Five weeks ago, when Rod went into hospital, I was chasing a deadline for my children’s local history book (There'll be more details about this when I get the publication date, final title etc from Hometown World Publishers!). I’d been working on the book for about two months. The research was fascinating and the writing was keeping my mind off the inevitable worries of Rod’s illness and treatment but it was a relief to submit it. I needed a break from work... or so I thought. Unfortunately this left my brain with no distractions, especially in the middle of the night. You know how it is. It’s 2 am, you’re wide awake and dark thoughts are hanging around your mind. That’s when I try to think about my current writing project. It’s a strategy that I’ve developed and it’s one of the reasons I love/need to writing, but I couldn’t be creative with Rod in hospital and, now he’s home, I’m struggling to find the time. I’m too busy cleaning!
As a result of the chemotherapy treatment Rod has profound neutropenia. This means that he has no resistance to the everyday bugs that the rest of us live with quite happily and so I have had to develop a coping strategy. I vacuum, mop down, disinfect handles, sinks and toilets and change the towels every morning before he gets up... that’s the theory anyway! His food must be prepared fresh each day. He’s not allowed to have anything reheated. He mustn’t eat raw food which includes those lovely tomatoes that he’s been nurturing all year, although they’re still delicious skinned and fried (if only he could taste them above that tinny taste in his mouth). Of course, surfaces and utensils need to be extra clean and food must be well cooked through and through. I have to admit to always having been a bit obsessive about this sort of thing and so now that I’ve been told by a doctor that I HAVE to do it... well, let’s just say I’m trying not to become too paranoid.
So it’s all the more important that I have some writing to occupy my mind. Many people have asked me if I’m going to write Rod’s treatment into a story. I know that writing is therapeutic. That’s why I write this blog, but it feels too immediate and raw to turn it into fiction just yet. Maybe I’ll do it one day but for now I’m going to return to my short stories and children’s writing and banish those night-time panics... if only I can grab the time in-between the mop, bucket and disinfectant wipes!