Sunday, January 23, 2011

Woeful Sunday

I had two drinks last night.

Actually, I’m not sure I even finished the second one.


I awoke at midday feeling like the night had been passed somewhere south of Nevada, surrounded by cacti and on that side of the Mojave that is short on oases.

Mouth parched, eyes prickly and reluctant to address the cruelty of daylight.

Some air, I thought. That will provide the antidote that I can no longer seek in the beauty of painkillers and the power of limitless fluids.

Oh, what a mistake. The motion of constant movement, the scents of hedge-rows and car fumes and unhygenic dogs, all serving to make my delicate stomach even more uneasy.

The key to not puking is distraction. I considered which was the more acceptable – to throw up on the sidewalk and make it the city’s problem, or throw up in an individual’s garden/driveway, and risk being impolite to that one householder.

I'm still torn on that one.

I made it around the block to the shop. Solid food was required, but oh mercy, the smells from the deli counter. I took three steps back, and shouted out my order from a distance.

Deli girl gave the most unsubtle of eyeball rolls to her colleague. She should have been thanking me for saving her a lunch break of mopping up sick from the tiles around her station.

Holding the food at arm’s length, I managed the remainder of the journey home and forced the overdue soakage down.

It solved the queasiness.

I kept my eyes open long enough to watch the Greens’ press conference and to experience an embarrassing level of excitement at the thought of an imminent general election.

‘Tis no wonder the teachers called me "a bad mixer" as a child.

Back in bed at 4pm for a nap. Up again at 4.10pm, imagining even more dastardly methods by which I could exterminate the childer-beasts in my estate. We were never that loud when we were small. Barney has a lot to answer for. Drawing his dinosaur distinction between indoor and outdoor voices.

I can’t even class this as a hangover. To do so would be a gross insult to alcohol and would require the invention of a new category of drinker, further down the scale from the much-maligned ‘lightweight’.

Maybe they’d call it a hangunder.

Maybe they’d just call it pathetic.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On feeling poorly

It has not been my finest hour. These past few weeks I have been reckless, sleeping on the job - the job being dialysis and my duty being to watch my step each and every day because the divide between my life and death is not half wide enough.

The warning signs were trying to catch my attention, but I just wandered along, like one of Enid Blyton’s more challenged characters heading for a picnic in a minefield on what promises to be a thundery day.

My weight was dropping. Somewhere between the turkey dinner of last month and the world returning to work, I shed about five pounds. Another week on, and my scales was registering the lowest weight I have been in my adult life.

There were headaches too. They could have been put down to the remnants of a cold that would not go away, but the blood pressure machine poked a gaping hole in that theory. Last weekend, it hit 160/110.

My heart rate joined in. It went up to 115. Beating almost twice every second, the same way it would if I were distressed or terrified.

Not easy to sleep when your body is gone into fight or flight mode. So exhaustion also made a late entrance.

But all of these things can be ignored if you put the mind over the matter. Which is what I did, because no matter what else was going on, I simply had to make it into the place that offered paid employment every day.

When the work is casual and your bank balance is as limp as mine, you can no longer entertain sickness. You act at being able and willing and twice as enthusiastic as the person beside you.

But then the throwing up started and my vision became blurry and I started to feel a little shaky in the shower or when I moved from sitting to standing or even when I was just walking around the office.

I was having to get up half an hour earlier than necessary for work because I would need to set aside time for vomiting. That’s just not practical.

After several phone calls, progress of all sorts was made. I broke up with my consultant. The one who delivered the news of my kidney disease almost three years ago, way over there in the city that God chose as the location to test me.

It was all “it’s not you, it’s me...our long distance relationship just isn’t working...I need someone who can be there for me”.

He took it well in fairness. Referred me on to the woman who will bring me the rest of the way, to transplant and the new life beyond. Having heard my symptoms, she agreed to clear a lunchtime to see me. The tests were done and she had three guesses about what was wrong.

I like this woman. I like her proactive approach. She made changes to medication, changes to my dialysis regime. She took me off my energy injection but I will forgive her for this in time.

The worst of the symptoms are gone. My weight is slowly creeping back up and my face is filling out again. I am back to my usual throwing up routine.

I must not take my eye off the road ahead again. It’s that kind of recklessness that sank the Titanic. And I can’t swim.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

At a Glance

The story took but a few seconds. It was there, waiting to be told, in my rearview mirror.

The glance behind as I leave is a given. Perhaps I do it out of superstition. Perhaps I do it...just in case. I did it on Sunday for all the usual reasons and then some, probably borne out the sentimentality of the season.

In those moments, I noted the changes. A decade’s worth of them. Changes which I have not perceived when looking at her full on, but which could not be denied from the angle that allows for looking back over your shoulder. Slower on her feet as she shuffles back into the yard, her shoulders struggling for posture under a head full of worries that I know are all centred on my situation.

I felt the reversal of our roles keenly in the days of the Christmas just past. She helping me, rather than the other way around. We had enjoyed a fleeting period when I held the strength, the ability and the energy – when my youth relieved her from a lifetime of toil.

Now we have upset the natural order. She asks nothing of me. She implores me to rest, to stay in from the cold, to leave any lifting of my machine or of shopping bags to my brother. I woke each morning to the sound of her taking out ashes, carrying in fuel for the fires and preparing food - chores that should fall to me, while she sleeps and dreams to an hour befitting of a grandmother.

She doesn’t complain. She carries me, just as she has done since the day she brought me home from the hospital. The baby girl she always wanted.