Monday, June 08, 2009

The faith is steady but the liver is weak...

I suppose I am a very slightly disenchanted Pollyanna at this point, but not seriously so; blessings and silver linings still illuminate my life, be assured.

I think we were really less than convinced by the magnetiseur, though I'm not sorry we went. He was a quiet, gentle little man, living in the countryside on the edge of the town. He had a simple waiting room, with a notice saying he was registered for tax and would only see people after they had been to their doctors. His consulting room was plain and old fashioned with a couple of wooden beds and a desk. He told us his father had done this and he did the same things his father did.

He didn't touch any of the afflicted areas, only Tom's head and hovered about over what I assumed was his liver area. He said the liver was important as it was responsible for the toxins in the blood. (The French preoccupation with the liver is well-known, the English are supposed to be similarly focused on their bowels. I was initially somewhat taken aback , whenever one complained of feeling a little the worse for eating and drinking too much, to have it pronounced that one was suffering a 'crise de foie', not least because it could be mistaken for 'crise de foi', to which I was always tempted to reply, no, not at all, I have been happily and constructively agnostic for many years, but thanks for your interest in my spiritual welfare...)

Tom relaxed, and said afterwards that he was concentrating on being open and employing some familiar meditation techniques he thought might be helpful. After a bit, the chap left him there and took an ordinary bottle of still mineral water, over which he did a bit more hovering and stroking, while chatting to me about how his dad used to do this and how he wished he'd learned English but it was so badly taught at school in his day, 'trop literaire...'. I was a little concerned that surely if one is imparting one's magnetic gift to a bottle of water one ought to concentrate and not talk about other things, and did my best to avoid engaging in the conversation, but perhaps I underestimated his facility with the energies. He wrapped the bottle up in a page of Ouest France, and said to keep it out of the sunlight, as that was a different kind of energy which would counteract the magnetism. Tom was to drink a glass of it every morning before eating or drinking anything else, and then to drink it or apply it to the affected area as and when. He said the pain would continue but he had 'coupé le feu', cut off the fire.

We were there about half an hour, and he charged 18 euros. Though he'd said he was busy that morning, and he was open most days, there wasn't a great queue of people, plus he has to pay all his business charges and taxes, so he's not exactly laughing all the way to the bank. We both felt he was sincere.

On the way back, it rained cats and dogs all the way down the bit of the dual carriageway I was dreading, and we found out the Saxo's heater didn't work, so Tom had to keep wiping the inside of the windscreen by hand while I drove, and also that the 'défaut d'étanchéité' that had been specified on the controle technique (MOT) document as needing to be fixed sometime, but which none of us, including our French garagist had been able to identify the exact nature of, was in fact a fault of the seal around the windscreen, and my feet got rather wet. I was tempted to rail against the vendors for selling me a car with a defective heater and a built-in foot spa, but on balance I shall give them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they didn't know, since it's been very warm and dry lately, and Saturday's conditions were exceptionally foul. They did actually e-mail me this morning saying they hoped everything was OK, so I shall assume their good faith. Anyway, it's better to know about the problems, which are not major ones, now, before it goes in for its overhaul, than on my first day back at work on a dank October morning. Pollyanna rides again.

After this quite stressful journey, and despite stopping off for a brioche sucrée at Tartapain, Tom said he felt worse than ever, and that really he didn't think the magnetism had worked at all and the man probably had no special powers. As I can't feel how he's feeling, I'm can't argue with this.

However, though he'd deny, probably rightly, that it had anything to do with it, and that his faith is better placed in antibiotics, antivirals and very strong paracetamol, though he's still getting pains, and coughing from the chest infection, though much less, and feeling exhausted quite a lot, nevertheless he has a brightness and warmth about him he didn't have before, and things are, in a two steps forward, one step back manner, improving. That night, he had a dream of such bittersweet, haunting power and vividness, about being lost and then restored, that it made me cry just to hear about it. We'll never know, of course, and perhaps he's have been making an even better recovery if he'd just stayed at home in the warm, but if we hadn't tried, I'd always have been wondering if it would have done any good to do so. And at least we found out the car heater didn't work.

The other thing that I thought was interesting was that the magnet man said he had seen an inordinate number of people with shingles over the last three weeks, as well as confirming the outbreak of chicken pox at the primary and infant schools I'd already heard about from a neighbour with a young child. Yet, as he said, it makes no sense, as shingles can't be passed on from person to person, but is a recurrent form of the chicken pox virus usually contracted from years before. It almost seems as though the virus has a collective life of its own, in spite of being contained within discrete human bodies, and it rises like a tide. Though this too is anecdotal and probably can't be proven.

