Seven days home and already my tan is washing away in the inclement weather. Loads of washing almost complete, the ironing beckons. Quiet Mousie has settled back into school. Idle Jack once again looks handsome in his chef whites.
I sit at the island in the kitchen and look out. Outside, the world looks an oppressive grey and the hills sit in suspended animation on the horizon with rain-filled clouds sagging over them, waiting to burst. Autumn has applied its brush strokes to the surrounding countryside. Leaves have turned to browns and ochre as green chlorophyll is leached from the trees. Hedgerows bulge with brambles and hawthorns. Elderberry and apple trees bow under the weight of fruit. The swallows have gone but finches, buntings and sparrows flock across the country lanes. Fields lay bare; the harvest gathered and already turned over by ploughs leaves pheasants and partridges exposed. Next door’s straw is stacked against our fencing for winter use. In our courtyard, freshly delivered logs sit neatly stacked, ready for the first fire of the season.
Antigua is a distant dream and as my list of things to do grow in my Filofax, I begin the countdown to surgery.
13th October has a large red circle around the date. And I’ll confess to being ever so slightly in a panic. About everything; the domestic arrangements and whether I’ll get it all done in time, the children, the animals, the housework (I haven’t nested like this since I was last pregnant.) Most of all it’s the thought of six hours of surgery and waking up in intensive care, and the long recovery. This is the biggest thing I’ve had over my thirty years with Behcets disease.
It’s hard. I’m frightened. My chest has taken on the feel of a cage. A bird flutters constantly within it. My insomnia has returned. However with the electric blanket now on the bed, my duvet cocoons me and getting up in the night doesn’t have quite the same appeal in autumn and winter. So I stay huddled beneath, staring up at the vaulted ceiling, watching the oversized illuminated digital clock project itself up onto the bedroom ceiling, the rhythmic flashing on and off, on and off, as the second’s ticks away and morning draws closer.
On Monday 5th October my replacement jaw joints will wing their way across the Atlantic and wait for me in a lab in Birmingham. 7th October is pre-op day. I’ve treated myself to new slippers, pyjamas and a ‘cardigown,’ an ideal jacket rather than full length dressing gown, made of soft fleece fabric. Nan would have called it a bed jacket. I had a facial last week; a vain attempt to prepare my skin in addition to the copious amounts of bio oil I slap on my face. My hair has been a dilemma. I contemplated having it all cut off so it wouldn’t be so noticeable when they shave each side, but then figured that it’s probably best to leave it long - that was idea of growing it in the first place – it would be better to help cover the swelling. And after surgery, I can always have lots of layers cut into it to disguise the scars.
I miss writing. In between the fuzz of chaos, I think about writing and my projects. For now, I must be content simply with thinking about them. Usually at this time of year I would be picking elderberry’s to make wine, plucking rosehips to dry in the airing cupboard ready for Christmas garlands and pot pourri, thumbing through the charity catalogues for my Christmas cards.
There’s no time for any of it. I need to prioritise. And remain positive.
In two weeks time it will be over. By Christmas, my consultant tells me I might be able to have a little food. Hopefully, soon I will be able to eat a banana, hug and kiss people again, talk and yawn without it feeling as if my jaws are dislocating, turn over on my side in bed, brush my teeth properly and visit the dentist. In a year’s time, life should be much improved. After the eighteen months I’ve had, it will be good to have my life back.
So until another day
Bye for now
Notable Chicago: 8/18–8/24
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