Friday, June 10, 2022

pain

it's possible it's selective memory, but this week feels like the first time in my life i'm in this weird sort of general physical pain. it's a pain affecting the upper right quarter of my body, neck down, mid back up all the way along my right arm to my fingertips. the strangest thing about the pain is that i can't do anything to get any relief from it - the pain's about the same whether i'm moving or still, sitting, standing, lying down, stretching, walking, cycling. it's not even unbearable - but it's there.

it's got to a point where it's driving me crazy. i haven't been able to sleep because my entire night is spent finding a lower-pain position. at one point in the middle of last night, i actually got off the bed and sat on the floor, resting my forehead against the bed, because it felt better for a few seconds.

tonight, i'm half considering doing push-ups until i collapse from exhaustion or something like that. either way, it isn't going to end well.

worst of all, this is not the only physical problem i'm enduring at the moment. i stubbed my toe badly on sunday, and it's still painful to walk or put on footwear - but if i stay still for too long, my toe pain subsides and is replaced with stiffness, which isn't great, but is better than pain. so overall, lying in bed means i'm in a lower pain state than out and about. in fact, that's the reason i took monday off sick, and rested for most of tuesday as well - but apparently spending too much time in bed gives me a headache. more pain. sigh.

i'm just going crazy with pain.

so crazy, that i'm half wondering if it's real pain or some sort of phantom pain that i can just self-hypnotize myself into ignoring. but then mom warned me that she once injured her ankle and went to work for 3 days when she was advised to rest - and that ended up with her in bed for 3 months while she recovered. not a pleasant thought for me.

i would also like a massage to know in case that helps, but i don't think i'll be able to get one.

worst of all, here in the UK, one can't just go to a doctor and get oneself seen to. i have to first call up and get an appointment. the line only opens at 8:30am and appointments for the entire day are given out at that point. every attepmt to do so in the past year has been met with the same result: i stay on hold for an hour, and give up. if i immediately call again i get a response saying all the appointments for the day have been given out. the system is so broken i haven't spoken to a doctor in months - it's cure by attiriton. by the time you manage to speak to a doc your problem has gone away. which means i may just have to live in pain.

ps: i also cut my thumb today, but that's not bad. barely even hurts.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

166 miles in May

When I decided to walk/run 50 miles in May, I was expecting a struggle to finish it. My Garmin's stats say I covered that much in all of the 4 months before it! 

It was a slow start, but after initial hiccups (May 1 and 2), I was unstoppable. 

Along the way, my own mental health has improved, I feel so much better, and I have promised to keep this going. 

And so, back to the thing that got me moving to begin with: the Samaritans. While I am extremely grateful for those who have contributed/promised to contribute, I have barely got a handful of contributions. I set off hoping to raise some money along with creating awareness (and getting more active!). 

let me know if you are happy to support the Samaritans (I'll consolidate all contributions and pay them shortly) or you can contribute directly:

https://www.samaritans.org/donate/?amount=00&pay-in=on&campaign_id=74&frequency=single&currency=GBP

if you use the link, do select "50 miles in May"


Friday, May 27, 2022

running on water

we were swimming in a lake. the water was turquiose, although it wasn't completely clear - it was more like a translucent turquoise. the lake was pretty huge. there were about 15 of us in the lake, quite well spread out. i don't remember who they were, but it definitely felt like friends I knew well, all guys though. it seemed like the lake was about 4 feet deep throughought, as everyone was about neck deep in water, and we had our feet on the ground. the lake was bordered by a forest, which also had coconut trees dotted along its shore - must have been somewhere coastal and tropical.

we were playing a game where we'd throw a ball to each other and try to catch it. there didn't seem to be any particular objective to the game - we were just throwing the ball around and catching it. the size of the lake was so huge that I wasn't sure if it was possible to throw the ball across to the person furthest away - i was quite sure that given my limited throwing abilities, i certainly could not.

at one point, someone threw the ball towards me but it didn't quite get to me. in fact, it barely got halfway across the lake before coming to a standstill. i started moving towards the ball as fast as i could, but the water resisted, as it usually would when you're that deep in it. i tried leaping forward with each step, as the more of my body I got out of the water, the faster and further I could move.

