26. 10th May 2017 – The kindness of strangers

  1. 10th May 2017 – The kindness of strangers

About a month or so I was standing at a bus stop outside Tesco and started chatting to an old lady ‘I need to go to the council offices,’ she said.  ‘Is it far?’ ‘No, I said – you could walk’.  But, my directions were a bit vague and I sounded uncertain and then she said ‘I think I’ll wait. I’ve only just lost my licence because I find walking difficult but it is a pain getting the bus everywhere.’  I told her that I also couldn’t drive and it was something that you just got used to. I said that the reason why I couldn’t drive was because I had epilepsy.  She sounded startled because she said that ‘I looked normal’. And I thought it was good that she now knew that people with epilepsy just looked normal.  ‘I do get very confused a lot’, I said, ‘That’s why I don’t drive.  It would be dangerous for me to drive’.

And as we got talking she told me a little about herself.  Every morning, she said, she got up and went and had breakfast at the local bistro because it was important for her to go and talk to someone every day.  And, although I felt slightly sorry that she had to do this just to get company, I also felt kind of proud of her, because she had found a strategy to deal with her loneliness that worked for her.  Just as she had learnt something about epilepsy, I had learnt something about the courage it takes to be old and deal with life on a day to day basis. I suggested that she looked up the University of the Third Age, because my grandmother-in-law had loved it and they had lots of interesting activities and she seemed to like that idea.  The bus came and I told her that the bus was going to the council offices.  But as we sat down, I realised that although it was the right bus for me, it wasn’t the right bus for her – the bus was going in the opposite direction for her.  I apologised profusely and felt awful.  And she said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s OK,’ and off she got at the next stop.  And do, you know I think it was OK.  I don’t think she would have been angry at me for making her go on the bus in the wrong direction.  Although she was a stranger, I knew that she had come to be a friend and that she could just accept that I had meant no harm.

Last week there was an alarming post on a Facebook support group I am on ‘ Please can someone speak to me, I’m feeling really down’. Up went one response ‘I’m here for you hun, if you want to talk’ and another ‘What’s up?’ and I pipped in ,‘Are you OK?’ But there was no response.  Only silence.  People started to get a bit panicky – ‘We are getting worried about you,’ said not one but a few people.   All in all there were about 17 responses to this post in 24 hours until finally a response came ‘ Sorry, for all the worry, I’m OK.  I had turned off my phone and was feeling really tired.’

We are taught and we teach our children to be so wary of strangers that we forget that humanity would not survive without the kindness of strangers.  Whether it’s giving a reassuring smile to someone walking down the street to who looks like they are having a hard time; giving directions to someone who is lost; picking up a scarf on the pavement and putting it on the wall so that the owner might find it or putting money in a charity box so that someone else can be helped, but you don’t know where – all these things can make a huge difference to someone’s life.   A lot can be achieved by the kindness of strangers and we should proudly acknowledge that when we give and receive it so that we become more aware that humanity is much better than we are otherwise told to believe.

 

 

 

In other news

I have started some new meds but I am still on the waiting list for the ketogenic diet. The medication says to call your doctor if you come out in a rash – and I am now awaiting a callback from my doctor because that is exactly what has happened to me.  It doesn’t look good. This week I also went to a neuropsychologist to get assessed as part of my neurorehabilitation programme.  Last week I also went to the neuropsychologist to be assessed.  Next week I will also go to get assessed.  I don’t not fit in a box, the neuropsychologist told me so altogether it will take three weeks for me to be assessed. She is trying to understand if my problems are more psychological or neurological and on the basis of her conclusions she will ‘prescribe’ be appropriate treatment.

25. 23rd April 2017 – You are what you eat

The Jewish calendar is currently between two festivals – Purim and Passover – which are based on two captivating stories – the story of Esther and the story of Moses.  The stories have some strikingly similarities.  However, they also differ in one key respect.

The Passover story is set in Egypt and the Purim story in Persia. These were both countries that the Jews lived, but could not be openly Jewish. And then a protagonist comes forward – in the Purim story, Mordechai – and in the Passover  story – Moses – they are both leaders, wise beyond their years and are prepared to take risks for what they believe in -Mordechai refused to bow to Haman, the Prime Minister, and Moses killed an Egyptian because of the way he was treating an Israelite. Finally both protagonists are humble enough to realise that they cannot achieve their goal by themselves – Mordechai asks Esther, who was either his niece or wife (depending on how you interpret the story),to try and influence the king because he knew he could do that himself and Moses asks Aaron, his elder brother, to be his spokesman because he knows he has weak oratory skills.  And finally both the Purim and Passover story have the most captivating and mesmerising plots – hope lost, murder and the fall from power.  Indeed, if you don’t know the story of Esther or Moses I implore you to read them – if I hadn’t have heard the stories thousands of times before, I would be entranced.

However, that is where the similarities between the two tales end.  Because they have one fundamental difference – in the Passover story the route for the Jewish people to follow is clearly signposted.  G-d through Her supernatural miracles – the plagues and the splitting of the sea – clearly indicates that the Jewish people’s path is to follow Moses out of Egypt (not that all the Jews were keen about this idea, but that is another story).  But in the story of Purim is not one of mind-blowing, wondrous, miracles that clearly show the direction of the plot. Instead, the characters are presented with a series of challenges and at each and every step take decisions that they hope will lead them the right way, but they don’t know for sure.

And so it is with my own life.  I am muddling through.  Sometimes my life seems to make sense but most of the time it doesn’t and I face an uphill battle, I struggle on.  About a year ago, I was randomly searching the internet when I came upon a piece on Wikipedia about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and all of a sudden all the puzzle pieces seemed to fit – I was convinced that I had ADHD and finding this article was some sort of miracle.  And so I went to a doctor and she said that although I have executive function problems (because for those of you that don’t know ADHD is a disorder of the executive function) it was my epilepsy that was causing my difficulties. But I was not convinced.  So I got another opinion.  Same thing.  The doctor said – your disorder is about your epilepsy and not ADHD.  And then I went to my neurologist, and I described my symptoms and she prescribed me an extensive stay in hospital for some more tests.  This must be a miracle, I thought.  At the hospital I will find my answers.  And at each stage I thought ‘I know why my story is taking me this way.  It’s all making sense now I understand why my puzzle pieces of life have turned out like this’.  And in some sort of arrogance as my story began to unfold, before I went into the next doctor’s appointment I started to believe that I understood G-d’s mind.  That is until I got a slap in the face and the doctor didn’t provide the answers.  And then once again I am left slowly trying to feel my way in the dark searching for a miracle.

I look to Esther and Mordechai’s story and I see that G-d is there but She’s hidden, unlike is the Passover of story but I am reassured that their story does turn out well in the end (Haman is found out to be the baddy and lots of non-Jews die in battle). But I realise that I have to do, what Esther and Mordechai did, and just what most of us do, when our plot makes twists and turns, – I have to do what is right at the time until, for that moment in time at least, the puzzle pieces of my life finally look like they makes sense.

In other news: No other news.  I am awaiting my medication change and my referral to the neuro rehabilitation unit.  Both things should happen quickly but for whatever reason they are taken time. I really am still looking for a miracle to happen and a magic pill to finally piece together the puzzle of my life.  But my search is now looking a bit desperate and although I pray I am starting to give up on whether it will ever happen.