Pain revisited

Wild placesThis last weekend I was reminded of those few dark days before I was able to find out the facts and a prognosis for my pituitary adenoma.

I spent the weekend, as I do occasionally, with a group of 9 of my very closest friends none of whom I had seen since my diagnosis – so it seemed appropriate to speak with them about it. I wanted to start with the poem by Wendell Berry that had helped so much; it was given to me by The Emergency Poet with whom I consulted only a couple of days after hearing the news and before I found out that my condition was basically no more terminal than life itself. She had been offering her services on the edge of Bradford’s wonderful mirror pool during a festival of some sort, she took a ‘case history’ and asked f there was any mood or state for which I would like a poem to help. My answer, without disclosing why, was a poem about ‘acceptance’ and she gave me a copy of Wendell Berry’s ‘The Peace of Wild Things’:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things” from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998.

I cried as I started to read this out to my friends. I realised that this poem had triggered all of the fear that was in me for those few days. I now look back and recall walking around looking at things in the belief that ‘this could be the last time i see this’, ‘this is my last Summer, enjoy it’ etc. That was the time when I wrote “When your mortality hits you” and “Does anything really matter?”.  Dark days indeed.

I reassure my friends that I am now totally OK with what’s happening – no bravado, just a proper and informed understanding of the facts. Facts which, as I have written earlier, I have by and large had to find out myself. I repeat here what I have written before – I do not perceive nobody has EVER sat me down, explained about pituitary adenomas and sought to answer any questions I had. The ‘I do not perceive’ is important in that sentence – maybe some did do that but certainly I have no recollection of it happening and I now that if it had happened in those first 2 weeks then I would probably not have been in a mental state to absorb the information.

Then I mention my elevated blood pressure and slightly high cholesterol levels – to find that 6(?) friends are on blood pressure medication and 3 (?) taking statins for cholesterol control. WOW! Yet again a piece of disclosure on my part has triggered disclosure from others – a lesson that keeps being repeated, how do I use this lesson more widely in my life?

I explain that I was happy to take Ramipril as a short-term blood pressure control after the GP explained that it would work in 2 to 3 weeks but that I would want to revisit lifestyle measures thereafter. The statins are a different tale altogether – one to which I will return after more research and discussion.

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