Sunday, August 30, 2009


It's been a funny sort of week. On Wednesday I was seriously considering flying to the UK for my grandmother's funeral; this morning when I spoke to her on the phone it was almost as if nothing had happened. She's been plagued with intestinal difficulties for at least half a century, and has undergone several operations. Last Sunday her bowels were blocked again and she was whisked off to hospital in a lot of pain. Three days later they were still blocked; the doctors refused to operate due to her age despite Dad begging them to please do something. At that point Dad jumped on the first plane to Heathrow. By the time he arrived, her bowels had miraculously freed themselves, and she was let out of hospital not long after. Normally when I talk to Gran the line is bad and I only catch about every third word (it doesn't help that she jabbers at a hundred miles an hour in a Welsh accent) but this morning she was as clear as a bell.

You could say Gran is a survivor. In her thirties severe depression made her life a living hell. In those days she couldn't just "bump up her Efexor" like I can - she had to resort to such treatments as ECT. After Grandad died from Alzheimer's in 1999, Gran started blacking out for no apparent reason. On one occasion she flew out to see me in France and passed out on the plane. It was found that her heart stopped beating in these episodes, so she got a pacemaker fitted, in an operation that took five hours and nearly killed her. Last year when I saw her she was in a bad way after suffering a small stroke, but somehow she keeps bouncing back.

On Saturday I felt better than I have for at least two months. My grandma wasn’t dying after all, spring was in the air, and I didn’t have to study for any stupid exams. In the morning I played tennis with Bazza. I wasn’t expecting much. When I faced two set points on Bazza’s serve at 5-2 and 40-15 in the first set, I was expecting even less. But I clawed my way back from the brink, eventually winning 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. Afterwards I realised how much my mood affects everything I do, tennis included. In the first seven games I was spraying unforced errors all over the place; had it been the previous Saturday I’d have bashed my head with the frame of my racket, lost all capacity to think straight, and undoubtedly been on the wrong end of a 6-2 6-1 thrashing, not that I would have cared.

After tennis I did my Italian homework, spent some time on my puzzles, then went out for dinner with Julie – it was a complete rip-off (that’s one reason why I rarely eat out) but it was good to catch up with her. Yesterday I had the French club – I spoke more French than I normally do, largely because I was in a better-than-average mood.

Tonight was my weekly Italian class. I’m doing reasonably well with my Italian – it’s satisfying to feel that I’m good at something. It’s a shame I only get that feeling for two hours a week; for the entire forty I spend in the office I feel the exact opposite. The trick is not to let that affect all other aspects of my life.

Mum is flying up to see me on Wednesday. I’ve seen more of my parents this year than I have for at least five years. That’s partly because air fares have come down but mainly because they’re worried sick about me.

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