This blog takes six hours to write up, on average. During the working week I spend a total of 56 hours at home, including sleep time. I struggle with reading and writing, always have, probably always will. What to say? Where to start? Letters, words, and sentences have to be done twice, with the dyslexic version having to be deciphered and converted to plain English, or at least a language that can be read.

No one said it’d be easy. As a kid, you silently adapt, so dealing with physical, physiological and emotional differences or difficulties are never a constraint. There are no limitations. They’re disguised so you don’t get picked on or singled out any more than can be helped. They get disguised so well through adaptation that they become normal. You learn to shut down discomfort and pain so life can continue as normally as possible. This makes visits to the quack interesting to say the least. Even with this ingrained approach to life, hiding my arthritis isn’t easy.

This is what happens, at least to me: you become hard-skinned. You become driven to the point that you can do anything anyone else can do, for as long. You become strong so that when fatigue and sickness hits, it hits harder for longer, yet you don’t give in – ever. That would be like admitting defeat, and that doesn’t happen on this fella’s watch. But fatigue is not easy to deal with.

It’s not easy when the pain is always there; sometimes it’s piercing, and only hurts with movement. Other times it’s just there, yet it’s a comfort to know, because being able to feel means I remain an operator of six senses. That’s not easy, but I’m always grateful for the daily experiences.

It’s not easy learning to count on no-one being available for assistance. There’s always a way to get through; adaptability becomes second nature. Being a perfectionist is an after-effect and can be a downside if not managed.

No one said it’d be easy, trying to concentrate at work, and especially during spring and autumn. A working day consists of constant and random interruptions, while maintaining the fluid management of multiple and simultaneous time-critical projects. This has to happen in the context of a noisy fast paced production / manufacturing engineering industry, which makes concentrating on personal and team projects one of many daily challenges. My AS remains hidden from all, during each and every long hour, on minimal sleep, although because of the rate we work at, the hours seem like minutes.

Living for the future is difficult too. My past life hasn’t been easy, but it has made what I can do tomorrow easier. Managing pain, movement and myself isn’t easy, yet I can work, live, respect and love because my AS isn’t going to win.

A positive outward focus is totally essential to moving ahead, and living the life I need. Every day consists of stretching everything to the max to keep the movements and boundaries out there for as long as possible, while maintaining a positive and dynamic life.

What is easy is sitting here typing this while watching the pheasant and quail fossick peacefully in the leaf litter from the last round of frosts in this orchard. Life under the walnut tree alongside the northern hydrangea fenceline can be bliss and living can be so satisfying at times. Maintaining a balance between the ‘have-to’ and finding some inner calm isn’t easy. But I love the rain and clouded skies.

The bliss of unclouded sleep
This image was captured from a respectful distance without disrupting the seal’s sleep. I was looking at distant points of the land/seascape near Whakatane Heads when, almost at my feet, I saw soft curves against the sharper and more linear edges of rocks. This alerted me to the fact she was there – wow! So I refocused my head space and backed off to give her some room as recommended by the Department of Conservation.

It was certainly a most pleasant surprise, and made a change from balancing and slipping over the wet rocks between the high and low tide marks on the foreshore. She was resting on the breakwater and I kept my distance until she woke up and re-entered the channel about half an hour later.