(Yes, I love the song. No, I don’t think much of the film. Next query?)
I thought I’d tackle something a little difficult this week to mark a return to normal posting after my absence. It will sadly probably be familiar to plenty of readers.
One of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice you receive in chronic illness circles is to avoid stress and extremes of emotion such as anger. I can’t really bemoan that as it is sound advice, since anything stressful is toxic on the system and plays havoc with symptoms. There are all sorts of methods and tips various people suggest in terms of limiting or managing stress and anger – removing yourself from toxic situations, taking time to yourself in a calming environment, practicing yoga or similar. The list goes on.
However, nobody ever warns you about grief.
In the last few years I have certainly encountered stressful situations and scenarios which made me angry or upset, and this had a subsequent transient effect on my health. Petunia essentially had a party on each occasion.
This is the first time I’ve had to deal with grief since falling ill. I know enough of Petunia’s habits now that I fully expected a flare up and I was pretty accepting of the inevitability. Pets are a part of the family and it would have felt very strange indeed to have not felt any physical side effects after losing Misty. In some sense I suppose it would have felt wrong given the extreme of circumstance.
I wasn’t in any way prepared for what actually came. I now fully understand and appreciate when people describe their symptoms as “feeling like having been hit by a train”. I got myself into work for the rest of the week, mostly because I knew I needed the distraction of being busy to take my mind off what had happened.
However, it marks the first time I’ve struggled to walk. I managed but with a very pronounced limp. That was definitely the most bizarre and violent flare up I’ve experienced thus far – bizarre in that for the first couple of days it only really affected my left side. My hip stiffened up so much that moving my left leg was painful, and spending an evening sitting with said leg resting on a hot water bottle with a wheat bag on top of it under a blanket did nothing to relieve the tightness and pain. I was pretty solidly in zombie mode for a couple of weeks. I didn’t want to see anyone outside of my family and a couple of very close friends and generally felt like wanting to stop the world so I could get off for a bit.
(Grief does strange things I suppose.)
This was four weeks ago. I’m not quite back to normal but I am at least better. The extremes of the pain and exhaustion have passed, in much the same way the sharp edges of grief are fading. We scattered Misty’s ashes recently and I think that helped in terms of closure. We chose the local university campus which is set around a lake and the surroundings are very green and picturesque.
It’s also a bird reserve, which means in life Misty chasing the birds and causing mayhem would definitely have been forbidden – and that certainly means it would have appealed to her all the more!
The point I think I wanted to make with this post is that not all situations which prove telling on your health are avoidable, and more importantly not all of them should be avoided. To not grieve for a companion of some thirteen years would have been entirely wrong, and an insult to the relationship we shared and the memories we have of her. All the upset is therefore a necessary and more importantly “right” part of the process of saying goodbye.
There’s a lovely quote from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings which applies well here:
“I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” - Gandalf
I am better than I was, but I am not whole yet. That part will only come in time. However, I can’t complain or indeed poke fun at this most recent flare up as I usually would because it frankly doesn’t deserve that. It was something that naturally had to happen, and therefore I shall keep my sharp tongue in check until next time.
In closing, there are definitely signs that we (my partner and I) are healing. There was never any doubt from either of us that cats will be a part of our lives in the future. It won’t be until our living circumstances change, which means it won’t be for quite some time. I wouldn’t want it to be too soon regardless – I want the time to miss her and it wouldn’t be fair on another cat to be living in Misty’s shadow.
However, we already know the name of said future cat. If it’s female then Alex gets to name her, and he wants to call her Caithe after the Silvari member of Destiny’s Edge in the Guild Wars mythos.
This means of course that I get to name the cat if it’s male. I didn’t even pause when asked for my choice of name – I certainly hadn’t thought about it, but the answer was there anyway. Alex knows me too well to be surprised that I went for a name straight from the Malazan Book of the Fallen.
A male cat will be called Fiddler.
Has anybody else found grief wreaks havoc with symptoms? How did you deal with this?
Wishing you all many spoons xxx
Wishing you all many spoons xxx