By Dorothy M. Mitchell
Key Themes: fiction, multiple sclerosis, mental health
It Doesn’t Rule Me is a fact-based fiction novel about a woman living with Multiple Sclerosis and the physical and mental anguish that it causes, and how she learns to live with it and lead a healthy, positive life.
Dorothy also has two novels called One for Sorry, Two for Joy and Hollybeck with Chipmunka Publishing, drawing on her experiences in life and writing in a similar vein to Catherine Cookson and Maeve Binchy.
About the Author
Dorothy M. Mitchell was born in a small Yorkshire village just before the Second World War. She remembers vividly being in the air raid shelter as enemy bombs rained down on nearby Bradford and Leeds, the night sky red from fires burning below in the cities and the sound of aircraft above very frightening. She started work in a cotton mill at the age of fourteen before moving to Evesham in Worcestershire at the age of sixteen with her parents. She maried at eighteen, has two sons and seven grandchildren Dorothy was diognosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of thirty seven, suffering many relapse and a few near nervous breakdowns.
Lydia Burton kissed Daniel on the cheek, “See you in the morning, love.” She opened the front door and stepped out into the cool evening air. She took a deep breath. Right now, she would secretly rather be tucked up in bed. Her head felt funny, throbbing as if it was about to explode. She couldn’t wonder at it, after arriving home yesterday morning from her night duty at Orchard Way Rest Home to find yet another family crisis. She had taken a couple of pills earlier, so hopefully the pain would soon go.
Lydia felt unwell. Could it have been the trauma of the boys going missing for hours yesterday morning? Lydia had warned her sons repeatedly about playing in the old brook that ran by the side of the farm, especially now that it was in flood. She had asked Alex and Sam time and time again not to play around that area, stressing the dangers of Badgers Brook, but it seemed her words always fell on deaf ears.
After Alex and Sam had been missing for about three hours, Daniel had gone looking for them. He had laid the blame well and truly on Lydia.
“This is your fault Lydia. I’ve told you before not to be so soft with the boys, they run rings round you. One day they will get drowned and perhaps then you will listen, when it’s too late!” Daniel had cried out these words in anger as he set off once more in search of his sons. Lydia had – as usual – taken the flack for the boys’ misbehaviour.
Daniel found Alex and Sam in the usual place, soaking wet, and covered in stinking mud. He was looking on a sight of potential danger. The boys had built a dam in Badgers Brook. Daniel surmised they must have worked hard because the water level was easily two feet high on the farm side where it had backed up against the wall of mud.
White with anger, Daniel bristled at the boys: “This is definitely the last time I want to find either of you playing here, do you understand? Now get away from this blasted brook the pair of you!”
Alex, hands by his side and red faced, walked silently in front of his dad.
“Do you think I have nothing better to do than chase around after you two? Now get off home before I give you both a damn good hiding. You can go to bed without any dinner; perhaps that will teach you to do as you’re told.”
Alex and Sam stomped off in front of their dad.
Sam, who always liked to have the last word, said defiantly, “I don’t want any dinner anyway, especially not warmed up stew from yesterday.”
Daniel clipped his youngest with a sharp smack at the top of his leg, “I warned you lad, now get yourself indoors before you get a clout on your other leg.”
Lydia was waiting anxiously at the garden gate. When she saw they were safe, their mother didn’t know whether to tan the boys’ backsides or hug them but judging by Daniel’s angry look and the tears running down Sam’s muddy face, Lydia guessed the boys had already been punished.
“You two will be the death of me. How many more times must I tell you to keep away from Badgers Brook? It’s dangerous.” She could have added, It’s always me who gets the blame for your misbehaviour, but she didn’t.
It was hard not being able to give Alex and Sam their dinner, despite Sam’s outburst of not wanting yesterday’s warmed up stew. The boys didn’t realise that had she cooked a giant beef casserole big enough for two days, keeping the second half fresh in the new fridge. It suited Lydia to do this when she was on extra shifts, like now.
When she had asked if she could give the boys a drink of milk and a biscuit, Daniel was adamant, “No, they have got to learn. That’s your trouble, Lyddy; you’re too soft with them.”
Lydia had gone to bed after yesterday’s shift at the Home absolutely worn out and fed up of being blamed every time the boys misbehaved. Of course she knew what was really eating Daniel; he hated her working at the Rest Home. Daniel had rather a short fuse anyway, so it never took much to start him off, but as she frequently pointed out, nursing was her vocation. She wasn’t interested in farm work, not for herself, but as she reminded him, it brought in a bit of extra cash.
Daniel called after her, “Are you sure you should go in tonight love, you do look a bit tired?” A bit tired? That was an understatement after the upset of the boys being punished yesterday, too harshly in her opinion. These upsets always had her feeling tense and strung up. They were boys, doing what boys did, why did he try to creep round when he’d been like a bear with a sore head? She would prefer Daniel to make a fuss of the boys instead. Perhaps give them a treat?
Lydia smiled back, trying to portray the confidence she didn’t feel, “Don’t worry, I’m fine. Don’t fuss so. I’ll see you in the morning.” Lydia knew Daniel was right, she wasn’t well – far from it – but she must get on. People relied on her and nursing was her life. Daniel was concerned, but Lydia wished he wouldn’t keep fussing. He didn’t really understand, she couldn’t give in to every little pain and discomfort, it wasn’t her way. Besides, she wanted to get to work, away from the hassle. She’d just about had enough, with one thing and another.