Just in response to a few of your other comments on the last post; the dining room really doesn't always look that tidy and uncluttered, when I took that picture we'd recently had people to lunch, and beforehand I'd cleared all the surfaces around to put things on, then everything had been cleared off and the spare chairs taken away so it really was spick and span. But it's all very newly done, so I did want to show it at its best.

One day I'll scan in a few of the photos of the house as it used to be, and you can see what Tom has used up his health and strength achieving. ( I have helped. Helped with the house, that is, not with using up his health and strength, although...)

As to the garden, I must stress I can take no credit there either, other than perhaps making the odd suggestion of plants I like. It's Tom's baby, I am simply the lawn mower operative and occasional weeder, as you can see, not very assiduous in either capacity!

And just a word on computer chairs, though this one looks comfortable and ergonomic, it isn't terribly, and it wasn't the cheapest. But it's probably worth shopping around for a good one, and you probably get what you pay for. I am the world's worst sitter, and cannot maintain a nomal straight posture for any time, but kneel, curl, tuck feet under me, put them up on the knee rest, whatever, which I blame on short legs, and I broke the last ordinary office chair we had.


Oh, and as promised, the funny our friend sent us. I suppose the more religiously sensitive of you may prefer to look away, but perhaps that is to patronise you. Anyway, it made us laugh. It was allegedly a bonus exam question at the University of Washington.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Student Answer

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell,then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'


And finally, a quick collage. Evening walks and the low sun have lately yielded a luminosity of linear green maize shoots and the rosy red heads of sorrel, mostly going over now, and those fuzzy etched looking umbellifers I still haven't got around to identifying. These all beguile me every year. Still not disenchanted.

(It should click up big. I used to take ages planning Picasa grid collages, now I just throw them together and take ages clicking on the new Picasa 3 'Shuffle pictures' button till I get one I like.)

I'll once more set about the business of trying to get round you all. I'd have made more headway yesterday, but we had about four hours of power cut, so it was back to Henry Adams and the 12th century, though he tended to favour the 13th. (Damn, finding that Wiki link, I've just discovered he was repellently antisemitic. Wish I hadn't seen that...)

If you've got this far, thanks for reading.


marja-leena said...

Oh yes, I made it to the end, Lucy, with great pleasure, some wistfulness, awe and much laughter. Thank YOU!

Plutarch said...

Fascinating, the magnetiseur, I think in your and Tom's place I would not be averse to submitting myself to his magic. I hope it's working.

Rouchswalwe said...

That was a fun read, Lucy-lady! It's final exam week here, so I got an extra big kick out of the bonus question. The magnet man was not at all what I pictured ... it is good that Tom was willing to give it a shot. And I am a big believer in the therapeutic powers of bubble-water in any case. If that doesn't work, then a beer! But don't drive afterwards, or you'll get more than wet feet. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

It all sounds like a lot of stresses and difficulties to me. I am glad you are weathering them and that there are some green shoots of recovery evident.

I think the thing about chickenpox and shingles is that people can catch chickenpox from those with shingles (hence the outbreaks of chickenpox). Shingles strikes people when their immune system is low so if other viruses are circulating, then people get those and are more prone to getting shingles. Plus when you have something you hear about all the other people who have it!

Loved the proof!

Rosie said...

light at the end of the tunnel?
lets go's out for summer n jimmy has given me a big fat walking stick to repel boarders.

Lucy said...

Thanks chaps. The seller of the car e-mailed back quite concerned and said they hadn't had that trouble, and made some suggestions for things to check, so I've forgiven them anyway, and trust it's just a pipe worked loose or something. Apparently the Saxo's have very visible and easily fixed bits and pieces!

ML - glad it amused!

Plutarch - well there certainly was an element, for me at least, of curiosity and an unusual cultural experience. I don't think it's really working as such, but I can imagine he's probably a reassuring person who helps people to relax and feel they can get better, and I think a little for Tom now, that he's thrown back on his own resources, that avenue having been tried, and is just concentrating on getting well again.

Rouchswalwe - unfortunately, the antibiotics rather preclude the beer, or rather wine, though he's having a little. French doctors are shockingly nonchalant about permitting wine with antibiotics, but Tom's been good about abstaining, and they're finished tomorrow.

RB - you are the voice of reason, of course, Gina dear. Naturally, the kids are getting it from their grandparents, especially since it doesn't show itself for a while when it is probably at its most infectious. The grandparents are probably getting it because of other viruses, the weather, the global economic crisis or from the stress and exhaustion of having to look after their grandchildren over the holidays, and when times are hard and afflictions tricky and intractable, they turn to superstition and folk practices to reassure themselves, hence the magnet man gets to see them.

Fortunately, I am now mostly off work for my very long holidays, and at the times Tom is not actually in pain, which he is less and less now, we are quite enjoying just relaxing and being at home, reading (which he's now fiding some energy for, he couldn't a few days ago) and taking it pretty easy, which the wet weather is facilitating. I'm looking forward to the car being fixed up, but am actually quite enjoying the excuse not to have to go anywhere or see anyone much.

