Sunday, 25 November 2007

Dancing and pain (again)

My mouth is still hurting. Stillllllll... Ow. S and friends who have had teeth out say it isn't unusual that it is still hurting after Monday's extraction. So, instead of heading to A&E this weekend, I have put up with a throbbing jaw.

I was tempted to miss a birthday party on Friday night due to the mouth situation but went along anyway. S and I first went to visit a friend who lives on the same street as the pub at which the party was held, had cake and tea, and settled in very nicely in his warm flat. We didn't want to leave – it was so comfortable and outside was very, very cold – but we thought we should show our faces and dragged ourselves off his leather sofas.

The party was literally one of those occasions where you start off by thinking you'll stay for half an hour and then sidle off, but turned into a brilliant night, where you get to bed at 2am. The birthday boy, who was 40, played the guitar to one song and asked us all to get up and dance (he is in a band). It was excellent.

I haven't danced for months – possibly a year – and I loved it. Two of my friends from kung fu, V, and J, were also there. We laughed a lot and V and I had an obligatory play-fight, which amused the men. It was funny, though, to hear that I have a reputation among my friends for being 'most fearsome' when I spar. You wouldn't think so to look at me! I find it funny but secretly encouraging. I overheard two of my classmates talking about me while I was putting on my sparring gear in the week – they said 'Mel D's sparring, yeah, blimey we had better watch out'... I feel like I am in the Truman Show; it can't be me they're on about. Can it?

I had a couple of flutes of champagne and that was that for me (I didn't want any more than that) and did sleep well, but was exhausted yesterday, due to the ongoing blasted pain. I'm finding it rather tedious.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Forceps... clamp...

I thought I was going in for a filling. But no. The dentist said that today was the day for my tooth extraction. I had been nervous enough at the prospect of being drilled and filled, so was shaking by the time he had administered the two injections. I sat in the blond-wood waiting room, trying to interest myself in the magazine covers on the rack, and waited until it kicked in.

The nurse called me back after 10 minutes – I was convinced that surely this could not be enough time. After all, I was still walking, shaking, able to speak...

So, I sit in the large chair, am covered with the blue apron, don a pair of orange plastic safety goggles and am told to open wide. I did so, trying to concentrate on my breathing, my toes, the radio, and not on the dentist's requests for 'clamp', 'forceps', 'suction' and so on.

My tooth didn't want to be parted from me. It dug its roots in, the poor tooth, and gave the dentist a hard time. Now, following my experience of hearing my skin snipped away when I had the lump removed from my armpit earlier this year, I can add the sensation of having a long piece of my skull yanked out to my catalogue of 'things I'd rather not feel/hear, thanks very much'.

He said: 'Oh, stubborn tooth', and carried on putting what felt like his body weight on my jaw to steady it. 'Keep your head still,' he said. Hmmm. I'm afraid I couldn't do that, not while having it gripped from within and without. Just wasn't happening.

Anyway, out it came eventually, my mouth's equivalent of childbirth, with a bone-crunching whoosh and lots of blood (which I couldn't feel on my face but the nurse mopped up for me). I then bit down on wadding, which I was scared to take out for two hours, and tried not to throw up as I walked to my car and then drove to Sainsbury's to buy soft food. The cashier understood my tooth-out mime and sympathised as I paid. I mumbled back.

It is throbbing. THROBBING. And I won't even get any cash from the tooth fairy. Pah.

The dress

Well, I went out and got a dress to wear for the festive parties I have agreed to attend. It was remarkably quiet in the shops – there were parking spaces and none of the crush I had expected.

I looked in several shops and eventually happened upon a dress I liked – a champagne-coloured, beautifully cut number in a heavy material with a criss cross of straps at the back. As much as I loved it, it couldn't imagine it surviving those occasions without getting splattered with wine or food. If they had had it in scarlet or black, I would h
ave bought it immediately.

ay, it was getting colder so I stepped up my hunt and came across one of very few dresses that didn't look like a tunic/tent. It's a lined silk satin number with beads around the neck and falling into a drape around the bust, with the waist and skirt cut on the bias, ending above the knees. It's gorgeous, elegant and striking (the picture does it no justice), and when I tried it on, it managed to detract from my coldy eyes and tired pallor. It is now in my wardrobe, waiting...

I also bought merino wool tights and a thick-knit cream merino wool zip-up cardigan to wear in the office in which I am based – they just can't keep the temperature constant and I often sit there in three layers and a scarf. Not good. Anyway, all I need now is for the postman to bring me a cheque from two companies that haven't paid me for a while, and I shall rest easier knowing that when Mr Mastercard pops round again, he will be sent away satisfied.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

More lergy, more fire, more chi

You know how some people say they wouldn't mind being ill (and even wish themselves the flu, which is nuts), so that they don't have to go to work? I don't do that.

For starters, when I am ill and at home, no one pays me, so it's almost as though I have taken time off specifically to watch the horrors of daytime television and to sit/lie feeling rough while people still call me for work reasons, seeing as I am a freelance and they know not of my lergy.

Hardly pleasurable. I mean, have you seen Deal or no Deal? I have watched it in the past but the episode I saw was just awful – and I think, horrifyingly, that Noel called the contestants pilgrims. Maybe that was my mind and scratchy ears playing tricks – let's hope so...

So, yes, boringly, I have been off work again for part of this week, with yet another virus. My throat was a gargle of Gillette, creeping up to my ear canals like snakes strapped to a pair of stilettos. I forced my way through two kung fu classes (while dosed up), thinking it would maybe be sweated out. Didn't work. I was high on endorphins but not cured. I am definitely physically addicted to kung fu now and feel restless and 'itchy' when I don't do my requisite sessions. I love it.

