April 2011 is a month that I long to forget. It brought illness and anguish as poor health lead to partial sightedness in my left eye, an entire day spent in A&E , mind altering medication and sheer frustration as I was unable to see. But far worst, I was unable to read. For the first two weeks, the wonderful Mr Cranmer read to me. Just as my sight began to diminish, I had picked up Stephen King’s short story “Secret Window, Secret Garden” and Mr Cranmer’s voice over was not only hilarious but mind-saving. The next blow was my inability to hold a pen; in fact my right hand was so weak that I was also unable to type. I became useless, unable to do the simplest tasks that had always saved me. But alas, I found myself in the garden; I tended to the beetroot and carrots that I grew in troughs. I watered the tomato plants profusely and collected spinach which keeps growing with abundant energy. I bought Busy Lizzies, Pansies, and a Goosberry plant. The garden saved me, and when I ran out of things to do in my garden, I moved onto my parent’s. My love of nature was ignited once more, and the desire to leave London burned in me stronger than the frustration conjured by my eye. A good garden was all that I needed I realised, I might find that here in London after all, the countryside will come later- I know it will.
I thought of Woolf and her essay “On Being Ill” which I always read when ill and there I as, unable to read. I then thought of Frida Kahlo, images of her lying in bed flashed in my mind’s eye which I began to use far more, unable to move, painting in that frustrating position. All of her quotes provided no solace, as I couldn’t write in any angle and my frame of mind was not fitting. It’s fair to say, there was much anger and tears, but my family took care of me, making sure that I didn’t have too many quiet moments to myself where I would be able to find a moment to remember that I hadn’t written a word in three weeks. This is the longest and most I have written. Even when the strength started to come back into my hand, I couldn’t bare to write in my diary, I couldn’t bare to face it; the lack of work accomplished, the disappointment at myself for not being stoic enough throughout the time.
And so here I am, the blurriness is clearing up slowly. My eye is still unable to read most print, so I have read books with big print such as Agatha Christies’ The Body in The Library which was wonderfully distracting, and now I’m reading Rosamond Lehmann’s Invitation to the Waltz. Life had been put on hold as I watched people jealously while they walked around with their health. I wanted to cry out, “don’t take any of it for granted,” I swore that I would enjoy life better, that I wouldn’t waste any moment. Life is far too short for most of the turmoil we put ourselves through. So don’t waste it. I just hope I remember all the promises I made to myself. It’s terribly easy to fall back into the same mind.
Alter the mind.