A few days before our annual pilgrimage to my hubby’s homeland, Phil and I spent a fun evening planning our upcoming trip. Over homegrown barbecued vegetables and sparkly tonic, we poured over a map of the Isle of Man and got excited. We reminisced and laughed and googled and researched… and arranged the holiday ahead. By bedtime we had compiled a ridiculously long list of new places we wanted to visit, and filled our diary with daily family get-togethers. We love the island, we adore our young nephew and niece, and my wonderful body has been at the peak of it’s health these past few months. So we had high hopes of another brilliant trip. But life is unpredictable. 🙂We arrived at Liverpool docks in a merry mood… until we saw the River Mersey. It was bouncing! It was the last day of August, yet Mannanan, the Manx sea God had sent the tail end of a storm to greet us. The incoming ship had been delayed by the bad crossing, and then further delayed at the port as each car and motorbike was driven off one-by-one. At the time, we laughed and couldn’t understand why the usual very quick disembarkation was taking four times longer than normal. (Turns out most of the vehicles, and the ferry car deck roof, had been damaged on the bouncy crossing. I’m very glad I didn’t know that whilst waiting to board! 😛 ). But as a consequence of this, we were forced to wait for four hours on a bopping pontoon. Yep, the car park was actually on the river! The Victorian warehouses appeared to move up and down, the Liver Birds seemed to be yo-yo-ing, and the horizon continually swayed. Not the greatest start. By the time the Catamaran ferry was ready to depart for our trip across the Irish sea, my stomach was already feeling delicate. Three long hours later, after bouncing around on a rollercoaster, through seas covered in white horses… we sailed past the Tower of Refuge into the port. Relief! I felt pretty awful. As well as feeling seasick, my body was fatigued and weak from the continual stress and jerky movements. And consequently I’d needed my oxygen on permanently as I couldn’t breathe enough alone. Trying to stay upright, trying to not be sick, trying to inhale-through-the-nose, exhale-through-the-mouth, had all used vast amounts of my limited energy. As I went to bed that first night I felt dead. I could tell from my aches, my fragility, and my difficulty breathing, that I was deep into the red. Although just twelve hours into my trip, my body felt like it had been away for a week. I’d not only used up that day’s energy allowance, but the next few days also. I rarely feel that ill after just a few hours of activity.
And so the holiday that was planned and imagined and hoped for, didn’t quite happen. I spent the first day in bed in my pyjamas; sick and ill. And although, after that, I was able to join in with some activities, for the first five days of the trip I felt really awful. Continually nauseous, headache, weakness, fatigued and reliant upon oxygen. Poorly. My body wanted me to stay in bed and sleep for the whole week. And if we’d been back home, I’d have done just that. But as I was away, I was desperate to see as much as I could, and be with others as much as possible. We only visit once a year. So I literally forced myself to ignore how sick I felt, and tried my hardest to join in and enjoy it. And so I did. 🙂 I managed to leave the house for a few hours every day, and visit some of the nearer sites. I managed to see my lovely family most days, even if it was for less time than normal. Although I wasn’t well enough to pick up my nephew and niece, I could muster enough energy to give scooter rides. Although I was dead in bed by 8pm, I could manage one fun game beforehand. Although I couldn’t travel to new spots on the further end of the island, I enjoyed the closer familiar attractions. Yes it wasn’t the holiday we pictured as we ate barbecued courgette whilst devouring a map of the island. But from the storm a different calmer, slower, easier trip unfolded. The highlights were picking Mei-Yan up from school on her very first day, taking a walk/scoot with Ed (my father-in-law) along a beautiful mountain road, and eating ice creams on the local pebbly beach. Nothing beats licking some rum and raisin, in the glorious sunshine!
In the lead-up to this trip, I’d done everything possible to ensure I’d be well and healthy. I’d rested for a week prior, avoided ill people, and stayed away from irritants. I’d brought additional emergency oxygen, packed extra medicines, and took doctors letters. And unbelievably, I’d actually booked our holiday for that date… so the waters would be calm. Yep! :-\ We’d crossed the Irish sea in a horrendously scary Force 9 storm in December 2015, which had made me incredibly poorly and unable to leave my bed for a WHOLE week. Consequently, we decided that going forward, I would only ever visit the island during the summer months. We concluded that between May and September, the sea would be calmer, and thus more manageable for my ill body. Yes Alanis, it is ironic! 😀
I’m a planner, I always have been. I like to organize and forward-think and control. I like to do everything possible to ensure a positive outcome. I like to prepare for, and prevent, worst case scenarios. But life has shown me that even the best planners can’t control everything. The unexpected can, and will, still occasionally happen. But although I can’t control the curveballs, the unpredictable, the unforeseen… I can control how I respond. Stay in bed and cry over the broken dreams? Or keep going as best I can and change the plan? Thankfully I chose the later. 🙂
Manannan, the Manx God, obviously wants us to come back again next year… the sea on our return crossing was as still as a mill pond. 🙂