gilest.org

Yay and yay and humbug

X-ray: “Normal.”

MRI brain scan: “Normal.”

EEG electric activity scan: “The brain waves on the right side of your brain look slightly different to those on the left; the significance of this is uncertain.”

Riiight.

When the doctors told me that I really shouldn’t drive for a while, at least until the cause of my mysterious fainting episode had been established, I arrogantly and naively thought I’d be able to manage just fine without access to a car.

“I’m a relatively fit, active young man living in a small town that has easy access to everything essential for day-to-day life,” I thought to myself. “I can get by.”

And I did, for a while. But after a few weeks the frustration started to grow. The recycling piled up in the utility room, because I didn’t do my monthly trip to the recycling centre to get rid of it. My newly-constructed office remained half-decorated because I couldn’t, on a whim, drive to appropriate stores to get the paint, shelving and other bits and bobs I wanted to use. Our season ticket to Longleat sat unused on the microwave, because I wasn’t able to take Barney there for day trips as I’d planned. And while the hot weather wilted everyone in sight, I failed to be organised enough to get on the train to the seaside for a day.

It turns out that I’m not nearly as radical as I thought I was, and every bit as lazy as I wanted to think I was not. Living without a car turned out to be time-consuming (endless hours waiting for buses), expensive (I pay about £5 for a return to Bath, nine miles away), and annoying. Sure, I could get to most shops for most things, I could get to a pub and a post office and visit most of my friends, but I couldn’t transport any objects, I couldn’t carry heavy bag loads of stuff. Despite my fondness for thinking myself environmentally friendly, I’m still a car-dependant consumer like everyone else, and found it very hard to change my ways.

Now I’ve been given the all-clear, and things are looking brighter. I have a long list of things I want to do in the car, and an enhanced admiration for people who really have taken the radical step of ditching cars completely.

That said, I’ve re-kindled my fondness for cycling, and the constant treks up and down the hill into town on the bike have, I’m sure, helped me get a little fitter than I might otherwise have been. I’ve no intention of using the car for short around-town journeys; indeed, I’m determined to make an effort to think harder than ever before about getting in the car in the first place – “Do I have to drive, or am I just being lazy?”

As for my funny episode back in April, no-one really knows what it was. I’ve been prodded and x-rayed and scanned and tested many times since, and everything has come back saying I am as normal and as healthy as a 35-year-old part-time freelance writer can be expected to be. So yay for me, yay for the NHS, yay for cycling, and yay for coming to terms with just how easy it is to be a lazy so-and-so when you’ve got a car key in your hand and a tank full of petrol. Brummmmm.

(26th August 2006)