Thursday, February 24, 2005

On feeling something like normal.

Although I got out on Monday, it was attached to a doctor’s appointment. Last night I got out for completely non-medical reasons for the first time in six weeks when I went to the local wargaming group. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a really sad hobby which I may be forced to explain at some point. Let’s just say that in the same room they hold the role-playing group and that’s much, much sadder - a whole other level of tragedy.

I am quite into this, but it only really justifies my energy because the folks there are a great bunch of people who mostly fall within five years either side of my age. This is important; most of the other people I spend time with are much older than me, [...] is 39 and Pete, my closest friend in Whitby, is 51, the same age as my mother and although this poses no problem between us, I need to remind myself that I am a relatively young person from time to time.

Anyway, I had a really good time, not doing any gaming, but just chatting to people about stuff, life, music, books and films. This was the first time I had been up there since before Christmas. Apart from this long crappy spell I am coming out of, things go up and down and there’s no time of the week where I can be depended upon to be conscious, fully cognoscente and reasonably comfortable. I imagined this would be a problem, that I would have to explain my long absence. I think quite possibly others wonder whether I just can’t be bothered, but if they do they don’t act it. They don’t ask. They are interested as to how I’m getting on, how the book is going, but they don’t need to talk about my having been ill. Perhaps they are embarrassed, but I hope they are simply uninterested. I have even met some of them in the street in my wheelchair (which I don’t take to the group) and they haven’t needed to comment on it at all.

I have wondered whether [...] lectures them on my situation in my absence so they’re all clued up. Then again, perhaps they really don’t care about my disability. Perhaps it really doesn’t make a difference to them at all. Which would be great for me.

Sometimes when you’re unwell and managing symptoms all the time and when illness dominates your life because it stops you doing so many of the things you want to be doing, you feel like this must be written all over your face. You feel humiliated by it; for most people, especially young people, the idea of being out of action for six weeks would be pretty dramatic and yet for me this happens several times a year. And very often people do feel the need to talk about it; they want to know what was wrong, what I might have done wrong, how I occupied myself. The absolute worst thing is when somebody says that they were worried about me. There aren’t many people who, being concerned about me, are unable to make contact by post, telephone or e-mail and yet the very people who feel the need to express their concern in retrospect are the ones I wouldn’t hear from if I had been in hospital for six months.

Then there's the fact of my appalling social confidence of course and how much it helps to be around people I feel like an equal among, but that's another story altogether. My point is that it’s really good when I can be myself and not [...]’s sickly girlfriend who turns up once in a blue moon. Or at least it’s really good when that’s not the way you’re made to feel.

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