It would be fair to say that life is becoming routine. Six weeks after my return to England and three weeks after I was released from hospital there is a new equilibrium. Life has changed do much in the past month and as the tornado disperses I am now finding myself in a calmer place in fact I might even be entering the Doldrums.
Before I elaborate I think it is important to reflect back on the past few weeks.
The tornado which overtook my life at Easter and wrenched me from Africa and my family was tough and has been recounted in earlier blogs. The sheer number of changes have been immense and it was hard to keep up. The tornado dumped me back in Lincoln, a long way from Mwanza and yet the most obvious choice. Here I have had excellent treatment by the NHS and good care by family and friends.
Locally a number of folk have come around and taken me out for coffees and walks and these kind gestures have been really appreciated. People have contacted me from across the world with their good wishes and heartfelt prayers and again this has been so encouraging. Some friends have come across the country to visit which has again been special. I have visited friends l in Milton Keynes and both visited and had family visit.
Meanwhile mum has been great. It’s not easy after years of living by yourself to take in your middle aged married son and share your house with him, we all have our own way of doing things and after 22 years of marriage and 33 years away from home, I am sure I am not the same person I was when last I lived here. I know it has not been easy for her, but she has been a star!
Nothing below should diminish the real pleasure I have had from the contact and kindness I have had over recent weeks.
The word Doldrums has two meanings both related.
- The phrase was used by Victorian sailors to describe a region of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans where the excessively calm weather would leave sailing ships becalmed for many days or weeks.
- The origin of the word however is older still and describes a state of inactivity, mild depression, listlessness or stagnation.
- Made up from two words ‘dull’ and ‘tantrum’ – a doldrum was a dull sluggish person in the 18th Centrury!
- It is this meaning which gave rise to the region of the sea not the other way around.
I think there is a real sense that I am in the doldrums now. Becalmed, waiting for the wind to blow. There is nothing on the horizon. No real change ahead. It is many weeks before Anita and Bekah return and many many weeks before the treatment is completed so life is not going to change fast.
Each Tuesday morning I head to the Doctor’s surgery for a blood test, there my Warfarin levels are determined for the days ahead. Today my INR is 3.9 (too high) so my Warfarin needs to be reduced from 6 to 4mg.
Each Friday a repeat trip to the hospital for the same.
Each day I have an allocated number of pills to take in various measures at various times. These vary by day but follow a strict regimen.
With this calm routine, albeit punctured by the input of friends, I fear that I am entering the Doldrums. Needing to be back in Lincoln on a Tuesday and Friday make it hard to travel. I am stuck in Lincoln.
I have always been the one who wants variety and change. A lack of predictability. I am the one who wants the unusual Pizza topping , not the boring old Ham and Mushroom!
Even though my teaching timetable has been predictable – the one thing you can never predict is the way a lesson will go and the pupils will interact – so in my teaching I have never had (unless OfSted insisted) more than a vague lesson plan. I know where I want to get to but am open to the pathway. I am more spontaneous in my teaching prepared to change mid lesson – it usually works out OK.
It is this lack of predictability that eventually found fruit in our travels abroad. The chance to gain new experiences and see new things had been amazing. Our journey across Africa to Lake Victoria was the epitome of this approach with only a general idea of where to get to and by what date. Everything else booked as we went.
To have this period where nothing particularly new is going to happen, where the ‘novelty’ of the myeloma and it’s treatment is wearing out, is going to be a challenge. What will I fill my days with? A lack of work means that there will be nothing to do professionally. This will be particularly an issue as I recover from the treatments in the autumn.
There are many months of sameness coming up and I need to find something. My world has shrunk immeasurably and in many ways there is little hope of change. There is a need to find something to occupy my mind, beyond the lure of endless box sets.
Strangely the maritime Doldrums are also an area of sudden squalls and the place where nearly all hurricanes form! Maybe there are advantages to being becalmed.