Life that changes with time and the me I thought I knew becomes someone else -
Life that changes with time and the me I thought I knew becomes someone else and adapting to those changes can be hard.
An e mail from a reader of this Newsletter
I have been following your Newsletter for some years and felt it about time I wrote in response to some of your musings.
Like you, I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer about a year ago and have not been - emotionally - that strong . I accept I have this and I accept the doctors are doing their best and at present it is just monitored with 3 months blood tests which have all proven okay so far and I am not on and medication - as it has not progressed that far as yet - BUT - I have awful hot and cold flushes that soak me through - and I change clothes a couple of times a day, and even at night I am wary of the hot and cold spells and keep towels in the bed with me.
I am aware that ' old age ' is not much fun when your health is up and down and while Prostate Cancer is one you die with - and not from - in many cases, it is hard to keep a positive head space when I wake in the night in a pool of sweat and after wiping myself dry with towels, and where I am laying on a towel to save the bed getting too wet, I cannot go back to sleep as my mind races over everything - and while I do not get depressed, it does drag my mood down and I feel despondent at times and WTF am I doing with my life that is left. Also like you John, I run a little B&B on my own and some days I really want to just sell up and run away somewhere nice, and just relax and take it easy but - my whole life and home is in the B&B and the thought of actually selling up and all that that entails, is a nightmare so I stay put. I am alone and with no one to help me.
The B&B has reservations and we are busy - and there are days when it is a wee bit of a struggle.
My head space at times is a bit of a blank. I zone out. I find myself in the middle of answering an e mail and I am just sitting staring into space and there seems not a lot going on 'upstairs' until I shake myself out of it and get back to work or go do the ironing or something.
Ever since Covid - so before the diagnoses - I have felt like I needed a really good cry and yet for some reason, I haven't. I do feel it would do me good and could clear out some of the cobwebs that harbour and cling onto too many negative thoughts,- too many nagging doubts ;- too many fears and too many ' what if's' - and while I have support around me with family, I am - to put it truthfully, and where I have never voiced this before - afraid - or maybe that's a bit strong - maybe - concerned - is a better word. I keep myself busy and keep my mind occupied with people and TV and so forth and even through it all, those nagging thoughts are there all along.
You are the only person I have told about my cancer and as my family are somewhat disinterested in me because I am gay - and where they have not disowned me but - clearly - they have never been impressed by my lifestyle, and if I told them the cancer was in my prostate ( so up my bum ) I think I can already hear the comments about bottom fucking etc. and their ignorance would blame my sex life when it has nothing at all to do with it. I have had straight friends die with prostate cancer - mostly because of the toxic medication given that has really been the cause of death and actually NOT the cancer and while I am not yet on medication, it does concern me for the future and I get a bit morbid and sad.
Your newsletter each week is somewhat of a lifesaver and I do enjoy the male nudes as well as the funnies and some of your comments on other things , but I am aware that admiring all the hot male naked bodies - knowing that as my health fails, that side of my life seems over. If I wank, it really is like flogging a dead horse and taken ages.
Getting old and having bad health is no fun. I never looked at old people in the past and gave it any thought of what they go through - and now I am just turned 70 and in bad health, I can understand what aged relatives were going through and what they meant when they spent days in bed getting over a bad night, or cancelled a family function as they were unwell, and now I am there myself and very tearful that I never understood and gave appreciation at the time, and now really wish I had.
Why John , do we seem to learn through experience and not by seeing and hearing and being apart of something that is happening to someone else. Why cannot we learn from others - why do we only seem to accept something when it is happening to us personally ?
I admire the way you keep going and I am sure you also have your ups and downs and I read between the lines of what you write sometimes and I can - I think - feel your pain and concerns as well, and knowing I am not alone, even though we have never met, does seem to help and thankyou for that.
I am not afraid of death. I am more afraid of life. Life that changes with time and the me I thought I knew becomes someone else and adapting to those changes can be hard. Long gone is the bouncy full of beans man I once was and I am now this slow plodding old fart that copes - that's all I do - cope - and that's so not me from the past. I feel invisible lot of the time where once I was - decades ago - an actor, dancer and singer in the theatre ( not famous but in many west end shows in the chorus etc ) and now I am just the old man no one even notices. Invisible.
I shall try and come and see you and your delightful venue some time this winter as my B&B closes in late October until Easter and I shall have even more time to ponder life, death and the universe and more time alone to go downhill in my thoughts, so having something to look forward to might help. Your weekly newsletter certainly helps.
I knew Bryan Derbyshire decades ago and know you have written about him on occasions. I know he felt let down by the gay community and considered it ungrateful and uncaring as he got older and ill and few showed interest whereas when he was young and active with gay politics and the legalisation of LGBT rights, so few even showed gratitude or thanks and bitched him at any turn while completely taking all he had done for the rights of gay men - as a given - and the arrogance and contempt from those who just took it all for granted and who knew nothing of the struggles he went through - and generations of gay men before - upset him. No one expects thanks, - but contempt ?
I apologise for rambling on so long. Lots to think about when my B&B is empty and the work is done and there is nothing on the TV and I am alone with my thoughts, that at times, haunt me. The past. the future, lost friends and family from decades past long dead. Life is horror at times and yet so full of beauty and light if you choose to see it, but at present, it is hard for me to find that joy and I hate wallowing in self pity.
Once again John, thanks for the newsletter and for being strong for those of us that need that crutch, that support, that just knowing someone hears me and understands.
John Bellamy Responds ----------------------------
I was very moved when I first read Walters e mail and - to be honest - it really lowered my mood and I found myself with tears in my eyes - and I did ask if I could share it with you all. It moved me dearly as there are many people in the world going through ' stuff' and find themselves alone and in need of - reaching out - being heard and understood - and I was astounded how so much of what Walter shared, could be my own story.
Hot sweats at night.
Having vacant moments mentally.
Wondering what the future holds.
We are both in the hospitality industry.
Same medical cancer.
He is now booked in as my guest for a week later in the year and I do look forward to meeting in person and seeing if we can offer some relief, some enlightenment and some vision of what and where we are both headed - as we are all in this together regardless of health and age, we all ' get there in the end' and I am so thankful that I have lived decades longer than so many of my friends and other gay men who were not so lucky, back in the 80's, and who died in their 30's - too soon - too young - a tragic waste of life - to HIV / Aids
and I do give thanks for those extra decades, especially as when the pandemic first hit the UK, was the exact time I started in the sex industry - of all things - and yet remained HIV Negative all these years and never - actually - caught a single STD while having sex with tens of thousands.
Maybe I was blessed.
Maybe my Guardian Angel was watching over me.
Maybe I have a message to share and maybe we all had a message to share, even those who died young., as messages come in different ways and sheer numbers lost, sends a loud message. Tragic as it was and as hard as it is today to look back and remember - or try to - those whose funerals we attended who - tend to blend all together after so long and sadly, personally, I forget who they all were now. Another funeral. Another lost life. Another waste.
But the sun is out and this week we seem to be having summer at long last - and while my car park is being dug up and a new gas meter installed at HUGE AND RIDICULOUS EXPENSE - keeping a positive frame of mind, while hard, really is the only way forward. I am still alive and kicking just as Walter is. Every breath. Every sweaty night, Every thought and every memory, is still alive and well in the universe and I do give thanks, even if often a little teary.
John Bellamy --------------------
If you are affected by anything in this piece, you are welcome to e mail or phone and we can chat. Your input, like Walters, helps us all share what is going on in our lives as we get older and too many live in fear when the sun is still shining and it is a beautiful day.
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