Thursday, 27 February 2014

In Summary

Things have been complicated around here lately, so I'm summarising. 

Last Monday, I took our children to stay with their grandparents for two nights so that I could go to work while Jay was too incapacitated to care for the children. I got back home after an incredibly long rainy drive on the M4 and Jay said Claudia, I don't want to worry you, but I'm going to tell you something that's going to worry you. He told me, and it did worry me. It was also pretty gross, so I'm going to refrain from posting the specifics all over the entire internet, but two paramedics and an ambulance ride later, he spent that night in hospital. 

I got home from the ward at 3.30am, and I did not end up working on Tuesday. Instead, I went to pick Jay up. He called me from his bed - once at 7.30am (needing details of medication), once at 8.30 (by accident) and then at 9.30, to tell me he was being cleared for discharge. Could I come to get him? I thought you were getting a cab home, I said, blurry and still half-asleep. I can't get a cab, he told me. I'm far, far too stinky for a cab. 
Oh, well that's fine then. I said. I can't wait. 

By Wednesday his pain was pretty well controlled and he'd begun to wean himself off some of the more psychotropic medication. I quite liked the side effects of some of it - he was quite sincere and sweet for a few days there, sort of like finally having a spaniel.  I thought it was him just being really grateful to me for me being such an awesome wife while he was ill, but nope, turns out it was the drugs. He remembers nothing from the time he was on that stuff, which is awkward now because he did agree to me booking tickets to the States for a week in June on my own, even if he doesn't remember it now. (He did. I swear). 

Then Monday morning, we went to see the spinal specialist. He said Jay is probably going to need surgery, but he's not quite sure which surgery exactly. Recommended an MRI, which Jay had first thing this morning. (Sidebar - MRI in three days? How freakishly amazing is private health insurance!? We've only just found out that Jay has it through work and while I kind of disapprove of it in principle, it turns out to be pretty spectacular in practice). 

So yesterday morning, Blue accidentally locked himself in our hallway, possibly (okay definitely) due to some angry door slamming (by him, okay? By him!) He was there for an hour, screaming, while I called locksmiths and wiggled screwdrivers frantically into the latch mechanism. By the time he got out, he was catatonic with rage and shock and to be frank, I wasn't much better. 

Today I've begun to incubate a truly spectacular head cold. 

Tomorrow we have to go back to the spinal specialist for his opinion on the MRI and his recommendations about surgery. 

I feel like I could sleep for a thousand years. 

But Saturday? 

Saturday is March 1st so I'm starting a novel. 

Don't worry, I know this is a spectacularly bad idea. Writing a novel in a month was already  bad idea when I decided to do it a few weeks ago. Is this the dumbest idea I've ever had? I wondered. But with everything that's happened lately (and everything that is still going to happen) I can definitively say yes, this is the dumbest idea I've ever had. 

And yet! February has really stunk. I kind of suspect that March is going to stink just as much, but I'm doing the novel thing anyway. After all, I can't stop the stinky stuff happening, but when I look back to March 2014, I don't just want to remember discombobulation, cranky kids, a limping husband and the looming possibility of surgery. I want to remember oh yeah, that was the month I wrote a really bad novel. 

(obviously, all bets are off if Jay's surgery actually has to happen in March. I think novelling through that would cross me over from 'unstoppable to 'in serious denial about priorities' )I'm probably not going to blog much while it's happening - although I can't promise I won't be updating with breaking news like word counts  requests for help with naming characters outcome of consultations with the spinal specialist. 

It's not too late to join in - let me know on facebook if possible and I'll add you to a group where we can kick each others' butts into gear when we get lazy mutually encourage one another.  I'm really interested to see what genre people are writing in. Personally, my secret weakness as a reader is girly romantic comedy so that's what I'm doing. Here's my first sentence: 

Afterwards, Martha thought that it had probably been a bad idea to kiss her thesis adviser. 

See? Girly and trashy! (Spoiler - he does NOT kiss her back). I'm not allowed to write any more until we start on Saturday. 

Now - tell me... what surname goes well with Martha? 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Love Is Like A Human Heart

Yesterday, first thing, there were paramedics in my bedroom. Jay's back has been flaring up a bit this week and and then yesterday he woke up in paralysing pain, completely unable to move. "Should I call somebody?" I said, expecting a curt "no" from the man who hates to admit he is ever unwell, hates ever to make any sort of  fuss. Instead, he groaned "yes, of course you should call somebody," and I did - I called NHS direct, who asked me questions and then sent the ambulance.

A few days ago Jay and I were talking about whether or not he should be quitting his job to renovate a house. Now, fewer than 72 hours later, I was calling a friend, asking him to come straight away, throwing some clothes on my unshowered body and packing a bag of needful things for the hospital.

It turns out we didn't need to go to the hospital - not at that point, anyway. The paramedics gave him an injection of - I dunno, something - and told me how to arrange for a prescription of some stronger painkillers. We ended up at the hospital later that day for an X-ray, though, and I helped him into his hospital gown and wondered at how quickly his strong body had deteriorated.

The X-ray didn't find anything, which pretty much just means there's no fracture. He'll need an MRI and a ton of other stuff, of course. His GP, horrified by what she saw, tried to get the spinal surgeon to see him urgently but it didn't work, although it was gratifying to see a doctor so visibly shocked by his condition. It makes me feel a lot less guilty for how badly I'm coping with this whole situation. Most of us assume that, no matter how flaky we ordinarily are, we'd suddenly sort ourselves out if there was a real crisis. I'm sorry to report that this is not true - as I had feared, I'm terrible in a crisis. Yesterday I spent all day dropping things and panicking; I even got Jay's date of birth wrong when speaking to the paramedics. I also spent far too much time focusing on the fact that I hadn't been able to shower and berating the children for their troll-like behaviour. This is not helping! I screeched, repeatedly. Mummy needs to help Daddy! Stop biting each other and watch the television! It turns out they are terrible in a crisis too, but that is probably forgivable because unlike me they are four. 

