Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Part 1 - The Catastrophic Effect - A retrospective account


Want to read Part 2?.......

“It’s almost that time of year”, I heard myself tell my sister who’d been prattling away on the phone about the mendacious neighbours she has living in the adjoining town house. The machinations of the Germans, normally so frustratingly obnoxious and a good subject of gossip, just wasn't important. It wasn't hitting the spot because I was distracted by something ultimately more upsetting that had been pervading my thoughts of late.

What was a rant in full flight was halted abruptly as she realised what I had said. A silence ensued in which she absorbed my words. “I know, I’ve been dreading it”, she responded, with a voice that had suddenly become small and almost lifeless. I immediately wished I hadn’t said anything; regretted dragging her back to a time when our lives and the dynamics in our relationship were changed forever.

“I can’t believe it’s been two years already; two of the longest and hardest years of my life”, I offered back as I instantly empathised with what she was feeling.

“Look, I’m not up for this right now, can’t face it today; why the hell have you brought this up now?,” she barked the question angrily at me. I let it slide because I knew her annoyance was a mask for the deep heartache and sadness that, like me, she carried with her every day.

I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly to give her time to calm down before carrying on. “You know why; it’s almost April, the start of it all and I just want to acknowledge it; maybe because bringing it out into the open now, means it won’t be so painful a journey when the moments start to fall into one another like a set of bloody dominoes cascading out of control”. It was something of a clumsy analogy but the best I could offer at the time.

I heard the deepest of sighs as she gathered herself momentarily before the click, click, click sound of her shoes making contact with the faux marble floors of her house let me know she was on the move. The sound of a boiling kettle told me she was making a hot drink, perhaps buying time to think about what she wanted to say to me for I had clearly caught her at a bad time, but then since it all happened, every time was a bad time.

I didn't say any more but listened and waited, not wanting to rush her lest I made her bolt back into her dark place, her refuge, where she seemed to lose herself so much.

“What’s the point?”, she asks rhetorically when she finally comes back at me. “What’s the point of it all”, she asks no one in particular; they’re dead, all of them, and nothing we can do will bring them back.

Hearing her words and feeling the depths of her despair which so clearly matched my own, we both broke down, giving in to a grief of such deep intensity that it threatened to destroy us both because quite simply, neither was brave enough to face it head on, at least not for now.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed at home..........

……and this little piggy went AAAAARRRRRGGGHHH, deeeeeaaaar GOD, whaaaat the hellllllllll was thaaaaaaaaaat? Now you are probably wondering what I am on about. Well it has a lot to do with why I have yet again been absent for a while when I promised not to go walkabout again. This time I didn’t actually go walkabout – it was almost impossible for me to walkabout anywhere, literally, because I broke my fecking toe. There I was happily bounding towards my study, in the dark, when shoeless, I felt a horrendous thwack, thump and heard a nauseating crack of something as my foot made contact with my unseen monster of a vacuum cleaner. Talk about shock. I reeled backwards in sheer bloody agony and managed to get to a place where I could sit and absorb the sheer awfulness of it all whilst trying not to barf up dinner. God knows how I got there – it is a complete blur to me but I guess adrenalin kicked in and coupled with shock I just ran on both feet before hurling myself onto a couch. I sat holding my foot - as though that would help - and I groaned in sheer agony as whiplash after whiplash of pain seared up my foot and along my leg. I grabbed a pillow to bite – it could very well have been one of my wee Jack Russell’s that were standing looking at me nearby – I just needed anything to stop me screaming out loud like a banshee on overtime. After what seemed an age I could feel the worst of the pain begin to subside and I thought I should chance taking a step: Big mistake. I knew from the ricocheting pain travelling along my foot that the crack I marginally recalled hearing was indeed not the vacuum breaking but my poor wee toe.

I knew you couldn’t do anything to fix a broken toe so I played the brave wee soldier and convinced my lovely husband that a trip to Casualty needn’t be required. I could see the sheer joy on his face at narrowly escaping a possible four to five hour wait in an overly bright and sterile looking area whilst listening to the needy and the hurt bemoan their lot. I had to agree, and that, coupled with the thought of slurping tepid murky looking water passing as tea and coffee from the hospital vending machine, was enough to convince me to stay at home.

