Saturday, 24 November 2007

The obligatory SAD piece

Well, there has to be one. Every year, in any journal-type writing I’m doing. Somewhere, there will be a paean to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

A ‘paean’! What am I saying? A paean is, of course, a song of praise in tribute to something. And this black cloud (literally and figuratively) is in no way deserving of that.

But it sort-of gets one.

Almost annually.

And why?

Because, for some reason, depression – and let’s face it, that’s what it is – hydrates the creative juices, feeds that voracious, masochstic animal they call ‘art’.

And drives, if you allow it and don’t give up first, the motor of mental mobility.

Whatever metaphor you give it, SAD will be with you (if you’re a sufferer) right through from September to March, and, at some point – for me usually November (the name makes me shudder and I used to ban it!) – more painfully and, consequently productively, than the rest..

Therefore the ‘paean’. The enemy at least shall be recognised. And, who knows, perhaps with respect, even befriended.

Ah, the writer in me! So far, so good. Trying to make good out of bad. A blessing out of a curse (and, oh boy, does the Devil seem behind this!).

But I’m older now, and wiser than I was when I used to let it beat me (I couldn’t help it – see MS – My Scene (October)), and even than I was when I began hoping it would inspire important prose.

And I’m a cripple now. Sufferer of primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). Because physically, without a doubt – having failed to finish me mentally/spiritually – SAD has wiped me out. Knocked all the stuffing out of me. Pulled the rug out from under my feet. Etc. Etc. All the analogies that go with not being able-bodied any more – if ever: there was always wanting to hide/hibernate during the winter, even as a child. Physically I’ve had it.

So why bother at all, you ask. I’ll tell you.

It’s so that others may learn from it and take preventative measures. Or at least know best how to deal with it. And I’ve come some way with that:

- faith;
- lavender oil;
- give up dairy products;
- probiotics;
- lots of garlic/cayenne;
- extra-virgin olive oil;
- oily fish;
- sunshine – or, failing that, a light-box,
- de-humidifier.

But I’ve said all that before, in more detail (as link above ), and I want to move on.

We all know that one of the strong contenders for “cause” of MS is lack of sunshine. I would add to that damp (due to lack of sunshine), and, of course – also acknowledged - stress. The culminative affect of all these being Candida Albicans (as above).

It goes therefore as read, that right now a lot of MSers are feeling at their worst. And others, I pray for them, are developing it as we speak.

So what we don’t need is more to depress us. And that, I suppose, is the reason for this post now and in Travels rather than MS - MS. I’m not here to concentrate on MS. That’s not what I want to do.

MSers are not the only ones with SAD. And all SAD sufferers do no not develop MS. I want to write – as I always did – for everyone. People in general.

When I’ve been asked to place my blogs in a category, out of desperation, I’ve had to say ‘Society and Culture’. Not ‘Health’. What would be the point of that (I ask myself!)? We’ve all got to die one day. I’m just trying to find the best, and most honest, way to leave this world and get to Heaven, helping as many people along the way as possible. As I’ve mentioned before, the Internet, and blogs in particular, are a great aid to a housebound, would-be evangelist!

So, that’s what all this (blogging) is about.

Last week though, both genres were tied together in two very saddening stories.

The first (perhaps you saw it in the ‘papers) involved a young woman with PPMS who wants to end her life. Because of the PPMS. She wants to go to the awful, shouldn’t exist, “Dignitas” in Switzerland and swallow the lethal cocktail. Because she has PPMS.

Like I have PPMS. Always progressing, getting worse, worsening paralysis... yeah, yeah, etc. We all know the prognosis. It’s not good. and it sort-of IS the end of the world – yours anyway, as it shrinks down and down and leaves less and less life. Shrivelling too, for loved ones. As long as you have any left. The woman in the news does.

She has a husband, willing it seems, to love her unconditionally and take care of her. He doesn’t want her to end it all – yet.

Ay, there’s the rub, as Shakespeare would say (Hamlet iii. i. 65): apparently he’d rather wait a few years, until she’s really decrepit and useless (presumably) and then he’ll personally escort her (push her?) to her death.

