Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Shinglebell Flop

These things are sent to educate us. I thought that shingles was just chicken pox-lite with an irritating rash. I did wonder about the spots that have appeared on the side of my face and forehead (surely I hadn’t been eating that much chocolate) and was baffled by the strange headaches and shooting pains that have been waking me in the night. The general malaise did, I suppose, have a different note to it, but one puts that kind of thing down to the usual M.E. picture. Something that should have alerted me is the fact that I have gone off food. No, it’s worse than that – I have gone off healthy, nourishing food and want only things like sliced white bread and really bad Chinese takeaways. It’s like being pregnant (and come to think of it I feel sick most of the time too); I remember then wanting only Mother’s Pride and fishpaste sandwiches or pie and mash from Kelly’s in Roman Road near where I lived in Bethnal Green.

I have already said that living with long-term illness is like being in another country. This kind of thing just pushes you a bit more inland, that’s all. The doctor (one who doesn’t know me) said I would have to be signed off work for at least three weeks and that I’d probably be feeling very ill. So not much changes, really. And the thing is that I can’t put my hand on my heart and say I feel so very much worse than usual. I have been in training for the last 20+ years and so it’s easier for me than for someone who has enjoyed normal health. Yet I have had the first ever expression of sympathy from my mother (“Poor you – how awful!”) which sits rather strangely, though I tried to accept it in the spirit I imagine it was given.

The difficult thing is that I won’t be able to go out to my writing and poetry-related activities. I won’t be up to it and there is, in any case, the question of passing something on to others. The thought of spending even more time on my own doesn’t worry me. I am not solitary by nature and love the fun, conversation and company of friends, the casual or significant meetings that happen with strangers, small talk, deep talk, the possibility of connection, something created, ephemeral perhaps, or ground beneath the feet, whatever. But I have over the years, of necessity, acquired a taste for solitude - or it has become a habit, a way of life. If I were suddenly able to be properly active again, I would now need long spaces on my own. Perhaps it would be different, though, if it weren’t for the fact that I live with someone whose company I love – and who I see every day – Him Outdoors, the bringer of Chinese takeaway, laughter and warmth, unswerving supporter of Arsenal FC and of Signs.

Well, I will just have to get on and write more. Mr. Moon Topples, who is recovering from a fever, has just made a vow to write two thousand words a day plus “bitchy blogposts about writing” (yes please!) and perhaps I ought to join him. But on the other hand I wouldn’t want to make a promise I might not keep.

20 comments:

goodthomas said...

Oh Signs, you have my deepest sympathies. I had shingles last year and found it a troubling time. I itched and had some swelling and some pain but the worst part (for me) were the headaches. I came back to work too soon and then had to take a little more time off because of it.

Please rest, do as your doctor says, take some time off. Use the time to write, to think, to "look for the signs." Enjoy your solitude and for the love of all that is good, enjoy your non-solitude times with Mr. Him Outdoors too.

I am sending good, peaceful and healthy thoughts.

Reading the Signs said...

Hey, goodthomas, I will certainly take this on board, and the headaches, yes, are very weird. Thoughts very much appreciated.

NMJ said...

Signs, how the hell did you get shingles, honey?! this is NOT on, not on at all, but, yes, is always so easy to think odd things are just another expression of M.E, you just add it to the pile of symptoms. I think you speak for us all when you say

If I were suddenly able to be properly active again, I would now need long spaces on my own

please take good care of yourself & i am so happy mr signs can help, & that he supports arsenal, i support them too when i remember - mainly cos of va va voom, thierry, who comes a close second to totti in my affections.

get well soon, thinking of you x

That's so pants said...

Hey Signs

Promise away... What we gonna do about it?

Reading the Signs said...

well thanks, nmj darlin, and I'm so pleased to hear you support arsenal in the way that I do (the actual game does bore me but va va voom thierry, yes!)

I am taking care of myself and am in so many ways lucky - really feel this, not just being polyanna.

Reading the Signs said...

Pants! you're right, dammit, I know. It's what I might do to myself that's the problem. Oh well, soddit, I promise. Though I'll say 1,000 words, to be on the safe side. (Safe? What am I talking about?)

The Moon Topples said...

RTS: A thousand words a day can be daunting as well. I was just going to write that you should consider a committment to write something every day.

