There are a few things I miss about the 7’s. I miss engaging my brain. I miss that most of all, almost everyday, but I have found a way of thinking about it in the abstract. Your job is elsewhere. Watching Inspector Morse is a job. When I worked the 9-5, I might not have looked like Dolly Parton, but I like to think I was pretty good at it. When I doubted that, I had my annual review, which did nothing to curb my ego. Unfortunately, engaging my brain in that format is not an option for me right now, it has not been an option for me since I relapsed. It’s taken more than not getting dressed at 07:00hrs to get used to it. It takes a lot to not feel useless.
I have had to retrain my brain. My priorities have changed. When I was a teenager, I worked for a water sports park and I loved it. My loyalty to that place by the railway line became a running joke amongst my friends. It was my love. I then got a ‘grown up’ job and I loved that even more than my job before and my loyalty passed on. Anybody who has read this blog from the start, would know how much I loved my job. I saw my place and I felt supported in it. Said job did not account for all of me, but it was my contracted 37 hours a week, and everything else that went with it, and I was quite happy with that. More than happy. It led me to discover the Growler. Then something happened to curtail all of that. It’s called a relapse. Everything that I did before June 2014 on this subject and the loyalty I felt, now, feels misplaced. Blood cancer is chronic. Chronic gets boring.
My major form of daily engagement halted, indefinitely, and so too, with my current treatment, did a reasonable expectation to return to that daily or temporarily regular engagement. Realising this sad fact, meant that I have had to turn off my senses that would be attracted to certain things in the news. My news now seems to be limited to the Daily Mail’s gossip column and Sight and Sound magazine. For a long time, at least it feels that way, I have not thought about my employment in any way other than what the financial implications of not doing it has on me, or with the anger associated with me not being able to do it .
Since the relapse, that work community I thought I had created or become apart of in my adult life seems to have all but evaporated. It’s rather difficult to think that the world that formed at least 56% of my waking hours prior to my diagnosis and the one I worked so hard to hold on to has paused, but that is the truth of it. That percentage is a crude minimum by the way, created after discovering the calculator on my iPhone. I thought about it much more than that.
Last week, I found myself driving past somewhere, that brought back fond memories and the familiar stories of sitting in a hotel bar finding out far too much about a person who gave far too much away. In turn, I was reminded about other things. Even my language. I doubt I’ll be released from hospital now.
I mo longer walk the 7’s. I no longer get to experience the benefits of working on the 7’s, which ultimately means cruising by the local pub on my way home. I no longer get the 07:35 to Wakefield. I no longer have colleagues. That’s 37 contracted hours a week gone, along with all the benefits of those hours.
It might be one of the hardest adjustments I have had to make… I’m not responsible for anything other than myself anymore.
When all faith is gone, there are days when people come and claw back some of my faith in humanity. Humanity is better than an organisation. It doesn’t take up the 37 of my hours, but it gives me hope that I may see some incarnation of that 37 hours again. Whether it is the in the form of a grandmother from the West Midlands who buys me sherbet and shows she cares above and beyond what she is supposed to do, a troupe of people hitting the Railway Tavern, a couple of people who shout ‘UTB’, a man who reads the Guardian Culture section and sends me the articles because he thinks I would like them or somebody who still plays Word With Friends with me almost everyday, and they do so without needing anything in return. These people make me think a return is possible or at least, they make me think I left my own little positive imprint before Myeloma hit. At a minimum, they do not make me think like I wasted the best of my adult years, which is how I have felt many a time during this long winter. They make me think the person who hired me was not a fool, and I am pretty sure she isn’t.
When all else fails, when the negativity takes over and you think you have faded into xxx history, one gets a special delivery from Wakefield. Not just any delivery, but one from the special place called Hoffman’s. A pork pie and a packet of pork scratchings. How I missed this.
It doesn’t heal all wounds, but it most definitely fills a hole. A big gaping hole.