How do you keep sane when you are being drip fed a derivative of Mustard Gas? When your arm feels literally on fire from the poison from the I/V drip. When everyday feels like you are in a constant hangover, but without any of the cocktail & beer fun of the night before? What keeps you going when sitting on a hard plastic chair for a meeting to see if you get to live next year?
For me it's pop culture. Books, podcasts, radio, magazines are my safe space. I can wallow in a pile which slowly builds next to my bedside. I've got subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon, Spotify and Audible, plus newspapers and ebooks. My local library is brilliant with brand new stock and an intelligent buyer. I've got enough culture to keep me going for a year, at least.
In fact it can be exhausting to try and keep up with everything thing that is going on, even without a chronic condition. Like the rest of my life you ended up choosing what works for you and what doesn't. So I've had to put myself on a bit of a cultural diet.
So for me that's really not giving a damn about social media games, posts about the latest political scandal or latest craze. I have limited energy and they are the first things not to give a damn about. That's not to say I'm not engaged, but show me one person that's changed their mind from a "I'll think you'll find.." tweet? See you can't. It just ends up a self reflexive echo chamber. You feel a lot better by letting that all wash over you. This doesn't stop having fever dreams about the horror of President Trump, but still.
Next is new music. This is a hard one as I used to obsessively keep up to date with new releases, who was touring and what was current in the charts. No I couldn't tell you any artist in the top 10 (probably Justin Bieber? Maybe?) I'll have 6 Music on as background, mainly as the presenters are very good company and sometimes I'll hear a new song I'll download. I don't want to be one of those people who's music buying stops as soon as a grey hair appears, but it's on the back burner at the moment.
Reading novels I find difficult, especially on Chemo. My attention span gets shortened. Articles and blogs are fine, but that challenging new literary tomb that everyone is raving about, I'll give it a miss. Currently I'm reading comforting crime novels (latest Rebus, Billington), and pop science and history. They're good to dip in and out of and you can pretend to have learned something to boot. I'm also giving audio books a try. Jon Ronson and Alan Partridge are two faves.
TV box sets / streaming are good for a wallow and I'm a sucker for any Scandi Noir. I'm limiting myself to these as well though. There's only so much time in the day (and I'm busy, incredibly being a cancer patient isn't all sitting around looking stoic and eating grapes). Who has time to start Game of Thrones now? One off documentaries and short dramas are things I can cope with. These are usually consumed on catch-up as I'm often too tired to watch them live at night. The same thing for radio. iPlayer is a godsend for shows I've missed during the week, and works well in the middle of the night when the latest bout of insomnia hits.
I still feel like I'm missing out on loads of things. Especially live events and gigs which I don't have the energy or resources to get to. I managed to see David Baddiel's latest one man show 'My Family not the Musical' at the Ambassadors the other week and it was such a treat. I really miss live music as well, but standing up for a couple of hours in a hot room isn't going to happen right now.
Currently I'm Listening to...EVERYTHING My hearing aids have finally arrived and I can hear the world again. It's quite strange and exhausting! Watching.. Arctic Live on BBC2... Look at the Polar Bears! Reading.. Greg Jenner's A million years in a day.
So what culture can you do without ? I've opened up the comments!