I feel as though I can barely cope, at the moment. This is not a search for pity, though; more an attempt at catharsis and bearing witness by personal account – personal being something I normally avoid, here…
Last week I was hastily dispatched to my ‘local’ A&E with a suspected stroke, where a tired, pressured and rushing assortment of wonderful medical staff showed a high level of concern. Turns out it’s Bell’s Palsy, which is surely a relief, relatively speaking, though it didn’t seem to much diminish their concern and care for me.
Actually, Bell’s may not be life and death but, on top of my long-term underlying health condition, its subsequently increasing list of secondary problems, on top of the fatigue and chronic pain.. having a paralysed left side of my face and the high dose of steroid treatment they advised is exacerbating existing problems and adding many more. I am having to fight harder, with every minute, not to feel utterly and irrevocably miserable. I want to curl up and sleep until I’m better. But better hasn’t ever really shown itself and I’m not getting younger. Plus, I have never been very good at curling up. Likely more animal instinct for movement than a quality of good character, however…
Stress and vulnerability to more stress plus decreasing personal resources to cope with a rapid sequence of challenging physical, mental and emotional trauma is taking its toll. And I’m not even in the high stakes band of disability. It’s not a competition, I know but my heart breaks for them and my awe knows no bounds.
I am, though, in a greatly weakened state, after more than a decade of coping with the consequences of my physical condition; with getting by, far too much, on bloody-mindedness and adrenaline – and then with negotiating the Con DWP’s hoops. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve blamed myself for not being capable; for being more burden than use, to both loved ones and Society. How many times I’ve pushed myself beyond a safe, manageable pace, as if I still needed testing!
When I got home, from the hospital, a mere six hours later, my PIP appointment was on the kitchen mat.
At the doctor’s check-up, yesterday (for the Bell’s), my GP – he’s not mine, of course: a personal family doctor is the stuff of my childhood – well he was equally concerned with the stress and vulnerability and poorliness I was displaying. He asked me if I wanted to try antidepressants. Really, Reader, apart from the fact that they and other useless drugs were once prescribed to me for the purpose of physical pain relief, with quite disastrous consequences, the last thing I want to do is give the PIP assessor an excuse to herd me into a new category of tickboxes, with a whole other set of nasty and arbitrary assumptions, hoops and conditions attached. I’m just too frightened and suspicious, now… I tell the doctor that I may or may not be clinically depressed but that I’ve never sought diagnosis (neither has such been offered) because, all things considered and, when I am not so generally overwhelmed by feeling low and rather extra poorly, my natural state of mental and emotional well-being are probably as good as can reasonably be expected; that my responses to my personal life conditions are surely normal/natural and that any depression is more of a secondary complication, just as are the teeth I have literally killed by clenching as a constant brace against pain. “Yes,” he said, “all things considered”.
But I have to cope, don’t I? Keep carrying on. It might be all the control I have.