Around the same time as my lung cancer diagnosis came another medical condition. Bell’s palsy. It’s meant to go away on its own, but well over a year later it hasn’t.
Half my face is expressionless, frozen. My right eye doesn’t close and keeping liquids from slipping out of my mouth is an art I’ve developed to avoid looking like a dribbling fool.
The condition has bothered me less in the last few months. It’s still there, in all its distorted glory, but I’ve been able to ignore it except when I tape my right eye up at night. It needs covering to reduce the risk of becoming ulcerated.
That said, in the last two weeks it’s started to hurt again. There’s no obvious explanation for this, but it’s needed more lacrilube ointment, sunglasses when driving in daylight and an increase in the amount of daylight time I spend with curtains closed and lights off.
Yesterday’s drive along the North Wales coast had the sun to the south, hitting my eye through the passenger window. While tolerable for a bit I eventually succumbed to the need to stop and rest it. And in doing so broke my golden rule of never buying drinks at the roadside. £3.85 for a Starbucks hot chocolate wasn’t exactly a bargain, but in my new world of “you’re dying so treat yourself occasionally” it seemed preferable to the 16p bottle of supermarket own brand water in my car boot.
I giggled to myself at the disabled parking options. You have to cross the road after parking up to get your drink. While my hobble can achieve this, it struck me as rather dangerous expecting the slower members of society to park up and then dodge other moving cars before entering the building. Doubtless regulations of disabled parking have been met, but common sense and consideration hasn’t.
Once inside I was served quickly. I pondered the idea of doing this daily. £80 a month. £1,000 a year. You could knock years off the term of your mortgage by giving up Starbucks and reducing your debt.
But I don’t have a mortgage. The insurer paid that off when I was diagnosed. So I deserve to treat myself. And despite only being an hour into my journey it was a drink that went down well. The lighting was low, my eye had time to recover a little. And I was able to sit away from the other two customers and not scare them with my dodgy face and always open eye.
Then back to the car. More ointment and a return to England.
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