Thursday, 18 February 2010

A Hazy Shade of Winter

17 weeks and 4 days...

I interrupt my recollection of recent encounters with ghosts from the UC past to ask this question: do you often have a 'perfect' moment?

Listen to this music as you read on.


UC steals all our joyous moments. Each elated high is immediately stolen by a crashing return to 'normality'. I say crashing. Perhaps I should say splashing. It's such a relentless, miserable, tiring fucking disease. Eventually, for me anyway, the only highs in life were the days when the UC relented, and I couldn't enjoy those because all I thought about was when it was going to kick back in. Which leaves, just about, nothing. A cold, lonely life of bitterness and worry. Trapped in a grainy black and white tunnel whilst a world of colour whirls around you unnoticed, unappreciated.

Now I know this is about mindset, and not just disease. Right now, I am smelling every bloody rose. But I'm also learning. And what I'm learning is this: whatever happens in the future, whatever the next UC challenge brings, it cannot take away what I've got...

So, my perfect moment? I was thrice blessed. It is half term (one week off school). Lovely-wife is working, but Grandparents are in town and they had taken Boy2 off my hands (Boy1 is master of his own destiny (well, in terms of daytime activity anyway)). The sun came out. A beautiful winter sun. So, I was sitting in the house reading (Oh God! The Quiet!), when I thought: "don't just sit rich, DO..."

Took my book and my ipod and walked along Hove seafront. Sat in a cafe. Enjoyed a latte. And a medicinal cigarette (cigarettes, my last, only vice... thanks researchers linking nicotine to suppression of UC). Read book. Listened to seagulls and chatter. Upon my walk home the 'moment' struck...

My book tucked under my arm, the ipod was back in. I strolled gently westward along the promenade when Barber's Adagio delicately eased into my ears. What a beautiful piece of music. The sun hung low, glinting on the sea, a hazy light batheing the ground. The sky was immaculately blue, cut dramatically by the creamy Georgian seafront granduer. People seemed to swim toward me. Seagulls arced with balletic grace. An germ of emotion grew in my guts. So pleasureable to feel positivity from below. My head filled with thoughts of my family. I could not stop smiling. And Barber's strings swelled in my ears...


The winter sun on Hove beach - as close to capturing the moment as a crappy mobile phone camera will allow...

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Who's gonna shoe your pretty little feet?

16 weeks and two days...

I had been lazy. There was little to report. Bumping along quite nicely. Doing the therapies, living life...

Then I was visited by an old acquaintence. Two old acquaintences. Like Ebeneezer, I tried to blame it on the cheese, but no, I was visited by ghosts of colitis-past.

First. I have mentioned before I play football on Sundays throughout the winter. This is as unseemly as it sounds - 36 year old man racing round a lumpy field chasing a ball and falling over alot. However, I am among equals upon those elysian fields, and it is but a brief moment in which to clutch at some glory before the darkness of the working week. And to get muddy, which is always liberating.

This season my usual rapier speed has been blunted by persistent problems in my knees. I have moaned about this previously. Essentially I am suffering fairly constant pain within the bottom part of the back of my knee. it is at its worst when the knee is bent and then the leg turned laterally - e.g. if I were to sit cross-legged, foot of one leg balanced on the knee of t'other, as it were. Strapped up I can play (with reduced speed), but post game it is agony, diminishing across the week until the following sunday by which time of course I am able to convince myself all is well enough to play again!

However, the key point here is that there is no inflammation. I have always suffered from associated arthritis. And in the past this has manifested most frequently in my legs below the knee (although I have had it in both arms seperately - hilarious days in school when your arm has swelled from the elbow to the fingers to close to double its normal size. I kid you not. Every lesson is spent answering the same questions, a mixture of awe, embarassment, nervous laughter and all out amusement. And that's just the kids), usually following a trauma-related trigger (e.g. a kick from a footbal boot), but sometimes just alongside bowel UC symptoms, and occasionally on its own. But the knee-thing? No inflammation. Cool.

This is my feet in mid 2008, the last time I had an arthritic episode (my feet and ankles are normally lovely and slender... honest).

Three weeks ago I played a game that began a two-week run of stupendous form (6 goals in two games! are you watching Fabio?). Unfortunately it also included that kind of crunching tackle that even Ron 'Chopper' Harris might have baulked at. Much as I'd like to suggest that I was the elegant attacker brought to earth by some agricultural defender, I can't. It was my tackle. And it was painful. When I got home and removed my socks, tubular bandages and shin-pads there was some swelling on the inside of my right leg, where calf and shin meet. I spent the rest of the day repeating behaviour I haven't seen for quite some time: constantly touching my leg, pulling up my trousers, pressing, prodding, poking, measuring extent of swelling - is it growing? Where's it going? There was an old familiar pain - increasing when standing (like the blood is rushing back in to it). The following day it was no bigger, good, but still sore. After two or three days the pain had eased considerably but there was still swelling and it showed some tell-tale signs: you could press the swollen area and make a depression that would remain, as though there was clay under the skin... Weird and kind of compelling. And typical of the old days.

However, the feet above and the other occasions of swelling would last for two to three weeks without steroids and at least a week with the aid of preds. But this time (with determined use of hypnotherapy and NLP) it was gone within four days. Interesting.

Having dealt with this UC ghost, I had a weeks respite before I nonchalantly strolled around a corner smack-bang into a second blast from my UC past...