The trouble is, by then, she might not be able to lift the glass. And the fact that he took her there would make him liable to prosecution and possible imprisonment [Suicide Act (1961)]. And quite right too.

Well, this is why the poor MSer is in the news. She is pleading with the government to get the law changed to enable him to take her without blame.

Otherwise, she will go alone and make sure, absolutely certain, that everyone knows it is suicide.

Because she has PPMS and isn’t willing to see it out.

Isn’t aware of her innate human dignity, the love of God the Father for each of His unique children, the eternal life of the soul. and the simple fact that only our Creator who gave us life has the right to take it away.

She has not learnt as a Christian that when Jesus taught us to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23), He was instructing us in the heroic goodness of redemptive suffering. Offering up our pains in prayer for others.

It breaks my heart and I feel very sad for this woman. I pray for her conversion.

And for all the others who have gone before her and will come after.

Which is how we get to the ‘Society and Culture’ aspect.

This “choice”, this ability to take our own lives, those of the unborn and the elderly. This secular enthusiasm for euthanasia is WRONG. Has to change. This is the tenet of the law that must be undone. Before the evil of our actions comes back to, literally, haunt us – in the next world.

My second sadness of the week – compounded with the rotten SAD – came from hearing that another PPMS friend (we MUST all be friends) has taken to her bed until the spring.

Now my first thought, of course, was to congratulate her. It’s what we’d all like to do, especially when the fatigue is such that it crushes you and prevents any action to begin with.

Apparently this friend (from an MS forum) has pressure-sores that maybe (I don’t know) have become infected and forced her to take up a whole new horizontal position for the duration. Pressure-sores (nightmarishly painful) are the reason given anyway.

But the trouble is I know – and so do many others – she’s been badly depressed and lonely for months. We’ve all done what we can, virtually, to comfort her and spur her on.

But she’s angry: her family (adult children) have all left and she’s alone. With inadequate carers (Social Services), paid to give her any attention at all. She feels totally unloved, but for the empathy she receives on the boards (and, yes, you’re right, I am “projecting”. But I’m also telling it how it is, which maybe she cannot do). And it’s all down to ‘S. and C.’.

Whatever happened to families looking after families?

Well, briefly, I surmise that this is what happens when God is removed from society. Replaced by the State (government as the ultimate authority). When people believe they’re their own gods and are free to make decisions for themselves. Blindly following the rules of the State as automatons still believing there is no ruler. As they work every hour God sends to make money for Mammon (god of this world – materialism) and, like lemmings, plod one after another leader, toward the cliff-edge and the black abyss.

When their only goal is an earthly Utopia of eternal youth and physical perfection. And they lose the capacity for selfless love.

This is what happened to families taking care of their own. They became ashamed of the frailties and inadequacies of their weaker members. Better to be gone.

And, if not physically (i.e. death, which as we’ve seen is now actually a feasible option) then, at least, under someone else’s care: enter the Welfare State.

In fact perhaps that’s when it started at the end of the Second World War. 1945. A welfare state (i.e. someone else to look after us), and we could all become parasites.

Women who used to tend the family at home, including often their elderly and infirm relations, were suddenly not so needed. Not so necessary. Their roles were unsure. Blurred by a lopsided “freedom”.

And then, of course, the birth-control pill. Easy contraception. The Anglican Church allowed “family planning”, first in “special circumstances” in the 1930’s and then, universally, without protest (Protest-antism is only anti the Catholic Church). And that was when God became whatever you wanted Him to be. And to many still is.

So women got “liberated”. Lost their feminine gifts.

And the rest is history.

And, boy, can I ramble. But I hope you see my point – any who’ve come this far.

It’s not just the time for SAD, it’s a very sad world.

And that’s why I was sad last week.


Thursday, 22 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all my (virtual) friends in America a happy Thanksgiving.

I hope everyone has a fabulous day and Lucy, at least, wishes she was there to share it - the food!

God bless you.

Love, Virginia x

Monday, 12 November 2007

Lucy is not going to be a pyjama case

[Written Thursday, November 8.]

No, I can’t do it. I will not make Lucy give up any more of her body for the sake of human aestheticism or ease.

Today, Lucy will NOT have removed her womb and her ovaries. To be added to the furnace of poodle-parts, along with her tail (see previous post – I couldn’t stop that, this I can).

