“Look who’s digging their own grave | That is what they all say | You’ll drink yourself to death…
Living beyond your years | Acting out all their fears | You feel it in your chest…
Standing on the cliff face | Highest fall you’ll ever face | It scares me half to death,
Look out to the future, but it tells you nothing, so take another breath,
Icarus is flying too close to the sun
Icarus’s life, it has only just begun
This is how it feels to take a fall
Icarus is flying towards an early grave.” – Bastille, Icarus
Shortly after I wrote my last post, we found out that a well loved relative has a confirmed case of prostate cancer. In a scale of 0-10 in severity, the doctors ranked it at a 9. He has to have 5 days of radiotherapy for 7 weeks, and it is too risky to operate. With treatment, they’ve given him ten years, which given his age is an impressively long amount of time. When we first found out a few weeks ago, I cried for him. A lot. Because when you think about losing someone you realise how deeply you care about them, and my level of caring for my family runs right through my core and out the other side of me. Everyone around my parents’ dinner table was really pleased to hear the news (the ten year part, not the fact that he has fairly advanced cancer). They soon went back to worrying about what shoes my mum is going to wear when she goes out with her friends on Thursday, while my brain stayed stuck on the man who never fails to make me laugh until I cry.
In light of this, and various other stuff that I didn’t really know how to deal with by myself, I had a couple of beers. Literally two small bottles. That’s all it took to get me drunk in my current state of health, and (as I always do when I’m drunk) I began spouting off things about biomedical science. This morning I found a detailed sketch of a human pelvic girdle in my notebook (labelled and everything, male, judging by the features I’ve drawn) with writing at the top telling “my sober self” to “be strong like a pelvis” (I don’t even know, we’ll leave that one there). I also wrote what follows (I felt I should contextualise the whole thing). Drunk me is incredibly honest, blunt me, and it seems the only person I could talk to last night was my laptop, and now you guys. Say hello to drunk me, she says all the stuff I normally wouldn’t. Warning: she mentions the grim reaper, but they are thoughts I really wanted to share and couldn’t find the words to because shame stops sober me from doing so.
Ten years from now the people I love probably won’t all be together if the doctors are right, but then again, doctors are often wrong about what humans can survive, and what they will be capable of if they do. Even we do not know what we are capable of until we are doing it. But I’m scared. I’m scared for him, and I’m scared that even in light of his health sucker-punch (because let’s face it, that is a bit beyond a hiccup), his ten years are a lot longer than I have. And this is only a little bit of the alcohol talking, because all the extra OH groups haven’t corrupted my brain cells enough to switch off the emotion yet (may I just interject and say SEE, drunk biomedding! – yes this a new term I have invented for my brain’s drunken refusal to think about anything other than biomedical science usually. Anyway, I shall let drunk me continue). I am still scared. I shouldn’t be, it is selfish to be, and I don’t know why I can only admit the level of it when my inhibition is bathed in beer (which it was stupid of me to drink, because my body struggles enough, but honestly, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. There was nobody to turn to. There were only bottles. I can’t even look at the dog because my fingers find that new tumour thing on his leg and it just breaks me every time because that scares me too.) Anyway, I’m scared (and incredibly grateful that my laptop has some weird autocorrect function. Thank you Mac, you have served me well). Wait, I’m trying to say a thing. I need to say the thing. What is the thing?
Ah, the thing.
I am Icarus…
Not actually Icarus, but pretty much Icarus. The story goes like this: Icarus was in a pretty bleak situation right? He was being kept prisoner (with his dad) by some king or something I think, and his dad made these wings out of wax and wood so that they could fly away and escape, so obviously they had to stay away from hot things. Icarus had a brain, he clearly knew this because duh, wax. But he was so happy to be free and so ridiculously excited about the fact that he could fly (because hey, he could fly!) that he flew too close to the sun, and the wings melted, and he plummeted to his death because he was an idiot that couldn’t listen and do the sensible thing like his dad told him to do (and like uni dad always used to tell me to do). Now do you see why I am Icarus?
I dance with death too often, and it’s making me dizzy. I put myself in dangerous situations to avoid safer situations that just feel dangerous because PTSD takes over and I freak out. For the past few days, I’ve been giving myself IVs into tiny veins between my toes that normal cannulas would never fit into… Every four hours. To stay alive. Because my body needs a lot of help and even at the thought of getting it I lose myself in a flashback and freak out to the point that I want to run out of my own mind. I was told to go back to a hospital if I ended up in this situation. That so. Cannot. Happen. Should, but won’t. Stupid, Icarus.
