The Fear of Loneliness

Where to begin, where do these words go as I fling them out into the great unknown. Where am I coming from; my anxiety has now veered close to the territory of a fully fledged reactive depression. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fully swamped by the dreary bland emptiness of depression, nor have I fully entered into despair,  more an air of despondency, accompanied by the return of random tear flow (my posts ‘A Fruitful Misery’  and the penultimate paragraph of ‘An Overshadowing of Events’will put this into context).

 

I am so fortunate in having such a large number of DVDs and CDs to watch and listen to, as well as a modest vinyl album collection, to enjoy or be distracted by. I am also blessed with a large selection of books to browse (my stamina levels only allow for a quite limited period of serious reading) to inform and/or entertain myself but, unfortunately these compensate very little for the amount of time I spend overwhelmed by a sense of ‘aloneness’ –  loneliness not solitude.

 

 

My beloved OH, has had her operation (last Wednesday) and seems to be making good progress, according to reports from my step-daughters who have been visiting her at the LGI. It seems she will shortly be discharged from the hospital, but then the long recuperation means she will be spending the first part of this process with her elder daughter in a more appropriate environment than home with me. That’s where my sense of uselessness and failure kicks in.

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A Walking Talking Aching Conundrum

 

Confusion mounts but, is it the result of tiredness or of excruciating pain, does it stem from extreme exhaustion or intense nauseating discomfort. The evidence is difficult to decipher, in fact the evidence posits itself as the dilemma! Quite frequently the sundry pain and discomforts, especially those in the limbs, seemed to attack just at the point when a temporary exhaustion sets in but, on closer observation I have realised that the exhaustion, or a sudden loss of stamina, follows from my struggling with both aching discomfort as well as more acute pain.

 

There seems to be an obvious correlation between pain and tiredness but, it also tends to be a classic chicken or egg type dilemma. Recently, what I seem to have been experiencing is an excruciating (pain of) tiredness which may precede or follow bouts of the following kind. The experience, rather than pain, is as if, feet, legs, arms don’t belong to the torso but produce a kind of nauseating discomfort/dis-ease! For longer than I care to remember, my reaction to a randomly occurring hollow ache in the armpits has been one of nausea.

 

The armpit discomfort, at times, seemed to ease when I discarded my fleece or cardigan, donning a poncho in their place. At other times, an almost contradictory process brought temporary alleviation of the symptoms, namely donning a shoulder support which seated itself firmly in the armpit. So, a freeing up of pressure or applying additional pressure to the aching area, at different times provided relief from the same symptom.

 

A sudden onset acute pain, in feet, knees, wrists and/or elbows may occur during the day, immediately diminishing my concentration on whatever minor task I’ve been involved in. These symptoms may also occur as I lie in bed at night although, at those times restless legs become the major problem. A combination of low dose amitriptyline (30mg) with 50 or 100 mg of tramadol seems to prevent the restless legs kicking in but, I have no desire to become reliant on the tramadol dosage. In the case of joint pain, a combination of applying elastic supports to the affected points preceded by a generous smearing with ibuprofen gel, gradually diminishes the more acute discomfort.

 

By this point, you may well think that I’m a physical wreck and, I’d be tempted to agree with you. I still feel blessed that I have access to lots of good music on vinyl, CDs, and airwaves, and movies on DVD, which enable me to enjoy life, pushing the chronic aches and pains away from their dominance of my mindset. It’s strange how a sudden sharp sound, a pan lid falling, a door slammed shut etc. can produce a chest crushing bodily response, I am still able to take musical climaxes in my stride.

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An Overshadowing of Events

 

I’ve never really been one for planning; taking things as they come, with opportunities galore for spontaneity and improvisation, is more my favoured route. Sadly, things in the real world seem to be in conflict with my ideal and, planning becomes necessary when it comes to grocery provisions, especially so for festive celebrations. It is my good fortune that ma belle OH is the grocery shopper, especially so since I’ve found it difficult to cope with the sensory overload from any store other than the, now almost extinct species, corner shop.

 

As Christmas Day approached I got into the, unfavoured but necessary, routine of pre-preparing certain food items before the big day itself. I enjoy cooking the main meals but, tend to get a little stressed by these special occasions. At least there were no great numbers to prepare for, our elder daughter staying with us through Christmas Eve evening until Boxing Day late afternoon whilst the younger sibling was coming over at about 2.00pm, on the day itself, together with our grandson, following his mid-day nap.

