Who, what, where, why? Some thoughts on being 50…

Mi Camino…well, does this mean that being fifty years old is a bit like reaching a fork in the road, with a nice comfy bus shelter situated there, for a little repose and introspection.

Some people would say that ‘it’s all downhill from here’, but I don’t like the thought of that. Downhill is difficult. I’d rather move uphill – it strengthens the heart and legs and gives you a perpetual workout.

So, I sit here and think about who I am, who I was and where I’ve been. Well, I’ve been around the world a bit and it was really interesting and at times a little terrifying.

I suppose that what a person is looking for in life starts to coalesce at around the ages of sixteen to eighteen. At that time, I was fully immersed in A level music and a new world was opening up. I loved music and I wanted to be as good as I possibly could. I was surprised at how good I was, even though it was hard work. I liked that, as the rewards were evident. The scales and arpeggios were essential, practicing difficult pieces, learning to sight-read – all were a part of a goal.

I was reading ‘Galileo’s Dream’ by Kim Stanley Robinson last week and he described in detail, the states of thought, ‘deja-vu’ which everyone knows and also ‘presque-vu’ which was how I felt for so many years. The understanding of how things work and how to solve problems was just, so frustratingly out of reach.
This was entirely due to a lack of the hormone thyroxine. I had been tested many times and the levels of T3 and T4 were always low, yet for an inexplicable reason, no one would treat me.
I was 38 when I eventually managed to start treatment and it was due to my wonderful GP in Jakarta, Dr Yohannes. I’d been reading about cholesterol levels and the link with low thyroid function, which leapt from the screen and into my thyroxine-starved brain.
I had dreadful cholesterol levels, low HDL, moderately bad LDL and horrendous Triglycerides and statins were doing nothing. Dr Yohannes decided that maybe Thyroxine may help and so it did.
Clarity of thought came quickly. It was as though all the light bulbs were exchanged for high-powered halogen bulbs and I could think.
I could eat as well – for the first time since the age of 10, I could eat without putting on weight. I didn’t lose a great deal of weight, as this was still difficult, but the scales didn’t rise and rise.
My energy levels were boosted and suddenly, I was sharp. What a wonderful change – no more fogged thoughts, just wonderful clear logic.

This didn’t last forever, as unfortunately the spectre of MS entered my world. You live with this monster, which destroys lives and even kills people. It’s not a good incurable disease to have or live with. I have fought this and tried many ways to beat it back into a dark corner, which is where it exists right now. I know though, that it could attack again, without warning, but thanks to beta-interferon, low dose Naltrexone, a gluten-free diet, vitamin D3 supplementation and a life in a better climate, I can appear to be a normal person. I would like to work, but I’m not sure if that’s not playing with fire. MS snarls and growls in its dark corner, but the constant fatigue that would come with working, may let it out to overwhelm me.

So, at this milestone in life, what happens next? I can no longer claim to be a musician. It was all I wanted for so many years and for a brief time; I was out there, performing for presidents and vice-presidents, in concert halls in Asia, with wonderful choirs.
No more though. I am, along with all other people, the sum of my experiences. A wife, a mother, a singer and a perpetual outsider and foreigner and this is where I begin…

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