As I struggle to think of anything other than my conversation with 1sis on Friday and my impending visit with my father tomorrow, it seems the perfect occasion to catch up on the summer months.
Ten days away in Edinburgh, which felt like two weeks, did me the world of good. Other than forwarding on urgent emails I really did pay no attention to work, resenting the one conversation I had with a colleague who just wanted to share some good news with me.
Then we returned home and had one bizarre last week of term when 3son and 4son did very little and I tried to catch up. We had our first week of holiday and 2son joined us.
For the entire summer holiday we basically did nothing. We went out maybe six times altogether, and that was just locally to go and have a meal. We went to no museums, exhibitions, walks, day trips. I slept in and by the last week of the holidays felt I had caught up on sleep. I managed a couple of hours of work a day and decided to not feel guilty about the rest. The boys played on the computer, argued not a lot and generally brought 2son into their routine without some of the arguments that we’ve had in previous holidays. 3son built his first computer, which wasn’t without disagreement but did make him happy. I went out in evenings without worrying about what time I came home too much and we all slept in late. So we relaxed.
I had problems medically, otherwise I might have enjoyed the summer even more. Over the last six months or so I’ve been trying to find the right combination and dosage of pills to treat high blood pressure and have been struggling. We upped the dose of one of them (Ramipiril) and I started coughing. Was it a coincidence or was it just a cough? I stopped taking the medicine for a month, was still coughing so went back on it. The cough didn’t go away so I did some reading, talked to another GP who knew that Ramipiril could take two months to leave the system so I had to do it all over again. That makes about four months when I couldn’t stop coughing, including waking up several times a night to have a good cough. Being outside made it worse so I ignored all that beautiful sunshine we had in August and stayed indoors catching up on films and far too much streaming television. That’s just about gone now but we still haven’t quite finalised on the best dosage for me.
I finally had a check-up regarding HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and we agreed with the blood analysis that the oral tablets I had been taking for the best part of two years hadn’t been working. We debated over a clinical trial and eventually an implant was suggested. I’d had the implant before and been happy with it but there was a countrywide shortage of it for some reason which is why I’d gone on the tablets instead. Anyway I was happy to return to the implant, which combined with the coil (which we also replaced, TMI?) and testosterone gel provides a full package for me. I was fine for the first few days and then spent a few feeling severely ill, with a brief high fever. That seems to have calmed down and as mentioned before, I have an appointment next week to discuss how it’s going.
When discussing all this the consultant asked how my libido was and I said it’s non-existent and I’m not bothered about it at all, but I am bothered about the constant lack of energy, that I could put in about two hours of work a day and then my brain just wanted to go to sleep. I’m much happier not missing sex than worrying about how my compete lack of confidence in my body image totally wrecks any chance of a sex life. So I’m fine with that. Well, I’m not fine but it’s a working solution. Hence the erotic dreams I had during the first week of new treatment really messed with my head.
Of course, despite my initial desire after returning from holiday to improve my exercise regime it all disappeared and I lost any sense of routine and did absolutely none after the first couple of weeks. I did happily start again this term but with my mind taken over this week with other things it has stopped again. I will return.
The one real achievement of the holidays was to do an MBSR course, although I think I should have done the MBCT one (which wasn’t on offer). I took my BFF1 with me, on the basis that the course is eight weeks and fitted nicely into the summer holidays so we could fit it in, and that she really needed it and wasn’t going to find the time if I didn’t push her. I caught her in a moment of weakness and she agreed, much to my surprise.
The course is the full mindfulness course, as laid out in the book. BFF1 took a lot out of it. I knew, that with my tendency to let routines vanish over the holidays, that I would struggle to achieve any of the mindfulness practices at home and this is what happened. I enjoyed the practices as we did them together and did try and do them at home for the first couple of weeks. But then (see a pattern here?) it slipped away. Although the practices are the same in both courses, the MBSR focuses on stress reduction whereas the MBCT focuses on cognitive therapy. Our group didn’t bond in the way my previous one last year did and we really didn’t talk enough about why we were doing this, how it was helping and what stumbling blocks were in our way. We didn’t bond as a group and while I keep in touch with people from the last group, even if it is only via facebook, there was no great sense of camaraderie and no contacts were exchanged.
Listening to the tutor explain bits during the course did however make me realise how far I had come, that even though I struggled to do the practices, I had incorporated many of the ideas into the way I try and lead my life. In that sense I identified much progress which is good. One of the very practical changes I have made is to separate out work email from personal and trivial stuff, to take work email off my phone and to make it work on manual download only. It will take me a long while before I really stop hitting the manual download button so frequently but it has helped my focus when I am trying to work.
So where I go with mindfulness I don’t know. I haven’t even yet returned to five minutes silent meditation at the start of the day but I do want to and no doubt I will get there eventually. Writing all this makes a summer that I thought was relaxing and quiet seem very eventful indeed.
I have the number of my neighbour’s driving instructor and I’m plucking up the courage to ring him. I’m fairly sure that my reluctance to get on with this, having replaced my Provisional Licence at the beginning of the year is all tied up with my parents, but this is my last major hang up and I want to get it dealt with. So that’s on the list for this term.
I gained another client who I started working for last week. We’re on a three month trial to see if we work for each other but as long as I get used to what’s needed it’s fairly silly money for 6-8 hours a month. Steady income that adds to my portfolio is something I desperately need over the next few years.
I have started fighting with the tax office to get my tax credits and other benefits for 2son while he is at home. Their attitude is that he is in residential accommodation so I get nothing. I have pointed out that he is at home for 14 weeks of the year and they are really not interested. I need to put in a formal complaint which needs to explain why it’s taken me so long to do so and I haven’t got there as the whole procedure just fills me with horror. Something else for me to feel guilty about not accomplishing.
This audit of the summer has made me feel better about all the changes that have happened and all those that haven’t. Medical issues may be boring but they need dealing with and resolving and my health has bounced up and down quite a lot over recent months. I also can’t quite let the summer be, but want to feel that I have made progress, even though letting it be would in itself be the best progress. I do wonder about needing more therapy, but do no more than wonder.
While I’ve been typing away, 2sis has decided to accompany us tomorrow for my father’s visit, which will help reduce the tension. I shared some more thoughts and anxieties with her which she did her best to understand.
That’s another summer gone. I still feel that life is passing me by but I am trying to get on with living it anyway. It’s amazing how hard work it is.