Books are some of my earliest memories; from standing in front of the assembly in reception class winning prizes for having read the most books (and crying with shyness), to raiding book boxes at car boot sales as a child to find an unread Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl book, and bedtime stories every night as a young child. I had a bookshelf full of books by the time I was about eight, and I read them at lightening speed.
As adulthood swept in I continued to read, having piles of books on my bedside table and churning out books faster than the charity shop receiving them once I’d finished could cope with. As a fully functioning ‘grown up’ with a job, chores and bills to pay, reading came in waves but it was always there, and I always had my eye on a book I’d want for Christmas or my birthday. Then came along the disabilities I live with today.
Fibromyalgia and ME cause such fatigue, such brain fog and a great difficulty in focusing. I had to read the same page ten times over before I knew what the words written on the page were hinting at. My book collection grew and grew, eventually causing one of my book shelves to break as the weight of unread books grew too much. I began to grieve the loss of such a huge part of my life, something which had defined me for the last three decades. Finally, Christmas 2015 gave me a nine day break from work which meant I had a little more energy to spare, and in the space of about five days I managed to read the two books my parent’s gave for Christmas – Sue Perkins Spectacles and Steph and Dom’s (from Gogglebox) Guide to Life. I enjoyed reading them so much I ordered and acquired yet more books in the hope I was back in the swing of reading. Then I went back to work and all of that went out of the window.
Fibromyalgia and ME can cause debilitating insomnia, something which has been particularly challenging for me this year. After a countless row of nights with barely any sleep before work I decided to take an over the counter sleeping aid in a desperate bid to get some decent shut eye. Upon waking I felt like superwoman, the first quality night’s sleep I can remember in years, and on the second occasion of taking the tablets this week I read approximately 80% of a book whilst waiting in for an engineer on my day off. That book was Amber’s Donkey.
Amber’s Donkey is a real life tale close to my heart. It’s based at Birmingham Donkey Sanctuary and tells how an abused Donkey, Shocks, and a little girl called Amber help heal each other over a period of months to help them both defy the odds of a recovery. I have sponsored Moses at the sanctuary for a couple of years, and one particularly poorly day when I was staying with my parents ended up in a trip to see them. I had the pleasure of grooming my sponsor donkey and meeting some of the others. Strangely, when I was there, my symptoms eased and I felt so much calmer upon leaving. Having first hand experience of the effect the donkeys had on me as an adult left me eager to read the book and find out how animal therapy can help children and teenagers with illness. I’d had my eye on the book for months since it was released and was determined to get around to reading it.I’m so glad I waited until I was well enough, and I’m so pleased this was my first read in eight months.
The last few days I’ve found myself glued to Booktubers on Youtube (see Jean Bookishthoughts and Reads and Daydreams) and my Amazon Wishlist is ever expanding. I’m hoping to take time out for myself, pushing thoughts of unmade beds, unswept floors and unfolded washing to the back of my head, giving my body the time it needs to rest, and fuel for my imagination in the form of books.