It occurs to me, as I write this, that although this is my personal blog, it’s remarkably unpersonal. For a start, much of the content is written by other people. Even when I write things from my point of view it covers projects, ideas, and rants rather than my character.
As it happens, when driving back from the airport on Saturday night (my girlfriend is flying off an an adventure) I was reminded of an experience that I thought might be interesting to share. It centres, as such things do, on the sensible idea that you can tell an awful lot about people by what they fear.*
Some years ago I woke up and knew something was wrong. The room span. Span. In the truly befuddled reasoning only available to the ill, I rolled out of my bed onto the floor because it would be more stable. it wasn’t. I hung on for dear life.
An hour or two later, after literally crawled to the bathroom and back, I managed to call someone to come look after me. By about noon I was recovered enough to feel almost normal as long as I made absolutely no attempt to lift my head from the floor or, indeed, move it in any way.
I’d like to say, proudly even, that I took this with a fair amount of emotional stoicism. Something was wrong, these things happened, it would probably sort itself out pretty quickly, most things did. Even at the rough age of 23ish I had little experience of being ill, and certainly nothing that had lasted more than a couple of days.
And then I was passed a book. As soon as I settled on a sentence my brain turned itself inside out. The dizziness came back worse than ever – like trying to read a book in a violently swerving car.**
Suddenly I was afraid***. Never mind standing up, getting dressed or any of the 101 other things that go on in a typical human say. I remember clearly the thought: if I can’t read; I’m useless.
In retrospect, it’s an odd thing to pick on. I was physically extremely active: I’d founded and was running the university Judo club (which I’m pleased to note is still running) and was preparing to take my Black Belt exam with the ninjutsu club. Physicality was an extremely important bit of my life but it didn’t register as something to worry about (indeed, I did lose both of those things due to a back injury a year or so later). But losing reading, losing the ability process information, that was apparently something that panicked me deeply.
As it happens, it did clear up in a few days. It was an inner ear infection. It’s a fairly embarrassing to bring up such relatively minor short-lived illness on a disability-focused blog.
However it is on here, and it’s here because I think it’s important to be transparent with people. If people know what I fear they understand me better. I also think it’s important to be transparent with yourself. Before it happened I wouldn’t have known that about myself, and I haven’t thought about it in years – but it’s still there.
*I also firmly believe that you can tell a lot about someone by the contents of their bookshelf.
**This is even more awful if you are driving.
***afraid enough to overuse italics certainly; I’ll be slipping in a semi-colon if you aren’t careful, and then all hope for the post will be lost…