|Yes I was wearing sunglasses over my glasses…and yes, those are a pair of Manchester United flip flops. They were the cheapest I could find okay!|
At the end of May I set myself a Summer Target. I aimed to drive the six minute journey to The Meadows, park the car, walk to the ice cream van, buy an ice cream (using money and everything!!!!) eat said ice cream and then drive home again.
With M.E and suchlike chronic, and ridiculous, illnesses everything has be broken down. It is not as simple as ‘making a sandwich’ or ‘running a bath’. Every little thing, from turning the page of a book to pressing buttons on the TV remote, takes up energy, or one spoon if you like.
So this Summer Target is a big deal. Not only does it require me to tackle the task of driving, I then must actually perform another task; a task I have not done by myself in a long time. There have been a couple of post office trips and then the day I sat by the river for a couple of minutes. This is the whole shebang! I will also be dealing with money which is something I didn’t have to do at the post office (free post) and then I have to drive home again afterwards.
Today’s the day – 17/7/13
I had started to change my mind about whether I wanted to do it, and not because I couldn’t. It suddenly all felt extremely pathetic. I’m a 24 year old woman whose only life goal at the moment is to drive to buy an ice cream. Then I pulled myself together. If I wasn’t ill it wouldn’t be such a big deal and I’d do these things without a second thought, but I am ill and so it is a big deal.
When I got up this morning I decided that today was the day, health obliging. Leaving the house on my own and locking the door behind me was something I hadn’t done in a very, very long time. It felt a bit weird because it’s such a normal thing to do. The drive was okay. I think I was nervous and there was more traffic than usual because I tend to go for my drives in the evening. I reached my destination in about 5 minutes but…
…the ice cream van wasn’t there. Does The Ice Cream Man not realise what day it is?! It is Operation Ice Cream day no less!
I parked, displayed my Blue Badge and plonked myself on a bench in the shade. Now that I was there I felt a bit watery eyed. “I’m here. On my own. I’m outside on my own” was what I jotted down on my iPad. (I took it with me to use the camera.)
It felt like a daydream. As I sat on that bench I had to pinch myself that I was out in public alone. Independent. Right at that moment I no longer cared if it was pathetic or silly or whatever, because it wasn’t. Not to me. It was a milestone. I didn’t care what people might think of me shuffling around on my own. They don’t know my story, just like I don’t know theirs.
I have been largely cooped up for almost three years. Not due to social anxiety but due to a neurological disease that affects every system in the body.
I went for a ‘little’ walk, which I probably shouldn’t have but I’d decided to give The Ice Cream Man some time to get there. I didn’t want it to be a wasted trip. Thankfully I spotted a new (it probably isn’t new anymore but it’s new to me) shop by the river.
They sold ice creams! The Ice Cream Man might not have realised how important today was but this little shop did. Hooray! And no queue! And the young man behind the counter told me to have a nice day. I wanted to hug him and tell him it was already such a wonderful day but I realised if I filled him in about Operation Ice Cream he might think I was on day release from the asylum. The poor boy was probably already a bit wary of me as I had tears in my eyes, was sweating A LOT (from the heat) and my hands and arms were shaking (due to the adrenaline) so I thought it best to just thank him and wish him the best too.
I couldn’t take in what I had achieved so I’m not sure I actually enjoyed the ice cream but I DID IT!
Operation Ice Cream. Mission Accomplished.