15 May 2015

Higgy

I have known Higgy for twenty five years. For most of that time he lived with his mother in a four bedroom detached house that was in an increasing state of dilapidation. His mother Lily gradually became crippled by arthritis - surely one of God's most cruel inventions. Her hands were like frozen claws and so she could do little for herself. Higgy was her principal carer.

Lily died in 2010 and soon afterwards, Higgy moved into a two bedroom flat. A new beginning  He's fifty six now and a well -known character in our local pub. He hasn't worked for thirty years but he is excellent at pub quizzes and crosswords. He knows so much about a wide range of subjects and is far better than I am at retaining knowledge and quickly recalling it.

For some unknown reason, he took to wearing sunglasses where ever he goes. One pair is framed bright red and other pairs are white and yellow. Quite eccentric but then again he is not like other blokes. He suffers from an eating disorder and has always been painfully thin. He is also cursed with eczema. A picture of health he is not. Poor Higgy.He walks like a stick insect on spindly legs and if a stiff breeze blew he would probably fall over.

A couple of months ago he complained that his back was hurting so with some encouragement he went to his local doctor's surgery. They referred him to hospital and in the past few weeks he has had scans and  X-rays, blood tests and painkillers. I have driven him to four of his hospital appointments. Before we leave our neighbourhood we always have to call in at a local shop so that he can buy a copy of "The Guardian"and a packet of cigarettes.

On Monday, I went into his appointment with a specialist at The Northern General Hospital. Previously he had been promised that this would be the day when he found out what the problem is - osteoporosis or a "disease" (i.e. - cancer) but instead of the answer he was expecting he was told he would have to have a biopsy on the particular vertebra that is crumbling away and causing Higgy so much pain.

I could see it all on the computer screen. Amazing imagery from the CT scan. The consultant surgeon said that they couldn't insert a strengthening rod as Higgy's bones have a very low density - "like polystyrene". Probably caused by years of thinness and not looking after himself properly. By the way, he had all his teeth removed last autumn as they were starting to fall out and become infected anyway. This can't have helped his difficult relationship with food.

Like all eccentrics, Higgy has been on the receiving end of unpleasant remarks that might be construed as bullying but I have always had a lot of time for the fellow. He is kind to others, interesting to talk to and in spite of his cigarettes and "wacky-baccy" and pints of "Carling" lager, he lives a decent, unobtrusive life.

He is pretty much estranged from his elderly father who divorced his mother when Higgy was in his teenage years and he never sees his sister. He has never had a significant romantic relationship with anybody - man or woman - yet there's a lasting sense that he could have really been somebody if the path of his life had been different. Maybe his biggest achievement was gaining a degree in History from Sheffield Hallam University at the tender age of forty nine. It was a struggle but he got there in the end.

At  fifty six and with his pain, his crumbling bones and his eating disorder I doubt somehow that he will live to be an old man. He was desperate to find a job for he could see his savings draining away and numerous times I helped him with computer-related matters and job applications but it was never going to work out. He had come too far and now we wait for the big needle that will surely lead to a correct diagnosis. Osteoporosis or cancer - neither of them very nice to live with. Poor Higgy.

28 comments:

  1. I don't think this is amazing imagery it's hellish blurry by even my low standards.
    I suspect this is either a book preview or a wind up.

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    1. I don't think so Adrian ~ neither wind up nor book preview.

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    2. Eh? What's all this about Captain Adrian? Are you referring to the image of a diseased vertebra or to the red sunglasses? Higgy is a very real person and certainly not a figment of my imagination. Nurse Carol will take care of you.

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    3. WTF are you on about, Adrian...or, maybe better...what are you on???

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  2. AS I'm on and to save pissing about, have you finished or can we expect a sesekwal.....seeckwal...............sequel. That's it.
    I liked YP Book and I didn't have to put it down. Your book was streets ahead of that awful twenty years a slave crap you influenced me buy. Not made but by you but the daft sod that wrote it cost me money. The daft sod was you.
    Daft wee buggers have to be looked after. I can't comprehend why Dithery and all his mates fear retribution. Just daft and arrogant. Totally ill equipped to deal with a good slap.

