I was supposed to have spent this past weekend at Butlins in Skegness – a typically bracing English seaside resort. Strange choice for December, I can hear you say. Normally I’d agree with you, as a holiday camp wouldn’t be my first choice for a holiday, and certainly not at this time of year. But I had booked to go to the Great British Folk Weekend which, as you can see from the poster, boasted an array of folk artists that would do any of the more traditional folk festivals proud. I was really looking forward to this, even, rather sadly, to the train journey to get there – there’s a small child in us all! But I didn’t go.
Why not? The simple answer is that my body let me down. I have suffered from migraines since I was 15 and it was just my luck that one launched itself at me on Friday, when I was due to travel. I don’t have experience of an Exocet attack (!) but when I get a migraine it feels like I imagine that would be: something hits me completely out of the blue and I feel instantly debilitated. When I get the full works I endure not just the incredible pain of the headache, but also sickness, the aura affecting my vision to the point where it would be unsafe to be outdoors, and the heightened sensitivity to light and sound. And this all lasts for two to three days. So instead of a convivial weekend in good company, listening to some great live music, I spent the time at home, largely in darkness on Friday and Saturday.
Why am I telling you this? To be honest I’m not entirely sure! I’m not looking for sympathy – anyone who is also susceptible to migraines will recognise this as an unfortunate part of our lives that we just have to go through. In any event, you only have to open the paper or switch on the TV to see many people who deserve your sympathy much more than I do. I don’t treat this blog as a diary, as I don’t have the discipline to write every day, but there is an element of that in this post. I felt the need to record my disappointment, for that is all it is: disappointment at the loss of something I knew I would have enjoyed, that would have enabled me to make some new friends and widen my horizons. But there will be other opportunities to do that. My real disappointment is the sense of not being able to trust my health. For many people, this is something they face everyday and I have the utmost admiration for them. But this is something that doesn’t happen to me.
But now it does, and I’m finding that this small event is causing me to think a lot about my life. It has made me more wary of booking ahead for things, in case I have to miss them. That looks really pathetic and stupid now that I can see it on my screen, but I can’t rid myself of the thought. I suppose this is one of the less good parts of retirement and the aging process: I’m only 61 but I’ve never been older than I am today and I need to rethink my approach. Amazing that what counts for me as a deep thought process can result from one migraine, isn’t it? But this one is symbolic for me. It is a kind of sign – that I should re-evaluate my lifestyle and what I need to do. It’s not as though I can prevent migraines occurring, but maybe if I was thinner and fitter I’d be better able to withstand them? I know this is sound advice for myself and really intend to take it seriously.
Oh, but Christmas is only 16 days away, with all the culinary temptations that it brings. Perhaps I should start cutting back and forego those temptations. But New Year closely follows, so I can make this a New Year Resolution, can’t I? No need to cause myself additional suffering, is there? So it’s sorted then. My new approach is:
When in doubt, procrastinate!