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VISIT THE HIPPY'S NEW SITE: www.northlondonhippy.com Spend some time chilling out with the hippy...He used to be "the most shroomtastic stoner on the internet!" until the UK banned fresh magic mushrooms. He's still "the biggest internet celebrity you've never heard of!" He'll make you laugh, he'll make you think...he'll make you wish you were a hippy too!
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
I had to do some shopping after the appointment, pick up a few bits from the local supermarket. With half my face numb and feeling paralyzed, I was hoping I wouldn't have to talk to anyone. There was a quite an attractive woman smiling at me at one point, I wouldn't qualify it as flirting, but I had let her walk in front of me and she acknowledged this with a slight grin. I tried to return the smile, but I ended up looking like a stroke victim. The look of horror on her face made me realize just how repulsive I must appear. I'm not all that on a good day, the crooked smile was doing me no favours.
I shouldn't make jokes about strokes, my mother had one almost exactly two years ago, the anniversary was last week. She had a bad one, it was in the lower bits of the brain, the cerebral cortex. She nearly died at the time and has not recovered very much. Her speech and movement were the most effected, she has been bedridden ever since. Her mind is just as sharp as ever, so you can imagine her frustration. Though she is desperately hoping to walk again, this is very unlikely. She's 74 years old.
If you haven't figured out from my lapses of spelling, the northlondonhippy didn't originally come from London, or even the UK. My parents live in the states. When my mother had the stroke, I went over to help my father deal with it.
I spent the better part of two months over there that year, thankfully I had a lot of holiday time from work. There's not much you can actually do to help, you just stick around and do what you can. It wasn't much. At the time my father was a very young eighty, but since then he has aged dramatically. At the time people were constantly surprised by his age, most people thought him to be late sixties, seventy tops.
Being there for as long as I was, took its toll on me. The frustration and helplessness of not being able to help my parents in any meaningful or practical way was more than I could handle.
When my mother came home from the hospital, my father was the sole provider of her care. The way the system works in the US, with private medical treatment, is simple, you pay for your own. My father decided he was not going to spend the money and for a year and a half he ran himself into the ground doing everything. They now have some living in with them, who's mainly there to take care of my mother, because my dad finally couldn't cope with it.
He also worried a lot, far more than he ever did before. His biggest fear was what would happen to my mother, if something happened to him. He told me he would lie awake at night, imagining that he had all sorts of health problems.
It was only a matter of time before his fears were realised. Last August, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer. They removed the tumor once, and it grew back quite quickly. He started a course of chemotherapy and managed three sessions out of six, but had to stop because of the side effects. Over Christmas and New Year, my dad was in the hospital, he nearly died. Merry Fucking Christmas, Happy Cunting New Year.
He's just switched oncologists, his new ones are considering major surgery to remove his bladder and prostate. His previous doctor elected not to perform it, but this one is more open to the idea. My father has several things against him which mean he might not survive the surgery, his age (82), his general health (a history of heart trouble, massive weight loss, weak and run-down) and he still hasn't fully recovered from the chemo last December. If he has the surgery, his chances of making it off the table alive are slim, and recovery will be very, very slow, if he even recovers and heals completely.
If he doesn't have the surgery and my feeling is that they will not do it as it is a six-hour procedure, there aren't many options left. They might consider a weaker form of chemo, or possibly radiotherapy, but against this aggressive form of the cancer, it won't have a chance.
I spoke to my father on Saturday, it was a very difficult conversation. He pretty much told me that he going to die soon. He wants to see me. I want to see him, and my mother, but I don't know if I can handle it.
Put aside my dire financial situation, I could throw the flight and rental car on my plastic and worry about it later. I've got the time as well, so why aren't I booking a flight right now?
After my mother's stroke and all the time I spent there, I came back to England and started using harder drugs, more frequently and liberally than ever before. Specifically charlie and E, in combination, with spliff (of course) and cognac and valium (when I could find them) for the comedown. This was not good.
I limited my "disco dancing" as I called it to days when I was not working, but was heartily abusing all of these substances very regularly. It was all done with small amounts, a gram of coke would last me 5-7 days. If you know about charlie, you'll know that's not a huge amount. But I did this solidly for about 5 months. It was escape as best I could manage. Don't try this at home kids.
I don't think it led to my breakdown, if anything it put it off, but the breakdown came. I'm not going to detail what I went through now, but it was not fun and it lasted far longer than it should. At the heart of all of this was the depression caused by my family situation.
There's plenty more to it than just my parents both being ill, but their illnesses have brought much of it, years of resentment and distance, to the fore.
So there it stands, should I make one last, dramatic, emotionally intense trip to see my father one last time? I've always been close to him, probably closer than my other siblings, but in the last year and a half, we've grown apart. He's never been happy that I lived so far away, he's not impressed with my current lack of employment. He believes any job is better than no job and has recently suggested working in McDonalds or selling apples by the side of the road as career options for me. No, I'm not joking.
I know my dad, and he means well, and those work-related comments aren't meant to excuse me from visiting. I'm afraid to go, afraid that it will effect my mental health and return to the world of the working. I know how painful it will be saying goodbye. Every time I have visited, since I moved here more than a decade ago, its been difficult leaving, knowing that it might be the last time I see them.
This time, it would be worse, because there is no denial, this would be the last time I saw him. I wish I could do something...anything to help them both. Visiting might make them both feel better, fuck it, I know it would, but the departure would be just as hard or harder on them than on me.
I think the shrinks call this being "conflicted".
Am I going to feel worse for going or not going? Answers on a post-card please.
Well, I warned you this was going to be personal, didn't I?
The really good news is I have another interview next week. Actually, it will probably just be an informal chat, but I'm not sure. It could be a staff position, though with the other confirmed work, it would be good if this one was freelance and I could do a bit of both. I like the idea of having two baskets to keep my eggs in, it would make a nice change.
I'm supposed to have a drink with an old friend tonight. I can't remember the last time I was inside a pub in the evening, or had anything alcoholic to drink. This friend of mine offered me some work a while back, I know I mentioned it before. It was suppose to start late last year, but he never phoned me back. He recently got in touch, apologizing profusely. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say. It could be that he still has some work for me as well.
From famine to feast in the space of a week, perhaps keeping this blog has brought me some good luck.
Don't be peripherally naughty when you ought to be snotty!