Getting my priorities right


After a week when I withdrew from the World, I am back with a new schedule, a new plan.

As you all know by now, I am recovering from a brain haemorrhage – a long and frustrating convalescence which is still not over nearly a year after I was suddenly taken ill. I have been told, repeatedly by my neurologist to rest and to postpone anything I could do next year rather than this year.

A week ago, after a period of, maybe too much partying, I felt exhausted so I made this decision to have a week off where I mostly rested, ( I took naps, sleeping during the afternoon, getting up later in the mornings and going to bed earlier at night) and, to my horror and amazement, I now feel a lot better. Well fancy that! thinks my neurologist.

Over the weekend, I recapped on what I normally do with my life, made some lists about what I did each day and discovered, not for the first time, that I was doing too much.

1) Writing – well that is my main occupation and enthusiasm. Apart from this, my daily blog, I am writing either some poetry and fiction every day.

2) Martial Arts – my kungfu and taichi has been quoted by every doctor I have consulted this year as being one of the main reasons why I am still alive and, forgive me, kicking. Anyway I love it and it keeps me fit. To consider myself still a martial artist I have to attend classes and practise every day.

3) Learning Mandarin Chinese – it is a fascinating and difficult language which I have been studying now for two years and which I hope one day to use again when I am well enough to return to China. There is a lot to learn, a new vocabulary which is spoken and written in an entirely different way to European languages. To ever get good at it, I will have to work at it realistically on a daily basis.

4) Music – my lifetime’s obsession which will leave me before I leave it. I have always spent at least an hour of every day listening or practising music. I damaged my vocal chords when I had that brain haemorrhage and I am now scheduled to begin lessons with a singing teacher who plans to give me back the full use of them. By learning singing again, one of my great passions, I will actually be helping my recovery.

5) Life – socializing, having fun, drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week and, I suppose, a few household chores.

6) Gazing into space – we all should do that much more than we ever do. I try to help myself there with my Chakra Meditation practise.

7) Resting – this is the boring one, the bottom of my list. I am supposed to lie down and sleep whenever I feel tired – in other words I must take at least one daily nap. Most of you will see this as a luxury that you envy but when you have to do it, it is very very boring.

So there you have it. These are the things with which I generally fill my life and, as I think you can see, something has to go. I worried about this over the weekend and then realized what I have to do thinking that really I had known this for some time without admitting it to myself.

I will have to, at least until I am fully recovered, give up my Chinese. My brain haemorrhage has made great demands on my body, with my brain, of course, needing the most care. Even though I was lucky not to suffer from any memory loss, I do have problems re-connecting to memories formed before my illness and my Chinese vocabulary has been the most obvious victim. It is almost as if my brain decided that remembering all those words was one bridge too far.

So decision taken, I am much relieved and when I went to the park for my weekly private kungfu lesson this morning, I felt just great.

I am now going to schedule the rest of my activities so that I am no longer pushing myself too far – at least for until I get the results of my next MRI brain scan which is arranged for the 30th. October, the exact anniversary of my brain haemorrhage.

Recovery is now my main daily priority. Finally, I think, I do acknowledge that rest is a significant activity – one that needs to stay at the top of my list.

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