Part of me knows that the inevitable will happen, that I am stringing myself along in a medical emergency and that I have an even narrower margin of error before the grim reaper and I elope together, never to be seen again. A far stronger part of me is in a primitive state; it learned, like an animal learns. When it is scared, it hides away and pulls my rational mind around it like a balled up comfort blanket, and it lashes out like an animal lashes out, baring its teeth and making a lot of noise to try and scare away whatever it is scared of. It learned instinctively through the things that it has experienced, through the things it relives in flashbacks fairly frequently… And it has chewed off of its leash and is ruling supreme. Isn’t that what fear does? Doesn’t fear turn us all into primitive beings focussed only on survival? I am not scared of death. When you’re ill enough to die or even just lose consciousness, it comes as a relief, trust me. I’ve laid in hospital beds and longed for it as septicaemia and the grim reaper joined forces. I just don’t want to die. And I’m scared not of the fact that this might happen, but that I don’t have a choice in the matter, that I am out of control, and that people will tell me I flew too close to the sun.
I have been flying too close to the sun for a long time. I’ve done incredibly stupid things to save myself, and somehow a lot of it has worked. I’m going to see a consultant tomorrow who gave up on me in February and pretty much just left me for the grim reaper. The bit of me he is supposed to think for (because clearly it can’t think for itself) has nearly killed me (and I mean resus, ICU, out of it for days kind of nearly killed me – but no ambulances, because I don’t call those, which the doctors in A&E couldn’t actually believe because I swiftly decided to turn into a human rag doll and require their immediate services and sterile minor surgical procedures in the middle of resus. Yay me. Not. Body, if you are listening, no more of that, thanks.) multiple times since then. I was nineteen at the time he took all my hope away. And honestly, making 20 was a huge surprise (no seriously, I spent an entire month terrified of the end, then I nearly died a week before my birthday. Got out of ICU about 5 hours before I turned 20 and went straight to a concert having only just figured out how to walk a couple of hours before. My body is superhuman when it wants to be, but see: I’m stupid. Icarus). I don’t know how to look him in the eye tomorrow. I don’t want to look at him. It feels like me against him and his team because how do you trust people that left you to die, and then suddenly when you defied all of the odds decided “ok, we might help now. Actually, we’ll just tell you some things that might help and then… Not do them!” How do you let those people have your life, your health, in their hands? How? Why am I crying at the thought of that? Why am I shaking? Why am I seeing his face and breaking down in front of a computer screen? Damn, I’m pathetic. And drunk. I think I’m definitely that. I’m drunk because I can’t deal with the thought of dealing with him, and of losing a relative, and of beating that amazing relative to the end of the road.
Also, when I get out of hospital having nearly died, my health is superficial – we’ve patched me up but we know I’m going to nearly die soon and we hope we can stop it again, even though each time the long-term effects become more and more of a likely risk. I leave hospital with fragile health made of wood and wax – I escape like Icarus did, on wings that are not made to last. But I am always so happy to be out of hospital, and so excited to be able to walk a short way or go back to uni or whatever, that I push myself way too far. I fly way too close to the sun because I want to keep up with the people that live in it. I lose myself in the belief that I can keep up with everyone else. I lose myself in the fear that my university won’t accept me unless I appear to be doing anything but that (nope, not going to start that one, saving that for the other meeting tomorrow. Which I will probably post about because hey I bore you with those things. Why do you read this blog? Don’t you hate me for it? Don’t you think I’m pathetic? My family do. I think they hate me. My dog doesn’t. He is currently judging me for being slightly under the influence of the liquid product of some fermented hops). What even am I writing. This is so not the thing. Back to the thing.
The thing is… How can I even be so insensitive as to think about the thing? I have it easy compared to most. I think I’m falling apart. How do I even have the right to fall apart? I’d like to fall together, but I don’t think the world needs an entire being of such high levels of selfish patheticness… Is that a word? I like it even if it isn’t, it can stay in this post.
Sometimes I have a day or two where I just refuse to accept the situation, the front slips behind the frontline of my false smile, and then I freak out. Hasn’t happened since a couple of my consultants last told me how close I am to the sun – that my body and health are made of wood and wax, and that they’ve no idea how to stop them melting… Right now, I have no idea how I’m almost touching the sun’s surface, and my wings are still intact. I don’t think they really do either. It’s impressive, given everything my body has gone through lately. But I’m scared. Because instead of falling to the earth, I will probably fall into the sun instead and oh help this is also not the thing.
One day I want to wake up and for all of these extra thoughts to be gone. Just for a day. I just want to stop trying to manage all of this on top of normal life and… I know all of this is so, so, so pathetic. All those people you see on TV handle their health so well and I’m not even worth the ground those awesome human beings walk on. One day, I want to wake up and find the wings of my health are made of steel again (which would still include diabetes because I don’t remember ever not having to inject so that would probably weird me out), because if they were…
“I would fly away, I would catch my dreams and never waste a day.” – Final Story (Flying Lessons With Icarus)
I don’t even know where I fond that quote. But there. Drunk me went off to hug that dog at that point I think. And then slept. And is now gone. But that’s it. That’s how my brain works. That’s what I think when I sit there in silence or can’t figure out how to even answer a text because the roar of these thoughts drowns out everything else. Today I have an appointment with my disability advisor, and right after that I’m seeing the consultant that left me to my own fate. But the fear is somehow gone, it grew to such intensity that like a dying star it collapsed under its own mass and gravitational pull. Today is another day. My world began again this morning, as always. And all of that stuff was folded neatly back into its place.