Oh the irony of the last post title….
Yes folks, Ménière’s disease induced vertigo has been blighting my life again! I read a great description of a rotational vertigo attack. It went something like this.
Imaging being in a washing machine on the fast spin.
Then imagine that on the worst roller-coaster ride you can imagine.
Then imagine that roller-coaster being on a boat in a huge storm in the ocean.
All got that – well it’s sort of close.
My wife ages ago had arrange for us to go see War Horse on stage as my birthday present. We got to the theatre into our seats etc. I’d not felt brilliant all day having had a vertigo attack in the night a couple of days before hand. Minutes before the start it hit me. That feeling like the world is suddenly spinning uncontrollably. I gripped hard to the rail in front of my seat and closed my eyes. But it makes no real difference. We abandoned our seats me crawling some of the way out of the auditorium. I ended up being violently sick. The body thinks, this is nonsense I must be poisoned let’s get out the last thing I eat. Hmmm… evolutionary safety procedures are all well and good… except when they don’t help!
The staff were really lovely and my dear wife again huge forbearance putting up with me. But I’m gutted we of course missed the show. Then it all happened again two days later, this time at work in a meeting I suddenly shout shit, grab the table and then stagger, stumble out the room. Again huge thanks for my colleagues helping me out and my wife again having to drive closer to London to get me at a station that was quicker to get to.
I’m so fed up with this thing. All reports I read are that for most it just keeps getting worse. Some go into some kind of remission but there’s no treatment at all really and precious little research into a non-life threatening condition that very few people suffer with. I know all that – doesn’t help my levels of self pity at times like this I’m afraid.
Weekend before last my daughter went to the gym early Sunday morning and then from there straight to work as a swimming teacher. She returned and said that there was a pain in her lower back. She couldn’t remember turning or doing anything awkward. We all assumed a muscle strain. The week progressed. She said it wasn’t getting better. Worse actually. Then she said her legs ached too. She made a doctor’s appointment. Friday she said she felt ill. My wife thought she had a temperature. She felt her where the pain was. A hard lump that felt hot. She got an emergency doctor’s appointment ahead of the other one. He sent her straight to hospital. She called saying she was on her way there.
The world was going around but for 24 hours I wasn’t really keeping pace. She was admitted, tested and given antibiotics. Sent home but with instructions to return early in the morning. She did. More tests and then “You need an operation. Now”.
They removed a large cyst with a big abscess on it. She was discharged later on the Saturday. We arrived at the discharge unit late on Sat afternoon. She was the only person on the unit sat all alone looking very tired.
She is home and recovering well but needing daily care on her wound from nurses.
I was supposed to be chairing a meeting on the Friday evening – I called some people with only an hour or two’s notice and explained. They stood up and helped. I called friends and family and explained – they all expressed shock and sent love. I was able to call them all on Sunday and give the good news it was all looking good and she was home etc. I went and spoke to my mother-in-law (who’s still in another hospital) explaining what was going on and why my wife and daughter couldn’t visit.
I got to a meeting on Monday and friends who knew what was going on were very kind. I also reflected that at not one single point in all of this drama did my brain consider that a drink would be something that would make this all better. That is just incredible given my past. Truly it is remarkable for me to reflect on that.
Oh btw – yesterday was my birthday. It was a quiet affair, I went to work and we had a take away curry at home as my daughter didn’t want to go to a restaurant with her current discomfort. Sitting is the least easy thing to comfortably do right now.
A funny thing happened this week. Someone I know said to me something said to somebody else by yet somebody else about me. You following?… Doesn’t matter. The thing that was said wasn’t particularly complimentary. The substance doesn’t matter. For a start, if it really did matter they ought to say it to me face to face or raise it via an appropriate route.
There was for a brief few moments indignation and anger in me. How dare they? Blah blah blah. Then just as instantaneously there was judgement of their behaviour in my mind casting them as a jealous person. However a remarkable thing happened before the end of the conversation, now largely punctuated by the other person telling me this making apologies and excuses about it. I realised I really couldn’t care less about it. I quickly looked at the criticism – part of it is justified. I know I’m verbose (you read this drivel… you know it!) but I know that issue and I do try to work on it but it is not my default nature and my verbosity is I believe a defining characteristic of me. As many people I know point out I never engage in much small talk and chit chat when I speak it is because I have something of substance to say – whether you listen, agree or not it is still something of substance. As to the second part of their criticism I don’t think they’ve listened to what I’ve said. I know what my meaning is – I quickly rechecked those motives and found them good and wholesome in my view (again anyone may disagree but I’m happy) and therefore I can take the next breath and it is all ok and I’m comfortable with me, with the situation and everything.
