There was something on TV yesterday that set me to think, just how lucky I am to be who I am and where I am, both in time and location. To some, that may sound odd, given my health and the fact I am housebound, but with a little thought, it makes a lot of sense. You don’t have to go that far back in time, to realise just how different my life might have been just 100 years ago, the further back you step, the worse it would have been. I simply can’t imagine what it would have been like in reality to have lived in any other time than the one I do now, with the state of health that I have. Actually, it is probably more truthful, to say that I don’t want to imagine. In many regards, my life is a tough one, if you look at it purely from the angle of health, but my health isn’t my life, it’s just part of it. I have a nice home and a loving husband. My health care is both free and there to help whenever I ask for it. The government supply me with an income, granted, it’s not a fraction of what I once earned, but it does keep the wolf from the door and with what Adam earns, we are comfortable. No, we can’t afford to splash out on luxuries, or pay for the latest gadgets, but we are fed and sheltered and own our own home. That is one of the things that actually goes against Adam and I. If we didn’t own our flat, if we were living in a rented home, not only would they pay for that, I would then be able to have access to a specially adapted home, at a much lower rent, which they would still pay for. When it comes to our mortgage, they won’t pay a penny of it, I get their logic, but it somehow isn’t fair. That though is, as they say, another story. As things stand at this moment, I have the means to live comfortably, in my eyes. I not only do I have the necessary, but I also have the means to remain entertained and to keep my mind active, if not my body. It isn’t a bad life. 100 years ago, without a doubt, I wouldn’t have been sitting here saying the same thing, although this very house was standing back then, we wouldn’t have afforded to own it, or rent it.
It is easy to forget, just how lucky we are, to be who we are, and where we are. It doesn’t need time travel to prove that, just travel around the world. Whether it is time or location, the possibility of being both homeless and a beggar, is high. I do quite honestly get angry at those who constantly complain that they don’t have this or that, all of us in the UK, have more than those in our position elsewhere. What we are given by the government is meant to be enough to keep us safe, fed and warm, not to supply us with iPads and caviar. There is one test that I think, I know, how everyone’s will answer, and it is a sign just how much things have changed. Think back 30 to 40 years ago, how many people did you see out and about in a wheelchair, or with a walking aid? If you did see someone, how does your memory of them compare to now? Other than the odd one or two, who always seemed to be missing a lower limb, I don’t remember any. Oddly as well, their clothing and personal hygiene states were always poor, most likely due to lack of assistance. If I go back to my childhood, I never saw a single one, outside of our minister who had had polio as a child and used calipers. Even in as recent a time as the early 70’s, the sick were still hidden away, not part of the world and often forgotten by even their families, as an embarrassment, or a sign of weak blood. I know that, as it happened to one of my aunts. She was bundled off to a seaside care home due to depression, never talked about again, and absolutely never visited. If there is such a thing as a good time to be chronically ill, this is it.
When you are locked into a world of pain, it is hard to remember things like that. To even think, that life could have been worse, or still is for others, who are in exactly the same position as we find ourselves now, is difficult. It is so easy to just see ourselves and no one else, not because we are selfish, but because that is what pain and illness does. Even if you have had nothing worse than just a cold, you know that feeling that the world has vanished and you and your misery is all that matters. I guess, it is simply our brains taking over and telling us that there is nothing, more important, than making ourselves better. Which is fine if you have a cold. When you are chronically ill, there is no getting better, this is just more of the same and far worse to still come. You can’t remain locked inside forever, as that is when life ends. Living has so many facets to it, and somehow, our health reduces it to just one, ourselves, but if you stay there, you’ve lost everything. There’s no doubt in my mind that, that, is why it’s so important to keep working until you absolutely can’t. When you have to stop working, well, you have to replace it, we have to find some way of breaking out of what our health, has forced onto us. Some way of staying part of the world that has been stolen from us, and if that’s not possible, to build a new one.
Even though I push myself to stay part of the world from inside my home, I often still feel just that bit isolated. Not because I am alone, but because I feel I am missing the normal everyday realities of life. Watching the news and keeping up with documentaries and lifestyle news can only replace so much. I miss the joy of watching things change and evolve, to watch people, see how they behave and what their lives hold. There is a joy in just seeing life written on another person, as we all show far more than we think. How we dress, do our hair, react to those around us, our body language and expression, all tells a story, a story it’s fun to unpick as they pass. It is hard to hold onto the fact, that if, I were to step outside and go for a walk, even just in my local area, that much of it, I wouldn’t even recognise. In 8 years, buildings have been erected on what was once wasteland, gardens have been landscaped or absorbed into the houses themselves. People have come and gone, faces I have never seen before, would be looking back at me and I would hear voices speaking languages, never heard around me in the past. Shops, will have gone and new ones arrived, what I would call my neighbourhood, is probably as alien to me now, as any other area, in any city, anywhere in the world. But the oddest thing, the oddest things would be accepting that it is me, who would be the alien, in their world, despite the fact, I haven’t gone anywhere. It doesn’t matter how much I try, my health has won, it has cut me off from much of normal everyday life, yet still I count myself lucky.
Just as I check my posture and my mood, I also have to check myself from not ever feeling isolated, or alone. You don’t need someone physically sharing the same space as you do, to not be alone. So no, maybe I can’t go out and sit in a cafe, to just watch people, but I can bring parts of those people to me. I can continue to learn in other ways, to be in contact mentally with those who wrote the history I love and the people who lived it. I can continue to chat when I want to with people, not next to me but around the world. I have more people now than I have ever had in my life before, who know my name, what I stand for and what I think. I may not be in touch directly with all of them, but every single person who likes, favourites or sends me a comment, makes me smile, just as if they had smiled at me in the street. I could sit here and grieve for all I have lost, or all the things I think I should have, but I don’t, I sit here enjoying everything I have. I am lucky, I am incredibly lucky to be just who I am, just where I am, and in the time I am. I don’t have to be able to get out of this flat and unlike those of the past, I’m not mistreated, hungry or facing dying in a loveless world that want me here, for only what they gain from me, money for my keep. All of us who are ill today with no possibility of that ever changing, are the luckiest who have ever been in our shoes. Admit it, life isn’t that bad, it may be painful and not perfect, but we’re still here, and on the whole, because we choose to be.
Please read my post from 2 years ago today – 23/10/2013 – The changes you don’t expect
So much for making plans and setting out on a day where I thought I knew what would happen next. I normally shower in the afternoon but I had decided that from today I am going to shower in the morning just after I had…..
AND YOU MAKE ME ((PLUS 100s OF THOUSANDS)), SMILE TOO. YES WE ARE LUCKY, TO KNOW YOU.
Absolutely true. It’s all about keeping perspective.
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I thought of this the other day, Pam. I can’t imagine living where I had to wash my clothes on a stone or stand and slave in a hot miserable kitchen for hours per day to make meager meals. I often wonder how women with chronic illnesses made it through life back then. Maybe that’s why some died so young. It simply wasn’t possible, with the condition of their bodies, to carry on any longer. Yep, we can be grateful despite our illness!
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Wow , thankyou x