Friday, 17 October 2014

Small things

A drizzly walk to a Dagenham corner shop isn't most people's idea of excitement. But when the Little One and I hung up our soggy coats and sat eating the spoils of our expedition on Monday afternoon, the sense of achievement I felt was huge. The ten minute round trip had taken us over half an hour, and to me, it was time well spent.

For the last two months I have been unable to walk much or drive, so we've been relying on friends and relatives to ferry us around during the day. But this week. I started to feel better. The pain and swelling in my hands and feet is easing, and I think even my mega-knee (twice the size of the other one) might be shrinking slightly. As well as my walking victory, I drove us to playgroup this morning. It felt so good!

I've said it before, but I'm going to make sure I relish every one of these little victories. There is so much pressure in our culture to be productive and achieve great things that we often forget to be thankful for the small things. In the past this pressure has led me to spend too much time trying to make sure I invest my time in 'big' things, things that will pay off in the future. I think lots of us live under a fearful belief that if we only relish small joys, we will become small people. Here's what I mean: when I was first diagnosed, I spent a lot of time planning all the big things I would do when I was better - travel, culture, career. I felt that I needed to make sure I'd ticked all these 'essential' boxes while I still could. After all, they're the things that make for an interesting and impressive person, right? 

I don't think so any more. As time has passed and these things have been less possible for me to engage with, they have also become less important. My last post talks a bit more about this process.

There's something giddying about the sense of freedom that comes with finally being able to do things for yourself. Hoovering, baking, shopping. The mundane comes to life in glorious everyday experiences. I hope that old fear doesn't creep up on me again, and I hope I'll never judge myself to be 'small'.

Hopefully my recovery this week marks the end of this difficult patch, but it may not be over yet. That's why it's extra-important to enjoy and celebrate the small things every day. They are the things that life is made of.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Time waits for no man

I love lists. At the moment, I'm making lots of them: Christmas shopping lists (I know it's early, but I can't resist!), big household jobs, people to call. But my favourite is my 'Adventures to have with the Little One' list. I know we won't be able to do most of the things on it for a while yet, but I am enjoying the anticipation and the value these simple things now have for me.

One of the hardest things about being unwell is the feeling that my illness is stopping me from getting on with my life. I see my friends taking on exciting new challenges - a new job, lots of babies or travelling the world - and it feels so unfair that those things aren't an option for me at the moment. Carpe diem doesn't seem to apply to me!

I feel genuinely happy for friends with wonderful news, but there's always a twinge of awareness that hits. 'You can't do that.' Now, I know things will get better for me - there will be a time when I can work and be much more physically active. But it often feels like the weeks and months I spend waiting for medication to work is wasted time.

Yesterday I was arrested by an everyday moment. It always takes us a while to get ready for the day as I'm very stiff and slow in the mornings. It was 10am and I was drying my hair in our bedroom. The Little One was bouncing around on the bed, giggling as he plunged into the pillows. As he looked at me and grinned, I realised I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Not in a high-powered business meeting, not on a beach in Thailand - I wanted to be here; I was lucky to be here.

I am so thankful for that moment as it made me that realise that time is only wasted if that's how you see it. Every day I have been given is precious and has it's own beauty.

And that's what my 'Adventure list' is all about - I've made a deal with myself that as I start to get more active, my priority will be those precious days out with the Little One. Being unwell has shown me what really matters. I know when the time comes I'll be hit with all kinds of internal pressure to get a job, be useful, be busy, but I'm not going to succumb. First things first.