In a recent post, I wrote about my passion for television shows and the distraction that they provide from the persistent chronic pain that has been ravaging throughout my legs recently. In this post, I also shared my favourite box sets to watch when incapacitated by chronic pain or the many other symptoms that occur when living with a neurological condition.
Yes, television and films are one of my primary passions. However, it is not my only passion. My first love, and one which has followed me throughout my life since childhood is reading. Books are something that I have always collected, amassing goodness knows how many over the years and are found all over my home, especially in my bedroom! Many books I donate to charity shops or pass them along to those whom I know would love it as much as I did, but still, I amass so many books!
Like many, I hate getting lost especially in unfamiliar places. But I can spend many hours perusing the shelves of libraries or bookshops that times seems to slip away from me, and wouldn’t notice if I did get lost, or lost sight of my companion.
As a young child as much as my Mum tried to get to engage in other activities such as colouring or puzzles, for example, I quickly became bored, and I once turned to the safety and magic that books provided. Many of the photographs of me as a young child, I can be seen clutching a book, losing myself in the words and pictures on the page. As we have now established my condition whether genetic or due to another organic cause, was from birth, I wonder if I retreated into books as a way of dealing with symptoms such as pain that I could not yet verbalise.
Nearly 30 years later and I am continuing to use books and reading as means of distraction from the effects of chronic illness. Recently I came across a quote on Pinterest that read ‘Reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are.’ And this quote is incredibly apt for someone living with a chronic illness as there are many times in which I I am incapacitated by one or more of the many symptoms that come with living with this neurological condition that I live with day in and day out. Weak legs that can barely carry me into the next room forces me to lie on my bed, contained within the same four walls that I am compelled to spend most of my time anyway. Days like these I am unable to go anywhere or do anything, and so, I find solace in the written word.
Escapism. A place where I can forget my predicament, and everything that chronic illness has given and taken away from me. Escapism from the vast number of symptoms that are plaguing me. But books are not only able to take you away from everything that is bothering you, but they can also take you places.
Books are like a unique magic carpet ride, transporting you to far away places, places you’ve always wanted to go and experience but which current circumstances prevent you from doing so. After seeing many pictures and heard stories from those who have been there, Prague has been on my ‘bucket list’ of places that I would love to visit some day. However, as I’m unable to fly due or cope with large airports, this neurological condition has prevented me from ticking it off my list.
Last year, I read the beautiful ‘A Year and a Day’ from author Isabelle Broom in which a large chunk of the story takes place in this very city. The way Isabelle writes, and the exquisite level of detail with which she describes Prague and its unique landmarks it made me feel that I had been there and experienced the city for myself. OK, so it may not be like experiencing travelling firsthand, but when circumstances prevent you from being able to move from where you are, books are the next best thing. In fact, all of Broom’s books give you major wanderlust as each novel has taken place in a different, exotic locations, and each place beautifully and meticulously described, making you want to grab your passport and book flights immediately.
And it’s not only places that exist now that books allow you to visit; historical fiction allows you to visit and experience places that existed many years ago (or at least what it was like from the author’s perspective). But very often, and for me anyway I want to be uplifted. A story to remind me of the beauty and wonder of the world; to comfort and reassure myself that despite chronic pain there is still hope and much to be grateful for.
In books, we can be whoever we want to be. We don’t have to sick, confined to bed and in constant pain. We can be the hero, the warrior, the woman who eventually finds love and her happily ever after. Getting lost in these worlds, we no longer feel the pain that was slowly dragging us down into a dark abyss. We no longer have to fight against our bodies. These books that are on my bedside table allows me to experience a snapshot of normality; one in which I am independent, confident. No longer a burden on others.
Books are a magical portal allowing us to escape from our lives. Taking us away from this world of sickness – time spent in bed, mobility aids, hospital appointments, and medications. Books can allow us to find out who we wish we could be. For many, reading is merely a hobby, a way of filling time, or for light entertainment. But for those of us confined to bed, incapacitated by pain or from numerous other symptoms from chronic illness there is magic and power in those printed words.
Does anyone else love to read? What books do you enjoy; are there any that provide comfort and sanctuary away from life with chronic illness?
And let me know of any great book recommendations that you have.
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