Level-Up: Part 26

Every Sunday I record my health achievements and discoveries for the week here. To find out why I decided to start doing this, you can read an explanation in the first post of the series here.

After last week’s major dip in both physical and emotional strength, it was good to feel like I was making it back to the middle again. On Monday I decided to write an email to Scroobius Pip. If you don’t know him, he’s a British rapper/poet/spoken word performer. I had a few things I wanted to thank him for and he includes his email address in his Twitter bio, so I figured I’d drop him a line. Not expecting a reply but just being happy to tell him how he’s helped and inspired me, I fired off the email before I had time to convince myself that someone as cool as Pip wouldn’t want to hear from the likes of me.

Later that evening I gasped when his name popped up on my phone. I’ll keep the contents of both emails to myself, but I can confirm that he really is the nice guy he comes across as in public. In his email he suggested I read Jodi Ann Bickley’s book, One Million Lovely Letters. I’m very aware of Jodi and I think she’s pretty wonderful. I’ve written about her here before, and I’d been meaning to pick up her book for a couple of months. A combination of absent mindedness and a strong instinct that the book would make me sob kept it on my Amazon wishlist. With the added recommendation, I figured I’d best get a copy.

Wednesday night while lying in bed staring at the ceiling, I thought about how nice it used to be to think that I wanted something and then go out and get it without having to order online. You’d be surprised how much you miss holding the things you’re buying when you just can’t do it anymore. It suddenly struck me that maybe there was a way. I ran through various routes to the bigger and easiest to access book shops in the city centre, then vowed that if I was feeling well enough in the morning I’d go by myself and actually buy Jodi’s book in person.

It’s funny how sometimes I need what feels like a cheerleading troupe to encourage me and sometimes I need to be private and do things with the help of just one person. I woke up early on Thursday and decided to just go for it. I told one person I was going into town and asked if they’d be available for a few text messages if support was needed. Thankfully, they agreed. I called a cab and got it to drop me as close as possible to the Waterstones on The Hayes, which is part of the city centre.

I couldn’t quite believe I was there when I walked in. I’m convinced the staff must have thought I was on some kind of drug, because I couldn’t stop smiling. I have no idea how many Saturdays I used to spend rifling through new cookbooks and design books, but it must have added up to triple figures. I found Jodi’s book upstairs and spent as long as I could stand staring at the Food & Drink section. It gave me the most comforting feeling of being home.


Me and my hero there.

I’d been on my feet a while and I was starting to feel a little emotional about being back there, so I made my way to the checkout, grabbing a few cards on my way.


I sat on a bench and planned my next location. The options were huge but I was aware that I’d be pushing my luck if I did too much. I decided it was going to be TK Maxx, Jo Malone for new perfume advice, Starbucks, then home. TK Maxx turned into a bit of a disaster. I came out of the lift and had an enormous vertigo spell. Lifts are always a bit hit-and-miss. I felt all the colour draining out of my face and I was suddenly very aware that I was alone in town. I gathered myself as best I could, paid for my stuff and threw myself toward a bench out in the street. I didn’t panic, but the urge to let it take over hovered above me while I breathed through the dizziness.

I fired off a call for textual help to my lone cheerleader and, having just realised I’d accidentally skipped breakfast, I made my way to Starbucks for restorative cake and chai latte.


Not my cigarette. Honest, mum.

The text conversation made me feel less alone in the big city, and after some double confirmation that I had no reason to rush, I eventually walked the few minutes down the street to Jo Malone, where a lovely advisor and I swooned over candles and perfume.


From there I walked to the nearest non-pedestrianised street and called a cab to take me home. Standing waiting for it to turn up was one of my more tired but proud moments. Getting that book home felt amazing. I held it in my hand the whole way home in the taxi.


Later this week I’ll be writing about the end of my Personal Independence Payment application process, which has finally been approved after a stressful and often emotional nine months of applying and appealing. If you’re thinking of making a claim yourself or are just interested in what it’s like for a disabled person trying to prove the authenticity of their condition, keep an eye out for that. 



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