Yesterday, I had my annual eye test to check for the broken blood vessels and clots that can occur in steroid-induced diabetes. All clear. Today, I’m battered from the car/road vibrations of those two ten-minute trips. It’ll probably be a week or two before the severe and exhausting pain of that dissolves.
This morning, I tweeted this…
I used to do yoga in our roof garden at sunrise. I wish I could be that person again. The thought is making me tearful. #vulnerabletoday
…then I sat to have a think, and here’s what I thought.
I used to be fit and strong, an endurance sportsman, running, swimming and cycling, thrilling at the superhumanity fizzing in my muscles and bloodstream. I wish I was that person again.
At the same time I had a good job and hard-won expertise, and I enjoyed an influential position with responsibility and respect. I released those things from my heart years ago. I no longer wish I could be that person again, but having the health and strength back would be wonderful.
Later, I got badly hurt and caught a virus that developed into myalgic encephalomyelitis, which lost me my enjoyable job and my professional future, and made me so dangerously ill in those first scary months that we thought I was dying. I certainly don’t wish I was that person again.
Later still, I started the long fifteen year climb back from partial paralysis and deathly illness to a sort of regained mobility and chronic illness. I’m glad I’m not that person again.
Still later, I reached the point where my chronic illness was well-managed with medicines and good sense, and where I could enjoy gentle yoga in our roof garden at sunrise. I look back upon that time fondly and wish I could be that person again.
Later again, those good times crashed when the steroids that saved my life in the early days and helped me sustain my fight to recover in the longer term, turned against me with side effects that were, apparently, inevitable, and that would inevitably kill me if I didn’t get off them. Which, it turns out, is similar to getting off heroin. This, now, is the reign of the severe chronic illness, and I wish I didn’t have to be this person.
I wish I was the person doing gentle yoga on the roof at sunrise.
And then I realised, I am. I’m still that person. I’m still all those people. They’re all still in me.
In this respect, I am the sum of my experiences. I am the sum of every person I’ve been.
This is why I can write my people. The people I love. Why I can be a steampunk princess flying a great iron steamship with loyal rebels in my crew. A modern day schoolgirl who inherits her family castle and all the ghosts of her ancestors. A starship engineer battling to save her ship and the thousands of people who live in it. A boy being dragged into a fictional world of his novelist father’s creation. And a chronically ill girl who leaves her illness at the covers of her books when she enters their stories and interacts with their characters, first as an observer and later as a heroine.
I’m all the people I’ve ever been, and I’m all the people of my imagination, and if it weren’t for my circumstances over the past twenty years I wouldn’t be the person I am today.