Old New Me Twenty Twenty Three

Christmas came & went & that ancient white haired git that goes by the name of Santa failed to deliver on the two simple requests on my Christmas list. Any self respecting Saint should be capable of performing minor miracles – quite frankly my Christmas list should have been a doddle – all I wanted was a plane ticket to Calcutta & for Santa to fix it so that my bank account overdraft was turned to a positive balance ( I had £20k in mind, I didn’t want to be greedy ). 

I deserved these gifts as my various ailments had prevented me getting out and about for much in the way of mischief over the preceding year, so there was no way I was on Santas naughty list.

Anyway the fat old Bastard didn’t grant my Christmas wishes and I will not forget it.

Next year I’m having a Pagan December, sod that Christian mumbo-jumbo.

The remainder of the festive season was gentle & pleasant & calm, except for my addiction issue – I am a sufferer of SMPD, seasonal mince pie dependency, for the mince pie is my drug of choice, like fentanyl or crack cocaine I can’t stop myself gorging on the bloody things, entire boxes of them were poured down my gullet. 

After each pie feeding frenzy I hide the evidence – putting the little foil cups and the outer boxes at the bottom of the waste bin so that nobody discovered my guilt ridden vice. 

I console myself with Buddhist principles – nothing lasts forever – all is change – soon the supermarket shelves will be empty of them wicked crack cakes & my diet can go back to the healthier one I’d been trying to follow.

As new years eve approaches I decide on a quiet night in for a change, no wild parties, no getting home at seven in the morning, waking up with the hangover from hell, new years day lost in a brain fog – no mouth that feels like the bottom of a bird cage, all grit & shit.

Instead I’m meeting up with an old friend for coffee in the afternoon & then I will head back home,  I will see in the new year & Big Ben chiming away on the Telly. Perfect.

My friend who I’ve not seen in a couple of years is staying in Queens Park, we set a vague time to meet, I head that way early to give myself a leisurely journey & the chance to maybe wander the shelves of the local bookshop. I duly arrive at Queens Park tube and walk towards the bookshop, as I approach my gaze drifts from my intended destination to the pub on the other side of the road. How long is it since I’ve been to a pub? I imagine myself in a big comfy chair by the fireside, a foaming pint of ale on the table, reading my book. Drawn by forces more powerful and primeval than I can possibly explain my feet carry me across the road and into The Salisbury. 

Moments later I am sitting in an old leather armchair by a warm fire with my pint. I open my bag & pull out a book. Not wanting to be taken for the pretentious old twat that I probably am I bend back the cover so nobody can work out that I am reading a German Poets musings.

There I spend the next hour –  me and Rilke, oblivious to the noisy geezers propping up the bar I stir only to refill my glass which necessity dictates I do four times.  

I am blissfuly happy. I congratulate myself on being a man satisfied with simple pleasures.

Soon it’s time to head for the cafe, my friend and I greet each other and settle to chat. I consume copious quantities of strong coffee to sober up a little. Inevitably as these things go with people beyond fifty years of age we recount respective ailments, medical interventions, and share news on compatriots maladies. As I sit opposite her on a cold day in December, both of us wrapped in scarves and coats my mind wanders to another day decades before, beside a pool in blazing sunshine, her in a crocheted white bikini, stretched out on a lounger, the smell of suntan oil on the wind, me checking out her tits, olive trees rustling in the breeze. For a moment I consider voicing the memory out loud, of saying she looked hot in that bikini, but I decide that ship sailed long ago & a bloke can overshare.

We talk about each others plans for the future, I’m a little more guarded than she as my plans are more nebulous and maybe just a bit mad, saying too much feels like it might hex what I hope lies ahead. 

As night begins to approach the cafe is closing up for the evening, we are the last two customers. 

I walk my friend home, I’ve decided that I want to be more of a gent going forward, call it a new years resolution, another is to curse less, I swear like a trooper, so this is going to be an almighty  fucken’ challenge. 

After goodbyes at her gate I head on towards Kilburn, my old man bladder kicks in and I need a pee. I find a bar & head to the toilet, afterwards I order a bourbon with a single ice cube.

I savour the taste – small sips as I watch the bar staff get ready for a big party night. They are expecting 300 people they say.

On the way home the tube is getting busier, the early starters for new years eve are beginning to step out. Painted girls in high heels clatter up the escalators arm in arm with boys who waft clouds of cheap aftershave into the night air as they pass. I try to work out if I am happy to be going home or just a bit jealous not to be partying, I decide I’m fine.

Back home the house is a hive of activity, three young women are getting ready for their night out.

Hair curlers, hair straighteners, blushers, bronzer, lippies, the things of ritual. And the noise! How much noise they make!

I sit in an armchair and watch the spectacle of preparations, a mesmerised social anthropologist, fascinated by this fairer sex, can a man ever truly understand a woman? I don’t think I ever really will.

I join in with pre-outing drinks, before I know it a bottle of vodka insists on mixing itself with coke and pouring itself down my throat.

As the girls head out I continue on with the vodka.

By ten pm I’m pretty plastered and decide to crash out on my bed for half an hour.

I wake up at 3am with a thumping head and bird cage mouth. 

Oh bugger, New Year arrived & I slept through it.

The first hours of new years day are spent in fitful sleep, punctuated by the sounds of the front door opening and closing with housemates returning after their revels. 

Winner of the dirty stop out competition is my son who comes in at 7.30 a.m. That’s my Boy.

