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 meand I wake in the night at the least soundin fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,I go and lie down where the wood drakerests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.I come into the peace of wild thingswho do not tax their lives with forethoughtof grief. I come into the presence of still water.And I feel above me the day-blind starswaiting with their light. For a timeI 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.