What would be left? An empty, disfigured sack. Hollow – even her oestrogen self gone. No personality, naughty and child-like. No chance of babies.

She would be no better than an unstuffed toy. A rag-poodle. Oh, horrors! A pyjama case.

In all that umming and aahing, wondering whether to get Lucy or not, how could I forget? But I did...

When I was, oh, about seven, one of the Christmas presents my parents gave me was a white, pink-ribboned, poodle pyjama case. With a zip, right up the middle of its tummy.

Exactly! Lucy would have a scar (you remember, I had this done many years ago (kept the ovaries) – I know what I describe). But, unlike the pyjama case, which you could open up to reveal a silky pink chasm, Lucy’s would (hopefully) close up to hide raw, severed flesh and a void where there ought to be life.

In one you stuffed pyjamas, in the other you would stuff food, as some sort of miserable substitute. She would get fat and dopey, dozey. Her bones would become brittle and break. She would feel no meaning to her life, other than to eat and love humans.

It might be easier, especially for my MS (as I said, her last season did seem pretty difficult (i.e. messy, long)). But I can’t do it.

And besides, she’s a pedigree: one day I might not be around (no ‘i.e.’’s needed!) and she may go to live somewhere where they can breed her with another, pedigree, toy poodle. Imagine that... more beautiful Lucys to give pleasure and companionship to the world. (There you are, you see, it’s an altruistic gesture!)

Right now, this minute, she should be in recovery at the Vet’s clinic. In a couple of hours Tom was meant to be going to collect her.

As it is, as usual, he is on his bed (says his room’s ready with his mate down the road but won’t go now – even when I tell him to!). Lucy is lying beside him on the floor (after hysterical “play” earlier). And I – well, you can see what I’m doing.

But I’m living for today. Each moment. And that’s the way it has to be. Which was the deciding factor in all this.

As non-constructive as it might seem to some, I’m afraid it’s better than watching poor little Lucy suffer. For no valid – necessary right now – reason. We’ll all get together later, or just Lucy and I will, and there’ll be some semblance of normality – for an MSer, which is hard to accomplish!

Also, I remembered, I never liked that poodle pyjama case. Wanted a real dog, of course. Well, that says it all doesn’t it?

And helped me make the definitive decision: Lucy is not going to be a pyjama case (and, besides, who wears them any more?)!

I cancelled the op. and we move (?!) on...

P.S. This doesn’t mean I don’t see the sense in spaying normally. But, don’t forget, Lucy is a “house-dog”.

Sunday, 11 November 2007


Please see my post in Comment Column of the same date and title.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Tom is such a hero...

I was reminded of this again, last night, when I saw what he carried home, proceeded to put together, and got working.

But, to start at the beginning of the whole palaver, let me take you back to January ’06 (if I can bear it!). Fortuitously, two months before Lucy joined us.

I can’t remember the exact date but, anyway, it was typical of all that is that month in this country (the UK). Ergo: not Christmas or anything else good; dark and gloomy; freezing cold; scary (as is, to me, all winter, i.e. hypothermia/gas explosions), and too long.

A bad time. And with bad SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Bad.

It was a Thursday. I do remember that, because Tom was forced to take the day off work. Six a.m. Not even dawn. Very eery.

And definitely not a time for someone with MS to be awake. But this is me. And I’ve spent years living independently (that is, many without another adult) and as a mother. As protector. Always on the look-out for danger.

The lights went out and I knew it. Perhaps it was just a light-bulb (we have one of those perilous safety set-ups whereby if one goes they all go – necessitating a trip to the fuse-box (cupboard-under-stairs) with a torch. (Great if, like me once, you’re on the loo when it happens, need to hold on to furniture to walk and didn’t actually take the torch with you! Very well thought-out for the disabled.))

I sat on the commode (MS joke!) in order to ponder this. I pretended. But in truth, it was obvious: no lights; no de-humidifier humming; nobody reading the Bible on TV [Sky 0134]. POWER CUT!

Power off. Panic most definitely on.

I must have sounded like a wild animal brought down by the hunter’s bullet.

And now I needed Tom.