The only reason I have bitten off such a large chunk for myself to chew each day is because I have essentially cleared my life of other committments, and was starting to see my self not producing anything.

In other (somewhat related) news, I have finally gotten around to answering the question you posed me more than a week ago in my comments section. Written a whole post for you and everything. Not sure how illuminating it is, but it sheds a little light on how one person goes about writing a long piece of fiction, for what that may be worth.

I am so sorry to hear you have contracted shingles. I remember when GT had them, and I was forced to do some of his work while he was away. It was awful! And I suppose he didn't enjoy it much either.

Am sending positive, healing vibrations as we speak. They may take some time to cross the ocean, though.

Gael said...

Really sorry to hear that.
As ever, you manage to write without a shred of self-pity. I always feel better when I read your posts. I hope you can use the enforced time at home to write, and I am so glad you have Him Outdoors. Wishing you a speedy recovery...

Reading the Signs said...

Mr. Moon - lovely, I will be over directly to have a look. I think a commitment to writing something may, on reflection, be more realistic, but you know, I didn't want Ms Pants thinking I was a wimp (but what am I saying? I am cool and don't care what anyone thinks) - anyway, yes to whatever. Yes.

The healing vibrations have manifested (they are like Dr. Who and his Tardis) and are busy lifting the spirits.

Reading the Signs said...

gael, what a lovely thing to say - though believe me, I have had my moments, and do still. And how is life in the other place? Must have a look in some time. You are moving, a bird tells me, from strength to strength. And you once poetry shy - what a journey.

cusp said...

Oh I'm so sorry to hear about the shingles. I had it about 12 years ago and it was horrible -- very fluey and weird. I hope you've been offered the anti-virals which are around. I was offered and accepted (not like me at all. I hate drugs, as you know). The Dr. said 'Here is your medication and please make sure you take the full course. It's very expensive and I dont like to waste my budget'. Mind you they did the trick --- lessened the symptoms considerably and the length of time I suffered. If you don't have them go and pester the GP. You don't need shingles on top of everything else.

How ironic that you now have sympathy from your mother. I suppose it's easier to empathise with a 'proper' illness. I got lots of tender care and loving thoughts when I ripped my finger nails out last year in a fall. In actual fact it was nothing (after the initial pain) compared to how I have been with M.E.

We shall try to bring you comfort and virtual grapes and flowers during your illness and forthcoming convalescence :-)

Look after yourself

cusp said...

Dear Signs please check your e mail
;-)

Reading the Signs said...

hey lovelycusp, thank you for that image and, as I said, I'm always looking for paradise. Anti-virals, though, are apparently of no use to me now, doc says, because I didn't catch it soon enough. So will just slug it out, stoic that I am.

One thing about the spots: makes me feel like a teenager again.

Mellifluous Dark said...

Hey there, classy signs, get better. Quickly!

Rest and rest for you, lady.
x

Reading the Signs said...

Will do, mellif - had a lot of practice - keep truckin, sleepin (am losin it, sorry)

Sharm said...

nice work
I like it
thank you and have a nice day
:))

goodthomas said...

Thinking of you, Signs, hoping you are not in too much pain, your headaches easing a bit and that you are feeling better, much better.

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks for the thoughts, goodthomas. Actually, it's getting a bit worse, but it has to doesn't it - before it gets better. But it's ok and so am I.

Gael said...

The other place is, sadly, not what it once was. As for me, not entirely sure how reliable your source is but I'm having fun and seem to be making a reasonably good fist of it so far. Results in a couple of weeks time may, however, prove otherwise...
Was thinking of you last night, I went to a poetry project thing locally, full of excitement and hoope. Came away largely diappointed. Are the vast majority of poets really angry young men who swear a lot?

Reading the Signs said...

o gawd, gael, I think you must have stumbled across the crap performance poetry scene - though I hasten to add that there are some ace performance poets around, but these were, perhaps, not them. Poetry cafe kind of events are often a mixed bag because the open mic space is a free-for-all. I think of it as a kind of lucky dip from which I hope always to retrieve something good. But if the organisers know their stuff they should ensure that the invited poets, at least, are good ones. I have been to events, though, where the open mic poets have actually been much better than the invited ones. So you never can tell.

Oh, my source was just me looking in at the other place from time to time, I'm not in touch with anyone and don't really engage any more because - well, as you said.

Good luck with results and hope you continue to find the course(s) enriching - whatever.