A friend writes:
"I’ve been thinking for a while that I should write something for Richard's blog; an update for those of you who so generously wrote to me the other week when I was at my lowest. It’s some way down the road now and procedures have been performed. My father has a permanent ‘shunt’ and after weeks of silence he has spoken his first words. Last Thursday, he said ‘hello’ to my sister and called her by a nickname only he uses. The specialists at the hospital expressed their satisfaction with his progress and yesterday he was moved to a local hospital. We can now get to visit him without it costing a month’s wages or involving a walk through a rundown inner city suburb.
Yet, as far as we’ve come, today we faced what feels like a setback and we don’t even know if it’s any way meaningful. Visiting my father today, my sister said that he looked better than when last she saw him. He spoke again, greeting her and this time also greeting a nurse that was tending to him. He was awake all the time, showing interest in what was going on around him. But as my sister was leaving the ward, a doctor asked to speak with her and my mother. The doctor changed everything.
We’ve met them before: doctors who refuse to be positive, who want us to be ready for the worst. The doctor asked those questions we all dread to be asked, implying that my father was seriously ill, that we should be concerned. We know he’s ill. He’s been in a specialist neurological unit for six weeks, undergoing surgery for an aneurism. Yet the local doctor couldn’t see the progress he’s made. To their eyes he was probably the sickest man on the ward. There was talk of a chest infection – he’s also been prone to those and has a constant wheeze – and the need for an x-ray, the results of which we will only know tomorrow. So tonight, we’re all in tears again; worried by a doctor’s words and driven to sniping at each other from the pressure we’ve all been under.
I’m probably more guilty than anyone for getting frustrated. That pressure has been relentless but now no longer in a visible way. I find it hard to work, plan, concentrate, write. I can’t stop dreaming of my father. I see him talking to me, the family laughing together, and then I wake up and realise the cruel hoax. At times, I find it all too much. Six weeks on and deep in a mid-life crisis, I find it hard to believe that things will ever get better. People say they do but I’m finding that there is always another thing to worry about, whether it is debts, jobs, and career in a global recession, or relationships, family, and health. I’m not in a good position ahead of troubling times. I have so many qualifications – the majority of which make me an arts graduate – that I’m next to unemployable, I had my last holiday in the early eighties (Wales), and my sole means of transport has two wheels and requires peddling. And today a doctor told us to fear the worse when, for six weeks, we haven’t dared contemplate anything better. These days it's what I understand as living."
Monday, 15 September 2008
A friend writes: