Surfacing without the bends

I’m clear of that multiple-infection attack. It was a bad one. Scary. Probably quite dangerous, I think. But now it’s history.

Still in relapse. The pain is still big and intense, and its accompanying exhaustion and brain fog still fills my days and nights.

But last week a new story idea came to me, and I stayed lucid long enough to type it out. Those were the 300 words I mentioned in my last post. I’ve written no more since then, but that idea is developing in my mind. That’s how stories always come to life for me, in my head for a while before I start writing anything beyond the bare initial idea. And this one is doing that, growing quietly but steadily.

I’m holding onto this as a promise that my relapse will lift. That this won’t become my new permanent plateau. Not doing anything more, because these are always the most precarious times, when in the old days I used to grasp the promise and try to do too much before it was safe or sensible to do anything. It’s all too easy to slip back over the cliff edge, and at five months this deep relapse is already long enough, thank you very much.

That light is still there up on the surface, towards which I’m rising after a long, dark, silent, deep dive. It’s burning steadily, and I’m watching it steadily.

Through the tunnel

Thank you for all your prayers and kind thoughts over the past several weeks, everyone.

I’m feeling a lot better. I didn’t realise until they all hit me together that I had multiple infections brewing. My ME relapse brain fog stopped me recognising what was going on. When they hit, it was hell. Any orifice, crease or join you can think of, mine was infected. And goodness knows what was going on inside. I thought I was dying, and it was an attractive thing.

So, last week, I came through it. Still have some residual problems in nail beds, etc, and my mouth and bum aren’t right yet, but the deathly feverish hell has passed.

Which means I’ve actually been able to do a few words over the weekend. :)

I’m done.

Two things, linked, one about my health and the other about the health of my country.

I’m so ill, I don’t know if I’ll ever write again. I have two novels sitting half-written, a third planned out in detail and ready to rock, and another bright idea that’s researched and ready for planning, but unless my health improves dramatically I can’t see me ever writing another page on any of them.

My professional author career is certainly finished, and now I’ve reached the point where I could live happily without writing if I could just get some quality of life back. I don’t feel like this is a negotiation I need to make, or even could make, but in terms of the sensible advice don’t write unless you can’t not write, then I’ve realised I can not write. There’s no decision to make. It isn’t that sort of situation. It’s just what it is and I’m too sick and tired to even think about trying to fight it.

As for the health of the UK, I’m gutted by Scotland’s narrow rejection of independence. It was a triumph of fear over hope, and it sickens me.

I don’t know how many of those frightened No voters actually believe any of the lying shit Cameron, Miliband, Clegg et al have spouted in this past week, but the only certainty now is that the Westminster scum and their media whores will continue to make it all about Westminster, and the UK will continue to be one of the most unfair societies in the world.

Labour isn’t going to move to back the left. Why should they? They’ve been a right wing party for years now and they’re very comfortable there. Cameron’s only concern is protecting himself from his racist MPs so he will definitely renege on his devolution promises, and Miliband will enable him in that. Clegg’s as trustworthy as a chocolate fireguard. Establishment England – by which I mean all three main right wing parties, 99% of the media, and the City – will take today’s result as a victory for the status quo.

The majority of English voters are small-c conservative, a significant proportion of them are racists, and sufficient numbers of them will continue voting for right wing MPs for eternity. Nothing is going to change. Our only hope for a fairer country was Scotland voting Yes and English regions being inspired to get a backbone. That’s gone forever. It’s over.

I don’t want to live in this despicable country anymore, but I’m too ill to move. There’s no light at the end of this tunnel of vileness the Establishment has driven us into. No change in gradient ahead. They’ve won and they’ll keep on winning. I’m going to dig my own hole in the ground and crawl into it. I’m done.

September Mornings

Neil Diamond’s September Morn always reminds me of a quiet moment years ago.

At that time I was based a way along the coast from where we live now. My wife was pregnant with our third daughter. I worked in a small team, and on that day we’d arranged to open up our bar on the base and meet for a lunchtime drink. I can’t remember why it was a quiet day, but there was no one else around. Only us four, with our families.

The kids played out in the garden and we sat on a line of stools at the bar, chatting about non-work stuff while a mixed tape played in the background.

When September Morn came on, we all shut up for some long thoughtful moments. I don’t know why. I don’t remember having any sort of premonition or anything, but you know how sometimes a moment catches you? Like that.

Just a few years later, our close team was broken. One died, two of us got hurt, and the fourth got the hell out. I’m sure we’re all very different people now, in many ways. But whenever I hear this song I remember us as the fit, strong young men we were that September day, with our wives and little kids around us, sharing a quiet moment of mutual trust and respect.

Neil Diamond – September Morn

ETA: These small weekly essays are the only writing I can manage at the moment. Each one takes me about half a day to do through the brain fog and leaves me mentally washed out for ages afterwards, and they’re a grain of sand compared to my normal beaches of creative output when my brain isn’t exhausted by a long relapse. But they’re important. They’re like hauling open a firmly sealed door. Only a crack, but light comes in each time and there’s the promise of recovery on the other side of it.

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Staring into space

Now in the 3rd month of my worst ME relapse for 7 years. Not the longest by any means, but definitely the most painful. Pretty sure it’s been triggered by my managed steroid reduction. My GP insists the reduction is essential and I trust him, but the severe pain never goes away and makes me so sick.

Out of bed for 3 or 4 hours a day, for a shower and to catch-up online mostly. Still too ill to write, but at least this week I’ve been able to read, which I couldn’t do for all of the previous month. Started JK Rowling’s The Silkworm this Thursday and managing about 4 short chapters a day. It’s good.

If this relapse lifts, I’ll get right back into writing my YA epic fantasy The Orphan Age. I miss writing my heroine Molly, whose ME is similar to mine.

If the relapse doesn’t lift, if this turns out to be my new level of health, which is entirely possible and has happened before, then I guess I will have retired from writing.

That would be a real kick in the gut. I’ve been writing ever since I got ill, and various publishers have released 7 of my books in that time. Even at my healthiest (Ha!) I’m a million miles too ill to self-publish. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t write. The thought of it is like staring into space.

It’s a worry, but there’s no point in dwelling on something over which I have no power or influence. I’ll just carry on taking it one hour at a time.