Whilst I was contemplating this, my next post (Coronavirus Journal, no 2, four weeks post surgery), I happen to turn my back for a moment and discover Willo in the process of destroying one of the envelopes on which I had written some random thoughts. Notes that reflect a stream of consciousness in preparation for this post. What was I going to write about? So much going on, both inside my head and outside in the world. How to make sense of it all as the reality begins to sink in? So far, these notated ‘thoughts’ have covered both surfaces of five used envelopes. I managed to retrieve the pieces of one of these from the jaws of the whippet in the nick of time and stick them back together again. With a kind of wry irony, I thought how appropriate it was. Here I was trying to piece my broken life – in the midst of a chaotic world – back together again.
But I was going to need more than sellotape to to get my life back on track. And now – referring to those notes – I can reveal the strategy that has been forming in my mind in this time of retreat into the wilderness of my own resources. The stark fact is that if I contracted the virus, it is unlikely I would survive it and I would go and join the poor souls in my graveyard garden. At least with my cancer diagnosis, I have a fighting chance of beating it because I can be pro-active in the healing process and I believe I stand a good chance of living the rest of my days cancer-free.
I have not been invited to proceed with chemotherapy yet and not sure even if this is an option due to NHS priorities. (Update: I have been given a telephone consultation with the hospital on 15th April). The idea of ‘poisoning’ my way back to health tho’ doesn’t pose a very attractive proposition at the moment. Even the wonderful alternative therapies offered through the Macmillan Trust, such as Reiki healing, Indian Head massage and Reflexology, are not available to me either at the moment.
So I have come up with a plan.
The big ‘Why’
But firstly. There is an important ‘elephant-in-the-room’ question that needs to be addressed. I’m sure all cancer patients ask this question at some stage during their cancer story. Why me? Or more to the point, what was my body trying to tell me?
Why did I end up having a malignant tumour in my guts in the first place? And really, I don’t have to delve too deep to find the answer. For me, it is glaringly obvious. Simply put, for the past few years, through a series of poor decisions on my behalf, I have struggled to make ends meet. Is it not surprising then that the stress and anxiety over finances would affect the solar plexus, sacral and base chakras in my body? The very foundation of my sense of place and security has been constantly challenged. In all this time, I somehow managed to just keep my head above the water and scraped by. The toll my enforced gypsy life-style had on me, however, resulted in a mixture of a poor diet based on cheap food and broken sleep patterns. We all know that is a toxic mix leading to inevitable poor health. The tumour in my abdomen and lymph system is merely the physical manifestation of the imbalance in these chakras. I should have known better.
After my recent operation, I moved out of my studio back into my house, the Old Sunday School attached to the Chapel, to recuperate. My studio, which is an old Methodist Chapel, being damp and freezing cold in the winter, hot and airless in the summer, was never designed to be lived in anyway. I had bought the Chapel from a friend three years ago, having fallen in love with it when I stayed here on my way to Cornwall on my Rainbow Ribbon pilgrimage with Tommy back in 2015. Its position in this delightful rural village on Dartmoor, was one of its many attractions. I had planned to release equity from the property to keep me going but when I delved more deeply into the equity release scheme, I decided it was not for me. So there was no option but to reluctantly, put the Grade 2 Listed Chapel back on the market and drastically downsize. That was two years ago and despite everyone who views it inevitably falling for its charms, the Chapel remains unsold.
To tide me over whilst I was waiting for a buyer, I moved out of the Old Sunday School – my home – into my studio in the old Chapel – in order to rent out my living space. I set up a tiny camp kitchen in my hallway which housed a one-ring gas stove, a small kettle and more importantly, an espresso coffee maker. For the next two years, there followed a succession of totally unsuitable tenants, all sent to try my patience or test me in some way. Having run a B&B business in my old Cornish Farmhouse for 6 years, I thought I had become a pretty astute judge of character. Believe me, it has been an education in all aspects of the human condition.
It kicked off with an Australian couple who moved in the day after seeing it. And I was desperate to have them. They had a set of 18 month old twins who spent a large proportion of their time screaming – not crying – screaming. Even my neighbours began to question what was going on? This was the summer and the twins were allowed to run wild, spending most of the time naked and without nappies. They didn’t venture into the garden graveyard for fear of snakes and spiders. The bath plug, baby shoes and god knows what else was flushed down the lavatory by the toddlers. Every surface, including walls, cupboards and tables, was a free-for-all, felt-pen scribbling surface. I have not been able to replace the bath plug with one that actually fits which means that if you run a bath now, it drains away at an alarming rate. I had to dump one of the sofas because of the urine stains not to mention the smell.
Then odd things happened such as police turning up with prison tags (what was that about?). He (Australian barrister), was actually held in prison for a couple of nights at one point. One day, a string of ambulances turned up and parked up, snaking their way through the village. I only learnt about this from my neighbours as these things don’t go unnoticed in a small community. These bizarre things went on for 9 months. The family finally moving out to be nearer work in Torquay. Not before asking my neighbour, Gretta and I, as the only witnesses to their registry office marriage. Not long afterwards, they were followed by a male nurse whose terrier dog peed up the legs of chairs. The poor man suffered from alcohol addiction and depression. That rental only lasted three months before he moved out because he struggled to keep up with the payments.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, along comes the tenants from hell and the couple who proved the most challenging of the lot. At first, they were charm personified, but I later discovered that they were convincing, pathological liars who spent their time conjuring up a life of fantasy and deception. They brought with them their Retriever dog whom I looked after when they went on holiday. Saying they wanted company for Archie, they had some sort of Labrador puppy selling business going on as two puppies came and mysteriously went, cloaked by a string of far-fetched stories. I was even invited to a wedding between these two (unlike the Aussie couple) that was entirely made up. When I rang the reception venue on the invitation, I was told they had never heard of this couple. After 5 months, at the end of November last year, through some elaborate smoke screening, they did a midnight runner, leaving me with all the bills unpaid. They then proceeded to try and make my life a misery by sending me a tirade of abusive and threatening messages which turned me into a blithering wreck.
Stop. Enough was enough. I cut off all communication with them, changed all the locks and decided that Airb&b was the only way forward. My friends rallied round to help me deep clean the Sunday School and get the place looking inviting again. A lot of spiritual clearing and cleansing needed to be done before I felt ready to move back in myself. Now, I am stung with the double whammy of self-isolation and losing my income from potential guests at the same time. Plus, all viewings on my property have had to be cancelled, so no chance now of selling my house any time soon. For the first time in my life, I am forced to turn to the state for help. (Pending) It is a measure of how desperate I have become…….like millions of others at this time who are far worse off than me.
Believe it or not, (and it is April 1st) what I have described here is just the tip of that floating iceberg. I could fill a book with my woes that no-one would want to read, least of all, me! Despite all this, I have never regretted moving here. But by now, my property should have sold and I could have moved on and I wouldn’t be in this mess. But I am grateful for small mercies. I have a roof over my head – for the time being – and all the time in the world to get that head around the current situation. So please forgive the verbal diarrhea. You see, I have written this post as a sort of much needed therapy, and as a very necessary part of the healing process. I’ve learnt the lessons and I shall in future pay more attention to my ‘gut’ feelings. Can we get on with it now?
Yesterday, I took the boys up to pastures new in Chapel field. I rode Tommy and led Paticus. It was so good to be back in the saddle again, the first time since my op and on such a beautiful day. A day where it felt so good to be alive. In my next post I will lay out the 7 step plan I’ve devised for beating my cancer. I’m excited to get going and put it all into action. Please join me if you can and let me know how you are coping in these unprecedented times?