I spent three days hobbling about the house by walking on the side of the foot and it hurt like buggery. But I couldn’t sit still – before I had my set-to with the vacuum we had bought enough food to feed a small third world village for six months – and it needed cooking. The plan wasn’t to eat it all in one go you understand – we can shift a pile or two but even we have limits – but it was my quarterly ‘big cook off’ where I cook everything from scratch, box it up and stack it away in our two freezers. That way we get to do portion control, don’t have to cook every night if we don’t want to when we are tired and frazzled and all we need buy from Waitrose is the comestibles such as salad, fresh veg and eggs to keep us going with a good all round diet. And so I prepared, cooked, washed up and by the fourth day was then making lunch for two close girlfriends who had been scheduled to come to lunch; I hadn’t told them about the broken toe, they would have insisted in bringing lunch and I didn’t want the fuss………..By the end of the afternoon on that fourth day, I caved in and went to casualty. Well, eventually I did….

……..I tried not to go, I really did because I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time and money but by now I needed crutches to get about for even the shortest amount of steps. So I phoned the surgery around the corner from my house for I had been told that they might be able to lend me a pair. Nope, not a chance, it was even worse than getting help for the menopause – a trainee ‘old hairy face’ was having none of it. ‘Sorry, but you’ll have to get your arse down to the surgery in the next town so that the practice nurse can have a look at it first’ she informed me through a pinched nose making her voice sound all tight and officious. Okay she didn’t actually say arse but she may have done for all I cared. ‘But, I can’t walk more than five steps, not even enough to get around to you guys around the corner let alone make it to the next town’, I responded somewhat exasperated. ‘In fact’, I continued apace, I can’t even get to my car on the drive to even attempt to get there and dear God, what if I have an accident or break down, how am I supposed to deal with that?’ I asked her with rising frustration.

By now my toe was throbbing big style and I was beginning to feel even more helpless than before I had called for I was imagining just about every scenario possible where something could go wrong and I couldn’t ‘toe it off’ to get myself out of danger. ‘And besides’, I carried on, ‘I’m fairly hefty weight wise with rather large mammary glands and hopping around is not an option lest I want to suffer a blackout from oncoming boobs in the face department’. ‘Look, Mrs Menopausaloldbag,’ she rasped back at me, if you can’t make it down to the town surgery then you’ll just have to call Social Services, now if there’s nothing more that I can do for you then I must get on’, she said before I heard the click of the receiver and the call-disconnected tone whining away in my ear. Clearly I had interfered with her day by expecting some kind of help and being the jobsworth she is I had taken much too much of her time already for she probably had a queue of people waiting that she needed to piss off. She probably had some way to go to beat the pevious days quota that old hairy face senior had set her. ‘Nothing more I can do for you? Nothing more I can do for you?’ Chrikey, her words rang in my ears. If she’d done any fecking less for me it would have been as if I hadn’t bothered my arse to make the call in the first place.

Coming to terms with my new found temporary disability, I lay back in my big comfortable recliner seat – perhaps there was some positive stuff to come out of this situation after all, given that it is the most comfortable seat in the whole wide world, perhaps even the universe – and I decided to have a nap. I was exhausted from crawling about the house and bumming my way up and down the stairs when I needed to get about – heavens the muck you see on the floors and under things when your perspective is about a foot from the ground. So, I snuggled down with a soft and cuddly cover over me and both mini-mutts snuggled in beside me. ‘Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad’, I thought ‘if I could just force myself to sit on the old lardy butt and do bugger all’. And so there I was, gently snoozing mah heed aff when I had the most intense electrical shock of a pain wake me from my slumber as it ripped all the way up my leg and back. ‘Jesssssuuuuussss Chriiiiiiiisssssst’ I wailed at the dogs as they ran off in abject fear for I am not usually a loud person that shouts out in agony. That was the final straw - not even the four anti-inflammatory painkillers I had taken an hour before were able to dull the vile shocks and intense throbbing. I knew I had to get some sticks and decided that by whatever means necessary I would make it down to the surgery to borrow the only flippin pair of crutches apparently available in Northamptonshire.

