Saturday, 28 August 2010

On A Wake-up Call

I have a feeling I'm going to shoot myself in the foot here. You see, I've never written about what I'm going to write about today for a reason. That reason is that I'm very grateful to the people who read what I write, and I really don't want to depress the fuck out of you, or leave you thinking that I should man up and stop whining about my piddly little problems. But it's been a funny week - three nights out on the town have left me with little capacity for rational or creative thought so I'm left with nothing to work with but what's on my mind right now which isn't, unfortunately, particularly uplifting. Consider also the fact that for the last hour I've been listening to a good-mood-wrecking mixture of Damien Rice, Radiohead and a sprinkling of Slipknot and you'll realise that I am far from being a happy bunny.

On Wednesday, the mighty Fulham FC beat Port Vale 6 goals to 0 to advance into the third round of the Carling Cup. Money woes owing to the aforementioned string of late nights had prevented me from attending, so I spent the night in front of the telly, with my mother, living on the edge. My mum has multiple sclerosis which, as you may know, is pretty rough. Every week a physiotherapist visits to discuss how she's getting on and force her to do exercises. In an effort to tear my eyes from one of the gruesome hospital dramas that make up a large part of mum's staple TV viewing, I asked her how the physio went. She said she'd told the nurse, for the first time, about these shooting pains she gets in her face. They're completely unpredictable and, according to the physio, are on a list of warning signs that can lead to suicide among MS sufferers.

Fear not, there's no danger of that happening and that's not where this post is going, but finding out how bad these pains can be did come as a shock. My mum has had them for years and years and as much as I hate saying this, I'd become almost completely desensitised. I'd grown so used to seeing it happen that I didn't react to it like I once did - in fact, I barely reacted at all. But hearing what the physio said knocked me for six. The fact is, I'm able to detach myself, while my mum is stuck with it and I feel incredibly guilty for letting myself get to the point where I'd just stopped paying attention. So while she has been putting up with something that can be bad enough to push people over the edge, I was, basically, ignoring it. I'm not a complete bastard though, I promise. It just became normal. As normal as hearing someone sneeze, or something like that.

It's a difficult situation; to an extent you have to build up some sort of resistance. If the poor cow burst into tears every time she was affected by one of the many symptoms of the MS, she'd flood the house. And it's the same for me, my dad and my brother; it wouldn't be right for us to cause a massive fuss every time something happened, either. I do feel, however, that I'd taken my eye off the ball of late, I'd got a bit too relaxed. As it turns out, I suppose the lightning bolt from the physio was just what I needed. I should thank her - thank her for scaring the living shit out of me and reminding me of the seriousness of my mum's condition. My mum is strong, and she's brave and there's not much I can do to help her. I can, however, make sure I'm actually paying attention. I can make sure I don't forget how tough things can be for her. And I can make sure she knows that.

I can also turn Radiohead off, as I feel less miserable now. I believe that's called catharsis?


  1. Aw, hugs to you dear. Yes, this is catharsis indeed.

    I completely understand how you got used to seeing her like that or how it became normal for you. I am like that most of the time. I get detached. It's not true though when you said there's not much you can do for her. You care. And that would mean a lot to her. Her condition is too painful and tiring but being surrounded by people who care will lessen the burden. I promise.

  2. I think your detachment can be a defence mechanism, whet do you think? It's not good to think about it all the time, but the odd jolt of feeling is important, too... It's a difficult situation, and I suppose you just have to deal with it as best you can...

  3. Hey you.

    Can I just say? You are good people. You are.

    Having said that: we're all allowed to be selfish, self-centered bastards sometimes or we're going to lose our minds and shoot ourselves in the head. Sometimes we need to listen to Damien Rice warbling on so we can wallow a little: everyone does at some point.

    Things like these become normal after some time, become a part of the pattern on your life. It's only.. well, normal. It's bloody unfair, but that's just how it is. And the thing is: you've realised it, you've noticed the pattern and now, now you'll remember and it'll stick out for you.

    And that's important. It takes a jolt to realise it yes, but it takes a lot more to make it stick out and acknowledge it, introduce that into the pattern and to weave it in. Well done, you. I'm sure your mum appreciates it- and I'm sure she knew you cared and look out for her; even when you've taken your eye off the ball. She knows.

    It's nowhere near the same thing, but my mum's knees are pretty bad- they've been bad for pretty much my entire childhood. And it was a normal part of my life, I overlooked it, I worked around it.. it became normal. I forgot about it. It's only when I'm home (once every six months) and I actually see how not-normal it is and how much pain she's in that it really hits me. And well, there's not much I can do from half a continent away, but I try. And she knows that. Mothers somehow always do.

    So. Rather than get all maudlin on you, I'm going to nudge your elbow and tell you what I always tell you: chin up. x

  4. Hey, I hope you're alright but I'm glad that you feel awakened to your mother's pain, it's just sad that she has to feel it :( I'm quite stunned, I have a friend with MS and I had absolutely no idea about stuff like that. So I feel a bit shocked too :(

    I think you should listen to Alphabeat. Actually, that might make you sad again.

    - Lora xx

  5. I had a wake-up call this weekend too. It was about something completely different than your wake-up call, but it left me in a similar mood. It's a little bit jarring when you discover that something you've accepted as being a certain way is different or worse than you thought.

    Anyway, that's totally awful that your mom has to experience that sort of pain. I'm glad you're more in tune with what's going on now, but I really don't think you're a complete bastard (or even an incomplete one) for being desensitized. Sometimes that's the best way to survive.

    And now I shall end this strange comment and go dig out my Radiohead albums. But first, a lame cyber hug from one sad stranger to another:


  6. Life has a way of distracting us from the things that are most important. It is not shameful, just part of being a human.

    Sometimes putting it into the world is a way of coming to terms with things. Thanks for sharing. Turn off the Radiohead :)

  7. Hugs to you Tom! That's true. When we get used to things being done for a long time, we became numb by it. We forget the vital parts of the things that is happening so we need to be slapped first before we came into realization that hey we are needed.

    I know you love your mum so much Tom so i would say that she will never feel neglected. But now that you fully understand what she really is going through then it's time for you to take some extra effort to show you are there by her side.

    All the best for your mum. Hugs.

  8. Awww Tom, you're not a bastard! I think, like some people said, that it's partly a defense mechanism at work here. Probably, the awareness that unfortunately there's nothing you can actually do to help you mom is what makes you feel detached. But I'm pretty sure it's unintentional, and definitely not you being selfish or choosing to ignore it as the safest option. Just be there for her, sit with her through the hospital dramas on tv once in a while...that'll be enough for her to know you understand.

  9. Aww wow. I'm so sorry to hear that your mum is having to go through this. I know a few people with MS and I've never heard of this before.

    But! YOU shouldn't feel bad for the way that you've dealt with your mum having this. It's ok to overlook things that become part of your everyday life. It doesn't make you a bad person! We all have our ways of dealing with things that aren't great.

    Also, you shouldn't be afraid to unload negative feelings into your blog. My blog helps me get things out, be they good or bad. We're all just along for the ride of what's really going on in your head.

    I'm thinking of you and your mum! xoxo from across the water :)

  10. God everyone, I normally respond to comments individually but I feel like a group hug now. I was watching the comments as they came in and it was so nice.

    You may have created a monster - I might call on your wondrous cheering up skills every time I get in a mood from now on.

    Well, thanks for reading through the misery that was this post, and for your comments which managed to dispel the dark clouds that life & Radiohead had me wallowing under.

    Ah, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside now, and I'm not even joking.

    Enough Tom, go to bed.