For about a month, I’ve been stuck inside, flattened by the humidity , heat, fatigue, and other wonderful Pulmonary Hypertension related things such as abdominal fluid drains. And because of the humidity I’ve been using the portable air-conditioner almost 24/7. It is huge and very noisy.
Today I have no drain in, and it is raining in a steady stream. We’re getting a small taste of the chaotic weather as it is up north. I like the rain, it makes the trees look wet and bright and glistening. And the air, for the first time in days, is cool and actually breathable. The silence, after switching off the air-con, is shocking. And wonderful.
I’ve just been in the outside world. Up to the shopping mall. I used to hate shopping malls. But in boring old suburbia it’s better than rattling around on the scooter looking at houses and lawns and security doors; even the houses whose yards are all tall trees with snaky trunks and long dark green leaves hanging down like curtains, and wild shrubs hunched over sagging fences or sticking out through metal railings. Unfortunately I’ve seen them all before on other outings.
It’s Sunday, and my dad is here, so we go to the mall together. He hates shopping. But he’ll put up with it for me, and help me carry my bags and get the oxygen concentrator ready and bring down the scooter from the garage so that I can drive it up the steep path. He really should win Australian ‘Father of the Year’ or something. Both my parents deserve medals. I don’t know why they always seem to give ‘Australian of the Year’ to already famous and rich people, because there are people out there who work just as hard and do just as much good, but don’t happen to have rich friends to invite to their charity luncheons at $5000 a head. Or whatever.
My shopping is a boring and lengthy process of scouring shelves for ingredients with low-salt. When I realise they’re out of stock of the only low-salt crackers in the entire universe, I almost throw a temper tantrum. But I console myself by buying some delicious fruit. A mango, some limes, and some grapes. Fruit is my best friend.
Then we take an ice-cream break. This is something I always do when I come to the mall – I simply can’t help myself. I always buy a small cup of lemon sorbet and allow myself three or four delicious spoonfuls. It’s basically frozen water and sugar, so I can’t have too much. But it’s a good sugar hit to keep me going and of-course it helps the endless thirst. My dad eats an entire cup of dark chocolate gelato. Yum. I have a taste – it’s pretty damn good, but I still prefer the sharpness of the lemon.
Then I go to a cosmetics shop and buy a present for a friend – something which I think is beautiful and indulgent and perfectly delightful, and hopefully she will agree. While I’m there I also buy some deep red tinted lip-gloss.
This is the closest thing to make-up that I’ve bought in about two years. When you’re so skinny that wearing an oxygen mask for a couple of days rubs the skin off your nose and leaves you with a red scab thing, you don’t feel like going to the mirror and applying lashes of mascara, sparkly eye-shadow and a pink-peony lip-stick. Or who knows – maybe a bit of artful concealer, some blush, and one of those big powder puff things, would create a ‘healthy glow’ and stop the children from staring?
Last stop is the book shop. Going in here and browsing feels somewhat unethical as I have no intention of actually buying a book. I would like to support my local struggling book-store but my evil plan is to peruse what’s new in the land of literary fiction, and then go home and buy one of them on my Kindle, hopefully in audio form. It’s nice, in the afternoons, to lie on my sun-lounge on the back deck and listen to audiobooks and watch the sun in trees, or the kookaburras flapping down onto the neighbour’s roof where they poke around for beetles and worms with their long sharp beaks.
It’s wet and even almost cold on the ride home. My fingers don’t seem to work properly. They cramp up. And my feet too. Ouch. Foot cramps are no fun. Bad circulation. And I haven’t used those particular muscles in a while, I guess.
By the time we get home, I’m very tired. Three hours, that’s all it takes these days. Was it worth it? On one hand, I feel lucky to have the opportunity to go out, and to for once have the energy for it. But on the other, I’m getting a bit sick of the suburbia thing. Seeing the same old streets all the time. The same shops, and the same crowds, their vapid, hurried, talk, and their restless children who wander away and gawp at me, or are apt to stumble blearily into the path of my scooter so that I have to remain constantly on guard.
Everyone urges me to get out of the house: “You’re depressed, you need a change of scenery, you need some fresh air in your lungs” and etc… But in some ways going out doesn’t make a lot of difference. Trapped in this house, trapped in this body – not much of a distinction. It’s not like I can leave the house and leave my disease behind, like a forgotten scarf or coat.
However, I am in for a big change of scenery, whether I like it or not. We are moving interstate, up to the Sunshine Coast. More family support up there, affordable housing. That ever sought after ‘beach life-style’ (not by me, you understand; if anything, I’m more of a city person. And I like the bush. The Tasmanian or Victorian wilderness; huge tall trees, streams and river banks crowded with fern trees. The lash-curl sound of bell-bird calls). But more on that another time. Next time I write in here, some things will be different, and others exactly the same.