Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Catching up

Well, I feel like I’ve been away forever! The highlight of our month was, of course, the wedding, but then things became a little more mundane as I had to go down to London for my heart tests.

They weren’t anything awful – just a 24 hour tape to monitor my heart beat throughout the day and night, and a little diary to fill in when I did anything to exert myself and send my heart rate up. These days, because of my lung fibrosis, I do get out of breath when I walk either too fast or uphill. And, of course, the walk to and from Belsize Park tube station always leaves me a little ragged, so that was my first diary note.

The journey down on the Wednesday had been a nightmare – the M4 had been surprisingly good, but the good old M25 that takes me to my friend’s house at Orpington, didn’t fail to trap me, as ever. My journey can take anything from 3 hours upwards, and this day it took me 4 and a half. I eventually pulled on to the drive, slightly frazzled, and unloaded the car. It looked like I’d come for a week – I always do this and don’t know why I pack so much. But I’d also come bearing gifts of wine (several bottles!), home produced eggs and chocolates from The Velvet Bean in Ledbury.

That evening we spent catching up and drinking wine and, as always, it felt like only yesterday we last saw one another. This is my Town Mouse friend, I wrote about on the other site, and we are as opposite as two people can be. But we love each other and are friends in the truest sense – accepting each other for what we are and enjoying every second of each other’s company. We don’t see enough of one another since J and I moved here and, hand on heart, she is the only thing I truly miss from my life in the South East. But we text and email, run up extortionate phone bills and see each other whenever we can. And we always pick up where we left off.

The next day saw my journey in to London to get my tape fitted and then we had the afternoon and evening together, as her partner (also a J) was out with work. We cooked together, drank more wine and stayed up too late, but I also got to spend some time with her son, who is two and half and growing up so fast. The time always goes so quickly and I was due to go home the next day after my “stress exercise test”.

Friday dawned and my tape was returned and then I had to wait a little while for my exercise stress test. This just involved having a heart monitor fitted and then lying down for an echo of my heart while I was at rest. The fun bit came next when I was put on a treadmill and the speed was increased, along with the incline, to get my heart up to its maximum rate when I had to quickly jump back on the bed to have another echo of my heart, while it was at full pelt. Easier said than done! I was pleased that it took a while to get my heart to its full rate, but the problem was the technicians were really nice guys and we were talking too much. I have a problem walking really fast AND talking, purely because my lungs don’t function as well as they should and so fast walking and talking don’t mix! By the time they’d got me at full rate, my mouth was drying up and I thought my lungs were going to explode. And then they just stopped the treadmill and the sudden halt (even though they’d warned me) had me careering off the treadmill into two pairs of waiting hands that were waiting to haul me on the bed for my next echo. I was glad to lie down! They then scanned me and monitored my heart beat until the rate slowed to “normal” – which took slightly longer than it did to get to the peak. And that was it – I was free to go and the doctor would be in touch.

Visits down to my friend’s are always such bitter sweet affairs for me: it sounds so awful writing it down, but I really dislike staying down there for more than a couple of nights. I hate the sirens shooting past my window; the airlessness; the bright night sky; traffic noise; hustle and bustle and the crowds on the trains and tubes, with people afraid to make eye contact. I always want to giggle when I am stood on a tube with my head wedged under someone’s armpit and blowing at the corner of a page from The Times to get it away from tickling my nose – it’s so bizarre how we can be so intimately crushed together but if you don’t look someone in the eye or smile at them, it’s okay. I managed to restrain myself this time as the tube headed back towards Charing Cross for my train out to Orpington and my waiting car.

I phoned my friend to say I was on the train and she told me I should stay another night – she said: “you’re barking. You’ll hit all the Friday night traffic heading west and won’t be home ‘til late. Stay and go home in the morning after breakfast”. This is the one thing about me that she can never get her head around. She doesn’t understand my “need” to get home. When I know I’ve got that journey to do, I just want to get on and do it. What’s one more night? An eternity when you just want to get out of the city. And then mum rang to say she hoped I was staying because the traffic was horrendous on the M25 and the M4. Damn! They were right, of course, and then J rang to put his pennyworth in.

And so, I found myself reversing on the drive once more and unloading my car (bags lighter this time!), feeling like the worse friend in the world who wanted to be going home. She was waiting for me in the hall, arms folded and giving me her stern mother look. Well, trying to but a) she's 4 years younger than me and b) she’s not very good at it. But then, her gorgeous boy came and threw his arms around my legs and warmed my heart.

That night, I read him a story and put him to bed and we talked about them coming to visit us. He wanted to know all about the chickens that laid the eggs I’d brought and about the tractors in the field. Could they come soon, he wanted to know. He loves the countryside, my friend told me, and now he is bigger there are so many more things we can show him next time they come.

We went back down to the kitchen and decided on an Indian takeaway. Oh, and the luxury of it was that they delivered!!!!! Heaven. We got the plates in the oven and cracked open a beer and soon we were tucking in. Later, stuffed, we threw ourselves on the sofa and watched Jonathan Ross but my eyes kept getting heavy and I had to make my excuses and say night, night. I hauled myself up to the top floor guest suite and got ready for bed. A blurry conversation with J and then I was fast asleep. Yes, they’d all been right and I was glad I’d stayed. I was glad I’d fought my “flight urge”.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, we hugged and kissed and brushed tears from our eyes. We promised to see more of each other – proper quality time, not bits squeezed in around my trips into London for hospital. My car soon found the M25 and, of course, it was much clearer than the previous evening. I grinned. I missed her already.

