It's 7 am on day 11 and I awake with searing heartburn after a terrible night.
This is the first time (and I am assuming it won't be my last) that I have a pity session and, as I observe myself from a third-person vantage point, I tell myself I'm pathetic.
But I realise now, it's how the day set me up.
Here is how it starts.
I wake up feeling queasy and all day my stomach churns and, while I finish my writing project I'm aware at how tired I feel. I am so fatigued that I think: "Shit, I'm really not well."
I explain the tiredness by my activity the day before. I had gone for a swim in my pool, I had played 9 holes of golf with Ben and Al, then I had taken my dog for a short stroll in the evening (maybe 2 kilometres).
On the scale of calorie burning activities these were pretty lame, but you would think I had done a stint with Bear Grilles. I feel completely wrung out.
It's not good because it's this feeling I associate with the period leading up to be discovery of Cancer. In other words, it scares me a little.
Maybe this idea is bubbling somewhere in my subconscious as the day progresses. That I'm really unwell. I should be feeling better by now but I still feel like crap.
It doesn't help that, in the shower, I notice what I had thought was a pimple - very unusual - just above my left armpit. It should have retreated by now but it's still quite a noticeable protrusion.
And so, as you do, I start panicking and thinking maybe it's not on my arm, maybe it's part of a lymph node, maybe they missed something. Maybe I'm going to die after all. I make a mental note to ask Dr Choo to check it out for me.
This undercurrent of disturbance doesn't go away. It's there at the bottom of the pond, stirring the muck.
It's nearly 3 o'clock by the time I finish and because I'm feeling so awful, I think maybe an outing to the shops might revive me.
I get myself a coffee chilla from 'Wendy's' and sit down to write a short story because I've had what I think is a pretty interesting idea. I write for an hour and go home to let Ben into the house.
In the late afternoon I throw up.
Al and Harry have been at the Manpad again and when we all finally home, we go to Ethel and George's for dinner.
George is in bed when we arrive. He is battling the effects of emphysema - the product of a smoking habit - and is increasingly frail.
Ethel has made her famous fish pie and a fabulous fruit salad including a delicious red papaya. I eat cautiously wondering if I will keep it down.
As I eat, Ethel intimates that George has been writing his memories down. She says he can barely hold the pen and she's offered to type out his notes for him. For some reason, this makes me feel unutterably sad.
And so that is the set up when finally I go to bed. I take an anti-nausea.
I don't feel sleepy so as Al snores beside me, I open my Kindle and become immersed in the autobiography I've started, "Life" by Keith Richards. (It's bloody good).
Maybe this is what sets me off. I think about Keith and his life as a mega-rich superstar. Then I think about Madonna, flaunting herself at the Superbowl opening.
I think about the people who seem to have had a blessed life.
I don't know if the two are connected but my stomach really feels bad. So once again, I throw up.
And then it starts: The Pity Party,
Now folks, this is not a place I've been invited to much in the past and I'm glad.
It's the worst party you could go to, the kind of party where they only play One-Hit wonders like "Spirit in the Sky" (shudder), "Turning Japanese" and "Believe it or Not" (Come on, have you ever tried dancing to that crap?) and the guests are like zombies. And the only person you can find who will have a go at conservation... no contraception... no, aah, CONVERSATION only wants to talk about herself or her bloody kids or her bad marriage and her life story is fucking boring. And they only serve cheezels, party pies and cheerios. And they make you bring everything, even your own chair. And you have to sit on some shitty lawn or some shitty garage under neon lights while some mangy dog keeps trying to sniff your crotch or hump your leg. Oh, and I usually have an allergic reaction to something: usually a cat.
You know the kind of party? When from the moment you arrive you're if you might channel one of those 'Star Trek' guys and dematerialise on another planet as far away as possible from this miserable collection of D-Listers.
Yep. That kind of party.
Normally, I don't 'get' pity. I don't want it. I don't seek it. It's like the hideous, 18DDDD Hestia monstrosity left in the "Sale" bin at the lingerie shop. It's the one I don't want!
But here is how it unfolds at the party.
"Why am I going through this? What have I done to deserve it? God must hate me? I have to feel like crap because I am crap? Why hasn't my life been easy? Boo Hoo. Why wasn't I born tall and pretty? Why wasn't I ever popular at school? Why do I always get picked last? Why have I never won anything? How come Madonna gets to be rich and famous and dance at the Superbowl in front of a billion admiring fans while I get to puke in a bucket? Why did my dad get diabetes? He already lost his Dad, you think that would be enough shit in his life? Why did I have to lose my boob? Why is everything so fucking hard for me?"
And then it ends with me sitting on the toilet and crying because I don't want to wake Al up.
When I get back to bed, my nose is a little stuffed up and I realise there is no way I'm going to sleep. And I think about the pity party. And I think what a waste of time it is. What a boring and unattractive place it is to go to.
Self pity achieves nothing! It's the most useless process you can ever go through, next to, for me at least, maybe getting a spray tan). It's just unproductive.
Come on. What do you expect? If life is a box of chocolates, some poor bastard has to get the hard one with the nut in the centre that breaks his tooth. And some even poorer bastard gets to be Forrest Gump. Okay?
You think you're the only one, feeling gypped? Hard done by?
Get a grip. Think of the poor villagers in Bulgaria who froze to death this week because they didn't have central heating.
Think of the people in Sudan and Iraq and Pakistan who don't know what it feels like to feel completely safe?
Think of that woman who had her face eaten by the pet orang-utan (although I must say, that would have to be just a tiny bit the product of gross stupidity).
In general, life has a bit of shit for each of us. I don't know what Madonna's shit is but I have it on good authority her latest song (LUV Madonna) is pretty close TO shit.
I'm learning a bit more about Keith Richard's shit and I think, in the main, he was either smoking it or injecting it.
What is there to self-piteious me other than:
Get over it, lady. And get on with it.
You get no brownie points for being pathetic.