals that make them happy. Growing to be someone they would want to be friends with, want their children to be friends with, and would let their children marry and who they would happily trust to employ and look after all that they hold dear and valuable. 

I am not sure if I am really that person, but the journey to be that person, that’s the stuff of my life and I am convinced is the very best of life. 

As John Connor said, “the future is not set, there is no fate but that we make for ourselves!”

Dear Diary: 20th February 2017

Don’t stroke the Mouse!

Mouse was rushed into hospital last Tuesday with a suspected stroke.

Nearly a week later all we can say for definite is that Thursday night his brain showed no sign of damage.

20 stroke like episodes later Mouse can barely move his left side or speak.

His NHS experience is far from positive but with every reason to be down my brave Mouse is still upbeat and planning new projects for when he finally comes home.

Mrs Mouse