I’m thinking mostly about the Bed situation and still haven’t heard from neurosurgery. Today we go to Bantham for the first day of the wild swimming advert filming, and had I not had this day to look forward to I’d have been in a spin.
It’s a complete diversion, during which we film a piece in the Sloop Inn where we discuss cholesterol, before heading outside and filming the two swims and a good deal of cavorting (I’m not very good on cavorting at the moment). The brief for the ad involved swimmers aged over 50, and so a key question we’re asked to discuss during the filming is age; how we feel about it, how we exercise. We are all active, though the majority are certainly not athletes. Attitudes to aging and illness interest me greatly, and I did have a pang of supposed to be ill-ness about today because I’m not working – I really can’t – yet I spent a long day yesterday doing what I could manage. I wasn’t sure I’d do the swims, but am so glad I did. Overhanging it all is the thought of time; how much do I have left? Do I wait to die? Will Hunt be able to grow over the weekend to the point where it’s too late it matter that I have no bed and therefore no op?
The crew, led by Becka the Director, is fabulously funny, professional and friendly with that kind of boundless energy that suffuses all. They run backwards over sand with cameras. We also get a lovely lunch at the Sloop. I have fish pie, thinking again of brain food. It had struck me as I chopped nuts for muesli earlier that the things I eat to ward off dementia (bogeyman) might well be helping Hunt, since he’s likely to have mutated from those same brain cells.He’s a weaselly man, and I’m not keen on the idea of him beefing up. I do know, however, that he lacks moral fibre, which is reassuring. I ask the gang what they think and we decide that I need to keep my brain in as good a state as possible so it can fight in tip top condition.
The odd thing since the brain swelling has reduced is that I can feel Hunt in there in a way I couldn’t before. My headache, which has been present for months, felt like a viral thing, generalised, annoying, a bit sickly. I have had stabs of neuralgia in my right cheek for ages, and an aching neck. Now I have a slight ache on the right of my head, with a tighter area over the place where I know Hunt is skulking, and which jells into a wobbly point down the back of the right side of my neck. It’s draped over one side like a comb-over and is a slightly sinister orangey ochre with a sheen like a Haribo and a rippled surface.
Because my mind has constructed this image from the ether I wonder if it’s a real pain, if there is such a thing. Pain is a complex and interesting phenomenon, sparked by a stimulus, sent along nerves for interpretation and action, often diverted to a random spot elsewhere (my favorite referred nerve pain is the one that manifests in the tips of the shoulders when a person has an acute abdomen, say a burst appendix, or an ectopic pregnancy). All pain is mediated by a good wallop of psychology and emotion.
I struggle with the first river swim, because it’s at the time of day (late morning and early afternoon) when I feel worst, related I think to the steroids. The water is cold too, and I can’t really swim enough to warm up. I have no core left, it wobbles in a most odd way. I was left holding a GoPro while Dave and Kari showed off their butterfly and couldn’t manage to coordinate holding it and swimming at the same time.
The sea part at the end involved walking into the white horses and screaming gale while our legs were sandblasted. I managed to stay upright, while earlier I could barely balance to pull my boots on. I’m invigorated and exfoliated, but when I check in the hope the abrasion has been sufficient to thin out my leg hair I find them to be as woolly as ever. I daren’t shave because manual dexterity is a bit of an issue, as is balance. So naturally in the current way of things, unwanted hair assumes a prominent place in my mind. Kari has now promised to pluck any unruly facial sprouters if I’m unconscious. Later my friend M, who’s been at the vino, messages out of the blue and tells me she’s just been checking the world record for bearded lady’s beard with her daughters, and it’s 14.5″. She reckons hers is nearly there and suggests we join the circus. Steroids thicken hair, and I’m starting to feel the shafts barking up like giant redwoods. More imagery that appears from nowhere, inconsequential worries made tangible.
I wonder as the late afternoon sun splinters and glares off the sea whether this is my last opportunity to get in it, certainly for some time; I find myself consciously storing the memories, forming that image in my mind and holding it there like a lantern. The light, the crazy currents and foam, the Avalon view of Burgh suspended in spray, those sea bells, the scent and fizz of ozone as I breathe.
Later, it’s the Bed that wakes me at 3.30am, while Hunt stabs at my neck.
This from a friend on Facebook (excuse the big up):
“This, my friends, is a fine piece of writing that eloquently and poignantly shows the effect of our government’s squeeze on the NHS and social care system. It shows the real effect, on a real person. Not the hype, spin and lies that are put about by the government, but the simple, painful fact that in a system that is not properly funded acutely unwell people cannot access treatment in a timely manner.
And it is, as is so much in life, all about the money. It isn’t about junior doctors, and seven day working, and ‘health tourism’ (not that health tourism exists anyway). It’s about this government providing less and less money to fund the healthcare that we all need and pay for. And we have that money, it is a myth to suggest that we don’t. Ask yourself this… If the money that had been provided to bail out the banks had been provided to the NHS instead, what would our society look like?
Now that’s a simplistic question, I know that. And I don’t subscribe to the view that banking is of no use or value in our economy. But if we hadn’t bailed them out to the extent that we did would our society have fallen off a cliff? I doubt it. But we chose to bail them out, while simultaneously choosing to starve the NHS of the resources it needs.
And if we can’t keep our population (ie workforce / tax payers) well… Then what effect will that have on our economy?”
And one – positive – finally, from the DWP:
“We confirm you will get Employment Support Allowance. We’ll send you a letter about this. Please send your medical certificate.”
Official, but human. No mention of the dreaded Fit Note. Thanks for that.