You may have noticed a distinct absence of Evenlodeness on your dashboard lately.
This is because here at the Evenlode Burrow, we have been struck by a hail of lemons.
Yes, I was ill. Quite ill. Verging on very ill.
And then Husband got diagnosed with diabetes and taken into hospital overnight.
This was, despite all expectations, a major shock. Diabetes is endemic in his family, so we can’t say we weren’t expecting it, but somehow seeing him in a hospital bed still felt horribly distressing, not least because he is close to the same age that my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Both my father and grandfather died at the age of 52, and Husband celebrates his 50th birthday this year, so the rational part of my brain sort of went AWOL.
Matters were further not helped by the fact that the doctors can’t decide which sort of diabetes he has. Type 2 is what you would expect given his age, but apparently his blood tests are not clear. Trust him to be awkward! He could be either, so the quacks are going with treatment for Type 2 for the next fortnight, and if the tablets don’t work, reassessment will follow. Cue uncertainty on an epic scale.
So many people have been telling me how their relatives live healthily with diabetes of either type, and believe me, I know, I know. Husband’s brother has been living well with Type 1 for thirty-odd years. I’m well aware that its not a death sentence, and that it could be a lot worse.
But it has still rocked our world.
There are, however, unexpected gifts even in this hail of lemons:
1) Yay for the NHS
Here in the UK, we have the National Health Service, and it is one of our national sports to complain about it incessantly. But when the s**t really hits the fan, the NHS is there for you, BIG TIME. Yes, we had to sit in a corridor for three hours the first evening, waiting for a bed to become free. Yes, we had to wait two hours for a doctor to be free in order to prescribe two paracetamols for Husband’s headache. And yes, the information we came home with was not what you might call exhaustive, to say the least.
BUT, and this is a HUGE BUT, we didn’t have to worry about paying for any of it, a fact that we were profoundly aware of, and grateful for, throughout the whole process. We were treated with unfailing kindness and courtesy, and given everything we needed. Husband came home with equipment and medications without paying a penny. He can ring up for help any time he needs to. He has a series of further support and assessment appointments to attend, none of them requiring him to cover fees.
To me this is a sign of a civilised society. Anyone who thinks people should have to pay for healthcare needs to reassess their capacity for empathy, which is the key quality of a human being, And anyone who has ever had a sick relative or partner knows just how important it is.
2) Hey, I just stopped giving a stuff!
When the life of the person who is the centre of your world is threatened, suddenly everything becomes very, very simple. All the things that seemed so important have now become completely irrelevant.
Please note the use of the word IRRELEVANT.
I no longer care about all the SHOULDS and OUGHTS that seemed so important to my future last week. I don’t care about having the right filofax or whether the kitchen floor needs mopping, or what people think about the fact that I don’t work, but don’t look sick either. I don’t care about not having a career at 47. I don’t care what people think about me not having children or an income. I don’t care about the piles of stuff we are keeping in the house. It doesn’t matter what people think of how I wear my hair. It doesn’t matter what I think of how I wear my hair. It doesn’t matter if there is nothing in the house for lunch, or the DVD player gets bust – we’ll just buy another one if we have to. (We did!)
Because its all IRRELEVANT.
3) Pure Freedom
The consequence of all this IRRELEVANCY is pure freedom.
I can concentrate on being here, now, with the man I love, which is all that matters.
This is a freedom I have never been able to give myself. The freedom to concentrate on getting both of us well. The freedom to be myself and not worry about trying to start a business or get published or do all the other things that my friends and acquaintences think would be the sign of success, but mainly, the things that I put myself under pressure to do because I don’t think I am enough as I am.
I don’t have to think about any of that now.
My sole intention for the next year will be to get both us well, and to enjoy every single second of the time we have together however the hell I can.
Because nothing else matters.
4) Creativity Caveat
This doesn’t mean I am going to stop writing, or being creative. Rather the opposite. It frees me up from all the SHOULDS and OUGHTS. I can do whatever I like, whenever I like, whenever I am well enough. And I can concentrate on him whenever I need to. I can use my creativity to process and express this new journey we are on. I can enjoy doing it for the first time, instead of making it a labour of OUGHTS. (In fact, I started a new story today.) Its just that from now on, I don’t have to apologise for doing what I want. All that matters is to be happy and healthy with the man I love.
Because when it comes down to it:
I don’t know where this journey will take us. I hope that you will join me as I endeavour to go on using my creativity to live up to what is increasingly speaking to me as my own motto:
In the meantime, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported us during the last week as we have negotiated this crisis. To all our dear friends, supporters and readers, we owe you a huge debt of gratitude, and I hope that you know that if you ever need us, we will be there for you too, no matter what.
With love and gratitude to you all,