Phew! I've made it to Christmas! I made the deadline for my latest assignment! I've made it to Edinburgh! Hurray!
I'm sure you're all hectically busy, as I have been, which is why, yet again, I have neglected you until now. Now that I'm up at Mum's though I can feel the tension finally slipping away, and I'm starting to relax into Christmas.
I spent most of the past week and a bit writing an assignment that was due on by Friday just gone (a stupid time to have an assignment in, if you ask me). Luckily, and quite miraculously, I managed to get it done and sent off into the ether for marking by 5.30pm on Thursday :o) The assignment entailed dramatising the short story I'd written for the previous assignment, for radio, stage or film. I'd originally thought I'd do it for film, but then played around with the idea of radio before finally settling on stage. I was in my usual state of decisiveness ;o) I can't remember if I told you about my first assignment or not, so here's the (very) basic storyline:
Bill and Marion are the parents of a young soldier, Jim, who is fighting out in the Iraq war. They receive a visit from a Casualty Notification Officer telling them of their son's death. On the day of Jim's funeral they get a letter from Jim that he wrote and sent just before he was killed.
As I say, that is the story on a very basic level. The play is a little different in that it deals solely with the morning of the funeral, and rather than concentrating mostly on Marion (as the short story does), it tells more of the story and reactions of all the characters. So there's Bill's coping/not coping by keeping busy and getting tied up in practicalities, but then giving way to his real feelings when Captain John Baites (the CNO) gives him the letter. By the way, the play opens with the arrival of the letter, and Jim's friend, Micky, who's already in the house picking it up off the doormat. He doesn't want to upset B and M so keeps hold of it until the CNO arrives, which is how come he gives it to Bill. There's a little in the play about how the CNO comes to be doing the job and the complexities of it when he didn't know Jim ... Um, then there's a bit of Micky's reaction, and also his relationship to the family as a life-long friend of Jim. And of course, there's Marion's grief and then her reaction to the letter - she goes into a brief state of disbelief that Jim is actually dead seeing as he's sent a letter.
It's not cheery, is it? Not very festive. Maybe that, in addition to having the pressure taken off with having met the assignment deadline, is partly why I'm now able to relax. It's been a slog, but I'm quite pleased with the final thing ... though I reserve all judgement until I get the mark through. I still have some work to do over Christmas, but I'm determined to take a couple of guilt-free study-free days off, and maybe when I come back to it I'll be a little refreshed ... or a little more stuffed with Christmas goodies at least ;oP
As I say, I came up to Mum's in Edinburgh yesterday. It's great to be up here, but Mum's not well. She's got 'flu :o( She's a little better than she was last week, but still not well so I think Christmas is going to be a relatively quiet affair. Luckily (for me) I had the 'flu vaccine back in October so I should be okay, but my lungs were quite tight this morning, requiring a double dose of nebulised salbutamol, and not too happy this afternoon either. They've been better this evening than they were earlier in the day, but I'm thinking that I might have to be careful in the next day or so. I have no desire to sample the local hospital, even though it's got a fairly good reputation!
Speaking of avoiding hospital, I had a bit of a close call on Sunday evening. At my church the 'general holy mob' (most of the congregation ;oP ) get normal bread (but consecrated) at communion. I can't have shop-bought bread, because of my allergies, and I can't have the regular host wafers either. I can, though, have the gluten-free wafers, although it's not gluten that's the problem for me, it's the sulphur dioxide/sulphites they use to make the flour used in the regular wafers white. Anyway, on Sunday evening we were having a quiet, reflective, Christmas vigil service with communion, which was all very lovely and going smoothly ... until communion. For a change, the communion bread and wine were being passed around by the congregation to each other, but M (the vicar) had told me that he had mine separate and that he'd give it to me himself. Great. This would have been absolutely fine if only the wafer I was given had not been either the wrong sort or a different brand. Whatever it was, it was different and I very quickly knew it. I managed to avoid swallowing any of it, and while I still had it in my mouth asked M if it was the gluten-free type. He looked a bit worried, then said he thought it was, but suddenly wasn't sure. I got up and we went to the back of church (actually it was about half way up, but it was beyond the horseshoe of pews where the service was taking place) where I quickly spat out the consecrated God biscuit. I'm not sure what God would make of that, or the fact that it then went in the bin, but I didn't have a lot of choice, because already my tongue and lips were fizzing, my mouth was itchy, my throat was itchy and my eyes were beginning to burn. My tongue swelled a bit, and my eyes continued to burn and itch and everything in and around my lips was itchy and sore for quite sometime, but luckily it didn't progress into anaphylaxis. I think it might have done if I'd actually swallowed any of it, and/or if I hadn't immediately taken a double dose of two different antihistamines (as prescribed by my immunologist, not just because I thought it was a good idea!).
After exposure to, or ingestion of, an allergenic substance I have up to four hours in which I could have an anaphylactic reaction. Usually, the sooner the reaction begins the more severe it is (and this was pretty damn immediate), but it doesn't always happen that way. It also doesn't always happen that because you stave it off once that it won't come back when the level of antihistamine subsides. It can be an anxious time, but all I can do is wait ... which was apt on Sunday as the sermon was all about waiting. Anyway, I'd put the deadly God biscuit in my mouth around 8pm so I had until to get to about midnight before I could relax in knowledge of relative safety. Poor M was so worried, and I think felt quite guilty (though he has no reason to be, because these things will sometimes happen), and he asked me to text him at midnight to let him know that I was still alive, breathing and had a generally functioning body. Several of my friends suggested I have someone sit with me until midnight, which may have been sensible, but I thought I'd be okay (though they could've been fatal last words) and it also felt a bit much to put onto others ... although I'll probably get shouted at by them for saying that if/when they read this. As it happens I was okay. I felt a bit crappy, and I was very itchy all around my mouth, lips and throat, but the swelling of my tongue went down, and my eyes stopped burning so I got on with distracting myself from the other miserable symptoms by slowly packing for my trip up here and also wasting time on Facebook. As expected, I felt lousy in the morning - I always do after an allergic reaction - so my plans to head off for Edinburgh by 1pm at the latest were delayed until 3pm, by which time I was much more able to function. By the time I got here I was fine, but exhausted, which is unusual for me on a 'normal' drive north, but not after a near-miss allergic response. Needless to say, I had a very early night last night and slept like a log. Maybe this morning's lung grumpiness was connected to the allergy, though I doubt it as it was a bit too long after the event.
Anyway, I made it! I survived and catastrophe was avoided. Yay! Phew!