Monday, 29 April 2013

Chronically ill Tuesday: The Invalid Abroad.


Here is something you may or may not have known about the chronically ill person: they do not want to know about your upcoming holiday plans. I'm sorry to tell you that but nor do they really want to hear about the holiday you just came back from. 
I know that sounds bitter. Because it is bitter.
Because am bitter.
Bitter that chronic illness never goes on holiday. Unless you are thinking of a little white pill called Endone. (And I swear I'm not. Honestly. Okay, I'm trying).
It just doesn't occur to people easily. That you can't ask your illness to hold down the hatches at home, watch out for the cat and take in the mail, while you nip off for a week without it. Just occasionally you can fool yourself, with a little something evil  called hope, that you actually are going to get a break while away, out of town, the opportunity to enjoy some new surroundings without your illness in tow. You may even get into the spirit of things while packing, fantasising about this new environment, where magically everyone is well. And then you are disappointed and, weirdly, surprised that the illness you've had for thirty years now persists in coastal environments as well.
It puts me in the mind of a hematologist I saw in my early twenties before being fully diagnosed. His suggestion that maybe I needed a change of environment. Because not only am I well enough for travel but also idly rich enough to pack up my belongings, board a steam train with my companion, and travel to the sea side where our summer lodgings await, fully staffed with a cook and house servant. Or maybe the staff travelled with us. I'm not sure. However it was done in a Henry James novel. Who did he think I was anyway? Isabel Archer? Who knows, I might have run into Marcel Proust doing his own convalescing while there.
Because if ever you are reading up on the Victorian invalid, existing as they did with reasonable frequency in the Victorian novel, you find that they actually DID travel quite a bit. Often on doctors instruction. Worrying predictions such as "She won't survive another English winter" would definitely be inspiration to head south for a warm break. As someone who remembers reading these Victorian novels as a teenager, when my own illness had already taken grip but before the internet existed, I remember studying with intent these secondary characters - the invalids - in Victorian novels, as one of the few places in culture (or anywhere really) I could recognise some of my own experience. And yet I NEVER got the travel thing. The way they were able to pack up and pick up shop for a warmer environment. Travel. It's just so hard when you are sick. There are days I can barely pack a lunch let alone a suitcase. Plus on the road, no access to the few consoling things that provide comfort. Such as warm baths. Your own bed. A pharmacist who knows you. Food that agrees with you. 
I guess the explanation lies in these being wealthy Victorian invalids. The mind boggles that any family besides Gina Rhinehart's these days (and they're not talking to each other) could pack up an entourage of nursemaid, chef, driver, house servants and companion to accompany you on a tour of convalescence. How much would that cost? Exactly how well off are the disabled likely to be these days? And anyway like I said it's hard enough being sick in your own environment, where everything is arranged to provide the maximum quality of life possible, let alone an exotic one geared to the average healthy schmuck tourist.
So I guess that is it. Until an affordable industry has built up around invalid travel, so that leaving home actually constitutes a holiday, I am afraid I have to apologise and give your European Tour slide night a miss.


Fun ways for the Invalid to get about.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Writer In The Family.

Good news. My sister is getting her first novel published. Am excited for her, naturally. Not jealous at all. After all, and as tell her "We are both writers now. You with your novel and me with own blog". Then have great idea - Trophy Wife will offer free publicity! Will review my sisters book with dedicated post and maybe afterwards an interview. And wont charge her a thing! She will be thrilled. Warn her though - must be honest about book. Owe that to own followers. Say if, for example, find book is boring will come right out and say so. Doubt it will be boring though as likely I am one of the characters. Have pushed sister for more details on this but she only says "You can wait and find out for yourself when it's published"
"Hang on, have you called me Becky?" I say, sensing all of a sudden I've been called Becky. "You better not have called me Becky!"
"Calm down Mia. I haven't called you Becky" Aha!
"Guess I will find out soon enough when the complimentary copy arrives at Trophy Wife HQ" I say.
"Hmmm. Speaking of Trophy Wife" says sister changing conversation "Why don't you ever mention Lara's blog on yours? You could have some kind of cool cross promotional thing going on" Lara is our older sister. She also has a blog. It's called "In flight" though don't get excited, it has nothing to do with travel. Or studly men in retro knits come to think of it.
"I just forget to" I say, although this is an outright lie. The truth is I find "In Flight" quite embarrassing. For one thing Lara treats her blog like a diary, sharing things about her personal life. Plus there's not a single tutorial on it, NOT ONE (unlike Trophy Wife which has two or three). And it's not as though Lara isn't creative. In fact she's a  recently graduated artist. Although thats another thing - her art. It's embarrassing. Or rather it's conceptual and no one can ever tell what it's supposed to be. We went to her graduation exhibition and I said "That's a fantastic rooster Lara, I'd love that in my garden" and she says "It's not a rooster Mia. It's an assemblage/installation piece utilising upcycled materials and various textile ephemera to juxtapose the fragility of human nature to actual nature within the theoretical context of absurdist existentialism ". Luckily at that moment Louie was having a little tug at the roosters leg so I say "Oh dear, I better get him out of here before the roosters leg comes off." because otherwise I wouldn't have had a single thing to say...
Still, maybe In Flight could benefit a little from some of Trophy Wife's special magic formula. Lara's readers are probably crying out for some down to earth respite, if truth be told. Some DIY for sure, and yes, maybe even a little bit of a studly man in a retro knit.
"Will think about it" tell sister "In meantime let your publicist know your sister has a blog and is prepared to wield some very valuable influence on your behalf."