Children in Need and the Rickshaw challenge are back on our screens, which means I’ve set myself the yearly arduous, personal challenge of watching every leg of the Rickshaw journey, whilst listening to the young participants’ tales of mind-numbingly awful disease and eye-watering acts of stupendous courage – without switching the channel or covering my tear filled eyes. And, like the Rickshaw participants, my challenge goes on a bit, as tonight I will yet again attempt to force myself to sit through the whole Kids in Need caboodle, and not just tune into the cheery entertaining bits (except the East Enders lot.) I will submit to the ‘it’s a tough watch’ bits too, without using those kleenex in hand moments to conveniently make a cup of tea or coffee.
The current cold virus situation is ongoing and as I sit here whinging to the husband that this cold is never going to end and the husband gradually nods off from work based fatigue and the sleep inducing sound of my monotonous droning – at least the whinging has one beneficial side effect – I’m hit with a familiar onslaught of guilt and anxiety.
How do I have the temerity to bemoan a cold and a sore throat when the Rickshaw’s 16 year old Elliot went through treatment for Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, which has left him in remission, but not cured?
Why do I feel too tired for a bit of light housework when the Rickshaw’s no-nonsense Scottish lass with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis is cycling up hills, her every joint in constant pain? Whilst also making it clear that her philosophy in life is that ‘you just get on with it;’ making those of us who don’t just get on with it feel very useless indeed.
What if those unexplained bruises and sinister looking lumps I sometimes get point to what Elliot’s got? And help! I’d previously never heard of what Elliot’s got, which has given me a new illness to worry about – which is possibly the only major ‘downside’ to the Rickshaw Challenge, if you happen to have hypochondria on an industrial scale.
This guilt and anxiety has led me to compulsively text TEAM to 70705/70710 (much to my husband’s annoyance since he’s the one paying the bills) almost every night since the Children in Need thing started up again because I keep thinking things like: thank god my kids don’t suffer from any of those horrid conditions, and thank god I’m alright Jack, which probably isn’t the right attitude at all.
Because I’m sure those kids don’t want to be pitied – which is the reason the BBC sets this tough and physical challenge after all – to give those kids, who appear so disadvantaged and so cut-off from the rest of ‘normal’ and healthy society, a chance for their star to shine.
My cold will get better but chronic illness is a whole other sickeningly cruel matter. The Scottish lass is right – arthritis is not confined to the elderly. In fact there’s no such thing as an ‘old age’ disease – even dementia and alzheimers, those two diseases most associated with getting old, hit people as young as their 30s 40s and 50s. Cancer too has no idea how old you are – it doesn’t play the statistics game and will take up residence in a newborn, a child, a teenager, whilst sparing the very, very old.
Health is almost exclusively a question of luck and genes – most people lucky enough to reach old age do so suffering only the odd truly age-related ache and pain, or mild, completely controllable condition; nothing major, nothing to write home about.
Which is why Children in Need resonates and why it tugs so uniquely at the heart strings because it doesn’t seem fair does it? That some of us live blessed lives into old age and for others life is cut short before they even got a chance at living it.
Well, I’m an hour in and, unlike the Rickshaw lot, have failed miserably for another year. The Beeb’s charity based shenanigans have lost me yet again. Not only can I not take much more horrid disease and unbearable sadness; I’m not doing too well re: the startling disparity in height combination of the ever grinning Tess Daly and the ‘right-on’ Dermot O’leary and, besides, the East Enders lot are destroying any fond memories I may have had of Fred and Ginger.
I’m turning over to Ex Machina.