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    1. It's not nice being a reject.

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    2. Sorry you haven't enjoyed "Twelve Years a Slave". It is only a small book and tells a true story of one slave's experiences. How can a true story like that be "crap"? I don't understand.

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    3. Don't worry YP. I have a fear of mental illness, My mother had it, my brother suffered it before his heart gave up. I just don't enjoy either introspection or self indulgence.

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    4. I am okay with introspection but not self-indulgence. Good job that neither figured in this blogpost.

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  3. I see way too many decent young people (physically healthy ones) being pushed into similar positions these days. Their situations are caused by a society that's unhealthy: few decent jobs and no effort to fix that, too many jobs where people are jerked around and disposed of at whim. Too many capable, decent people being turned into rejects.

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    1. It's horrible isn't it Jan ~ survival of the fittest ~ natural attrition of the human race.

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    2. Life's journey. The paths we take. The other directions we might have gone. And finally it's all too late. There's no retracing of steps. No second chances. We have to press on.

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    3. That is what "Life After Life", the book by Kate Atkinson I recently read and reviewed on my blog, is all about. I think you'd enjoy it.

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    4. I will try it Meike. Thanks for the heads up as they say.

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  4. Poor Higgy indeed. I wish there was a silver lining on his horizon but I am in no position to see it. It speaks very much for you that you take an interest in him, drive him to appointments and so on. Any decent neighbours should do that for each other, but all too often, people hide behind anonymity and "I don't want to interfere" (which is understandable) when someone needs help.

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    1. Higgy is a proud man and doesn't easily accept help but he understands I am not doing it for kudos or for any other kind of gain. You are right that many people shrink away. Easier to turn a blind eye to things.

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  5. Life has been hard for your Higgy, but as you point out he has lived a good life, has harmed no one and is the salt of the earth. You and the others at the local pub are his family YP.

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    1. Trouble is now he can hardly walk and getting to the pub would be a terrible struggle. He has paid for taxis two or three times recently - just to get away from the solitude of his flat.

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  6. What a sad story. He's obviously someone who could have had such a different life, had he had different opportunities. He cared for his mother and managed to do a history degree as a mature student, yet he's one of those people that society frequently writes off as of no account. It's a moving account, YP. I would like to think he will not suffer too much, whatever his diagnosis, but of course, he will. He is lucky to have you (and maybe others?) to befriend him.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by once more Jenny and for "getting" this blogpost. He's in a bad place but he isn't depressed or mumbling "Woe is me!" all the time. He has never had big expectations. Quite stoical really.

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  7. Good for you hanging in there with Higgy. He needs support at this difficult time.

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    1. I feel sure that you would do the same Red.

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  8. I agree...poor Higgy. Very sad, indeed. Obviously he is a very, caring kind person with character - who shouldn't have to go through what he's going through; or what he already has had to battle. I wish your friend, Higgy, well, Yorky. May the sun shine brightly on him and bring him only good things.

    We need characters in this world...and they should never be bullied by lesser souls for being so.

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    1. I guess I have always been drawn to people who swim against the tide. It was the same in school classrooms. I liked the rebels bet of all.

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  9. Everybody has a story; this is Higgy's and I'm pleased you brought it to our attention. Life stories are not always about fame, wealth and the trappings of what might be seen as a 'successful' life; the more thought provoking ones are about people who have soldiered on and dealt with adversity in their own way.

    And I'll say this Mr Pudding, without people like you on their 'support' team, life would be even more difficult for the Higgy's of this world.

    Ms Soup.

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    1. There are thousands more Higgies in this world than those who walk upon red carpets aren't there Alphie? Most of us only have the inclination to help a few of them and that is certainly true of me.

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  10. I've thought a lot about this post since I read it. I wonder how many people I know in similar types of circumstances whom I just nod too and retreat into my own wee life. I admire your approach YP.

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    1. Don't get me wrong Graham. I am no saint. Usually, I would walk on by - it's easier - but just sometimes the moment, the situation, the person brings out the Samaritan in me. To give can be very rewarding and I am not just talking about coins in a charity box.

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