 

The evening before Christmas Eve day I started experiencing very dramatic floaters in my right eye and, found myself stretching out to remove a soot covered cobweb from a corner of the loo. Of course neither the soot covering, nor the web itself, existed out there in the room but were rather hyper 3D-ised visions stemming from false retina readings. Shortly afterwards I started to have rather strident flashes of light appearing beside my right eye which I found quite disturbing. Christmas Eve morning, ma belle contacted my GPs surgery which arranged a call back from one of the doctors on duty that day.

 

A short while later, the ‘phone rang and ma belle OH passed the handset to me, at which point I was told about arrangements for the operation, with the sudden realization that this call was for my beloved. After months of waiting, they were now informing us that, all things going well, her aortic valve replacement would be taking place on 15 January. This news cast rather a shadow over subsequent proceedings as I am, to quite an extent, dependent upon Helen as my primary carer. At the same time, I gratefully acknowledge that the operation can give her a whole new quality of life, after several months recuperation from the cardiac surgery.

 

The next time the phone rang; a doctor from my local practice spoke to me and arranged for an appointment that afternoon. The doctor I saw gave my eyes a thorough examination and she put through a referral to the eye clinic at the District Hospital. A short while after arriving home, the phone rang once again; this time, the message was to inform me that an appointment with a doctor at the eye-clinic had been arranged for 10.00AM on Christmas Day. This was turning out to be an unusual Christmas Eve and Day, but having undergone a thorough examination at the hospital, I was back home in time to continue preparations for Christmas Dinner.

 

Ever since my wife’s cardiac surgery seemed quite imminent, last summer, I have once again succumbed to anxiety and depressive episodes, randomly tearful and unduly angry with people and events. When I saw a doctor about this experience in August, all she would suggest was CBT as she wanted me off all my medications, not adding something else. My anxiety intensified after that visit as the medications I am taking are for the heart, following a minor stroke, for long-term abdominal problems and for pain and restless leg control. As the operation date, for my beloved, is once again imminent, the anxieties have intensified so, yesterday afternoon, I saw a different doctor who is consulting with a pharmacist and the mental health team to see if there may be a suitable course of medication etc.

 

This afternoon I attended the opticians, for an overdue eye test, and have been referred to the cataract clinic with regard to my right eye. So, things are moving and I’m struggling on…

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Woes and Wherefores

You put your left hand in, you pull your left hand out … that’s what it’s all about. Well that sounds easy enough, a simple exercise but, I’ve recently been made to think about just what, and how many, muscles are used in such a simple action. In fact, in all honesty I’ve been finding the “simple” act of sitting in a high-backed armchair has become much more of a technical exercise.

Last Wednesday morning I visited the Dermatology unit, at the District Hospital, for the excision of a rodent ulcer (basal cell carcinoma), an operation which went quite smoothly (with the help of a couple of extra shots of the local anaesthetic) taking about 35-40 minutes. The cauterizing and needlework seemed to take much longer than the actual excision but, it was nice to be assured that all harmful matter had been removed.

Unlike previous occasions, when I’ve undergone a similar procedure, the dressing had to be removed after only 24 hours, and certainly not as much as 48hrs, preferably following a shower as the dressing seemed to adhere like superglue. As it worked out, my beloved removed the dressing, not without difficulty but very carefully; the skin had reddened considerably in the areas of former adhesion and the pull of the stitches became much more apparent.

 

With the siting of the wound (quite central in middle to lower back) it’s pretty difficult for me to see to apply the twice daily application of Vaseline to the wound so, that’s another chore for ma belle. If only I could see, and manage, the wound myself there would be less of a shock as the substance is rubbed in to the wound. Even the touch of a friend can bring a shudder to the spine. One cannot help but be aware of the wound as I try to sit back comfortably in a chair, or on the sofa, and so I am consequently unable to properly relax.

tight stitched wound

On the fourth morning after the procedure, a modest blood flow from the wound, wetting my shirt, caused me undue alarm although, fortunately, the flow quickly reverted to a slight seepage. Each move I make in an attempt to be seated, in a relaxed and comfortable posture, feels as if the muscles in the back are trying to rip open the stitches.

The upside of the situation is that I’ve been inspired to work on a new poem ‘As If The Worlds Woe’ in an attempt to capture some of the unusual situation.

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A Fruitful Misery

Seems like I have a permanent ticket for a roller-coaster ride, not that I particularly requested or enjoy the experience! The journey involves states of physical and emotional health, by which I mean health shortcomings.

