STILETTO – a high pointed HEEL on a woman’s shoe or a small dagger.
WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility.
My life changing …
I remember that day so well. I remember the time of my appointment. It was at two o’clock in the afternoon – after the morning clinic, before rounds. We still had to wait to be seen. We were used to that by then.
The office was ugly. They were always so ugly. Chipped paintwork. Broken blinds. Cheap furniture. Poorly lit. And crowded, so many people to watch and listen and observe. We were used to that too.
“We have done all the tests and tried all the regular treatments. There is nothing more we can do … no definitive diagnosis … uncertain prognosis … experimental treatment … severe side effects. This happens more often than you might think. You must not give up hope but you do need to consider the possibility that …”
I asked questions. We both did. Tears ran down my face but my voice was steady and gaze clear. I ignored the tears, expecting them to do the same but they were uncomfortable. They wanted to help, were discomfited by their helplessness. They expected uncontrollable sobbing but I was numb, apart from the tears. It was so very final. All those tests and it had come to this. Expected but unexpected. How to go on?
Outside, it was a sunny summer day. D wheeled me across the road to the garden square. It was one of those small oases that you find, unexpectedly, in London, slap bang in the middle of quiet roads and high Victorian buildings that were once residential, now, offices and hospitals. Light, bright trees and intense blue sky: I remember those most clearly. There were flower beds, with flowers but I have no idea what; paving – uneven and broken by the roots of the trees; dry, patchy, green foliage, against the iron railings on all sides; and, park benches, worn silvery grey, many with dedication placards to those now deceased. I imagine that they, like me, had once been grateful for this space.
There were living people too. A few were sauntering tourists hoping to find hidden city treasures. Some, city workers, late lunching, rushing through with no thought for moment or place. Others, like us, existed only in this moment and this place.
I remember the dappled sunlight, flickering on the ground. There was no noise, no breeze. A glistening spider’s web reached from the back of the seat to the bush behind.
I remember looking up and seeing the interplay of light and leaves reaching high into the blue sky. It was beautiful. I guess I didn’t want this moment to end. If I could just stay here, in this place, in this beautiful moment, no other reality would touch me. I would be safe and life would be beautiful. No ugliness. No destruction. Just blue light, green leaves and freedom.
I banished all from my mind and senses, sucking in only that elemental beauty as if my life depended on it. Perhaps it did. It felt like energy, strength, succour to me.
Of course, it was not. It was but a momentary reprieve from my new reality. As I remember it now, it was a blissful moment.
One Month before Heartbreak (OMBH) is a blogswarm event being run across three days, 14-16 January 2011, to raise awareness of, and protest against, the government’s proposals to reform Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - sponsored by the grass-roots campaign group, The Broken of Britain (BoB).
I support this campaign and would urge you to do so too – and if you need a reason, please read this short piece on The Guardian website by disability campaigner, Kaliya Franklin, aka BendyGirl who blogs at Benefit Scrounging Scum.
I, and many others, appreciate you taking the time to read, be informed and in the giving of your support, if you feel able to. Signing the online petition here will take just moments from your life and be invaluable to someone else’s. Thank you.