I'm glad to say that Jay is much more comfortable at the moment, largely because he's off his face on very high doses of drugs. It seems the short term immediate crisis has passed, and now we need to think about what happens next. He will see the spinal specialist next Friday. Hopefully this will mean proper medical imaging and a proper plan of action. I never thought I'd be pleased for my husband to have an appointment to have surgery on his back but right now it would be a huge relief.

The next week, at least, is going to be tough. I realised, when I finally sat down on Wednesday night, that Friday was Valentines' Day. I'll be honest, this made me feel a little bit sorry for myself - this Valentines' Day, I think I can guarantee there won't be much romance from my semi-paralysed, drug-addled husband. I know it's a stupid day in any case and frankly he hates it but I usually give him a card anyway, just to watch him squirm. I haven't had a chance to buy one this year. I won't be making anything special for dinner, and there won't be any wine because I already drank it all.

Oh, Valentines' Day, you evil fiend. Did you ever make anybody happier? My little girl is just waking up to the presence of romance in the world. She saw some pairs figure skating on television and described it to me like this: Mummy, there was a man and a lady and they were doing ice sliding and I think they really, really wanted to get married. And then she smiled, embarrassed. She will be a sucker for Valentines' Day, just like I was. Am.

I don't want to tell her yet that love is not really like figure skating.

Love is helping my thirty-five-year-old husband walk down a hospital corridor, bent double, and love is stealing a wheelchair so he doesn't have to walk back.
Love is having ten minutes of down time, and being desperate to rest but drawing up a drug chart for him instead.
Love is a sincere Thank You from a husband who hates, hates, hates to be needy.
Love is the friend who comes over at seven am to look after two anxious, acting-out children.
Love is taking my boy on my lap and singing to him when I would rather do anything but, and love is the hug he gives me when he sees me crying.
Love is the online grocery order, the meal in the oven, the text that says I'm praying for you, the friend who watches my children at her house and then sends me home with dinner.
Love is even the kindness I give myself as I step into the shower, finally, choosing not to dwell on my failings but instead letting myself enjoy the respite, letting the water wash away my sorrow and my worry, at least for now.

Love is nothing like romance. Love is not made of red cardboard. Love is not a heart covered in sequins and glitter, pretty but disposable. Love is like a real human heart, messy and bloody and powerful.

This Valentines' Day, I may be short on romance but I realise that I am surrounded by love. Wherever and whoever you are, may you find love this Valentines' Day too - even in the most unexpected of places.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Next Thing

Thank you so so much for all your very thoughtful comments on my last post. I've been pondering all of them and, since I agree heartily with what each and every one of you wrote, no matter how diametrically opposed, I'm now even more confused. Since I wrote last, Jay has put an offer in on a house (which he didn't get, because someone else offered more). He then went to an auction, ready to bid his heart out on any one of eight houses that were suitable (and he didn't get any of them, because another guy bought ALL of them) and  now he's kind of licking his wounds.

I'm not quite sure what's going to happen next.

Also, this is happening right now in my part of England- it's been raining constantly (and I do mean constantly) since well before Christmas, and at the moment the end of our street is kind of falling into the river Thames. We've bought sandbags. The park opposite (on the other side of the river) is basically a lake - the sand under the play equipment is completely submerged and the base of the slide is completely underwater, which is fun. If it weren't for all the toxins that live in floodwater (and the impossibility of actually getting to said park, due to the flooding) it sure would be a cheap way to take the kids for their first ever experience of watersliding. Oh yeah, also if it wasn't winter. And if it would ever stop raining long enough to want to go anywhere. And if my children could be trusted not to lick any strange objects they find floating the floodwaters. What is it with licking, I ask? My children will lick anything at the moment. Please, please somebody tell me they will grow out of it.

What with one thing and another, it feels like a strange time in our family life. The big project at work that I was bracing myself for got cancelled. Outside my window, the rain continues to fall. Inside my windows, it feels like things are frantically busy around me. Jay has been on the computer in the Lady Room constantly (CONSTANTLY!) trying to research all this property stuff. I've been trying to come to terms with what I think about it all, trying not to get cranky at him for hogging what was supposed to be my space in our house (did I ever end up blogging about my Lady Room?), trying not to nag him about finishing off the projects I want done around here before he skits off to do an entire other house (the bedroom lights, please, honey? From last year? And the bathroom sliding shelf that you designed but never built?) and sort of wishing that he could suddenly discover that actually, he really doeslove his current job after all and feeling like whiny privileged scum for even having these choices to make. And then I just feel frustrated because actually, it doesn't feel like my choice at all. I guess that's why there's no 'I' in 'Marriage'. (Oh, hang on...)


All that to say - Jay has been hogging my computer because of his preoccupation with his project. I've told him that he can have it for the rest of February, but come March 1st, it's going to be mine for 31 days, for my project.  Want to know more? I'll give you a hint:

All this crankiness and career crisis-ness is getting me down. I need to get my head in a different space, and this seems as good an idea as any. I'll write more about this later, but basically the idea is zero to rough draft in a month, starting with a blank piece of paper and ending with 50,000 words, repetitive strain injury and a huge sense of accomplishment. People all over the world do this every November, but that month stinks for me so I'm trying March instead.

I've never written any fiction, and this terrifies me. But in a good way. I think.

More details later, but it would be a ton more fun if there are other people along for the ride.... anybody else want in?