Just as I’m getting used to feeling a dose of well-being, random pains and discomfort have a habit of leaping out to chastise me; whatever task I’m managing at that particular time, a throbbing burning pain in wrists, a sharper pain in elbows or, the nagging hollow bruised, nausea inducing, discomfort in the armpits strikes, calling an immediate halt to whatever activity is in process. (By activity I mean something akin to reading a newspaper or magazine, or maybe surfing the web on tablet or laptop: it is indeed only on very rare occasions that any of these activities are permitted as prolonged a period as thirty-minutes!). An added joy is the Damoclean sword of permanently imminent, frequently occurring, gullet, stomach and colon flare-ups.

More recently, the familiar neurological ailments have been partnered with an unrelated depressive anxiety. Some days I find myself in sudden floods of tears, concerning love, beauty and transience, fearing being alone and upset at the brevity of human life, especially as I’m now in my mid-seventies and, have become increasingly in awe at the amazing interdependence of everything in the whole cycle of life and, that nothing is wasted in nature’s economy. The primary cause of my current bout of anxiety is related to concern about my beloved OH’s impending aortic heart valve replacement operation. The operation will be of four hours duration, followed by a couple of days in cardiac intensive care then, four or five more days in the hospital.

This will be the longest period that we have been apart since our wedding over nineteen years ago. Apart from being my wife, lover, companion, confidant and chauffeur, she has increasingly become my carer. Whilst she’s in the hospital I won’t be able to visit her, owing to travelling involved. Since the onset of my chronic illness (moderate Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) even the, less than two mile, trip into town can prove emotionally and physically overwhelming, but ma belle will be in a neighbouring city some eighteen miles away. My (step-)daughters have offered to take me but, the prospect of such a journey makes me realize that I’d be in no fit state to be a bedside visitor (as I’d have to anticipate the ordeal of the return run).

A sizeable bleeding rodent ulcer (presumed basal cell carcinoma) has in recent weeks become an additional irritant and, I will shortly be attending an appointment in the dermatology dept of the District Hospital. Oh, what joys we are all heir too!

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Hopeless Sanity Breaking Corporation

How easily relative calm is broken. One would suppose a simple transfer transaction online, an action that I’ve regularly performed, would cause few if any emotional problems. That presumption proved false yesterday morning. Owing to malfunction of a security device I had to use an alternative method of logging on; so far all was well until I was informed that the alternative access method would shortly be phased out.

My next action was to use live chat, to find out how I could obtain a replacement security device. Two methods were available but I opted for a simple telephone call, via which I could obtain a replacement within five working days. Having been requested, by a disembodied voice, to input sort code, account number, my date of birth etc; which information I happily supplied, I was suddenly thrown when they asked me to input digits from my telephone banking password. As I don’t do telephone banking, I was unable to oblige. After holding for a considerable time I was put through to a distant call centre (presumably somewhere on the South Asian sub-continent) and was relieved to hear a real human voice!

I immediately informed the human, at the other end of the line, that I don’t do telephone banking but I was given their number to request a replacement secure key. At first this seemed to be going well until they requested I input a digit from the aforementioned telephone banking password. Talk about going round in circles; a short while later having given further security info, she requested that I confirm a favourite quote, place etc; and some other information, the spoken words of which I was unable to decipher. By now I’d reached breaking point; I explained that I was of a certain age and suffering from a chronic health condition and all I wanted was a replacement device. My beloved, noticing my distress took over the call and, without any further questions being asked was informed that the requested device would be despatched to me.

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Letter by over 100 left-wing Jews supporting Chris Williamson removed by Guardian. Read it still here:

Pride's Purge

The Guardian newspaper has removed a letter from over 100 prominent left-wing Jews – including Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and the actor Ed Asner – in support of Labour MP Chris Williamson against accusations of antisemitism:

This is apparently after a complaint from the anti-Corbyn and rather more right-wing Board of Deputies of British Jews.

This is simply censorship of Jewish voices on the left.

Therefore, in the name of openness and balance, here is the letter and the signatories reproduced in full. Please share:

Guardian Letter 9th July 2019

Jewish Statement: Reinstate Chris Williamson

We the undersigned, all Jews, are writing in support of Chris Williamson and to register our dismay at the recent letter organised by Tom Watson, and signed by parliamentary Labour party and House of Lords members, calling for his suspension.

Chris Williamson did not say that the party had been “too apologetic about…

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