I leaped harder and higher, until at one point, I just about managed to leap clear of the water. and when I did, my foot didn't break the surface and go back in - I stayed standing on top of the surface of the lake!

I took a nervous step forward, and I countinued to stay on the surface of the lake! I was walking on water!

I took a few more steps, and once I was confident this was actually happening, I started to run. I could run on water!

I picked up the ball and tossed it back to the friend who had tossed it towards me.

I was so overjoyed with being able to run on water I didn't care for the game any more. I ran along the lake towards the shore, to where there was a wooden shed with a roof made out of thatched coconut leaves. Mom and dad were standing there, an arm around each others' shoulder. They were beaming at me. I was overjoyed to see them - more importantly, to see dad.

I hugged him, and mom took her arm off his shoulder.

I told him he was looking great! In fact, he seemed to have lost quite a bit of weight!

He said "yeah, I know, I haven't eaten in 5 months!"

I replied, "that's not too bad then!"

And that's when my alarm went off.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

so, what's the plan?

it's interesting how problems seem far more manageable when viewed from a distance. my trip to London was to catch tool live (which I did! another post to follow 😁), but as a side effect, the last 4 days have given me a surprising (and unexpected) amount of time alone with nothing to do but think. I guess that's one side-effect of a solo vacation I hadn't considered, especially in a place like London, with its long, offline tube journeys. that and the book I'm currently reading on my kindle ("deep work" by Cal Newport) has led me to conclude the feeling of being in a constant struggle is actually because I'm struggling to focus on the things I want to do. and that the things I need to do to ease my struggle are actually quite simple! 

and so, when this plane lands at Belfast, I'm going to step off with a spring in my step, because I have a plan... and it's going to take me from where I am to where I want to go!

Saturday, May 07, 2022

2022 so far

I'm not going to lie, 2022 has brought plenty of not-so-nice things with it. losing dad tops the list, but there's more to it:

- despite every effort, things seem to be falling apart. staying on top of my work, personal life, staying in touch with family and friends, taking care of myself seems easy individually, but when put together becomes overwhelming and feels like too much to manage.

- my health seems to be taking a beating as a result. I've been cycling less, walking less (although that's changing now), sleeping less, eating worse.

- for the first time in my life, I've been officially diagnosed with less than perfect mental health. while counselling seems to have got me out of the red, it still seems like things are precarious.

- time seems to be passing without much to show for it. at the start of the pandemic, there were plenty of reassuring messages that in these times, it's okay to just survive. it now seems like things are about as normal as they're going to be, and yet I'm still in "barely surviving" mode.

- I've lost my taste for most entertainment. Reading, movies, board games, even a night out. the only thing that gets me going is when someone asks. and even then, it seems like whatever I do just makes my life more difficult than if I didn't go.

- I feel alone most of the time. I don't know why. I'm surrounded (physically and virtually) by people who want the best for me, but I just feel it.

it's not like I don't have things to be thankful for: my time spent in Mumbai was much more fulfilling than it usually has been. I still have the rest of my family. the pandemic has been better to me than to most (if statistics are to be believed). I live in peaceful, idyllic surroundings. I still have my motorbike (although I came very close to having to sell it), and I still enjoy riding it. I learned to sail. I have all the comforts I desire. I seem to be making progress towards my long term goals.

it's just that the overarching feeling of everything being a struggle pretty much masks everything else. 

Saturday, April 09, 2022

closure

the last few months have been difficult. it's hard to understand how the healing process starts, and what helps it along. it's hard to understand when you're actually getting better, and when you're heading towards a well disguised breakdown. it's hard to diffrentiate between greiving and all the other things happening in my life at any given point of time.

but i do know one thing: i feel better now.

i didn't want to visit dad's grave. i thought, like most other things, it'll just be anticlimactic and leave me feeling meh. i put it off for almost 3 weeks after I landed in Mumbai. but at one point, I felt ready. 3 months to the day he passed away.

