Monday, March 26, 2007

Are you serious?

What better time to write a blog entry when bored out of ones skull at thirty-something thousand feet over the mid-west USA? I’m off with a work colleague to Los Angeles to a conference on software user assistance. I’m only just back from twelve days in the UK on vacation visiting family so I’m racking up the air miles this month. Not getting a great deal of work done though.
So how am I? Fine and dandy actually. I’m still doing what have come to be known as “plunges” every day – self-dilations to the uninitiated. Each morning, before I do anything else – well, after a pee and a hand wash actually, but I won’t mention that – I take the pastel blue silicone snake and whack it down my throat to make sure the stomophagus remains open. It’s become almost second nature now. It’s still not pleasant, it never will be, but eminently bearable. I do still get food stuck every now and again, but it’s gluttony that does it. My mum’s words still echo in my head – “chew your food 32 times before you swallow it.” I wonder where she got 32 from? Probably the same place from where she exhorted me to make sure I wore clean underwear “in case you get run over”. I swear she was more concerned with what the hospital staff thought of her housekeeping than me lying broken and bleeding from my interaction with a No. 39 bus.
As I said, I’ve just been to the UK for a round of family visits. It was a great trip, mostly in the bucolic Dorset countryside, surrounded by sheep, cows, and relatives. It was mother’s day (UK date) while we were there and we went out for dinner with mother-in-law. That was astonishingly spooky for me as we went to the restaurant where I suffered the very first, very frightening episode of not being able to swallow my food. I’m a pretty pragmatic type, but I found going there a bit haunting. At least we didn’t sit at the same table, or even in the same room, so the strange feelings didn’t last too long. And I could swallow this time.
I took the chance to visit with relatives, a couple of which I hadn’t seen for over 45 years. It’s surprising how a brush with one’s own mortality makes you reflect on your life and brings up memories that trigger a need to contact people again. It was great to see my aunt Cis again, in her eighties and sharp as a tack. My cousin Sue who, when I was ten, I was convinced that I would marry. We visited our sons and their families and partook of two huge slices of grandchildren’s love. And we decided that we have been fully accepted into the family of our youngest son’s in-laws. We must have been. Over supper at their home, his mum-in-law suddenly asked if she could see my operation scars. “Are you serious?” says I. “Yes” says she. “Surely not” says everyone else. But I had a couple of glasses of a nice cabernet/shiraz inside me (and I guess so did she) so up went the t-shirt. Acceptance is wonderful. (I think she really wanted to scan my new slimmer Adonis-like body.)
So here I am now, still at thirty-something feet over still the mid-west. What a huge country this is. There is an empty seat between me and work colleague. I like to think that it’s actually taken by Ned, my constant traveling companion.


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