misssylviadrake (misssylviadrake) wrote,

Mornings, cats and the rare humane Dr Oliver Sacks

Mornings are the worst. I wake when it's still dark and don't get out of bed because I've not slept enough to be sure to be rested lest I get into a traffic accident.  Bad memories, the need for endurance for the day ahead, mistakes I made this week, missing him: widowhood after nearly 2 years is unspeakable, unwritable. The situation, that of a widow, a product of the way our society groups, gets together & stays apart, puts the loss steadily and endlessly before me. Very very very sad.

My cats help as they are there, cuddled up, making affectionate gestures (nudging, licking, pressing bodies against mine, looking up at me). When light begins to fill the room, I get up and usually put food in the cats' bowls, fill their water bowl, have a cup of juice and put on the computer. Interacting with who is there as friend, acquaintance, story, helps bring me out of myself. I watched this video on the Trollope facebook page:

Then I read obituaries for Oliver Sacks, who began his professional life as a neurologist.

There was a particularly fine account of him and his work in The Guardian. It's effective and accurate because unlike most others, criticism of Sacks is there: Jim was one of those who suggested Sacks's work encouraged "freak voyeurism." The Guardian omits (as do all the obituaries I read) that later in life, in recent NYRB essays, he wrote eloqently and movingly against the closing of asylums as a great cruelty; inadequate as they were, treatments sometimes counterproductive in the extreme, the person was not turned into the streets if a relative did not take them. I have seen up close what life is like for those on the streets.

He was a good man, but what could he do against a profession which encourages to join it people with no empathy for the troubled, depressed, disabled. He himself became [physically diseased by the cancer epidemic a few years ago, had chemotherapy (and perhaps an operation, and then it returned about a year ago; I remember reading his account of
the extraordinary tortures he endured: he put himself through wildly nightmare surgeries to prolong life. He had been so pro low-tech (life's little ironies Thomas Hardy called this sort of thing). Spacks came from an older tolerant and open time. I read his essays as they came out, and assigned two of his books to students, Migraine (the best book ever written on headaches) once, and Seeing Voices (on the history of deafness) several times.

Here he was in 1986:

Odd as it may seem to some of the few people who read this blog, this kind of very early morning makes me more able to get through what I plan each day to occupy it.Then there's breakfast, tidying up, then answer letters, post a big, fix a blog I did the night before (if I did one); and them, having carried over a week-long or more set of goals, each day around 10 on face-book put new set of routs to follow (locked down, for no one to see except me).  These don't alter much sometimes. Read, write, listen to books nowadays, watch movie, go out to do something that is said to be my life.  Follow my routs just as DuMaurier writes she followed hers.

Until late at night, when I am back at my desk (usually for quite a time), and I turn to a movie (or movies), and after rely on a strong pill to put me back to deep sleep, not oblivion, but near enough, and another 6 hours are got through.

Wake to darkness. my cats again and morning again. Morning and mourning are homonyms. Writing and fixing this helped me yesterday night and this afternoon.

Miss Drake
Tags: cancer, cats, cyberspace, disability discourses, disability study, human abuse, human rights, medicine, memories, social life, teaching, widowhood

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment