The Wonders of a Broken Hip – Part 2: Life in the Old People’s Home
To clarify, I have, contrary to what the title of this post would have you believe, not been staying in an old people’s home for the past two and a half weeks. Technically speaking it was a physiotherapy centre (I’m not sure on what it should actually be called, but that’s the best I can come up with), which just so happens, and perhaps what one might expect, to have a majority of elderly patients. It has been an interesting fortnight here, but I cannot say that I will miss the fartorium, as I have so coined it (yes, there really was a lot of flatulence!).
There are a number of things I definitely will not miss. The constant nurse calls from the confused man across from me asking if it was time to get up at midnight, 2 am, 4 am 5.30 am… I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep! The bright lights being switched on at 6 am every morning like some training camp. The lights being turned off at 9 pm every night. The food (it wasn’t that bad, but it doesn’t beat home cooking). The nurse coming round every afternoon to ask how many times I’d had a poo. Having to get naked in front of female care workers of around the same age as me whenever I had a bath, constantly being told my legs are long… Oh, the list goes on, but that’s not what the purpose of this blog is about, but I think it’s important to highlight some of the bad that led to a lot of the good!
At first, I was understandably very put off by what had happened. A broken hip is certainly no laughing matter and in some extreme cases it could be a heavily life-changing event. I am fortunate that at this stage (touch wood), there appears to be no long-lasting effects to me and I should be able to recover fully and go back to my usual way of life within the next few months.
But that’s the thing. I am not sure how much I want to go back to my ‘normal’ way of life. Having been out of order for nearly three weeks since the accident, I’ve had quite a bit of time to think about things. Time which would have usually been taken up by simple things such as doing the washing up, the laundry, feeding the cats, cleaning, tidying and a little thing called work. Ah, how I hate that word, but that’s where I’m going to start.
Works Sucks, I know.
I’ve had nearly three weeks ‘off’ work and it has been wonderful in many ways. I’ve been hesitating for the past three years to leave my job and in a mere three weeks I quickly came to the conclusion that I should bloody well get on with it. I soon realised after having not worked for a few weeks that I’ve had no nerve-filled episodes of acid reflux, issues with getting to sleep knowing that there is a mountain of incomplete work to do, high levels of anxiety as soon as I wake up in the morning wondering what today’s day at work is going to throw at me. None of it. It was like a complete mental reset which, as soon as I woke up this morning (the day after I came back home) and knew that I had to work today and have that difficult conversation with my boss, that it instantly came back.
Changing jobs is easier said than done while living in another country as an immigrant where visas become a very real irritation, but I’m going to do it. What I have to really stress about this decision though is that it’s not that the job or company themselves are bad (although the company has in the past raised many an eyebrow), but that I’ve just come to the ultimate conclusion that I am just not particularly suited to the job and get very little from it other than stress.
It was a real struggle to unload the work I had onto my colleagues, which I eventually realised just came from an unhealthy attachment to the job and fear of revealing to those that I wasn’t handling some of the stuff particularly well due to nothing other than my own shortcomings. That is not to say that I consider myself inept per se, but I suffer from awful bouts of anxiety, stress, depression, concern, fatigue, fear and whatever else you can think of due to my inability to really take on tasks seriously with my horrible habit of falling quickly and deeply into procrastination. A genuine fear of failure and uncertainty avoidance has led to more than one problem in the past and I really need to improve that part of my character. Do what you love and you’ll never have to work again, so the saying goes, and it is that thinking type of thinking which will lead me onto my next point.
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost. But I Was.
If I don’t like what I’m currently doing and keep chugging along on what could be considered an easy ride but with little to no interest, am I really achieving anything? If I hadn’t done this job, then I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend. We wouldn’t have bought a flat. We wouldn’t have got Charlie and Winston! The list goes on. I’m a loose believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’ and the list of things that could have happened if I hadn’t taken the job would be equally as long, if not longer! But I try not to dwell on that too much. The important thing is that right now in my life I’m actually in quite a good place, but not where I want to be.
It might sound a little cheesy, but having the drive for something is a wonderful feeling. A feeling that I wish I had ten, maybe even sixteen years ago when I left secondary school. I wasn’t a bad student by any means until I got to 6th form and then it all started going a little haywire. Had I been able to focus on something, I would hope that I would have stuck to a goal or a career and pursued that all the way up until my university graduation. Flitting from subject to subject and constantly second guessing any decision I made or could have made has led me to where I am now, and again without trying to lay the cheese on too thick, it has certainly not led me to a terrible place at all. I managed to drag it back a bit when I finally went to university, but even then I was a little lost.
