Who do we as gay men rely on in an emergency.
This came home to me recently when I was ill and needing help.
As gay men with no partner - who do we turn to in times where we need help because of ill health ? Who can we rely on to be there for us and who can be trust will offer the best they can KNOWING how desperately you need help ?
Running a hotel that is open 24 / 7 and during this long hot summer where the hotel was busy, and where I could not just vanish to my bedroom - was hard going.
My energy levels were down about 90% and it was a struggle just to get down stairs and sort myself out with fresh water to drink and get some clean towels and at the start of a 3 month ordeal, I had no staff for the first 3 weeks and had to restrict what was available as to what I could physically do. So breakfast was not a problem but dinners, I could not offer as I simply didn't have the energy. Until I was fully staffed, I did get my local cleaner in and thank goodness for him as family was not there to help as family were away on their 6th holiday in their caravan - and good for them they deserve it - and when I did eventually see them all they could do was talk about how I needed to change doctors, and considering I do not have a partner to help and all this during a NHS meltdown where you sit for an hour on hold to speak to a receptionist who then patronisingly disregards you and states she will get a doctor to phone you back in 3 weeks time, and when you complain she hangs up on you - yet family expect you - while sicker than sick, to sort this out for yourself as they are too busy to care.
So after some weeks struggling, luckily now with brilliant staff who took control of the hotel and cooked dinners and make beds and allow me to step back and try and sort my health out - family were still nowhere to be seen.
I end up on the floor in A&E because after 7 hours struggling to 'keep it together' in a very noisy hospital and because I simply didn't have the energy any more to sit on a hard seat for yet another hour, and this was the worst day of my entire life.
Thank goodness to my staff member Gary who collected me from the hospital in a cab and picked me up off the ground - sitting outside now waiting for them after the doctor gave me the news and the meds and then - basically - set me free to get home while in a desperate state of health, and still family were nowhere to be seen. And this is not just any family, this is my twin brother.
Eventually he decided to pay me some attention and claimed he didn't realise how ill I was and could he offer some help and it was arranged he would come and take me shopping as I was too weak to drive myself and too weak to lift the heavy items and he could help with that, as my staff members neither drive - except on the day he turned up with no car and bluntly stated we couldn't go shopping as he didn't have his car as it wouldn't start and how his wife had left him here so she could have her car - and I am left scratching my head thinking ' WTF is he here for then ? ' - and he sat and talked about himself and his family with my staff who were ironing close by and I am all dressed for the first time in a month, shopping bags ready, credit card and money in pocket and I am left dangling - sitting there panting in exhaustion and - kinda - in despair.
Not an offer of maybe taking me tomorrow if he can get the car sorted - Not an offer of maybe taking me in a cab today - what was offered when I said I thought we were going shopping was ' Can't we walk round to Lidl' which - clearly defeats the object when I have no energy and need him to help, and if I have to carry bag full of shopping back from Lidl it says he absolutely doesn't get the point as to why he was here in the first place. To help his ailing brother who is too weak but needs shopping so he was to be the muscle.
Eventually I barked - loudly - mustering all the energy I could - as WTF was he here for - certainly not me - and I told him to leave my house and I never wanted to see him again - as I was not just upset at the complete lack of thought - care - affection towards his ailing twin, but I was hurt when he actually rounded up as if to attack me when I spoke the truths he didn't like to hear and this was where I shoved him out of the house screaming he was no brother to me any more.
67 years of age and this is what he offers his ailing twin at a time of need ? So is this a straight man thing ?
Is this just someone so into his own family world he doesn't see beyond the scope of what he sees and feels and others not in his ' inner circle' do not count ?
So who do we turn to in times of need as so many gay men have had their family turn against them decades ago because they are gay and I have always said, we have to make out own family around us of our friends - that is - in the hope as we get older, they don't all start dying off around us as I have experienced, and all much younger than myself. So do we rely on strangers as I have done with my staff who rose to fill a need way beyond what staff usually offer, and I shall always be so thankful to Gary and Woody for their help and complete support.
Family, it seems - sadly lets you down - then who do we turn to ?
