For the whole of this summer and early autumn I have been out of action, literally so, laid up, in pain and immobile for a long period. And most probably caused by my own stupidity and carelessness.
After the serious fall in early summer, which left me bruised, swollen and hurting all down one side, limping painfully, September came and, I believed, with me ready to pick up where I left off. If only I had asked advice of someone who knows about these things! Like a physiotherapist or, at the very least, my fitness instructor at the gym. Typically bone-headed I threw myself into training, thinking I could catch up on the lack of exercise during the previous six weeks by working a bit harder.
Big mistake. I have since been informed that you have to start more or less at the beginning and work up to your pre-accident fitness state for at least as long as you were laid off. Which means I will be lucky to see the inside of the gym before the end of the year.
What happened this time? I have no idea. Nobody has. The fact of the matter is that somehow I damaged my sacrum, resulting in indescribable pain, two bedridden weeks and a slow return to mobility over the following two weeks, mobility involving crutches, two walkers (upstairs and downstairs, although I couldn't manage the stairs at all), a trolley for transporting items safely from one place to another while holding me upright at the same time. There was a period when just turning over in bed was agony.
I had carers come in to look after me (‘looking after = euphemism for ‘personal care’ = euphemism for ‘keeping me clean’, which is euphemism for ‘dealing with bodily functions’), a nurse, a physiotherapist, two physiotherapist technicians, even a useless social worker. Reams of paperwork were filled in. One question was “what is your favourite TV programme”. What? I got cross and said ‘Dr.Who’ which caused much hilarity subsequently. Another one was “what is your favourite kind of day”. “A painfree one without social workers asking me stupid questions”, I snapped back at the unfortunate questioner (after all, she was just doing her job - I don’t think she recorded my answer) Part of the questionnaire was concerned with my mental state, i.e. was I fully compos mentis. “What do you think?” was my reply to that one.
The whole episode was excruciatingly painful, utterly embarrassing and seriously demeaning. And that is what a lot of old people experience not for four weeks but week in, week out. A frightening prospect. But, and this is the big but, what would I have done without professional carers? Put myself into a care home temporarily? Hospitals don’t take you in, spine injuries will heal eventually, without a doctor’s intervention.
It was the devotion of friends which saved my sanity. With family unable and presumably unwilling to assist (actually, I only told one of the children) I can never make it up to them. Plates of hot food arrived several days a week, piles of sandwiches ditto, soup, grapes, savouries and puddings were lavished on the invalid who was actually not even really hungry; painkillers take away the appetite. Lying in bed, unable to turn over without crying out, exhausted from a slow and laborious shuffle to the loo during the day, bent over a walker, take away the survival instinct itself. Believe me, there were moments when I could have chucked it all in, down the stairs, for instance. Strong opioid painkillers leave you hallucinating, my long gone Mum and Dad appeared at my bedside, as did Beloved.
One of the strongest feelings I had during the worst time was a feeling of utter helplessness and abandonment, I felt so terribly lonely, in spite of my dear friends. It would have been wonderful if somebody had been there during the small hours or sat and talked after the painkillers kicked in. Being alone and helpless with the front door open day and night is not a good feeling. I might even have welcomed a burglar!