I have a special relationship with my body, which has, to a certain extent, replaced that with a lover or partner. When you have an ongoing medical condition whose symptoms are variable and can be potentially life-threatening, then you have to make changes to your life and lifestyle. I, for whatever reason, am unable to accommodate the needs of other people when I have desperate needs of my own so I choose to live alone and manage my condition myself. This is a double-edged sword because I don’t have the day to day support I need if my condition worsens, but it has enabled me to become intimate with the precise workings and nuaces of my Bod. Nowadays I listen to her whispering, telling me to slow down, I talk to her, sharing her ups and downs, coaxing her to eat, telling her to lie down. I surround her with love, pamper her when she needs it, but I can also be a slave-driver when I want to achieve something and, like in any loving relationship, there are times when we quarrel and fall out.
This holiday has been an amazing adventure but it hasn’t been easy for Bod. I’ve pushed her to her limits (and sometimes beyond), made her do things she screamed at me not to do and pushed extra meds in her to keep her quiet. By the time we flew home she was refusing to co-operate with me and I ended up being taken from the plane at Heathrow in a wheelchair. Now that we’re home I’m trying to make it up to her, letting her rest, taking her to the doctor’s, wrapping her in blankets and trying to soothe her. However, she still won’t eat and it’s going to take a lot of penance on my part to repair the damage I’ve done. But I’ll do it.
Bod and I have always had problems but it’s only in my later years that I appreciate what she means to me. I feel guilty about all the years of abuse I gave her, only for her to keep coming back, faithful as ever, trying to do her best. Now that she needs more love and attention I give it to her without question, but I’m still the pig-headed individual who thinks the world is there to be enjoyed and dreams are precursors of reality. And when something really important to me comes up, I’ll do it, and hope I can repair the damage afterwards.
When I was still living at home I had to be in by 10pm. The friends I hung around with didn’t have a time to be in so I stayed out with them and was constantly in trouble for being late. My theory then was ‘do it and take the pain afterwards’ and I think I still operate on that childish philosophy, although my goals now are much higher than just staying out with friends. It has enabled me to bring up 3 children on my own and go to university to become a teacher, gain 2 Masters degrees, manage a large community education programme, travel to developing countries and work in one, change my career several times, buy my own homes and to cope with an incurable and inconvenient illness.
So tonight I’m lighting the candles in the bathroom, shaving, oiling and massaging Bod, putting the music and electric blanket on, snuggling down and loving her better. However long it takes.