Gather around, my lovelies, and let me tell you a story. It’s a good one and I know you’ll like it – bring your cushions and blankets and snuggle in closer – I hope you can all hear. It’s alright to get nice and cosy – we can all be friends here, under the stars, amidst the trees, with the scent of woodsmoke and night air surrounding us, and the lullaby of the summertime crickets in our ears.
It’s the story of a girl (because that’s how these things usually start, for some reason) and the wicked, vicious illness, which held her trapped in its terrible claws for an entire week. It’s a story of the delight and triumph of the human spirit (and medication) and the glorious uplift which can only be found through friends, family, and laughter.
There are a few tangents, mind, and a couple of moments where the story seems to dip, as though our heroine (who shall be called that purely as a pleasant tag for the protagonist, rather than because of anything particularly heroic on her part) was going to be beaten by the illness, and left for good upon the floor of the dark and echoing hallways of pain, but in the end, there is delight, sugar, and an entirely happy ending.
It is worth noting that this tale of woe is not as woeful as it could have been, thanks to the marvellous intervention of doctors and the NHS, and prompt prescribing of beautiful pain meds. It would also behove our heroine to advocate not becoming addicted to the loopy. but it’s possible she might only take this as an official, commonsense position, rather than one she personally holds…
The antecedent to the condition was three weeks of woes, including one week of increasingly more uncomfortable and discomfitting symptoms. The glee and delight held within the previous Ten Things has perhaps dulled due to the wearing off of the novelty of sheer relief that it was shingles and not a mental breakdown, but nonetheless, our heroine has found it a week of delightful revelations and time to really think hard about self-care.
The girl was in bed, curled in pain when she felt the familiar buzz of her phone, indicating the arrival of a text message. It bore glad tidings of great joy – her friends Jenny and Gabriel were ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED – and through a haze of discomfort, she sent back her congratulations and wondered how on earth she could fulfil Jenny’s wedding request – a GoFundMe account to raise enough money to get the pair off the streets, and to pay for a street BBQ wedding for them. In the end, the implications got lost amidst the meds, and whether wisely or not, the girl opened the account and did nothing, that having exhausted her for the day.
It was all very well being able to sleep in, thought the girl, but time off work was really not worth it if one were too ill to be able to appreciate it. This thought originated somewhere betwixt standing and the floor, as she fell (again) in pain, unable to stand. This was a bad one, and she ended up stuck, for several minutes, clenching her fists and sulking at her misfortune, whilst trying to tell herself that at least she had a comfy cosy house and many wonderful supporting cast members (see acknowledgements) to pull her from her drudge and keep her entertained. She was not to be overcome, though, and the timely arrival of a beautiful letter from one of ‘her’ children put an enormous grin on her face, and she was overwhelmed with love rather than pain, and thanked her lucky stars that she had a beautiful LD in ‘Murica, who had generously remembered her whilst he was on camp, and had thought to write to her.
With her laptop balanced carefully atop calamine-scented self, and newly prescribed mega-meds from the doctor, the girl typed slowly, trying to move as little as possible, and was grateful that at the very least, the sun was shining outside and that she had managed to stay cheerful. She wrote to implore others to join her in supporting Jenny and Gabriel, and with the help of her ‘gorgeous bean’ Kimmie, who ALSO wrote for them, she came up with the hashtag #HomeForJenny, and hoped that as many as possible would lend their shares or support with donations, given that the sum of money being asked was a considerable amount.
Alas, our girl found that she enjoyed the meds too, too much, to the extent that they began to impact her dreams, and her inclination was to keep taking them, even though she perhaps didn’t need them so much. She also fretted about exercise, food, and sleeping, was was her wont to do, in spite of logic being less cruel to her than the twisted conclusions of her own mind. Fortunately her friends were there to rebuff the moments of weakness and self-doubt, and she continued, strong in her convictions that she would heal, and quit the meds, so as to return to work the next week.
She also decided on the name she would choose, post-divorce, and thought that perhaps she would leave a little cliffhanger by not revealing it yet, but waiting for a time in future, when she could more clearly explain her thoughts. She told a couple of people, all of whom approved of her choice, and thought her idea a lovely one. She was pleased, and smiled delightedly at the thought of having the new name(s) and of being able to really develop her own, entirely new identity.
In her more healed state, the girl was even able to start contributing to the household again, undertaking chores and Sorting Things Out. She even felt pleased to potter around her domain and make things better, even if only a little, and slowly. She managed to totter out to the shops, dressed, and with makeup on (not that she needed it to be seen in public, but she had discovered over the preceding months that she just felt happier with it on; knowing she looked prettified), and even though she got a few strange looks as she tripped her way around the store under full influence of the loopy meds (no need to mention six attempts to find falafels, and umpteen superfluous flourishes of the hands, not to mention a few moments of needing to hang onto shelves so she didn’t fall), she achieved her goal of Getting Shopping and Taking Some Air. Not only did she Take Air, she also saw pretty clouds, blue skies, flowers, and a man on a motorbike, whose flame-covered engine and tattoo-covered forearms she admired from afar.
The girl spoke with her wonderful boss on the phone, and realised that she was truly blessed with a job where they didn’t harangue her to come back, nor blame her for being ill, and she appreciated this as a blessed relief, and change from before.
An unfortunate final plot twist happened when she received a text from her Mum, informing her that WonderAunty had fallen badly and been taken to hospital for X-Rays – she put out emergency calls for prayers and good vibes, and was supported immediately by those she asked for help. Eventually the response came through – that WonderAunty would be okay, and that there were no life-altering injuries. Her relief was palpable, and she sent off messages full of love to her dear WA.
On the last weekday, she enjoyed a visit from one of her very dear friends, GeoGirl, who took her out into the sunshine, to go shopping and enjoy a long (slow, gentle) walk into town to find sorbet (pineapple/mango, and mojito) and cups of tea, and hours and hours of talking and laughter, and it was utterly beautiful. Then they had dinner, and more talking and laughter, which was beautiful, too, and then they did that proper silly girlie thing where you dress up in clothes and talk about crushes and giggle lots, and it was the perfect end to the week.
The beauty didn’t end there, for it turned out to be far too late for GeoGirl to return home that night, seeing as she had planned to return for our girl the following morning…so she crashed on a makeshift bed, and our girl got to powering up her computer to check in with her facebook friends and write her Ten Things of (rather belated) Thankful. She wrote, delightfully interrupted by conversations on WhatsApp, on Facebook, and frequent forays onto Youtube to find fun songs to listen to as she wrote.
There were a truly wonderful supporting cast to our heroine’s tale – the most wonderful nurse Vince, who ministered tenderly to our heroine’s
almost every need; the awesome Mum, who popped in every day with flowers or a magazine or piece of lovely ewe’s cheese (our poor heroine comes out in a rash at the ingestion of dairy (which she is quite sure will make her utterly unwelcome (along with her vegetarianism) at most tables in Murica, and feels that it’s as well she’s staying nary more than a few days in any one household)); there were the incredible Ivy, Hasty, Samara and Beth, who lent their best support and encouragement from afar, checking in daily on WhatsApp; there were her friends Jesi, Lindsay and CoronaChap,who facebooked throughout the entire thing, offering hugs, encouragement and distraction; there were Val and Susan on Words With Friends; there was WonderAunty, who texted frequently with love and hugs and best wishes; and there was the Niece and Neff, who popped in briefly and were utter delights.
For MamaMickTerry, whose generosity of spirit and love of all things beautiful inspired this story