Thursday, 10 May 2018

Blue shoes with zips and advocacy for ME

With all the focus on #millionsmissing just now I have been thinking about the shoes I was wearing in September 1982 when I went off to do my (ill-fated) year abroad in France, not yet nineteen. They were blue and pointy with a diagonal zip - I got them in Schuh and later fictionalised them in a scene in The State of Me where Helen is on a ferry returning home from France because she feels so hideously ill. In real life, I came home from France twice - I  actually went back, because my GP couldn't find anything wrong and thought I was homesick (months later, a locum GP discovered I had Coxsackie virus - he'd also had it - he recognised my chest pain, the feeling of having a heart attack - and luckily recovered). I still recall, going up the gangplank, if that is what it is called, on my way back to Normandy, so determined to beat whatever the hell was making me feel so ill - a wee fucking soldier, really - little did I know I was only storing up more hell, not allowing myself to rest. 

I have looked for photos online of blue shoes from Schuh from 1982 but I can't find anything. They were hideous (I also remember watching Boy George singing 'Do you really want to hurt me?' on television in our host family's living room).

I'm not officially involved in #millionsmissing Edinburgh, but I know it will be brilliant. Carol Monaghan MP has taken up the cause of slaying the toxic dragon that is PACE and also Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian will speak. I may bus/taxi to the Mound event on Saturday - a hop and a skip from me - Edinburgh is very walkable, if you are healthy and able -  I will see how I feel on the day. I was so shattered emotionally and physically after the Scottish Parliament event in January, and I have been advocating for ME sufferers for decades, in one way or another - I really need to step back now and focus on other things (novellas-in-progress, for example).

I was delighted to see that the fabulous Lighthouse Books has a display of books with blue covers in aid of ME Awareness Week - and The State of Me is there (photo nabbed from Lighthouse tweet). It is a little ironic that my France shoes were blue as blue is also the cover of ME Awareness.

I am also delighted that there is a feisty new generation of activists, they do us all proud, many of them advocating from bed with hellishly diminished lives. I do think the climate is changing, finally, though I don't honestly expect a cure for ME in my lifetime. I just hope newly diagnosed twenty-year-olds will not go through another thirty years of life-changing illness as I have done. I always say it takes a  decade to adjust to ME, and I hope soon others will not have to make such an adjustment, as the illness will be eminently treatable if not curable.


Sabine said...

As a response to this post, I pulled your book from my shelf and read it again last night - which was a sleepless affair thanks (?) to the immunesuppression med I have to administer weekly. The things we do to stay alive etc.

Great book. The night was not wasted.

nmj said...

Hey, Sabine, Sorry your night was sleepless and that you have to take weekly immunosuppressants - am glad the re-reading of my book eased the night for you! Thank you for your lovely comment.