Sources of Joy – Day 5

Fear, health centre, acupuncture, and kneeling in general

Today’s sources of joy lie in the incongruous bordering on the paradoxical.

I discovered that fear has no place if one is to relish wholeheartedly in the incongruity of it all. The fear I talk of is much more unsettling than the kind of dread with which I habitually approach tax returns. The sheer tedium of that particular activity numbs all fundamental impulses, including that of fear.

Fear masquerading as window frames
Fear masquerading as window frames

The fear I speak of enters when one has determined a course of action; it is the hesitation to be overcome before one takes the next step. It blocks one’s vision, until all you see are the window frames, instead of the meadow beyond. It depletes one’s stock of grandeur, and shackles the human spirit so!

Everyone has difficulties. Most of us confront them,  deal with them, live with them and sometimes manage to overcome them so well that we can eat them for breakfast, and then some, on any given day. My difficulty is that I can no longer cope with caring for my partner who has MS. Caring is scary, as I have said before. Caring has now become even scarier than I, with my imagination, could have imagined. João is on the interminably long list of people waiting for a place in a home with care facilities for the disabled – and has been for almost a year. The alternative is what is called respite care in the UK. These are places which provide the necessary care for the one in need of care so that the carer can have a much-needed break. Anything from a weekend to six months, I am told. I am strangely attracted to the latter option.

My next step was one in a series, some of which have already been taken. It involved getting an appointment at the local health centre (whose window frames are pictured above) to evaluate João’s current circumstances and, hopefully, get the doctor to write a report which will result in her being registered and admitted into one of these respite care homes.

In theory, when I woke up today, I had already failed to accomplish the next step on five successive working days. Whatever else I have accomplished fades into nothingness; it is all negated in one fell swoop. Fortunately, all one needs for a fear to lose its lustre in the intimidation department is for a bigger fear to come along. I was spurred into action at the tiresome thought of having to beat up on myself for the whole of today, and the whole of the Easter weekend. So I endured the two-hour wait until I managed to speak to the doctor. I should add that a certain degree of persuasion on my part was required to emphasise the urgency involved.  On Monday afternoon, João has an appointment. The next step is achieved. Result: Fear is merely a little word again. And the view improves:

Same window, one step closer.
Same window, one step closer.

In other news, I had my second acupuncture treatment this afternoon. This, too, is an incongruous story. I tripped on the pavement last week after completing the previous step in the mission to find a place for João, and sustained minor but painful injuries to my right knee and my right leg in general. My one and only English student, Niuniu (Zhao Yi Wei), recently qualified as a doctor of Chinese medicine and follows in the illustrious footsteps of her mother, whose practice she has now joined as a fully-fledged member. News of my fall travelled swiftly on the village grapevine. The very next afternoon, Niuniu appeared on my doorstep, insisting that I required treatment. She did not have to persuade me much. I finished the translation I was working on, and within two hours, was receiving my first-ever acupuncture treatment. I resisted the urge to correct Niuniu’s grammar because she was in charge – and is a remarkably good doctor. Besides which, I am menopausal (oh, joy!) and, coincidentally, have discovered the wisdom of holding my tongue. As a bonus, I also received treatment for my current hot flushes. Today, Niuniu’s mother administered treatment. Having removed the bars from the window before lunch (see above), I was able to achieve true relaxation in that state that is neither waking nor sleeping. I am sure that this enhanced the benefit of the treatment. This was a refreshing change from the extremes of stress and fatigue to which I have become accustomed on both the work and domestic front.

I have an old hockey injury on the same knee I injured last week, which has also received treatment. Sometimes intense discomfort for the last fifteen years has suddenly vanished! This encouraged me to kneel more often than I normally do at this evening’s Maundy Thursday Mass. Gingerly, as usual, but without pain. The real joy came when I genuflected at the end of the service. As I began to get up, the grandchild of a friend about my age said, “Hello!”, and like all well-behaved Portuguese  children, offered her cheeks for the kiss-kiss greeting. That was not the best part, nor was the little chat we had. The best part was seeing my friend beaming tenderly with pride and love at this delightful child of four or five.

As I make my way home shortly after ten o’clock at night, I realise that I have only done three hours’ work today. That’s okay. I only have one day’s worth of work between now and Monday morning.

I get home and see that my newly-married niece is on Facebook. I greet her in the chat box as Mrs J_____. How jubilantly funny!

Calçada | Calçado Taken at midday outside the health centre. The  closeness of the words for pavement and footwear in Portuguese struck me, so I documented it.
Calçada | Calçado
Taken at midday outside the health centre.
The closeness of the words for pavement and footwear in Portuguese struck me, so I documented it.


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