New Years day is a collective recovery process, I make a big casserole which I’m convinced is therapeutically awesome.

January 2nd begins on a high note. I weigh myself and find that I’ve lost 1.8kg. This is bloody awesome, after weeks and weeks of exercise & eating more carefully each time I weigh myself there has been no change at all – some weeks I’ve even put on weight. How is this possible? 

Now finally hard work is beginning to pay off. Brilliant.

January 3rd. Medical appointments begin again today, New Year new me, time to get back on it. 

I weigh myself again, still feeling elated by my recent weight loss, maybe there’s more – but wait I don’t believe it, the weight is back WTF? How can I put on 1.8kg in twenty four hours?

It begins to dawn on me. Drunken NYE – then I’m dehydrated afterwards, the only reason I was lighter was dehydration.

I set off to hospital for my Rheumatology appointment and I am grumpy.

When I arrive at the clinic the receptionist says ”How are you today?”

The phrase irks me somewhat and I can’t resist the opportunity of quipping back:

Well given that my appointment is for Chronic Arthritis, that I’ve had one hip replaced and am waiting for surgery and bone grafts to have all my toes bolted to my feet bones  I’d say things could be better?” 

She appreciates my humour & we both laugh.

I sit in reception and wait, I watch the minute hand tick slowly around the clock on the wall.

Half an hour goes by, the specialist nurse’s office door opens, she steps out and I make eye contact with her, I wonder if she remembers me, or if I’m just another face, she heads off down the corridor, papers in hand. 

After forty-five minutes my name is called and I’m ushered into an office. It turns out I’m not getting to see the specialist nurse, let alone the Rheumatologist, but instead a junior nurse, clearly I’m not a priority. The nurse goes through a questionnaire with me, then she begins to check my joints, she squeezes and prods, She presses down on my neck and shoulder muscles, she does it very gingerly as if she’s worried she’ll hurt me, I can feel her pressing down on my muscle tissue, it doesn’t hurt, instead for the first time in a long while I can feel that I have muscle back there resisting her fingers. I’ve been exercising for a few months, at long last I am beginning to see & feel glimpses of improvement. I ask the nurse about my operations for which I’ve been waiting a year, she says its not down to her department I need to speak to the Orthopaedics.

The nurse dispatches me with forms for blood tests and an appointment for six months time, as I head off she tells me to keep taking the meds.

I then head to Orthopaedics to find out what’s happening with my ops, only a receptionist is there, all the medical staff have gone home for the day.

The following day I have an appointment with my Doctors, I’ve anticipated that there would have been no progress with my ops so I want my GP to hurry things along. My appointment is with a junior ( newly qualified ) GP, she listens to me with an earnest and understanding manner. I tell her that the surgeon told me a year before that my op could be done in six weeks, I’m still waiting.

She says that she will discuss my treatment with her senior colleagues and that they will get things moving.

A week goes by, I hear nothing. I call up the Orthopaeadics department and they tell me that it’s up to my Doctors to re-refer me for surgery. Fuming I call up the GP and ask what has been done, the clerk who answers my call looks at my computer records and it’s clear nothing happened after my last visit. Spitting feathers I tell them I need to be re-referred for surgery and it’s down to my Doctor to do it. The clerk says they will get it organised. Having sod all confidence in this happening I insist on a face to face appointment with a senior Doctor at the practice. I get it.

Dr.N is the big cheese at the practice, he saunters from a corridor into reception and calls my name, I get up and walk towards him, all smiles and friendliness he offers me his hand.

“Hello Mr.Boyer, good to see you, nice haircut by the way”

“Hello Doctor, We’ve never met before so I’m not sure how you would know if I’d had a haircut or not?” 

Thinking on his feet Dr.N retorts, no I realise we haven’t met before, your hair looks very smart 

– like you’ve just had a haircut, that’s what I meant.

I reply with a simple Mmmmmm  as we both head into his office.

Twenty minutes later I leave the Docs with a promise of not one but two medical interventions, Doc N. Will refer me for foot surgery as a matter of urgency and make sure that I am scheduled for minor surgery on another little gift of my arthritis, bumps on my forearms – ugly and sometimes painful calcified lumps that grow like carbuncles. Thats a result.

A week later and I’ve received a copy of the Orthopaedic referral but nothing about the carbuncles. I deliver a letter the following day reminding Dr.N & the day after that the second referral is duly made.

Buoyed just a little by my actions as January rolls along I become more determined to improve things for myself. There was a time not so long ago when I was in such a mess physically that I was just surviving, now I am able to function far more effectively,  to exercise, ok maybe its pretty pathetic my exercise, but it is something & I can do things that a year ago were impossible, there is hope. 

I go back to my daily exercise, to being more thoughtful & careful about what I eat & to trying to make my life a better one. Then on an innocuous afternoon I pop to the loo for a pee, I feel catarrh in my throat and spit into the toilet pan, as I look down I see blood red spittle.

Oh fuck, I’m dying. That’s it my lungs have exploded and I’m going to die.

In a state of utter panic I decide to go straight to accident & emergency, other thoughts rush though my head, oh shit I haven’t made a will. I’m not ready to die. 

Then I realise – I had a big plate of beetroot for lunch. It’s not blood its beetroot you silly old fucker.

My brush with mortality behind me for the present I stride onwards, in a buzz lightyear kind of way – to infinity & beyond. 

In twenty five weeks I will be sixty years old, how that came to pass is infinitely beyond me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.