Here is a glimpse into my life…the non-writing side of it.
Yesterday I got up, had some breakfast, walked the dog, had a shower and then dried and straightened my hair, adding some make-up for good measure. A fair amount of concealer was required beneath my eyes.
Then, instead of going to work, I drove to the library and parked up. Not too far away – perhaps a 7minute journey. I was fortunate to find a parking space just outside. Once inside I returned my overdue books. I had a £5 fine. Whoops. But, given the state of funding for libraries at the moment, I’ll happily contribute to ensuring that my local one stays open.
After choosing a few new books to take home, I went to sit in the pre-prepared circle of a group of strangers. There were perhaps fifteen or sixteen of us. I had enlisted on a free Creative Writing session that was being offered as part of Adult Learner’s week.
We spent just over an hour writing from prompts – first a quick word prompt, then a longer one based on a random sentence from a book, followed by a final one taken from a selection of 19th Century postcards of the local area. We each read and listened to every piece we had written. It was lovely to spend a morning writing with other people.
Afterwards, I spent perhaps fifteen minutes chatting with various people. I found out about a local writing group hoping to secure new members and I enquired about the next meeting date. I told the woman I would look forward to it.
Then, I climbed back into the car and drove the 30minutes to work.
Once there, I had a five minute break waiting for my computer to load up. I managed to eat a satsuma. Once the PC was ready, I quickly fired off some emails, printed off a couple of sheets and dashed to a lunchtime meeting with my colleagues. For the next hour I talked ‘shop’ whilst eating a small ham sandwich and eating another satsuma.
I had time to answer a few more emails before another meeting. Once that meeting was over I returned, once again, to emails. At quarter to five I intimated that we should leave (I work in the same office as my partner). Fifteen minutes later, I was out the door.
I spent the 40minute car journey venting about various work things. We had to stop at the supermarket to pick up some things for dinner. It would be a quick meal, so we decided on pasta. My partner drove home and as soon as I got in I changed, pulled on my walking boots and took the dog out for his walk.
When I got back in, my partner was dozing on the sofa. I proceeded to prepare dinner. I admit, I was a little cranky. I sourced something for us to watch with dinner and, while my (now awake) partner doled out food onto plates, I set up the TV.
We ate dinner. At 7.45pm, show over, my partner made me a cup of tea. I fed the dog. I drank the tea in a hurry because he’d taken 15minutes to make it and we had to leave the house by 8.15pm. I recall fastening my shoes whilst I was in the bathroom.
My partner drove us to our dance class – the first one we have attended in a couple of years. We’ve been having private lessons every two weeks to catch up. For the next hour we struggled through remembering steps and avoiding other dancing couples to the following dances: Quickstep, Rhumba, Waltz, Cha-Cha, Tango, Paso Doble and Jive. It was a long hour, and I’d forgotten to take a drink with me.
My partner drove us home where I collapsed onto the sofa with a large glass of Sarsparilla. I actually don’t recall what I did for the next 40minutes. A cup of tea was likely involved. But, regardless, at 11pm I pulled myself up from the sofa and took the dog on his pre-bedtime walk. Not a long stroll, but the cold air made my teeth chatter.
After putting the dog to bed, I clambered into my own and wrapped myself up in the duvet. I wasn’t sleepy so I decided to read for an hour. By midnight I was sufficiently exhausted that, for the time it took my partner to undress, brush his teeth and climb into bed beside me, I was asleep.
This morning I woke up feeling like I had not slept for more than a week. My knuckles were swollen just enough to make my hands look like bear claws and it hurt to either ball them into fists or straighten them out. My shoulders ached and my neck wasn’t entirely happy with having to hold my head up, but I managed to convince it to co-operate.
It took me a while to get out of bed. It took time to make breakfast. I then took a short walk with the dog, relieved that I could come home and have a lie down after so much exertion. I spent the rest of the day on the sofa, curled in a blanket, reading a few pages of a book at a time, then resting and returning to the reading when the letters stopped jumping around the page.
If any of my comrades with M.E. are here reading this – well done for getting this far in my tirade of daily chores. I know how difficult it is to read so many words. I hope I spaced the paragraphs out enough that it didn’t make it impossible.
For those here who don’t suffer with this illness, know this: I am considered to be “recovered”. The entire list of activities I outlined about my day yesterday defines me as someone who is completely capable of rejoining life and no longer ‘suffers’ with the acute condition of M.E. But that was yesterday. Today I am a sufferer. Yet, still today I am capable of so much more than others who share this disease.
Today, for me, isn’t a day when I can really consider writing a story or editing a novel. The very fact I’ve been able to write this post is enough for me. This will be the sum of my achievements today, at least to an outside view.
For those on the inside, I have accomplished so much more – I got up, I got dressed, I brushed my teeth, I walked to the living room….I did so many more infinitesimal actions that we all take for granted: but today these are achievements, because today my body is racked with M.E.
Tomorrow…I will go back to work and pretend to be ‘normal. But perhaps this time I’ll take my allotted breaks, eat lunch properly, have a snack or two to keep me going, meditate for a while and rest when I get home. Wednesday was too much for me – even though it was a day like any other for most.