And so by the fifth day, with my husband leaving work early and giving me a fireman’s lift into the surgery, I got an appointment with my practice nurse. She looked at the toe – it was four times its normal size and getting fairly black by this time – and she wouldn’t or couldn’t give me the only spare pair of crutches the surgery had. ‘You’ll have to go and get that checked out at casualty’, she said with an air of authority. ‘But whyyyyyyyyy?’, I asked like a whiny snotty nosed child. ‘You know that casualty can’t do anything about a broken toe and it means I’ll have to walk on the side of my foot which is so sore now too that I just want to sob with the pain of it all. And all that they will do is give me the sticks when you know, if you could just turn a blind eye, you could save me hours and hours of sitting in casualty and hand them over to me now’. I pleaded on deaf ears, she was having none of it. ‘Nope, it’s best if you get it x-rayed just to make sure and then you can get some sticks from them’, she said leaving the room as she swanned off to find a doctor to sign the form for the fast track to the x-ray department. My heart sunk, I should have known better, known that I wasn’t in it for the short haul when she had first walked into her office, looked at me and said, ‘So Mrs Menopausaloldbag, what can I do for you and Oh, she exclaimed in surprise, your erm broken nose?’ ‘Broken nose?’, I repeated questioningly. I sat and looked at her perplexed face before realising that the town surgery receptionist clearly misinterpreted my request for an appointment because I had broken one of my toes and therefore needed the crutches. How the hell she thought I needed crutches for a broken nose was beyond me.

So all in all, a fireman’s lift back to the car and into the casualty reception meant my husband almost needed to see a doctor too, for although tall and strong, the poor guy isn’t built to carry a fat arsed lardy butt around in his spare time. The upshot was that I had a good clean break right where the toe joins the foot, there was nothing they could do for me except join it up to an adjoining toe as a splint and send me off, much to my husbands delight, with a pair of crutches. So cheesed off by the end of that little adventure we drove straight to the pub where I downed two huge glasses of wine and lo and behold the pain subsided and the world was for a short time again a wonderful place to live. It has been strange being so housebound for almost three weeks. I haven’t been able to walk the dogs and when it pours with rain I am glad of that – it eases the guilt when they look up at me with beautiful hazel and amber eyes just willing me to take them out no matter the weather. But I haven’t been idle – I just haven’t been too physical.

So why didn’t I post? The pain was just too much at times and I wasn’t in the brightest of moods in the early days so I just left well alone and my dear friends it was murder trying to get everything fitted in where I had lost time with the broken toe. Work was backing up yet again, my husband had a very important presentation to write and deliver to some cabinet ministers and I was helping out with that. We had two other big events that had tight deadlines and we had the accountant popping around to pick up all of our books for the taxman to pore over. To add to the mix, I have been helping a good pal with her job search and doing speculative letter writing on her behalf so whatever could be done from my chair with a laptop was done and the rest had to wait. I’m well on the mend now and will be back in our gymnasium next week to restart that big new training programme we started and had to abandon. My book is coming along and although there is the odd brick wall now and then, I am finding it enjoyable and exhilarating too.

My laptop wasn’t connected to the wireless network and I couldn’t really get around to doing that but if it had of been I would have at least blogged once or twice. I’ve connected it now so in future I shall be able to blog until my heart is content should I ever be incapacitated again. My desktop where I usually write from in the study is up a small flight of stairs and it was hard to get in and out of there. My HRT really only started to kick in too last week after three months so my energy levels have returned to what they were before I cocked it all up at Christmas. So, all in all things are returning to normal and we are looking forward to Easter although it is much too early this year and the weather is going to be a washout – shame.

On my penultimate blog before my accident I had said that God willing he would give me a break and lo and behold he took me literally and gave me one. How’s that for the power of prayer eh? Next time I’ll just have to be more succinct in what kind of break I mean.