23 Mar 2008

Post number 29: Extreme jealousy

I think today I want to talk about a theme that has often characterised my rehabilitation and was never really a problem before. It’s not a great character trait I’m afraid, it is of: Extreme jealousy.
Let me explain what I mean. OK, being on the TLU probably provides the best example. When I first came here I was the only person in a wheelchair, all the other residents had speech and cognitive problems apparently, although somewhat ashamedly, I was convinced some of them were only here because it was free food and the only way they could get any form of social contact. I was convinced my neighbour from Brixton (mad as she was ) had more reason to be here than a couple of the residents, but being the only soul in a wheelchair did me a lot of mental damage and did a lot to nurture my feelings of inadequacy and isolation a bit like when I’d been on Drapers and being the only patient who could talk, I had no-one to relate too and felt as though I was going slowly insane (The bloody forward- thinking RHN again.) Cognitive and speech problems are something that I’ve been told I now don’t have a problem with (I do still have speech problems) and that I’m ‘incredibly lucky’ not to have had seriously. Well excuse me for not feeling incredibly fortunate! My voice sounds terrible (at least I think it does).. it takes far too much energy to get anything out, and I feel so tired all the time – imagine the tiredest you’ve ever felt and double it, that’s how I feel all the time. Even repeating myself is too much effort and the jealousy, what’s that about? Simple, I superimpose myself onto other stroke sufferers (today I’m a sufferer, not a survivor) and think to myself – I wish I could walk like that, I wish I could talk like that, I wish I could use both hands like that, Why does no-one else look as tired as I do etc etc? I think the best/worst example of this Jealousy/anger/ frustration was a guy called Darren who has now gone home. Now this guy was a borderline simpleton, aided by a car crash (at least I hope it was the car crash) I think but by virtue of the fact that he could walk and use both hands,he could go home and see his girlfriend and child, cook, shop, take trains, eat normally, sit in normal chairs, sleep in normal beds, make love to his girlfriend etc etc. I am utterly jealous of his ability to do all of these things despite him being a borderline simpleton. Even Andrzej, the polish guy at the TLU whom I’d describe as a 6’ 30 year old baby. I think what has happened to him is terrible (He can’t speak, he can only shout or cry and dribble) but he can walk and use both arms. I am very glad I don’t have his deficiencies because there is no way people would bother to visit me but I’d gladly take his lack of self awareness (the thing that seems to keep me hating myself) His ability to walk and use both hands and his seemingly inexhaustible reserves of energy. This characteristic of virulent envy is one that I am not particularly proud of, one of a long list that appears to be getting ever longer the longer I stay in stroke rehab.

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