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‘Taking the Air’ was considered to be a cure for many illnesses. Life with a chronic illness means that we have to take every moment that is good, and cherish it. As I sat outside today, I was enjoying one of these.
Taking the Air
Air. Do you remember those pictures of rows of men and women sitting on sunchairs wrapped in white dressing gowns? They usually were on a beach, and the caption informed us that they were ‘taking the air’. As part of some medical practice that would somehow cure them of their mysterious ailment.
This morning I felt like I belonged in one of these seaside postcards. On the back, I would have scrawled, in a barely legible script, that I was feeling the blood rushing back into my cheeks. Taking it as a sign that I would soon be healthy. Returning to the city, once again sitting at my desk, ready to face the onslaught of the commercial world.
Waking in pain
In truth, I woke up with a headache of a level seven out of ten. The previous two days I had been doing some work, and I had spent a significant amount of time in the car. Over two days this amounted to eight hours, plus the concentration needed to complete the tasks I was being paid to do. This inevitable cost of work is my reality, and it is one that I have had to accept with grace. Knowing that it is coming, pain, fatigue and malaise that I fight against, acts as an obstacle to work. It is tough. The pain is real. Fatigue is flattening.
So when I woke this morning, staying in bed until nearly 11, I succumbed to the pain and took the drugs that would dampen this, even for a while. The morning looked as if it would lead to a warm day, with the sun bravely battling against the grey clouds flying across the sky. With optimism, my partner and I, put some chairs on the patio at the back of the house. We both sat, wrapped in a dressing gown, hat and sunglasses, hoping that the golden orb in the sky would remind us of the beach in the south of Spain.
The sun did shed some heat, and I closed my eyes to stop the pain that accompanies the light. Squinting eyes cause my headache to worsen, and so I consciously relax my scalp, feeling the pain recede, as the warmth begins to increase. The temptation to shed my thick bathrobe was pushed to one side. This preparation for a swift change is the reality of living in Ireland. The weather can change in an instant, rain cascading down, looking like diamonds, reflecting the still present sun.
Dreams of Spain
For this instant, I was feeling the warm sand under my feet, and the smell of the sea seduced me into feeling human again. The pain, although still present, was no longer the lead player, and the memory of summer was now centre stage. Briefly, I no longer suffered from chronic pain, lost mobility and sensation. Whole again, I smiled, feeling gratitude for now. This moment of happiness.
It didn’t last long. The clouds once again gaining a victory, shielding us from the blue sky, and the temperature dropped swiftly. Hastening inside before the rain began once again, we smiled and realised we had created a precious memory that can be called upon when the days are dark. It wasn’t long, maybe 15 minutes, but it was enough.