Seasons in sickness

I have to confess that I am generally not very good at reading other blogs, but one I have been following is by Alison Clayton-Smith on the Mslexia website, about life as a writer with chronic health issues, and, while we have different problems and different approaches to life, I do identify with quite a lot of what she says. Here, for what it’s worth, are my own thoughts.

Today is the 28th of February. Next week is Shrove Tuesday. The last day I was at work was the 30th of October. When I went off sick, it was autumn: now, winter is on the cusp of spring. A whole season has passed, a third of a year, and I’m still laid low with back pain, unable to do most of my normal activities. I’ve had an MRI scan (an experience I thoroughly recommend for any horror writer wondering what it might feel like to be buried alive) but no results yet. Now, there could be a serious problem, but I’m suspecting/hoping that it’s actually ‘just’ a muscle strain which will heal itself in time, and nobody so far seems able to answer the question ‘How much time?’ Meanwhile, I’m stuck in limbo, a life revolving around taking painkillers, having cups of tea, baking in my polka-dot pinny, doing my prescribed gym ball exercises and going for walks around the local parks.

Sounds crap, doesn’t it? Several people have said to me ‘oh gosh, you must be going stir-crazy’ or words to that effect. The truth is it’s actually not all that bad. I’m lucky enough to have a supportive husband, a spacious and pleasant home, a circle of lovely friends to have cups of tea with, easy access to walks along the river. I don’t have to deal with most of the stresses of everyday life. I have, essentially, become accustomed to my restricted lifestyle, lowered my expectations, moved into the mindset of the long-term sick. Perhaps surprisingly, I’m not bored, most of the time. Access to the internet in general and social media in particular helps, of course, but so does the fact that I’ve always been happy in my own company, largely content with the inner life. Solitude is an essential component of life as a writer, and, while I haven’t been able to do much actual writing, I have been able to do a lot of thinking, working through ideas for future projects. Right now poor health has put my life largely on hold, but hey, I may as well take the opportunity for some reflection. When life gives you lemons, make gin and tonic.

Link to Alison’s Mslexia blog:

One thought on “Seasons in sickness

  1. Hi Ruth, thanks for the mention! Hope you get some more concrete info soon. I also often think that things are not that bad. I wonder how people cope who have children, have to work or have to be on benefits, who can’t afford to heat their home properly, or get out for coffee. Also I allow myself lots of compassion when I feel life is getting too much.

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