There was I – full of the joys of spring and, fuelled by my over enthusiasm, I declared to my newly formed gardening group, ‘I’m off to weed a border!’ No harm there. Nothing at all ominous about that. Just off to weed a border at the side of the path.
Two hours later and after tugging, pulling, swearing and sweating I stood up, stood back, and admired my work. Brilliant! Nothing short of brilliant. Gone was the awful couch grass invading from my neighbour’s garden and tangling itself around willow roots and under the path. Gone were the thick, stubbornly rooted spring-flowering creeper thingy’s. Just lovely rich soil smiled back at me. Happy with my work I toddled back into the house. This was Saturday.
At 3 a.m. Sunday I woke thinking someone had dropped a house brick on my head. The pain was excruciating – I kid you not – I couldn’t raise my head at all without searing pain. Pain so bad that all I could do was lie there – and as we all know pain in the early hours is always far worse.
By sliding my flattened hand under the side of my face and supporting my head I eventually managed to sit up and make it downstairs where I suffered a Weetabix followed by two paracetamol and an ice pack to my neck bones. This went down well in the freezing cold kitchen! By 5 a.m. I struggled back to bed.
Sunday had been prearranged. It was Richard’s birthday and I’d organised a family meal out. When he caught a glimpse of me, shuffling along, imitating the Hunch Back of Notre Dame, he said, ‘You need to go back to bed.’ Yeah. Cheers for that. Back to bed where he could ignore my pain until I died a slow and lingering death because he’d forgotten all about me!’ At this point I had to tell him I couldn’t go back to bed because being the lovely, wonderful person that I am I’d arranged a fricking surprise meal for him. This was met with scepticism, a narrowing of the eyes and a slight nod of the head. You see, he’s a simple soul, enjoying the simple pleasures in life and never really celebrates his birthday. Unfortunately, my mum died on his birthday, some eighteen years ago now and, originally, it did rather take the shine off the celebrations. The twelth of March became the day mum died, not the day Richard was born. Nowadays, I put him first – after taking flowers to the church.
So, off we went. I looked like the walking dead. I felt worse. I sat at the end of the table so that I could, by staring straight ahead, see everyone without moving a muscle – literally.
Somehow I made it home alive. Richard had a lovely time – and he even liked my gift to him – a new Samsung tablet. However, when, later, he came up to bed he found me sobbing. Yeah, OK, so I’m a wimp. I couldn’t help it. The pain level that had, I suppose, been around eight had soared to ten. The slight window of least pain, if I held my head just right, had slammed shut. Everything hurt. At this point he said, ‘Right, we’re going to the hospital!’
Earlier I’d said, ‘I think I need to go to the hospital’.
My son had said, ‘They won’t do anything Mum.’
Richard had said, ‘Do you really want to sit in A and E for twelve hours?’
I knew they wouldn’t ‘do’ anything and no I did not want to ‘sit in A and E for twelve hours,’ but don’t they have things like heroin, morphine and stuff?
Anyway, I wouldn’t have been able to get my clothes back on so he held me till I stopped sobbing, rubbed my neck (it didn’t help but he was trying bless him) and then fetched me some yogurt and honey so that I could take some painkillers.See how I always try to eat something before taking painkillers? This way I figure I won’t be adding stomach ulcers to my fast-growing list of complaints?
Monday and Tuesday were spent in bed, unable to move. Wednesday and Thursday I got up in the morning and went back to bed in the afternoon. Friday I made it through most of the day and so on and so on. . .
It still isn’t right but I can now live with it without turning into a pathetic, sobbing female. That’s not me, you see.
I know how it happened. Having three degenerative neck discs, whose soft protective padding is fast disappearing, stretching over the borders and applying all that pressure on my discs just didn’t work. They couldn’t support the weight of my head.
But, positives from negatives – I read three novels (I’d hardly read anything at all till then) and I had some rest – although enforced – but rest all the same.
I’ve started pottering in the garden again. Managed to toddle round a couple of garden centres and purchase a few bits . . . so there you go.
I have found that the hardest thing about growing older is accepting it. I expect my body to keep up with my mind. It can’t. I have things to do popping into it constantly. I remember my darling father, it his last years, getting very frustrated and angry with himself because, due to his ever-increasing health problems he felt useless. He couldn’t do this and he couldn’t do that. I, of course, being the sensible and logical person that I am told him, ‘No, of course you can’t do those things. BUT instead of focusing what you can’t do focus on what you can do.’ At the time it made perfect sense to me – but that was before I was reaching the point of realising that I can’t do some of the things that I used to do.
No more throwing paving slabs around. No more climbing the apple tree to prune the odd branch. No more throwing bags of compost around. And . . . it appears, no more digging borders! I’m sorry, Daddy, I was an insensitive idiot.