That is remarkable – back in the dark drinking days and in much of my recovery I’d have been eaten up by this, either in terms of wanting to argue with them, rectify it, been concerned or worried by it, played out previous encounters and future ones again and again and again. Now I look inside, find that moral compass and check myself against it. As I say in this situation one of the points I readily acknowledge and am trying to address, I make no apology for being a work in progress on that.
I remember being baffled by people talking about being “comfortable in your own skin”. I though this was purely a reference to physical attractiveness. Seriously! Now I think I’m getting to actually experience it and all because I’ve stopped drinking long enough to look inside myself and come to that place of comfort.
Sums up most of my life… my epitaph, or title of my autobiography, which ever comes first, will be either “Work In Progress…” or my long term favourite “None the bloody wiser!”.
Mother-in-law update. She’s been around most of the wards in the hospital so far. Medically they say she is fit to leave, but her mobility is worse than normal, she has been left lying in bed for far too long each day and her memory is shocking. On two of the ward moves on successive days she’s had the nurses searching for her mobile phone – even though my wife told her she wasn’t going to take it in and give it to her for fear she’d lose it! They are trying to get her a rehabilitation place out of hospital, but to me and my wife it looks a long road to go. Maybe this is the time where finally she realises a 3 bed two storey house isn’t the right environment anymore.
I start my new job with the training centre on Saturday. Excited, nervous etc. all rolled into one. I’m sure it’ll all be fine on the day.
Lastly after all the spotting on my daughter on billboards and on and in buses on posters for her university’s recruitment campaign over the summer this week has been son spotting on the tv. He’s been out at JPL in California as part of the Cassini end of mission shindig. He works on the magnetometer side of it having already published three papers as part of his PhD work and his thesis was all Cassini data. He is now a full time member of the team in London. Anyway he appeared in the background on the BBC news reports about the end of mission on Friday and then again in a huddle, with a coffee cup in his hand!, in the BBC2 Horizon programme on last night.
To say I’m proud on my kids is such a total misrepresentation.
I seem to be on the meeting speaker circuit – I think I blogged about this once before you go for ages and then a whole slew come along at once like London buses do. Well this is so true at the moment, I’ve done 4 in the past month and have another 2 still lined up! Been a real boost to me to actually be faced with speaking and realising how much my sobriety means to me and how grateful I am about being where I am today. My message may not be much but it is hopefully one of gratitude at the minimum.
The last 24 hours have certainly had that.
Daughter-of-Furtheron graduated yesterday. Terrific day with her and her friends. Her ceremony was early so Mrs F and her had gone and got the gown the night before and had her photos done. So we are all up early and on the road – only 30mins to the city but early morning traffic snarlups were not wanted. We were early! Of course. Into a coffee shop for caffeine liverners and then amusing the customers as she gowned up in there! Off to the cathedral and the ceremony. She looked so happy walking up and shaking the vice-chancellors hand. Drinks and chats with her friends and their relatives, our own photo shoot and then a lovely meal. All in all fantastic day – so proud of her achievements and we’ve another to look forward to once she completes her masters.
Home and then my wife saying “I can’t raise Mum on the phone”. We get there and the post is still backed up. Long story short she was collapsed on the floor, delirious, I think she’d been there at least over one night. She insisted she wasn’t at her house, was even more argumentative and aggressive than normal. She’s now in hospital with all the usual judgements from the nurses when you say you don’t know how long she’d been on the floor. Remember January – this happened then. We insisted she accept the panic alarm that was offered then. She had it round her neck. Even said to the ambulance crew – “I press that to get to hospital”. “Why didn’t you press it?” “I don’t want it. Don’t wan you coming here poking about”. I frankly despair at times … and my poor wife will again lose days and weeks in arranging for a care package which she will promptly refuse as soon as she is discharged and … I know I’ll be typing this again soon.
So… Highs and lows…
It’s September. Have I seriously not posted since July? Sorry dear followers I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats…. *silence*… *whistling wind*…*Passing tumble-weed*
So a brief update if anyone is still reading. Mrs F and I are now over 32 years married – seriously. How’d that happen! Son-of-Furtheron had his 27th birthday… how old you feel when your son is now the age you were when you had him. (Btw – it took me a while to realise it wasn’t a weird coincidence that I’m currently also exactly twice his age but simply a mathematical certainty! DOH!) We gave him some money. He might be 27 but he spent it on some Lego! It’s just like he’s still 10. He is currently building the Lego Saturn V rocket model – which is huge, standing about a metre tall once completed. Also for his birthday he and I went to Brands Hatch to watch the British GT racing, again just like he was a youngster again! We also had a great day watching the sprint trials in Crystal Palace Park just 5 mins from his flat. Terrific day out.
