The TV monitor above the Tank relieves the boredom and alone-ness
My treatment in the hyperbaric oxygen tank was like nothing else I had experienced. When you have a condition that is pain-related, it’s hard for people to understand what the whole fuss is about. I get that. We all get that, those of us who have silent illnesses – the sort you can’t wear, which aren’t signposted by crutches, slings, wheelchairs or sticks. So telling people I was to spend two hours a day, five days a week in an oxygen tank felt a bit like making a bad joke.
It was even more difficult when I got to the hospital. HBO is used for diseases of the nervous system but also for open wounds that won’t heal. Sarah in The Thinking Tank encounters such a situation when she meets a woman with damaged tissue on her face. If I dig deep, I guess what it made me feel was a fraud. Like if I don’t have some outward badge of pain, then I can’t possibly deserve this treatment. And when you feel like that you get all apologetic for even being there. Hats off to the amazing staff at the former Edith Cavell hospital in Peterborough who were real earth angels and did all they could to make visits to the HBO unit like a coffee morning. But that alone-ness, when everything is cool and separate in the tank – even the earth angels could not fix that.
Which is where the telly comes in – if you want it to. I’ve included a pic to explain a bit about how it works. It is surreal, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s hard to visualise. The monitor is outside the glass cylinder and sound – someone talking to you or sound from the TV – is piped in through an intercom system. And it works both ways. You can be heard too from the outside. It’s another way of making you feel less diconnected but the truth is, there is nothing like two hours in a treatment chamber to underline your disconnectedness – the fact that no one else on the planet can feel your pain – that pain is personal, be it physical or metaphorical, and let’s face it we all tend to think our own pain must be the worst. The truth is that whatever your worst is, is simply that – your own personal worst. We live by degrees. We get hurt by degrees. The more pain we encounter in life the more we are likely to cope with more pain – or if not, we go under.
We each of us live life in our own tank. We just don’t always know when we are there – and we forget that to connect we need to reach out from our tanks, from our pain and from our own private worlds. Sarah gets stuck in hers and to move forward she has to uncover the secrets that keep her and her daughter apart.
Like Sarah, I watched film after film in my oxygen tank. The difference is that whilst I chose my own films and the tank, the catalyst for The Thinking Tank, chose me, Sarah’s films choose her – and try as she might to make them stop, the tank just thinks for itself…
OK. I am calmer now. When we talk about life’s crappy stuff, it’s not just the big things that get us, is it? Although it’s pathetic and I am thoroughly ashamed, I have just had a complete hissy fit because the delivery man – with the precious very first copies of The Thinking Tank – rang the wrong bell at our gate, left a card and went away – and the delivery people on the end of the phone with the very long message and the many buttons to press before you get to a real person wouldn’t let me go to Peterborough to rescue them from the depot!
Maybe you can imagine my disappointment. I know pride is wrong and all that, but this was to be a proud moment. Camera was ready, Champagne (real stuff – not cheap fizz) was in the fridge, all set to upload pic of me with first-born novel onto Facebook and hurrah!
Now I know it wasn’t to be. That just wasn’t my moment and I am waiting until it is. Until the very nice man comes back with my books and I can finally rip open the package and claim my prize. And I have put a big notice in red writing on the gate: Jae De Wylde is IN (subtext: take my books away again at your peril).
So in the past day, I have gone from feeling naked and scared to frustrated and angry and now I am feeling…yes, that’s what it is…resigned. I know some people will not like what they read. It’s inevitable. I don’t like some of my favourite author’s work, so why should everyone like mine? What I am feeling now is that literature is like art. At its best, it provokes thought and discussion – so as long as the non-likers and the likers feel moved to talk about The Thinking Tank, that’s fine. Isn’t it? Please visit: http://jaedewylde.com/
The Thinking Tank, my first novel has been published. I am a published author. Job done, you say. Job not done. Job only just beginning. Why have I called this Life’s Crappy Stuff? Because it’s what we all have to wade through to get to where we want to be. And it is precisely this crappy stuff that helps us to keep our writing real.
When writers give an account of how they got from the concept of their novel through to publication they rarely go backwards. So why have I decided to do it this way? One reason is that lots of would-be writers, by the time they are googling about getting published, that’s really all they want to know…so that way you guys can skip the rest of my blog and just read the bit that may or may not be relevant to where you are in your writer’s journey.
The very quick answer to your question so you can go and order a latte as you ponder it, is that – like so many things in life – I was in the right place at the right time with the right person in my life. Before you dismiss this as a cop out, let me explain. Sometimes something can be right under your nose but you just don’t recognise it. It took a reiki course to teach me this very important lesson. A wonderful and inspiring mentor called Lisa Whitehead http://www.getalife-uk.co.uk/ said we should open our eyes to the opportunities the universe is offering. Crap, you might say (I probably did at the time). The next day I went off to work and, instead of deleting a random email from a PR company requesting submissions from journalists, I responded. A month later I was in a first class stateroom on the Queen Mary, covering the voyage from Southampton to New York – the journey of a lifetime just because I listened to what I had been told, and to what the universe was saying.
So, listen, engage and be open to opportunities. Network amongst those you know, create contacts with those you don’t.
My publisher will be laughing as she reads this. Jo Parfitt at Summertime Publishing http://www.joparfitt.com/tag/summertime-publishing/ is my world’s leading expert on networking. She was right under my nose and I was right under hers. Our lives kept intercepting and overlapping and we recognised one another in so many ways but then finally the universe put us both in the right place at the right time. The Lime Tree Cafe in Dubai to be precise: http://www.thelimetreecafe.com/ . We met as the friends we already were but this time we realised my novel was a good match for her new fiction imprint. We met as friends – I came away with a publisher and she came away having acquired another author for her list.
So what does it feel like to be published – out there with your first novel, about to be launching and signing? As I write I am expecting the first delivery of the paperback version of my book. The book is already out there on Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Thinking-Tank-ebook/dp/B005HXCYJA/ref=sr_1_12?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1314870859&sr=1-12. Already members of my family and friends have been reading what I have written. And I feel naked. Naked and full of self doubt and insecure. Now that’s not what you expect is it? That’s not what I expected anyway. This morning I should be feeling excited, full of hope and pride and bouncing around with my chihuahuas, singing ‘I am a published author, na na na nah na.’ But I am not. What I am is scared…