Friday, June 23, 2017

The Tablet

Written 28/02/2016

It was the holidays and we went to spend Easter with Mum and Dad. We took the dogs to enjoy a runs on the beach. It would be the first relaxing holiday in 6 months, having spent Christmas trapsing from family to family across the UK and African continent. A time to chill, and rest and run.

Our first evening walk was a delight. There were no pressures – just an amble. But the dogs didn’t know that – they were excited. They raced and danced around us, and it took just a little encouragement from them to get me racing after them.

I looked at the tablets in my hand. Am I really going to do this again, I ask myself. What journey will this take me on? Or have I grown up and conquered side effects.

Gingerly I place the half tablet on the tip of my tongue. I remember when taking tablets took me over an hour of anxious panic. I had grown up. I could place the half tablet on the tip of my tongue and with a drop of water flick the piece down my throat with the cascading trickle past my remaining tonsil. Gone. It was in me. It would work its invisible magic. I knew I was tired. I knew I was unfit. I hadn’t known about the dangerous rhythms. I’m usually aware and wairy of every twitch – but apparently this time I had missed it. With the greatest of respect, I didn’t always get it right. The specialists had seen something and it didn’t look safe. This half tablet should solve that. They knew I “ didn’t like it”.  I needed to give it time. To trust them. To give it a decent try.

I woke the next morning tired. It was nothing new. It was the first day of the holidays after an exhausting term. This day had been set aside to rest.

A walk along the beach had been planned – it was always planned at Manly. But I was tired – so there were no promises on my part. I’d walk until I couldn’t.

The effort to move around the house, was I guess, excused. Sometimes that happens. I felt flat. I was not motivated. The dogs excitement did not encourage me. I shooed them on ahead. I ambled down the driveway with the others. Once down at the beach, I saw the long stetch of sand being whipped by the winter winds. It was cold. Like the day before – but this time it was not invigorating. It was tiring.

I trudged along the beach behind the others. I slowed them down. I did not run. I did not want to run. I wanted to run, but I just couldn’t run, so I didn’t want to. Some 100m along the beach, and I was now officially exhausted. I turned to go home. I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to do that.

And so it was, for the next eight months. I took my half tablet, and I did less and less. I could do less and less. And my motivation waned - until a 20m walk to our shed was more that I could handle.

Half a tablet a day. And it took away my living.
So they were right – I didn’t like it.

[The doctors finally relented after preforming a cardiac cathedar, and discovering that there was in fact nothing wrong with my heart function. Unfortunately the cardiac cathedar didn’t go so well, and lymp nodes in my groin were damaged – but I didn’t have to take the tablet anymore!]

People drop like flies every day

People drop like flies every day. 

Well maybe not like flies, but proportionately at a similar rate perhaps.

So what is stopping me from doing the same?

I lay in my bed in September 2014, in a hotel in Rotorua having attended the first day of a 5 day NZEI conference. I had literally finished 6 weeks of relieving the day before. Everything was new and the future, though promising, was somewhat unknown.

I knew no-one I had travelled with from Whangarei. I knew their names, I knew …. no that is about it. I knew their names. I wasn’t sure which school they were associated with, what their role was in NZEI, or in fact what NZEI’s role was. And much less, I knew nothing of my role.

We had enjoyed some ‘pre-conference’ drinks together, and had nibbled on bits of food that had floated through the crowds.

I felt like crap. Actually I was utterly exhausted and I felt like crap. I had been to see the cardiologist two weeks prior to this evening. And I had felt like crap then too. But there was nothing they could do. They had suggested I slowed down. I honestly felt if I slowed down, I’d grind to a halt. And mentally flippantly, decided I’d rather drop dead.

And then here I was. Lying in bed. Feeling like crap. With a heart crashing into my rib cage at random, and frequent moments. My head hurt. My body wanted to sleep. But my heart just kept crashing irrationally away. I did try to think. But just one thought dominated my mind - People drop like flies every day.

I knew if I closed my eyes I too might mimic a fly - and drop out of existence.

The thing that got me though - was that no body would know. Fiona isn’t a great communicator. My parents would not want to disturb me at the conference. And no body I had travelled with really knew me. They weren’t even staying on the same hotel floor as me.

I could drop out of existence for days. And nobody would know.

Of course, in the irrational moments before midnight, I wondered if anyone would care. But I knew I had to fight that thought. I knew in my heart that wasn’t true - but my heart wasn’t behaving particularly rationally at that moment.

It was crashing all over my rib cage.

Last time I had felt this exhausted, I had shared a room with Anne Kennelly. She had woken in the night, and just her simple presence had kept me alive. Well that is how it felt on reflection. That is how it felt as I lay there on my own, wondering if I had the energy to breath through the night.

As my eyes began to wilt, I wondered if this is what it was like for other who had died in their sleep. Is there something you know about when you close your eyes for the last time. Is there a sense of finality, a calm sense of finality - or does it just happen regardless?

I knew I wasn’t going to die that night because I had a conference to attend. And besides how many people actually die on their own, in the night, in a hotel, and no body notices for days?

Well it does happen. Maybe not often, but it does happen. And my next question to myself was more poignant. What logical reason is there that it couldn’t happen. That it won’t happen. If the moment has arrived, it doesn’t wait for logic. It just happens.

It happens for some people during sex. It happens for some people with their morning cup of coffee. It happens for some people when, in a split second they forget to look, or they type a txt, or they lean too far, or slip on ice, down a ski field, or cycle down a ramp, or leave their keys in the car, or close their eyes at night.

I couldn’t close my eyes that night.
I didn’t want to close my eyes that night.
At 5am I wondered if I had cheated death.

At 6am I woke with fright.

Poem - Tired


Tired of running
Tired of waiting
Tired of u
Tired of me

Tired of guessing
Tired of testing
Tired of one
Tired of three

Tired of listening
Tired of feeling
Tired of walking
Tired of missing

Tired of hoping
Tired of failure
Tired of trying
Tired of sitting

Tired of watching
Tired of giving
Tired of guessing
Tired of waiting

Tired of needles
Tired of pills
Tired of visits
Tired of sitting

Tired of silence
Tired of lying
Tired of walking
Tired of running

Tired of guessing
Tired of hoping
Tired of none
Tired of three

Tired of pills
Tired of writing
Tired of talking
Tired of repeating

Tired of stares
Tired of knowing
Tired of hoping
Tired of running

Tired of tired

October 2015
Wellington (inspired by a Facebook chat on ACHD)