Today is the ninety fifth anniversary of my father’s birth. He’s been dead now for nigh on thirty years. Gone from this world for so long and yet he still seems alive to me.
Maybe the fact that he died from a series of heart attacks in his sixty-fifth year has made me toey and fearful that I too will cop a heart attack simply by association.
What did the doctor first ask me last week when I visited her and told her of my fears of having a stroke?
‘Is it in the family?’
Stroke is not in my family, I said, but heart attack is.
I’m late to writing this morning because I spent over an hour waiting in the doctor’s rooms to have three vials of blood taken for measuring and an ECG to help me overcome my fears. The doctor last week was confident that all was well, but still I’m having these tests for good measure.
This morning the practice nurse took blood from my left arm. I watched as she applied the tourniquet to plump up my vein. I watched as she scrabbled about my arm much like a cat plumping up a cushion until she was satisfied. Then I watched as she plunged in the needle, a slight prick and no other sensation, not even a twinge as the blood raced into the syringes, one, two and three.
The whole procedure took only a matter of minutes, but the paperwork took twice as long. The nurse checked and double checked the spelling of my name, my date of birth, my address. She was determined it should be exactly so. And fair enough, too. I would not want my blood mixed up with someone else's.
Then the nurse lined me up for an ECG. I was naked from the top to my middle. I froze on the examination table until she offered me a blanket, almost by way of accusation.
‘I don’t want you cold,’ she said. ‘It can interfere with your reading.'
I huddled under the thick layers of the hospital type blanket, which she had folded over my middle. She left enough naked skin exposed for the plastic pads which she stuck strategically across my torso, concentrating on my heart side.
This procedure also took only a few minutes and the paper work was less dramatic, once only instead of three times to be certain all details were correct.
I have felt miserable ever since. The morning’s wait in the doctor’s rooms for over an hour interfered with my Saturday morning writing routine, but more than that it has addled my mind.
While I waited I read crap magazines when I could have plucked the novel from within my handbag and launched into more of William Maxwell. I’ve been carrying him around with me for weeks now. But serious writing seemed too heavy and magazine writing too light.
This Goldilocks cannot settle into anything. I have washing to hang out. I have bills to draw up and pay. I have a blog post to write and all of this weighs heavily.
Worst of all is the sense that my writing has turned to mush overnight. I’m swamped with jealousy by the success of a recently found writing friend, Kate Richards, and her wonderful book, Madness.
This feeling will pass, I tell myself and I hear Mr Bennett’s voice in my head. Mr Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when he tells his second daughter Elizabeth how heartily ashamed he feels for allowing his youngest daughter, Lydia to go off to camp with the militia at Brighton. Lydia leaves the militia to elope with the scurrilous Captain Wickham and the entire family of Bennett girls are threatened with the shame and disapproval that pursued young women whose connections were tarnished by a fallen sister in those days.
‘I'm heartily ashamed of myself, Lizzie,’ he says. ‘But don't despair. It'll pass and no doubt more quickly than it should.’
I wish Kate well. I want her book to succeed, but oh how I wish it were my turn to have a book out there, ready for the readers' judgement.
Mine’s not ready yet and I fear now it never will be.