I am sat here blogging from my sofa, with a chocolate labrador resting his head patiently on the seat behind me, probably wanting to break my new laptop and curl up in its place on my lap. I never really appreciated moments like this before, but I do right now.
Because today, I live in a village that clings to the outskirts of a town that people leave as soon as they are old enough (and scarcely return to). Today, my dinner was cooked for me, my washing magically appeared folded in a neat pile by the washing machine, my mum came home from work and reminded me about all the things that I have to do. Today I was woken up by my dog nuzzling his face into my neck and demanding a cuddle. Today I mostly just hugged the dog, and let him fall asleep while he laid on me, and then savoured the moment, watching him breathe, feeling his warmth. Today my little brother got in from school and, as always, called out to say hello, and then walked around until he found me so he knew I was alive and well. Today everything was provided for me, and I worried about nothing; the cupboards were filled by someone else, the dishes washed by a machine. Today I woke up in a house that my family own (well… And the bank… But still…). Today I woke up surrounded by familiarity, in a room that smelled of home, in sheets that smelled of me, beside shelves overflowing with books and a few pictures of moments that I will remember forever.
Tomorrow I will live in one of the most multicultural, vibrant, awesome cities on the planet – a city where I have spent a lot of time in various hospitals, and on day trips with my friends and sometimes with my family. Tomorrow there will be no magic laundry fairy, just a laundrette. There will be no little brother walking into my room. The cupboards will be empty, and my money will fill them. Tomorrow the dishes cannot be put into a dishwasher and forgotten about, they will simply be forgotten about. Tomorrow I will go to sleep in a room that my university owns. It won’t smell of me. There will be no dog bed beside mine, and the dog that is supposed to sleep there will not be hidden beneath my covers. Tomorrow the shelves will not overflow, there will not be room for all of the pictures that I treasure. Tomorrow, there will be no dog. I won’t cuddle him until he falls asleep in my arms. I won’t call out to my parents. I won’t hug my mum. Tomorrow it will just be me.
We take normality for granted. We become so used to the pattern of our daily life that we no longer acknowledge its beauty. We become blinkered, blind. We think too many thoughts at once; we spread ourselves too thinly. I learned this from being in hospital. I learned this from the days at home when I didn’t have the physical strength, or at times the motivation, to get out of bed. And I am learning this again now, because I know I am about to let all of this go again, and this time, the change will be a little more permanent. And, like most people who learn this lesson, I am trying to backtrack, running back through my memories and trying to save the moments that I now realise were priceless – memories I now wish to wallow in.
Learning a lesson once does not mean that the same mistakes will not be made again. This behaviour, like most prolonged things, becomes habitual. Habits cannot be overcome by one single conscious thought. It takes time. But we do not spend time telling ourselves to think about how much we would miss the things we have. We spend time striving for the things we want, or feeling pleased for whatever we have just achieved. We overshadow the simple beauty of just being. We tarnish the silver of our very own existence. We push it to the back of the shelf, and it is only when our circumstances change that we suddenly appreciate the value of the things we have ignored for so long. We push everything out of the way and we reach for the dusty remnants of our most valuable treasure… and as we hold the tarnished lump in our hands, coated in the grime of the things we put before and above it, we realise its true beauty, and we wish we had taken the time to focus on it when it was still in mint condition. We all do it. And when we finally manage to polish it back to its original state, we soon get bored; we soon get better, shinier things to place on the shelf in front of it, and a while later we find ourselves in the same position all of again.
Today was an ordinary day, but I made a point of enjoying it more. I made a point of not taking anything for granted. I was home alone. I sang along to music, I very briefly danced with the dog (until my body was all “Nope! So many levels of nope!”), I played fetch with him… And for a few minutes at a time in between all of this, I attempted to finish packing (I’m still not done… I should probably be packing instead of writing this, but oh well).
Along with all the ordinary things that people take to university, I also have to remember to pack sharps boxes and injections (I do 11-20 each day), needles, various boxes of tablets, a heart monitor, inhalers, cards which have emergency medical information on them (thankfully they arrived in the post today! And yes I have to have cardS plural, because my medical history is so ridiculously ridiculous) I’m so used to all of this stuff just appearing on the kitchen side in a pharmacy bag, and my prescription disappearing from the noticeboard and a new one being pinned up after the delivery of my medications… That I genuinely almost forgot to pack all of those things. I just assume every house has them… I forget that it really isn’t normal for a body to need other stuff to help it exist.
