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.