Oh the irony of life that our the dark times make the light times so much lighter.
The last couple of days have been lovely, the shadow of D's impending departure on another trip to Thailand has barely dimmed the bright shiny times we've been having. There's been lots of fun in a totally pedestrian domestic way.Wil is learning to like ice cream.
Some sewing for new summer skirts for Amy, this one a repeat performance of one I made in March last year that simply wore out from use (pattern from Ottobre), and this one using Liesl's free pattern over here at Oliver +S. (Now, who recognises that gifted fabric?) I hestitate to even call it a pattern - it is so darn simple I can't believe I haven't already made a thousand for Amy. It made me realise that it is easy to overcomplicate kid's clothes because while I could never get away with a whole bunch of elasticated fabric round my waist, it looks totally fabulous on a 6 year old.
I used the pattern because I was teaching an absolute beginner and I knew it would turn out well even if the sewing was less than perfect - and it did! So yay and thanks Liesl.
I've been out to lunch with a friend in a rare unhurried moment of just, well, hanging out and the scarf I started is powering along and still looks great.
I got a lovely little parcel of fabric in the mail from Corrie at Retro Mummy, who has sadly closed down her fabric by the meter shop, but who will continue to sell her cuter than cute prints by the piece and her Japanese mags and books from her etsy store in the new year. Wil is going to absolutely go nuts for this car fabric! Thanks Corrie :-)
But now, on Wednesday, with a significant work task ahead of me, a whole day teaching on Saturday and D leaving in just 5 days I am coming down with a really awful cold.
I know, a cold isn't much, and even when looking after a family on your own, not really enough for a major whine. But for me these days, viruses of all types are cause for concern and the approach of any kind of illness involving my lungs and stress brings on a lot of anxiety and panic.
I haven't really written about this before because I keep thinking sometime soon I'll be clearer about what is actually going on and where it is headed. I also haven't written about it because I find it awkward to deal with how people respond to illness.
So I'm going to write about this now because this blog is a record of sorts for me and my kids one day, and one of the ways in which I process stuff. But I'm asking you not to write a whole lot of comments about it because I'm not sure how to respond to them. Even if your intent is sympathetic, I am really wobbly on this stuff right now and just need to work through it a bit on my own.
About 7 years ago I started having these weird once a season episodes where I found it hard to breathe. They happened in Spring, always on the tail end of a cold, and I went to the doctor each time, took some drugs and got better in a week or so. After a few years it seemed like my breathing was continuously compromised by just a bit so I started taking an asthma preventer.
When we went to Thailand I lost all symptoms, went off my preventer and stayed fine for 2 years after returning. But in May this year, without any kind of warning or apparent provocation my symptoms returned. And pretty much continually since then I have been on a roller coaster of acute episodes with short spans of less acute symptoms and I don't seem to respond to asthma drugs.
When I am feeling OK I tell myself that a lot of people have asthma and successfully manage it and live full and happy lives. I know me and my doctors aren't doing so well at identifying what my triggers are and what drug therapy might work, but that is hopefully something we'll get a handle on soon. I know too I live in the asthma capital of one of the most asthma prone countries in the world and this has been a particularly bad year for asthma all around, so you know, I just have to focus on getting through it.
But when my symptoms are more acute, or heading into acute like now, I feel a lot less optimistic. I wonder whether this is something more than asthma, something scarier and more lethal. Something coming about as a result of a misspent youth involving way too many cigarettes and bad choices. I feel mortal and afraid and helpless and hopeless.
And I feel particularly and horribly unable to be a good parent. I imagine my kids growing up while I get sicker and more dependent. When D is away I lie in bed at night doing endless rounds of worry about whether I should be going to hospital, who I could call to care for them, how they will feel to wake up and not find me there. Or worse. Sometimes I am so exhausted and preoccupied by the effort to keep breathing that I simply can't care for them in a way they have every right to expect to be cared for.
And sometimes, when things are really bad the effort to breathe and the fear and anxiety that comes with it is so overwhelming that I feel totally desperate. As much as I can I try to, have to, keep going in ordinary life - I make dinner and go to work and read stories with the kids and plan for tomorrow. But on the inside I am jelly, terrified and disbelieving that is actually happening and that no one seems to be able to do anything about it. It is a highly potent cocktail of stress and anxiety which clearly aggravate my symptoms.
I'm trying to get a handle on it, trying to find ways to manage both the head and the lung components but it is hard and sometimes I feel totally defeated.
So all of you cross your fingers for me that this episode is over fast, we get through D's trip unscathed and sometime soon we work out exactly what is wrong with me and how to manage it.
One of the concrete things I am going to do is host a CD swap of 'joyful' music. Ever since reading about the findings of a recent study that found listening to joyful music dilated your blood vessels by as much as 26%, I've been determined to get more of it in my life. I am hopeless on the getting new music front, so I'm really needing some inspiration. I'll set it up in a separate post, but I hope you'll all participate!