Back in another century, when I still had all my milk teeth, the concept of the year 2000 loomed large in my imagination. And not just mine. It dominated schoolyard games and conversations. We knew we would all be so old by then… 34! We were certain bikes and cars would be relegated to the scrapheap, and we’d zip around everywhere in personal spaceships.
Everybody’s brains would be tuned in to a massive television screen that could read our brainwaves and transmit our thoughts at a press of a button to anyone, anywhere in the universe. I wasn’t so keen on that idea: even back then, I loved writing, and the thought that people could read my stories in my head before I’d finished them was a bit disturbing.
Holidays abroad wouldn’t mean travelling to other countries. No way. We’d be rocketing off to the moon and other planets. ‘Other’ always included planets nobody had discovered yet, that were waiting behind a curtain of spacedust for us to discover them. Although I have to admit, I set my route finder for the southern hemisphere just as often as for Saturn. In school assembly, we’d had a presentation/photo show from a seventies version of inspirational speakers.
They’d been to New Zealand, and when I heard about black sand, volcanoes, pumice stones as big as your head lying around on the beach, the Maori haka, kiwis, dense sub-tropical bush, boiling mud pools and natural hot springs, I knew I had to go there too someday.
Of course, some of our imaginings about the future turned out not to be too far from reality. I did get to New Zealand, though I conceded to travelling on a conventional aeroplane. Just in time for Christmas on the beach in 2005, my daughter and I took the plunge and emigrated from England.
Twitter and Facebook are pretty close to that tv screen. And with the internet, we can write our blogs and share them around the world in a matter of seconds. We’re not quite zipping round in spaceships, but hey, there’s drones to do that for us, satellites relay our communications, and Elon Musk did just launch a car into space.
It turned out 34 wasn’t so old either. Or 44. Or 5… nope, not quite there yet. But old, I discovered, is a wildly fluctuating concept. I don’t plan on being it until I’m at least in my eighties. But life is full of unexpected twists and turns and it seems my body has other plans. My mind is still the curious, creative, imaginative thing it was when I was a primary school kid, but my body has aches and pains far beyond its vintage.
Six years ago, the shooting pains in my jaw, teeth gums and throat I’d been experiencing intermittently for around 40 years, spread into my ear and rest of my face, becoming extreme and permanent. I’d also developed symptoms of cluster headache, which complicated diagnosis, and a whole bunch of other symptoms that didn’t seem to fit under any particular diagnostic umbrella. After many hospital trips, tests, neurological exams, dental surgeon exams, months of research, and second opinions, the face pain was diagnosed as Trigeminal Neuralgia. Over the next few years, those other random symptoms presented a clearer picture, mainly by virtue of getting worse, and more diagnoses arrived. If rare conditions were beads, I’d have enough to string a necklace.
Chronic pain/chronic health conditions force big changes, place tight limitations on life. This is why I first started a blog. I’ve loved writing since I was very young, creating poems, stories, and novels, sending silly letters to friends. I’ve had a few published pieces amongst my poems, and won a few poetry competitions over the years. I’m focusing this year on a collection of international poems, and getting my novels publisher-ready.
Through adjusting to the reality of living with disability, I also discovered the potency of therepeutic writing. My first blog posts were thoughts on what I was dealing with, reflections on the attitudes and thoughts that helped me sustain myself. I realised too, that my posts helped sustain other people. And so I write. I write opinions, because I have a lot of them. I write poems, because everyone needs to experience the world through different eyes. I write about writing, because I have insights to offer. I write about my health conditions because it helps. I choose Verve, because pain and disability doesn’t have to mean you stop loving life.