his grave laid uncerimoniously bare - just a simple tombstone to mark it as his. on either side, identical tombstones indicated graves were being allocated in chronological order. the people on both sides were also 75 when they died.

i spent more time looking at other graves around than I did at his.

nearby, people were gathered around another grave - a funeral had just concluded.

as i stood there, they began to leave.

i didn't want to leave.

when the graveyard was quiet and I was finally alone, I started walking around aimlessly.

people talk about staying true to the memory of their loved ones who have passed away. that they live on through us.

i don't think any of that is necessary. dad has left his imprint on me, and i have always grown up with his influence. he was living through me even while he was still alive. not entirely though - there are things I consciously chose to reject. is that what makes me, me? it's hard to say. but either way, I am what I am.

I guess the only thing I've really learned in these 3 motnhs without dad is that I need to cherish those I love and treat them fittingly while they're still around. thoughts at a grave do not matter to the person in it.

and there's a lot to be done. it's usually only in hindsight or from an outsider's perspective that we see what could have been done. and therein lies the root of all regret.

I don't know if there's more to be learned from dad's life (are there stories I'm yet to hear that will touch me? it's possible!), but I have enough to go on. and I have finally realzied that.

the rest of my life, however long or short it may be, lies ahead for the taking. it's time to be excited about life again - because it's all I have.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

running at night

I was on a flight to mumbai. it was dark, and the air was heavy with moisture, although it wasn't raining.

the flight was weird - when it was landing, there were no lights of the city to welcome us. we landed on an airstrip in the middle of what seemed like a jungle. in fact, the area around the airstrip was densely overgrown with what seemed like a tropical rainforest. the trees glistened dark green in the glow of the few lights beside the runway, whick looked more like street lights than anything you'd see at an airport.

once off the plane, we were in a huge shed that served as an airport terminal. while it was pretty huge, it still wasn't anywhere as huge as most airports - about a couple of hundred feet wide and a little less high, and maybe a thousand feet long. the insides were dimly lit and there were loads of people milling about, but no shops or anything like that. in fact, the floor was just tarmac! it was shaped like half a cylinder. it seemed to be made of what seemed like corrugated sheets, and a few metal girders here and there.

i didn't have any bags other than my regular purple cabin bag, so there was no baggage to claim (although if there was, I don't remember seeing any baggage claim area - or customs, border control, or anything else!).

however, I did bump into aunt Dooda! she was directing passengers to the exit of the "airport", which was at the other end of the shed from where we entered it. I asked her how come she was at the airport, and she said she took up this job as she was getting bored at home. I asked her if she would be going home anytime soon, so we could travel together. she had a few hours of work left, so she couldn't.

I also bumped into Apoorv. I had a sense that he was on same the flight as I was, but we were somehow separated after we disembarked. We decided to share a cab, as we lived near enough.

Outside the airport terminal, we got into a cab. It was a rickety white maruti omni, and as we didn't have any large luggage, we fit quite comfortably. the seating was strange though: instead of the two rows of seats facing each other, there were seats on either side. Apoorv and I sat facing each other, and as the taxi drove us to Borivali, the city seemed dark and almost deserted.

Borivali was quite usual though, the streets seemed quite well lit, although perhaps not too busy. I don't remember the time of night - it's possible it was quite late.

As we got nearer to home though, the cab didn't take the usual route - it was passing though one of the more forested areas near home. The cab was headed up a steep hill, when in the distance, I saw what looked like dad!

He was in his favourite blue checked shirt and shorts, and for some reason he was running up the hill!

My first thought was: at his age he certainly shouldn't be running!

My second thought was: let's surprise him! And then give him a lift home.

I instructed the cab driver to drive past him and then stop.

As soon as the cab stopped, we opened the back door of the cab, and while still inside, I called out "Lucian", trying to disguise my voice best I could.

He walked up to the cab and peered inside (there were no lights on inside, so he couldn't see us very well).

Apoorv called out to him and said "surprise!!" And I hugged him and asked him to come home with me in the cab.

He was happy to see me, and as he got into the cab, it started to rain.

And that's when I woke up.

pain

it's possible it's selective memory, but this week feels like the first time in my life i'm in this weird sort of general physic...