Summer can be a difficult time for the chronically ill. Not just in terms of the fact that heat can make us feel rubbish and allergic reactions increase due to pollen and insect bites and all manner of other hazards, but the fact that healthy people are having fun. As I lie in bed in the evenings with my window open I can hear my neighbours chatting, drinking and laughing over their bar-b-qs and every day when I log on to Facebook it’s to see the smiling face of yet another healthy friend sipping cocktails next to the pool in some foreign country as they enjoy their annual holiday.
Even after all these years it’s still hard to be faced with other people’s fun and the fact they’re making memories they will rely on in their old age while I’m stuck in bed alone for the 8,760th day on the trot. I haven’t been abroad since 1996 and haven’t had a holiday in this country in over a decade – I’ve no-one to go with, everywhere is too far to drive on my own, I’d have to hire a cottage because hotels are too noisy and I’d have no-where to store my low histamine meals, I’d have to take Bertie with me and walk him every day as normal, and I’d have to spend weeks beforehand making food to take with me so would need a holiday to get over preparing for my holiday! It’s just easier to stay at home with my freezer and my paid dog walker.
Having said all that, I’m also aware that I’m no longer bedridden and do get to enjoy days out while many of my severely ill friends do not. I received an email off a lovely, dear friend of mine this week who has been housebound with M.E. for over two decades asking what I’d been up to………….and I didn’t tell her. I didn’t tell her about my Castle trip and the awesome bird displays. I didn’t tell her about the Farm Park and seeing the Wallaby & Joey. I didn’t tell her that yesterday I’d been to the seaside and felt the warm, salty breeze on my bare skin and eaten ice cream with a couple of old codgers from my Camera Club. She doesn’t need to be reminded about all the fun she’s missing out on even though she’s so lovely I know she’d be thrilled for me that I am now able to get out and about.
I feel lonelier in summer than I ever do in winter. When its freezing and blowing a gale outside I know that everyone else is stuck indoors like me, whereas in summer most people are outside enjoying the beautiful sunshine while I am yet again confined to bed. The feeling of missing out on life is so much stronger and the knowledge that most other people are spending time with their partners, families and friends while I am lying here alone is felt that much keener.
Yet I am still grateful. Grateful that I at least get to glimpse the sun, get to travel to the ocean, get to sit in my garden, get to each ice cream with old duffers and get to walk my dog, while many of my friends lie alone in stifling darkened rooms suffering the tortures of hell. My life isn’t easy but it’s easier than that and I am thankful.