Rosie - having said that, you jumped in there, and are of course the exception, I would be very happy to see you, Porridge and your big stick!

Zhoen said...

There is an element of stress in every disease, skin and gut disorders in particular. So a visit to a natural healer that focuses the mind and calms anxiety can really help.

Love the scientific principles applied to Hell.

Granny J said...

I especially liked the patterns of the tilled rows with their green lines and curves! According to my GP, there is a vaccine to prevent shingles. Whether it has to be given before they arrive, I don't recall. Sorry to be so vague.

A Write Blog said...

I'd have given an A+ for that answer too. Wonderful.

And good to see recovery, albeit slow, too.

I don't know about you but when I'm starting to recover from something the sense of relief and joy that a corner has been turned seems to make me happier than when I'm just pootling along normally.

I suppose it is the immediate awareness of the contrast between how I felt at my lowest and how I know I will feel when fully recovered.

Once we are well we tend to forget how ill we felt.

Michelle said...

Lucy, your collage makes my heart sing. Quite the most beautiful thing I've seen today. Thank you.

Dick said...

I hope that a little delayed magnetism might be easing Tom's affliction now.

Someone sent me that wonderful exam story a few years back and I posted it to the original Patteran Pages. I've looked for it from time to time since and never tracked it down so thanks for this reprise, Lucy.

How glorious your surroundings are looking. Can't wait to see it for real.

zephyr said...

charming post, Lucy...though i do hope Tom is feeling better.

Isabelle said...

Do hope Tom feels better soon.

I loved the photos of your house and garden. I am incurably nosy. They both look very lovely!

Sheila said...

What fun, to see the pictures of your house. couldn't read book titles, but I think I did recognize a certain notecard....what a surprise to see that there/here!

My heart goes out to Tom with his pain, and I hope you continue to see improvement in body and spirit.

The essay was hilarious! That someone would think all that out is amazing...but then we did have more brain energy, at least I did, in those earlier years.

We see fields like these in Arkansas, and after 30+ years of driving the road, they still intrigue me.

Take good care.

Lucy said...

Thanks again.

Feeling ill and feeling well - I understand there's a Buddhist thing about 'no toothache' about how we should try to be a ware when we have no toothache about how good it is, since when we have toothache all we want is to be free of it. I've always rather liked convalescence.

Tom's quite a lot better, and really very good humoured and stoical. It comes and goes, and the chest infection is a nuisance, since the course of antibiotics wasn't enough to get rid of it, and I suspect it'll slow his recovery if he's battling other assaults to the immune system. Back to the overworked doctor...

Sheila - Hello sweetheart! I somehow didn't think you'd be offended by the essay; I think his enhanced wit was probably the result of riding a wave of post-coital euphoria! The maize rows are only like that for a short time, now already they're bushing out and filling in the gaps. Don't they call that style of very tight hair-plaits to the scalp that black girls do sometimes 'corn-rows'?

Glad you saw the notecard, it's such a pretty one.

Bee said...

It's been a long time since I heard someone described as "liverish." Do you suppose that this comes from the French? I was very absorbed in your description of the "treatment" -- particularly that of the healing waters! Horrible, these viruses that stay dormant in the body. I have that herpes simplex one, and a few times each year I will be stricken with blisters around my mouth. Perhaps it is no more than mind of matter? I think that the prevention (not getting stressed out) would be better than the cure, though.

Your collage has such beautiful shapes in it (and yes, that hairstyle is called a cornrow). Please tell me if you figure out the name of the "umbellifor." I've often wondered.

BTW, I was just posting about my recent trip to Devon and I saw your comment about the train carriage painting. It rained all the way down to Devon, but luckily no leaks -- as in your new Saxo!

Setu said...

Hello Lucy,
Pointing out the bilingual subtlety of your title ;-), I wonder whether you know this French childish rhyme :Il était une fois, dans la ville de Foix, une marchande de foie qui vendait du foie. Elle se dit "Ma foi, c'est la première fois et la dernière fois que je vends du foie dans la ville de Foix!" I bet quite a few linguists got their vocation by reciting this nonsense...

Lucy said...

Bee - the idea of being 'liverish' must come from the same idea, which has presumably otherwise fallen into disuse in English, but persists in French. The herpes are all nasty little buggers, whether simplex or zoster...

Setu - wonderful, I 'd never heard that, only you would leave such a gem here... It always seems a little strange and exceptional that the word without the 'e' on the end is feminine and the one with the 'e' is masculine.

I suppose it all goes to show that life depends on the liver...

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I hope Tom's recovering rapidly and well.

Thank you for relaying that hilarious test answer!