It has now been a week and my health has turned around, I have regained half of the 15kg lost and I feel a lot more my old self, I just get very tired mid afternoon and need a nap and bedtime is now around 9pm while I fully recover. I had a Urinary Tract Infection that went and came back again and for some reason brought on an intense fever of severe hot and cold and with a complete lack of energy and where every muscle ached sorely, and this lasted for around 9 weeks in all and even the doctors are confused as to why so much went wrong at the same time and the severe weight loss, so am still under investigation - blood tests - X rays etc. and I am just so lucky to have had Gary and Woody working here who took control and even looked after me as without them, I would have been well fucked.
Hamilton Hall is here for you. If ever at your wits end - If ever in need of a shoulder - If ever a place of refuge and support or some place to be ill and to recover, we are here for you and always will be as long as I am able.
Too many gay men, like myself, find ourselves alone and wanting and when ill or upset and find we have no one to help, realize exactly how alone we truly are and while I have received tons of sensational good wishes and cards and boxes of chocolates etc. it is that shoulder and that physical presence we need, even if just for an hour a day - to know that someone is keeping an eye.
As for my twin. I do not expect to hear from him an apology or anything and he will now ignore me as he did my sister decades ago with complete contempt and it is sad as we had great plans together for the future but if he cannot accept some home truths about his attitude and his behaviour towards a very sick twin, then this is not a person I want to know after all these years as he simply, was not there for me when I needed help and actually sided up to hit me because he didn't like it when I complained. I shall, of course, be the one to ' break the ice' and get back in touch as I do not want this to end our relationship even though his actions were appalling. I just don't yet know how to -, and what to say in a text as I value my twin and love him dearly when clearly, he has little thought for me, especially at the most vulnerable I have been - ever.
If that's the level a straight man offers in sympathy, then THANK GOD I AM GAY and have a more caring and thoughtful personality towards others in need.
John: Get well soon mate. I know how much you are needed and respected in the gay world and how many rely on you. Time for some YOU TIME and I am sending good vibes from here in South Africa for a speedy recovery. Alex.
I have had a UTI and it left me a bit scatty brained for a while and even my eye site blurred. Was a most unpleasant experience and if you had it twice and for as long as you say, then you have my sympathy. Get well John, we need you. Steve.
My twin sister and I were always close until our parents were killed in a car crash and she turned it all to be about her. She was the only one suffering from the loss and she thought nothing of what I was going through and it split us up. She actually screamed at me one day that I knew nothing of what she was going through and as I barked in return, WHAT ABOUT ME... and she actually said how it was not all about me .... as clearly, it WAS all about her. I now do not have a family at all. Geoff.
John: Read your piece about who do we rely on and so sorry to read about your brother. It was the same when I was ill when I first became HIV+ and not one member of my family took any notice and were more keen to find out if I had a will written and where it was. I was outraged and threw them out, and when I got better, wrote every last one of them out of my considerable will, and not one single penny will go to them or their kids. I was abandoned at a time of desperate need. Luckily with a change in medication I lived and this was 25 years ago now but I have never forgotten and never forgiven. Darren M. --------------------------
John: Two years ago I had a stroke. I was only 56 and all one side of my body was affected. I was in hospital for around a month and eventually let home with supervision with twice daily help from the NHS. Only when I got home did any family visit and as they saw my twice daily helper ( 30 minutes a time ) was helping, I never saw them again saying ' Well you have help so you don't need us then.'
I was so hurt. I think that complete lack of care from them hurt more than all the months of rehab to be able to speak and get my mobility back, as I thought we were a close knit family and yet it seems, not. Not once in the two years since have they been to visit and we are only 20 minutes drive apart. Not once and it is as if I do not exist. It breaks my heart John, it truly does, to hear your story and I do hope you make it up with your brother although it does sound as if it will be up to you to make the first move which is unfair as it is him who needs to apologise and grovel on his knees for forgiveness. My family, are dead to me now and that saddens me as they are my family .... Neil R.
Sorry to hear about being alone while ill. If I was more local I would have been there for you John, 100% Dale
Not a happy story John and good to hear you are on the mend. Gordon M. ------------------------
My best wishes and prayers are with you at this time John. Get well soon. Ruddy
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