It has been a while since I last wrote my blog, far longer than the week or so I promised. So, my apologies to you all. But, like for everyone else, life gets in the way, health takes a turn for the worse and my mood takes a downward spiral. Do you know what I mean?
Some call it the January blues which inevitably stretches into February and yes, at times it moves beyond that. Even Spring, the early sunshine bringing warmer weather teasing us with a promise of a good summer, doesn’t lift the spirit, it simply makes me feel guilty for feeling so flat and forces me to try harder when in fact all I want to do is hide away and want some excuse to light the wood burner and close the curtains.
Entering Lent seems to help me in some way. It is a time for understanding and being grateful for another’s suffering. It encourages me to look deeper, in the hope that my own resurrection will follow. And do you know something, it actually does most Lents. It may take time, as my confessor told me, I need to relax, to stop trying so hard. So, on his advice, what I gave up for Lent, is being hard on myself, to relax, do less. It means trusting, not easy for me, that eventually, when do I let go and fall, I will be caught and loved for exactly who I am and not for what I may or may not have done. To be loved even for my ingratitude for the many things I have been given and do have. By the way, the penance my confessor gave me is to make a clay pot. I wonder if that is yet again a metaphor for remaking myself?
Let me give you a clear and very real example of that love before I continue with my van journey and how my search for a man, the man, ended.
What happens if you live alone with an old blind dog who gets sick and needs to go out every hour for a poo, a very runny poo at that. On the same day you wake up realising with some relieve that you actually have had 2 hours unbroken sleep without the necessity of getting up and taking the dog out. You lovingly look at the pooch as she sleeps, you’re delighted with her self-control and ability to give you enough warning to get dressed and to get her outside before the bed (yes, she sleeps with you) is covered in stinky yellow slim. You are lying there bathed in self-satisfaction, proud of the amount of patience you have developed in caring for the old dog. As you wallow in the peace of that moment and wonder how the day will be, you get the usual urge to bottom burp, the joys of sleeping alone, to fart at will without embarrassment! But, much to your utter surprise and disgust what you thought would be a puff of wind turns out be an explosion of excrement which you have zero control of. We’ve all heard the expression ‘when the shit hits the fan’ but what if it hits the sheets, floor and doesn’t stop!
That is what happened to me. I had already spent 6 or more weeks wearing heavier duty Tena Ladies due to a bad cold with a constant cough and sneezing and there I was now doubly incontinent! Shit! Yes, shit! I tell you! There is no fun in trying to clean up your own mess praying that the bloody dog wouldn’t need to go too!
As I had no sickness or stomach ache I thought it must be something I ate so expected it was a one off extravaganza of texture which, once the bed and room were cleaned and I had had a shower, I could forget about. Who was I kidding?
Without any of the usual courtesy or prior warning we have come to expect from our bowels, it happened again in the shower. Surely, that was it over with? Just to be sure, once towelled I put extra, extra protection in my knickers and threw on some jogging bottoms for quick release. I.e. no zips or buttons. I was still feeling okay and made my way downstairs taking the dog with me. I got to the bottom of the stairs and the ‘dam broke’ again. I have a downstairs loo so thought if I was quick enough I’d manage to get to the toilet. All, I can say is, there would have been far less mess if I had decided not to use the quick release!
That was the final straw, I broke down into tears, utterly mortified to realise I had reached this stage of my life at only 66! I had no control over my bowels, life was over, sob, sob …. sob …….. Bark … bark ….. shit!, the dog needed out! Shit, again literally everywhere. I threw the dog into the back garden somewhere she doesn’t like to go because she is blind and there are lots of obstacles in it. I panicked, how on earth was I going to manage the day let alone my life! Yes, I had gone into melodrama mode but please recall I was feeling blue even before this.
I grabbed a towel to put round my waist and one to sit on. Snatched my phone from the table and sat on the bottom of my stairs and wondered what I could do, who could I call that wouldn’t be shocked or disgusted. To be perfectly blunt I had lost the plot and was in emotional melt down. I tried someone, can’t remember who, but didn’t get a reply. Then I thought of my neighbour two doors up, she had always seemed practical and she helped me with Holly, the dog. But I didn’t have her number and I didn’t dare leave the house. Ah, but I had a number of mutual friend, Lee, a lovely guy who had helped me enormously with learning how to rout the wood for my art work.
“Lee” breathing heavy and sobbing “I’m in a bad way and need help can you call Donna and ask her to come round quickly! Please!”.
One minute later Donna came to the rescue. Picture the scene: me on the stairs half naked, surrounded by my soiled pants, etc etc the smell must have been a shocker. She was wonderful. She knelt down (she just missed a smear of poo) and attempted to calm me down and sooth me.
“Donna is Johan okay?” It was Mark, Donna’s husband, appearing in front of me before Donna could stop him. Bless him he did have his eyes averted. Then who should then follow the lovely Lee. I sheepishly waved. Lee being Lee didn’t avert his eyes but smiled and asked if I was okay. What else was there to do now but laugh, but not until I sent Donna off, with Lee driving, to buy incontinence knickers. (She got me the larger ones she told me meekly on her return). Mark stayed with the task of feeding Holly and chatting about the possibility of food poisoning. All this whilst I’m still sitting on the stairs half naked surrounded by you know what. Believe me, there was no way of me going to move till I was alone, one just didn’t know what could happen! Later Lee rang to make sure I was okay and to ask if I had ‘dried up’ and Donna rang Lee to check on me as she had gone to see her father. Aren’t people wonderful!
It is now one the funniest stories told in my village, one I tend to tell far more than they would ever do. What I learnt from this is that people are there if you ask them to help. It has cemented my sense of living in a community and gives me a vast sense of hope that when I am old and possibly truly in need I am surrounded and loved by many. The number of people who have now said ‘why didn’t you call me’ has been incredibly touching. It shows that we are all one great big family if we let others in and are prepared to show them our weaknesses and just as importantly respond to theirs. How does it go: ‘love your neighbour as yourself’, well we had better start loving ourselves a whole lot more.
Till next time, I won’t leave it so long promise, I will crack on with the road trip