Setting aside the demise of the blown fuse, and the kettle, before 6am. I’ve been to have my surgically induced fluid bubbles drained. I’ve been waiting for this moment since the last time I went out of the house in a state of heightened emotion and came home minus a vat of “lovely and clear” lymphatic fluid.
This morning’s trip out also served as yet another training opportunity for someone who needs to get their numbers up. I am happy to oblige. Today’s student offered up an abundance of “bless you” and brief felicitations on the quality of my output.
The electrician text me to say that he was an hour away. There was time enough for a trot to that well known emporium where end of lines can be precured at bargain prices. Kettles were not amongst them. This didn’t stop me from joining the till queue with a small tin of Spanish sweet chili. When it was my turn, I put my cane down on the counter next to me and pushed the chili under the Perspex screen where it was carefully examined, it’s contents read, it’s barcode scanned, before being picked up for closer examination. Then something unexpected happened.
Having located what remains of the curly label with it’s barcode, that I never bothered to peel off and now looks like something I stepped in, the cashier tried scanning my cane. “It’s a mobility aid” I said limply.
“Yeah, I’m scanning it now,” she said.
“Yeah, I’m doing it now.” She persisted with small jabs at the cane.
“It’s my mobility aid. I’m not paying for it. It’s already mine.”
“But what is it?” she asked as she slid it back across the counter.
“I can’t see very much. I use it to help me get about.” As a leap of imagination goes, I don’t think she found it easy to make the leap between my bundled-up cane and how this translated into anything practical. I would have to dig deep. I dug so deep I found myself in bargain basement beating a retreat.
I headed to the hardware shop in the drive to boil water. Since the day I left a well-ordered stand of kitchen products on the floor, I have not returned. My reappearance went unnoticed and I settled on a blue kettle that was on clearance. At the till I slid the kettle over the counter and under the Perspex screen. I put my cane down on the counter in front of me and reached into my bag for my debit card. The cashier reached across for my cane and zapped it.
“That’s mine,” I said. “I’m not buying it.”
“I’ll clear it,” he said and carried on zapping.
“No, it belongs to me. I already own it.”
“Oh,” he said and looked as if he might be gearing up to ask what it was but thought better of it.
“It’s a cane,” I said. “I can’t see. I use it to help get around. It’s mine. It’s my long white cane.” I know this doesn’t really cover it but I wasn’t in the mood for evangelism.
All that zapping and cane action sparked something in my imagination. I can claim the changes that cancer keeps delivering, just like I’ve claimed visual impairment, as part of the patchwork that makes me, well me.
In her misery at getting breast cancer, cookery writer Julia Childs offered her husband a divorce. “I didn’t marry you for your breasts. I married you for your legs,” he reputedly said. Somehow, we all have to find ways to be the heroin of our lives. Not the victims.