Another thing that I bought especially for university is a medicalert bracelet. It basically just tells the world very briefly what is wrong with me (dodgy heart etc.). After earlier in this year when my heart went all bananas in the middle of a busy London train station and nobody knew who I was (I was too busy being unconscious, and then too dazed from the multiple seizures caused by my brain not getting enough blood, to tell them who I was) I decided that I want to carry as much ID as possible. The only problem is that due to health issues, I am currently a twig. I ordered the smallest adult bracelet, and when I put it on my arm it just slid right off (not helpful!). My mum took me over to a key cutting place this evening, but they couldn’t do what was required, so they sent us in the direction of a small independent jewellers. My mum had a really bad day today. She walked in expecting to have to pay a lot of money, which at the moment we just don’t have. The man took my bracelet off of her, and I watched him read the list of my medical conditions printed on both sides of the flat silver part. He said that he couldn’t do what we needed, but he could cut off a small part of chain that was designed to allow you to adjust the width of the bracelet. My mum didn’t have any money. She asked me and I didn’t have any money either. She asked the man if we could come back. The lady behind the counter looked at us – the man had already started cutting off the extra part. And then he said four magic words,
“Don’t worry about paying.”
We both looked at him, stunned by his kindness,
“I’m not going to charge you for this, honestly it was no trouble, don’t worry about it.” And then finally my mum found words,
“Thank you, that’s so kind.” I felt this warmth in my cheeks and I realised that I was smiling – really smiling. I repeated her words, and the man smiled back at us. He was young, wearing a very nice suit, his hair perfectly styled. I hadn’t expected him to have time for us (I was dressed in jogging trousers and an old t-shirt because all my clothes are packed for university, and my mum had just got in from work and changed into something casual. We did not belong in a jewellers). We walked out of the shop still thanking him, and the lady was smiling at us too because she had heard about mum’s awful day, and it restored my faith in humanity a little bit, to know that there are still people in the world who will offer such kindness to complete strangers. So, man in the jewellers, I thank you again (even though I doubt that you will ever read this) for being so kind.
We went into a bookshop to get a present for my little brother’s birthday next week, and I ate into yet more money that we don’t actually have yet, and bought myself three books to read, because I think the next few nights will be very lonely, and books are great replacements for people. In a way it is great that I’m leaving, because it means I can’t do that again, and watch the worry on my mum’s face as she thinks about both of our bank accounts.
In other news, today I was asked by a medical company to trial and give feedback on new equipment and services that they are developing for the treatment of diabetes, before they are released onto the market. I wasn’t really too keen on the idea until they said that by trialling their blood monitoring systems etc. and giving honest information about my experiences, I will help other fellow type 1 diabetic patients down the line (and type 2 diabetics as well! I didn’t forget you guys). Those of you who know me well, will be aware that my only aim in life is to help others – this way of thinking is partly what drove me to my career choice of wanting to be a doctor. Any opportunity to help others is something that I cannot pass up on. I was very honoured to have been invited to participate in such a service, plus it will give me a purpose in life when I feel entirely purposeless… (is that a word?)
I apologise for the length of this post (and the rather boring nature of it) and I will apologise in advance for the frequent and dull, or complete absence of any posts for the next few days. Starting university is a huge deal for me – I’m either going to sink or swim, and I’m either going to bore you or make you laugh. For a few days I might not be working my way out of a rut – I might not even be in it! But as always I will aim to return to my usual sort of post.
Right now I need to go and finish packing, and box up all of the marble muffins I made to take with me tomorrow (what better way is there to make friends than through cake?) (and yes, type 1 diabetics can eat cake, it just means a slightly bigger injection depending on the size of the cake)
I can’t wait to finally meet the world’s best flatmate! (Or the 5 other people I will be living with who haven’t appeared on social media) I also can’t wait for my family to meet and have lunch with my Italian friend and her family (I haven’t met her yet but we message a lot and seem to get on really well!) I can’t wait to live in London, a city that is so multicultural and full of life that everyone fits in. I’ve never felt that I fitted anywhere, but whenever I walk the streets of London I feel like I belong – nobody judges me, I don’t stand out… I can just be me. And in less than 24 hours, it will be my home.