But now I think is the time to take a bit more control over my life and work towards a goal. A goal that may take a decade or more to achieve, but one that I now feel comfortable making the steps towards to ensure that after that ten-year period I am in a much happier place and a lot more confident. For some reason I’ve always placed myself quite voluntarily in the doldrums of thinking that ‘well, this is it, I suppose,’ when it really isn’t and it doesn’t have to be. With that in mind, I have decided to return to studying while teaching. My first step is to obtain a proper teaching certificate to take me away from ALT (Assistance Language Teaching) work and onto university or business English. And from next year, I intend to take on a master’s degree to really increase my chances of working at a university in Japan with the prospect of taking it even further and aiming for something back home in the UK. If I’m able to carry on studying even beyond that to get a PhD, I most certainly will try! But one step at a time… Everything that I’ll be doing will hopefully be for the good of myself and also a future family, all leading up to me finally releasing a novel, which has been on my mind for a long, long time. One can dream and that is a good thing.
We’re Going To Get Old
Yes, it’s true. Shocking, isn’t it? This is not the first time I have experienced being, for want of a better phrase, among the elderly. As some of you will know, I used to work in an old people’s home and it was a real awakening on what the future holds for many of us. Without wanting to lay down too much gloomy nihilism, the fact of the matter is we are all going to grow old one day and it’s likely not going to be a very positive experience once it reaches a certain point up until that moment when we finally pop our clogs. While I have been fortunate enough not to see people die in front of my eyes this time round, the small reminders of the home were an everyday occurrence and they made me remember how amazing I thought the old people were there and the fantastically interesting lives they had lived.
The people that I stayed with for the last three weeks varied from requiring just a little bit of assistance to get themselves up and running, while on the other end you had people who were just not able to move at all and needed help with feeding as they sat there in their wheelchair with only the ability to grunt as a form of communication. It’s not a pleasant thing to see every day, but it really made me think that it’s easy to forget about that part of our lives when we are not reminded of it on a regular basis.
It won’t happen to all of us for sure. But at the very least I’ve learnt not to take simple things for granted. Getting in and out of bed is something I didn’t think I would have to struggle with for quite some time (physically anyway) but all the minor things I’ve been having trouble with these past few weeks has given me quite a different perspective not just from the elderly, but also of the disabled too, which I actually quite appreciate. Never will I take for granted being able to perform the ‘simple’ act of making of tea again!
The Internet Is a Dark and Depressive Place
Sometimes! As one might imagine, I’ve turned into a bit of a mobile zombie these past few weeks and have spent far too much time on the Internet than is probably healthy. Twitter and Facebook are all well and good, but how depressing they can be! The constant accusations, arguments, moaning, complaining, name-calling, shaming, one-upmanship, racism, baiting and the like absolutely floods my feed and does not give a particularly positive impression on the human race from whichever side one is taking. I’m sure many people’s social network feeds are the same.
There is a lot of understandable anger and frustration in the world right now, which people in many countries are lucky enough to be able to freely vent and I would never suggest that they be silenced. But some of the of comments I see online are truly shocking and I can’t help but think that a lot of these people maybe could take a step back, breathe, and form a sentence with a bit more thought into it before clicking that send button. So many of these people are quick to anger and will jump on the opportunity to vilify and argue without thinking of the repercussions, and in most cases there is none. I can’t bury my head in the sand and pretend that the issues aren’t real even if they don’t affect me directly, but I can’t be drowning in them either.
I think it’s a good idea to take a break from social media once in a while and at the same time just try to inject a lot more positivity and kindness whenever possible. Criticise where criticism is due, but try to look at the positive side of things as well.
Writing is My Therapy
Putting things down in writing is a very relaxing and therapeutic activity to me. It’s a means of getting everything that’s in my head, taking it out and slapping it on some digital paper to look at later if need be. It’s a great way for me to share my thoughts and experiences with others, and I will continue to write even if people lose interest and stop reading. That’s fine! I’ll carry on as is until I decide to take it to the next level and start sharing what I write with a much wider audience. I’m not quite there yet, but if someday I was able to earn a living through writing, it would be that ultimate dream come true. Until then I’ve got to practise, practise, practise! It’s kind of like learning a language in that at some point you just have to start using it, even if you make terrible and embarrassing mistakes. It’s an important part of the process and I am happy that I finally decided to start sharing what I write a few months ago.
I would like to finish by saying that all the anger and frustration I had three weeks ago when I bumped into that pedestrian as now completely gone. It’s funny how I look now at this whole ordeal as something positive. I was lucky. Had it ended with me in a wheelchair forever I doubt I would have been quite as forgiving, but forgive I do. I bear no ill will to him, but he really should think about putting his phone away when walking on a busy pavement. Ah, I’ve gone on too much about that. I think I’ve made my point clear on that topic!
I’ll be spending the next month or so continuing my physiotherapy and, in the meantime, will appreciate more everything that I have and everything yet to come as I settle down for the evening with a lovely cup of tea and the two little furry bundles of joy whom I missed dearly.
Stay safe, everyone.