I have been having some interesting conversations recently that I had not expected to have; with people, who, like me, had suddenly found that through no fault whatsoever of their own, an Exocet had landed in the bowels of their previous life which had reduced to rubble all their expectations of how they would conduct their future life.
They were not, as you might imagine, all fellow patients with physical ailments. Exocets arrive in many forms.
For Mrs Blunt, it arrived in the form of her husband’s gleeful public declaration of his love for his homosexual partner. The media were delighted to report on his new relationship. She was left to rebuild her life with her children. An entirely innocent victim of a life shattering Exocet.
For Mrs Travis, it was the announcement that her husband was being investigated by Operation Yewtree. Mrs Travis had done nothing wrong, yet she lost her home, her peace of mind at a time that she was grappling with breast cancer – and her privacy. Her life would never be the same again.
Other who have been kind enough to make contact with me include a man who has recently been cleared of all charges, a totally innocent individual, yet who must still keep his head below the parapet for fear of further publicity so I shall not mention his name; and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner who finds time in her busy schedule every day to phone me and keep my spirits up.
That is not to ignore the many good friends I have made whilst running this blog – Gloria Smudd and Blocked Dwarf come to mind in particular, both have given of their time to help me settle into my new home; Andrew Rosthorn, Daedalus Parrot and ‘another’ who shall remain nameless (again with good reason to keep their head below the media parapet) have given hours of their time to help me stand for election.
It is with those who have found themselves caught up as innocent participants in the whirlwind of false allegations that I feel a particular affinity with. I have a new understanding of what it is like to have your life turned upside down.
My life, their life, can never be the same again. We have done nothing wrong, yet have to accept that there is no road back to our old life – whether it is because, in their case, that the vile accusations will continue to be propagated on an unforgiving internet, their family name forever besmirched; or in my case, that I will never walk again with all the limitations that brings in its wake.
One thing I have quickly learned is to disassociate yourself from those who have a fixed view as to how you should ‘present’ yourself to the public in future.
You have to be true to yourself.
Yet there are many around you only too quick to give you advice as to what you should or shouldn’t be saying, nor how you should be saying it! You can rest assured that my decision to carry on blogging hasn’t gone down well with some people. My decision to ‘go public’ with my story in The Times with James Gillespie and the Mail on Sunday with David Rose in an effort to bring publicity to the issue of people suing the NHS has gone down like a lead balloon in some quarters…..
Fortunately that doesn’t include Mr G who has been a tower of strength for me, not just in terms of what he has had to do for me physically – and I cannot wait to publish the blog post which will carry pictures of the wonderful extension he has built on for me to live in, I am so very proud of what he has done – but he has also supported me mentally; mopping my tears when I have been overwhelmed by self pity, cheering me when I have managed to write a blog post, and, small point, bringing me back photographs of all the little things I can no longer see for myself.
I say ‘small point’ – but have you any idea what a difference it makes to me that he brings back a photograph of what the pub garden looks like now that they have taken down a large tent, rather than merely ‘telling’ me about it? It makes me feel as though I am still part of the wider world.
It was Mr G too, who brought into the hospital that photograph of me at 23, to remind me that that girl was still inside me, even if I could no longer recognise myself in the mirror. (One of the side effects of the massive dose of steroids that I was having at the time, apart from making you talk ten to the dozen in a loud voice, is that they literally change the shape of your jaw and puff out your cheeks, so much so that I nearly screamed the first time I caught sight of myself!)
I have had to get used to the lack of privacy too. I can no longer be alone. There must always be someone with me. No phone call is private. No part of my body is private – I have round the clock care to wash me and dress me. No bodily function is private. That is why it becomes so very important to have some control over some part of my life – and that is where I have some connection with others who have received an Exocet in the backside.
We can’t change the past, can’t change what has happened, but we have control over how we face the future.
Hidden away, licking our wounds; or blazing out in public saying ‘I don’t care what you think, this is the person I am, this is the person I choose to be, this is the person I am – you can either like it or lump it’.
It will come as no surprise to those of you who know me well, to learn that I am choosing the latter path. In fact you could say – the latter path ‘with knobs on’.
As we speak, there are two web experts doing their best to put my blog site back as it was. It can’t be exactly the same, because it will be going on a wordpress.com site rather than a self hosted wordpress.org site and the software is not identical. I’ve chosen not to go the self hosted route this time, because I still have to face the reality that the cancer will kill me at some unspecified time in the future, and if the blog was self hosted, that would mean that it would disappear again.
Thankfully the kind reader who had hosted the archive site is going to host the new site as well, so it will stay up and running when I am gone – it does mean though, that all the comments on all the back posts will disappear. Apparently there is no known piece of software that will scrape both the posts and the comments onto a new WordPress site. Edinburgh University have a full record of all the comments for any serious researchers. I’m just explaining that before someone thinks there is some nefarious reason why there are 0 comments on the old posts.
So, my choice as to how to deal with future is to write; what I want, when I want, how I want. Writing is my window on the world, it allows me to reach out to people from this bed. I hope that you will take the opportunity to comment as well – not just read, for it is that conversation that transports me from this bed into the world that I used to belong to.
A world that was full of people and events and colour.
If you have time – you can make it like that still for me, by telling me of what you have been doing, what you are thinking. I know there were hundreds, nay thousands, of you reading this blog before I closed it in December – if just a few of you take the time to continue that conversation you will be helping me to be part of my old world.