Thursday, September 1

going out when you're homebound

I did it again, a house leaving excursion which didn’t go extremely well. The last couple of months there have been very few excursions and a 100% didn’t-go-very-well rate. But things seem almost possible in pajamas whilst lying on the couch, and I decided to make a trip to pathology collection, lured by sleep. I’m really quite straight forward when it comes to motivations; my mind is trained on my next sleep, and my next eat. I knew Mum could drive me in the afternoon, but if I went by myself in the morning then I could rest aaaall afternoon and potentially not be some kind of aching grey puddle in the awful hour that is waiting for Ben to get home from work. The golden rule of being Marigold’s mother: Do not use up energy late in the day or you might run out before parent no. 2 arrives home.

If you’re feeling dizzy while changing nappies and putting on proper clothes you shouldn’t hop in the car. I know this. But I wanted a peaceful afternoon, so I wobbled on. And it feels so momentous to go out when you’re not used to it, the world feels very big and interesting after a small house.

In the car my right eye was swelling with uncomfortable tears. I am one of those people who gets colds in their eyes, and my eyes weep at their own sweet leisure through the day making me appear excessively emotional. I could vividly imagine them starting to run the second the needle went in, and assuring the nurse that I was not crying from the sting. Smarting eye, dizzy vision, cars and trees swooping by...regret was taking hold as I prayed through my short and dangerous drive.

There was a decent wait before it was my turn. Enough time to really thoroughly crumple. I usually make it my mission to avoid hunching and crossing my legs and conducting myself in a terribly gauche manner. But there I sat on one half of the ample chair, arms folded in on myself, wearing a grey top, eyes smarting, slumped over. Aware, but not correcting myself.

My mind began to race, about how to make it home – can’t get a taxi home with a baby car seat...this was unwise, I’m stranded...could Ben take me home in his lunch break, but that’s not fair because he’s been off work for me all week...but miracles happen all the time, I might be ok.

I eat a banana, get a glass of water. Neither seems to revive me.

It’s my turn, and the nurse and I smile at each other and acknowledge that we have met before. Many times, if we're honest. I prefer being pricked by her to anyone else. I remember that when I was pregnant and throwing up here there and everywhere, she stashed a few vomit bags in my tote because she knew I'd appreciate them. 

The paper work takes a long time, maybe because I’m getting genetic testing, and I try to bolster my baby’s patience with all kinds of handbag treasures. I’d saved the car keys till last, my piece de resistance, but they don’t seem jangly or spiky enough for her today.

“Did you fast for these?” She asks, forebodingly.

“No, I didn’t. The slip said non-fasting,” I reply.

“Ah yes. It does. I’m afraid one of the tests does need to be fasted for...”


I’m so overwhelmingly drained, I’ve given so much to get my bloods done. In another life, I would have covered my dismay and said, oh that’s fine, never mind, I’ll come back another day. But I’m too tired, of being sick and being impeccably charming. I don’t hide it.

“Oh. Really. That’s a real shame. Because I’m not very well, and it’s going to be hard to get back here. And I also don’t know how I’ll go fasting because I need to eat through the night to sleep. I think I’ll have to get someone to drive me in another day.”

“Well, we could take them anyway, when did you last eat?”

“A minute ago. No, let’s not muddy the results.” I say

“You know what; I live just one suburb across from you. I could drive past your house on my way to work tomorrow morning and take them for you?”

I’m stunned by her kindness. I know this is an out of the blue offer, not a service offered by the practice. I know she is just being the kindest nurse in the world. I tell her how much it means, but that I couldn’t let her do that. We agree that we will take most of the tests today, and I’ll take the other one next week, on Ben’s day off. She says if I fast from 2am, it should be ok.

My eyes don’t weep during our appointment. I leave the practice. Her kindness upped my energy in a good way, it gave me just the right amount to get myself safely, if a little precariously home to my couch.

The gift of health is more absent than ever, but in its absence is an ever growing pile of radical kindnesses, spiritual epiphanies, and sweet unfoldings, which seem acutely precious.


  1. I love this post, especially that last paragraph. So true and so well put. May the pile keep growing. How good is a word in season? Speaking of which, I'm always better for a visit here. Keith