18 comments:

ChrisH said...

It's lovely to have you back. I understand your thoughts about the south east - that's why we always do such flying visits, I just want to return to Wales where folks smile and say hello and have time. Anyway, good to see you here again.

muddyboots said...

it's great to have you back! l used to go up to london fairly regularly before moving north. now l avoid it like the plague. just have to endure the M25 when going to Gatwick.

countrymousie said...

Glad you are back.
Just been to London and had these tests myself. I have irregular heart beats but its not too serious and I am feeling much better now I know, and dont worry so much. Hope you results are good too! love mousie

annakarenin said...

Last time I went up to London no 3 was on his way. I can't deal with the tube crush and the traffic gets more and nore congested it seems to take an age to get anywhere. Did enjoy visiting a cuople of galleries and museums and some nice restuarants and there is that buzz when you are out for a drink in a nice pub but like you I wouldn't want to be there too long.
My sister in law is buying a bigger place now though so next time we will take the children which they will probably enjoy though I will be pertified I will loose them somewhere!!.
It is funny I am always telling myself that I need to see my friends more but time seems to just fly and when they live far away it is really difficult. It is funny thpough that when you do manage to catch up it is so easy.

CAMILLA said...

Great that you are back with us Woozle. I had a school friend in Belsize Park, London. I hope that you have good results from hospital dear Woozle.
Camilla.x

Frances said...

Hello from New York, and many thanks for your comments. I have read about your visit to the city and can well understand why you wished to get back to greener land. Still, so wonderful that you did turn around and have the extra night to rest and enjoy being with your friend.
(About the shoes... the brand is Kenneth Cole, but the particular type of shoe is called Gentle Soles. It was the Gentle Soles, founder and patent-holder, that I met in a recent meeting.) Too tired tonight to write more, but I am sure that you can find out more by checking out the appropriate web sites. Best wishes to you! xo

Cait O'Connor said...

I did enjoy this. And I feel just like you when I go back 'down south'. It's wonderful seeing relatives but I do get homesick and can't stand the same things as you about life there. But it is so good being with loved ones and they also enjoy coming to Wales so we stay in touch like that.
Good to have you back.
Caitx

Omega Mum said...

Really enjoyed this. You're so right about proper catching up with friends. I just saw someone I'd last seen over 20 years ago....we had three marriages and five children to catch up on between us....

elizabethm said...

so glad you are back and ok. I thought about you while you were gone. I know exactly what you mean about the need to get home and I always feel guilty about this because when i am in london i stay with my daughter which i love to do but if i need to stay an extra night i always start planning how to somehow avoid it and get back. welcome home.

Pondside said...

Welcome back Woozle!! I kept on checking your blog site and was so glad today to see that you'd posted. It sounds as though you've been put through the wringer with tests, but it's all for the good.
I understand completely about the need to get home. When I approach the ferry after a trip to the mainland I feel as though I am panting like a dog to get across the water - the Great Dane laughs at me because I chant HO-O-Ome over and over again! Too weird, but that's the way I feel!

Posie Rosie said...

Hello Woozle, glad you got on okay with your trip. Hope the test results are fine, one of my best friends has cystic fibrosis, she is a real warrior, but has to make the trip to Glasgow frequently for tests, drugs and so on. Know what you mean about London, I lived there for four years as a student and found it increasingly claustrophobic, all of those people crammed together, not speaking or communicating, yuk.

Blossomcottage said...

So glad to have you back, I have just been to London for 30 hours about my limit!! but I enjoyed I had an irregular heartbeat, but mine ws down to Mags driving!
Look after yourself, maybe I should lend you Mags perhaps her driving might make your heartbeat better!!
Lots of Love
Blossom

Milkmaid said...

Lovely heart warmimg blog, glad you sought refuge in the city, although, I'd have been tempted myself to get back home too, I only lasted 3 months in London, just pined for green open spaces

Suffolkmum said...

Lovely to read you again Woozle, I'm a bit late in getting round to all the blogs tonight, 9.30 and I've just wound my way down to you! I know exactly what you mean about that need to get home, I'm just the same. London can give you such a buzz but it's quickly over. Having spent the first couple of years of my life in the country just longing to go back to London, I really can't imagine why now. So nice to catch up with old freinds though. Glad the tests were OK.

lixtroll said...

Hello Woozle - it's good you are back now! I used to live in Belsize Park, know the tube station well. It's always so lovely to catch up on old friends isn't it, I have many still in London too and I miss them - but I know what you mean about ths city! Don't think I would fancy life there again in a hurry.

Good luck with your test results x

@themill said...

Welcome back Woozle. Can't beat those soul mates in life. Take care.

Exmoorjane said...

Glad all the tests are over - that treadmill sounds positively dangerous! I know what you mean about the South-East - even though I grew up there and lived in London for years, it feels like an alien place now.... How lovely it will be for that little boy to come and visit and see the dogs and the chickens and all.....memories he'll have all his life....
Love the pics by the way....those dogs!

Pipany said...

Hello Woozle. Golly, you've been away even longer than me! Your friend sounds fab - unfortunately, love them though I do, I seem to specialise in the 'you don't keep in touch enough' variety. Does make me a little cross as most of them have no children and I do my best. Hmm, I can sense a big moan coming on so time to go! xx