I needed coffee (if I must be forced awake), warmth. Help. My head was vibrating, pulsating, stretching, shrinking, shivering, screaming.

Oh God (desperate prayer), why have you deserted me?

Get thee behind us S----! What is this un-Godly hour?

Anyone without MS won’t understand this but there’s something very horrible about the state of the lesioned brain without enough sleep.

And to a crippled, spastic body, the cold is unbearable.

Suddenly, madness, death, both are very real possibilities. And maybe preferable to the enormous effort it’s going to take to try to survive. It may well be easier to give up.

There and then, everything physical about you longs for that.

I grabbed the torch and “did” the cupboard, pointlessly, at the same time as banging and yelling for Tom. I was beside myself.

And he got up.

And put me back to bed wrapped in the swaddling-clothes of quilt after quilt and another sleeping-bag on top of the one I sleep in.

Then, oh mercy - and thank God I had the sense to get it - he put the Calor Gas heater on, turned it towards me and went to get dressed. Somewhere in the middle of all that he also managed to ring EDF and the council, who –it has to be said were (responsible?) most helpful. Yes, there was a problem. Was it everywhere (i.e.whole borough)? No, just your strreet. It would probably be off (electricity) till the afternoon. Sorry.

Just our street? Till afternoon? The poor wild animal needed putting out of its misery.Hypothermia would set in soon.

And next: genius! Tom went to the cafè to get take-away coffee. I couldn’t believe it. I’d never have thought of that. But Tom is an aficionado of local "cafs." and off he went, perfectly confident, and totally in charge! I was, and am still, so proud of him – for all this.

I had a ciigarette and saw through drawn curtains the sky turn from black to grey. It was not a cheerful shift of ambience, but the heater and candles (like magic!) gave a comforting glow - at least in this room (sitting-room where bed is). And soon it actually felt warm.

After a few minutes, the conquering hero returned and brought with him: two styrofoam cups of hot coffee, and, AND, ANND, a flask of boiled water. What brilliance! What foresight! What empathy... Apparently, I could have coffee and my usual herbal remedies, regardless.

Oh, how could anyone feel bad after that?

He brought everything to me (I was still huddled up on bed) and, as the hours wore on, we entertained ourselves with the “meter’s-run-out-of money” games we used to play, when he was young and before DLA (spare more thoughts for single parents – it’s very hard). It was quite cozy!

And by early afternoon – after "caf." food for him (he might have been enjoying this!) and crisps and biscuits for me – even I could wander about a bit (i.e. visit the bathroom/tidy up in the kitchen). The whole flat was warmer and there was a kind-of “we’re making it” aroma of gas and melted wax around the place. It was all right.

But it did start to get dark again and there were more worried ‘phone calls (though Tom had seen the men down the hole in the road so knew something was being done!).

It was eight whole hours after the first no-electric shock that suddenly all the lights came on again, the de-humidifier shook into life and the Gospel of John came out from the TV.

And the b----y council – or was it EDF? I’ll check – rang to apologise for all the inconvenience!

Well, I knew I could sue them. I knew I would have died without Tom. But, what can you do? I had to be grateful for my life and my son. So I offered it all up for anyone else who was cold (“Please God, look after the homeless.”) and asked Jesus to help us get on.

And He did. And I did. But didn’t forget it, and my fear of winter has increased. Plus, I am even less able than I was then. And Tom wants to leave.

So I looked into further means of self-sufficiency and got: a SURVIVAL KIT! From the Army.

And that’s what Tom brought home last night – all the way from his place of work where it was delivered (I can’t get to the door!). By foot and train and foot again!

A big, heavy box, containing a gas (cartridge) lamp, heater and cooker. As well as some toilet-tray pads for Lucy and herbal carpet shampoo for Lucy’s – accidental – stains.

And then he got them all working (except the shampoo - that will have to wait till Lucy’s out (groomer's not pub!) to give enough hours for drying).

And the kit is amazing: lovely little blue-orange flames providing light, heat, and coffee/food/hot-water-bottles. Survival!

So, at last, even though it is bleak, dreary winter, I can sleep at night. If I can still get up at all I should be able to keep myself alive and also, therefore, Lucy.

A bit longer anyway.

Tom is such a hero!