BPG’s blog ~ how I learned an important lesson

December 15, 2014

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

an important lessonI haven’t been I’ll for ages but by golly I’ve just had the worst humdinger of flu, bronchitis and the wheezes I’ve ever had in my life. Since I have been married for three quarters of my three score and ten, I have never before had to battle being seriously ill whilst living on my own. For those of you who live happily with your husbands, partners, children etc. and have the odd moan, be thankful. For when you are horribly ill. and alone, it is truly a vile and frightening experience.

I do not have a huge food store. I tend to shop day to day as the whim takes me. But two weeks of not going out and I found I had run out of everything! Sassy told me she had this bug and same thing happened to her. And not only did she run out of food, she had no food for her dog either!

I knew I was really ill when I found my self gasping for air in the night. My chest had completely seized up. I had already had three days with no voice and a sore throat… but when I found my self fighting for air, I was frightened.

an important lessonYou have no idea how scary it is to be coughing your lungs out in the middle of the night… and being alone. All sorts of horrid things come into your mind such as “what if I die?” “Who will find me?” Even worse, “how long will it be before someone misses me!” The dark moments of the night can be very negative, especially if you are feeling worse than awful. I remember my mother telling me she was frightened of falling and now I so understand her and wish I had been more sympathetic when she was voicing her fears to me.

In the cold wet light of the dawn I realised I had to get to the doctors. The chesty cough stuff was getting me nowhere and I knew I needed an antibiotic. I had pleurisy years ago and didn’t want that again. The problem was I didn’t have a voice to speak and if I spoke I just coughed. I rang the surgery at 8.30am and tried to croak my name to the kindly lady on the phone. “You better come in” she said and gave me an appointment immediately. How good is that. My friends in London tell me they have to wait a week to see a doctor. I would be dead if I had to wait seven days!

The doctor was brilliant giving me an inhaler and antibiotic and a stern warning: “You have GOT to look after yourself – you are a hair’s breadth away from pneumonia. Go home and rest.” Rest? Me?!

I dragged myself out self coughing and spitting. I felt absolutely grim. I couldn’t believe a short walk could seem so long and be so exhausting. I reached home, put the heating on and sat on the sofa feeling very miserable and sorry for myself. How nice it would have been to have someone to get my medicine for me. How nice it would have been for someone to say they were sorry for me and make me a hot whiskey lemon. I hadn’t got any whiskey or a lemon! Even a bowl of gruel would have been welcome.

Don’t get me wrong I rejoice in my freedom and I love snuggling into my big bed and having books and magazines all over it. They often thump onto the floor in the night, but they are friendly noises. But when you are ill you feel cold. You can’t concentrate. And all you want is someone to fuss over you.

Who do thrice divorced ladies turn to? NO ONE I’m afraid to say. I stayed at home and saw no one for two weeks, no one missed me! I wallowed in self pity.

It’s a funny thing. I wanted help but I didn’t like to ask for it. And yet my cupboard was bare.

One daughter in law has a tiny baby. I knew she couldn’t help. The  other has a really busy life delivering kids to schools all over the place and running a large house. Anyhow they both live forty minutes drive away.

My lovely neighbour realised she hadn’t seen me. And emailed me and asked if I was alright. I told her of my plight. Imagine my delight and surprise when three frozen portions of lamb casserole were delivered outside my door – manna from heaven and so nutritious. But best of all I felt cared for. “Why aren’t your kids looking after you?” she said. I couldn’t really answer her… why hadn’t they? Well the answer is that I hadn’t asked them. I hadn’t made my needs known to them.

an important lessonI have learnt a very important lesson from this little episode.

There are lots of people out there who are ready and willing to help but if we don’t ask them how are they to know we have a need? As soon as I asked for help, I got it. Care packages, vitamin C, loo paper – all the essentials.

When I told my oldest son about how really needy and ill I had been he was horrified. Why didn’t you let us know he said.  “I didn’t like to bother you.” was my reply.

When I got home, I found a text from him. Mum – you MUST ask for help if you need it.
All my sanctimonious feelings of being unloved, melted away…

Of course, in their busy lives how could they possibly be expected to know I needed help. Next time I shall cry out loud and clear. And as long as I don’t cry wolf, I know they will be there for me.

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