I'm sure the combination of a man sneezing into his newspaper, held at the right angle to capture germs and deflect them towards me, while I was on the train a week or so ago, was enough to cause this latest lergy attack. That, the icy cold weather of the last few days and the general fatigue of dealing with certain big things that I alluded to in my last post would have been enough for anyone.

In the course of my frenzied attempt to get better, I re-discovered active manuka honey, which is great. You dissolve a spoonful in hot (not boiling) water and drink it. I had a few mugs of this and swear it helped me. So much so, that I went to a kung fu class with the Master and learned some very interesting techniques, whereby you use your body's natural energy to have an effect on things external to the bounds of your skin. The technique was based on the ancient origins of t'ai chi, and the sense of calmness, while at the same time feeling energised – as though there was a fire from my belly to my throat – was amazing.

I slept like a log last night and feel almost ready to go out and see if I can find something new to wear for several upcoming Christmas parties.

Listening to the absolutely amazing and utterly fabulous: Editors - Escape The Nest

Sunday, 11 November 2007


My friendscape has shifted, changed. Bits that were corroding have broken off, bits have been added, some bonds that had gently relaxed are stronger now than they ever were. Some remain constant, a comforting presence, like an invisible circle of hands holding you in, keeping you away from dangerous edges.

I am in a state of hypervigilance. This is what I have been told. It is likely to be related to why sleep has been such an issue for me. In a world of friends, I fear the unseen foe: the woolly mammoth around the corner, as a wise woman so aptly described it to me recently. Hearing that analogy made me laugh, even though the context of the rest of our conversation would make most people cry.

Like Madonna, (and yes, I am aware of how trite that sounds), I have a tale to tell. Sometimes I hide it well. But (keeping with Madge)... it burns inside of me. And when something burns with such intensity, you need to manage it, to create some distance from it.

It is necessary to treat such a thing as a foe – you need to keep it close enough to see what it is up to. You look into its blinking, cunning eyes, see into its darkness and the places where its tendrils have secretly snaked their way into your being, and then, only then, can you peel away the creepers, take it by the scruff of its neck and shove it aside for good.

Sometimes you bleed during the process. The process can be so painful that you are numb, and only when you are in a place of relative safety can you let yourself examine yourself and see what shape the cuts are, what hue the bruises and then – then – you begin to apply balm and dressings and although you are raw, something has changed.

A few people are aware of your tale – you don't know why you chose to tell them but you did. They clicked on some level; their strength, knowledge and compassion, perhaps invisible to others, is visible to you, and it is a relief to share such things, to see that the aftermath of the telling does not repel but in fact draws them closer.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Time and tears

I feel as though I am on a water slide, with no means of grabbing the sides, and I'm going up, down, through tunnels (some long ones) and occasionally getting splashed as the carriage moves so swiftly that you can only just make out people's faces, and places, as you pass by.

My diary is packed with things to do. The slots on my 'to do' list are filled and then struck through but there always seems to be the same amount pending. I get it done, mostly, somehow. The unnecessary things get left aside, they don't even make the list. The other stuff is a variety of nice and not-so-nice but all must be met head-on.

I know, for example, that kung fu must be prioritised, as it brings me sleep and fitness at levels I've never previously known, and I love doing it and have a few friends there. Work, well, that's just work (but I do love my job, so that's OK, too). Socialising slips in as well, as it tends to be with a mixture of people from my sporting and working lives.

The not-so-nice is another matter. That doesn't have to be booked in. It just settles in and makes itself comfortable at times. It's to do with insomnia, stress (that has caused me to grind my teeth so badly that one must come out) and suchlike. I am still on medication for the insomnia (albeit at a reduced rate), I don't drink much alcohol now (when I did a few weeks ago, I didn't sleep a wink), and my diet is pretty healthy. So, despite all the negatives of not sleeping and its effects, I have picked up some pretty good ways of coping – exercise and eating well. Sometimes, when I wake, my eyes are puffed up and the area around them is dark, but at other times, I feel and look reasonably well.

But, like one day this week, when I may have looked OK to those around me, there can in fact be a volcano brewing underneath the surface. I couldn't breathe. I felt faint. My head was swimming. It was scary. But fate dealt me a kind hand – I was writing a feature on stress – and had to look for solutions to what could have (I imagine) developed into a panic attack. So, there I was, at my desk, with breathing exercises at my disposal. I sat there, pretending to be engrossed in my work when all the while I was dragging normality and calm from where it had hidden, thanks to the serendipity of my work assignment.

I drank lots of water, I ate lots of fresh fruit and felt better within an hour or so of doing the deep breathing. But my cloak of armour failed me later, when I crumbled into tears at kung fu, as the effort of being lively and dynamic at work all day snatched my shell from me when the instructor, (who knows of my stresses/insomnia), made a perfectly innocent, kindly remark. I mentally zipped myself up, took a deep breath and carried on sparring, tears drying around my eyes.

The next morning, however, I felt amazing. Really bloody good. The endorphins, lack of rogue adrenaline, and good food in my stomach had sent me into a decent sleep, and I woke up feeling as though I could take on the world. If I could capture that feeling I would. The thing is, though, I now know the ingredients for conjuring up that feeling now, and chances are high that I will be cooking up that recipe for quite a while.

Sunday, 4 November 2007


I have been clenching my teeth in my sleep. This has meant I often wake with headaches and a jaw so tight that I must open and close it to release the muscles of my neck and face.

One of my teeth has died. This is because I grind my teeth, and a chunk of a molar broke off a few months ago.

It is a stress-related thing. Stress has killed one of my lovely teeth.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

White rabbits

'Tis the first of November, so I shall say 'white rabbits' to attract the luck fairy. Or something.

However, M is a black rabbit and is not too happy about this scenario...

Can anyone tell me where Jan-Oct went? Please?