Mrs F and I had a short break away in the Cotswolds. Mrs F played a blinder and found a brilliant small bungalow that was attached to the owner’s house in this tiny village – hamlet more like. It was brilliant. Across the road was a field of sheep. Peace, quiet… lovely. A house a couple along in the village was up for sale. £2.2million… peace comes with a high price these days it seems.
Anyway terrific week visiting Oxford, Bath, Cheltenham etc. and a day walking around some lakes in part of the Cotswold’s Water Park. On that we set off from a little village after a lovely coffee and cake stop in the village post office – now a thriving coffee shop with a PO counter. Soon we were pouring over the Explorer map, kindly provided by the cottage owners, and in the middle of field that looked like the only thing that had ever walked that way was a herd of cows. We didn’t see a living soul again for some hours until we were on the return journey back into the village. Just terrific.
Since late July our family and friends have been engaged in “Spot the daughter” competitions. Through her work as a university ambassador they asked her to be part of the “face of the university” for it’s annual clearing campaign. This led firstly to a huge and I mean huge billboard at a local train station with her on standing 20ft or so high. Then we’ve been spotting her on the back of buses etc. all over southern England. Including my wife jumping up and down like a mad woman in Crystal Palace shouting “Look! Look! She’s on that one over there”. Today she is starting her masters course at the uni. Interesting debate we’ve been having about academic gender bias. Her undergraduate course in Psychology was about 8:1 female to male. Her masters 1:3! that is such a dramatic turn around. I wonder how females are so discouraged to carry on in the academic route? I also feel embarrassed and squirm a bit being a white male again, too often these days I’m reminded of my privileged position simply due to the luck of my gender and ethnicity and I squirm as do I really do anything to combat that? Do I tut along with others by secretly breath a sigh of relief I’ve fallen the “right” side of those dividing lines?
I’ve started my placement with a mental health charity. So far I’m enjoying it, early days but I’ve great hopes for that. Also out of the blue my training centre asked me to visit for a chat. That was actually a job offer to join them working as an assistant tutor. The logistical bits are being sorted out and hopefully start soon on that if it can all be made to work. I was really bowled over to be asked frankly, they clearly see something I don’t.
Other than that all good. Still sober, still living…. I found myself being asked to talk at a load of meetings in the next few weeks. Funny things like that seem to come in clumps. I went to speak at one yesterday, a meeting I’ve never been to before and saw a very old friend who I haven’t seen in ages which was a bonus too.
Inspired by a post at one of my regular readers – Un-Tipsy Teacher. Thank you…
At times I’m asked my advice for people who are new to sobriety. My only pearl of wisdom is “Don’t give up giving up”. I nearly did. I spent just over a year in a mess stopping, starting, controlling, changing, binging, drinking, etc. I moved from a daily top-up drinker to a binge drinker. As that year or so progressed the binges got longer the pretence of controlling got less and the periods between them got shorter. Also the symptoms were getting worse. I was losing a lot of weight, I was becoming massively unreliable and in the recovery periods withdrawals were becoming a worry. So a few short weeks before my last drink I remember consciously deciding that I had to stop trying to give up. The effects of these repeated attempts seemed worse than the drinking every day to excess which I was trying to avoid.
Luckily there was one last attempt, one last roll of the dice. So despite my decision I actually didn’t give up giving up and the fact I’m here today sober writing this is testament to that. So if you are in a cycle of give up, control, stop, start etc. “Don’t give up giving up” the next time you stop may be the time that sticks.
Also though this has continued into and throughout my recovery. I’m not someone who simply chose not to drink because of some trivial matter. This was major for me, drink and how it acted on my control so much of my life that stopping drinking was massive. So I can’t then just casually look over my shoulder and say “Oh yes I used to… “. I have to remember why I stopped, how bad it was, how bad it luckily hadn’t yet got and stay steadfast to the point that I have lost the privilege of drinking alcohol. I simply can’t drink it any more. So again I “Don’t give up giving up” – I continue to give up every day and hopefully today I’ll succeed again and tomorrow and the next day with any luck… as long as I remember to “Don’t give up giving up”.