July 2006: Surprising amount of jollity in this one.


7 April 2004, RNRU


Right, shut up. Last Monday I decided I’d reached a low point, hopefully the bottom of the recovery curve. OK, I’m now doing most things for myself; washing, dressing and such. The problem is that I’m only just able to do them – and not always – so they take an incredible amount of time and effort. Say an hour and a half of constant exertion, after which I need a rest. And some porridge.
Eating is also a struggle; I’m now on carefully selected solids but getting anything between my teeth is a further challenge, and the food is rarely good enough to make it worthwhile. Apart from the puddings which are really puddingy. Sort of meta-puddings.
My parents’ house in Chester is a couple of miles from an airfield which is attached to a British Aerospace factory where they used to make wings for the Airbus. Why has Word underlined “airfield which” to indicate a grammatical error? Those wings were transported by a plane called a Guppy, a Boeing Stratocruiser converted with a huge bulbous back and nose that swings open cockpit and all. Like a flying Luton van. The stratocruiser itself was a bloated derivative of the B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. The airfield was also the home of the last flying Mosquito, a British twin-engined fighter-bomber from World War Two. Made of wood ! This one was the first model, the simplest and prettiest, inasmuch as a warplane can be pretty. A squaddie from the Black Forest finding himself on the wrong end of one probably wouldn’t be thinking “Jah, schoene maschine,” more like “Scheisse ! Leg it !”
Anyway. The mozzy is like this; a long teardrop for the body, wings with curved edges, each carrying a shorter teardrop housing a Rolls Royce Merlin, THE greatest engine OF ANY KIND ever made. A neat tailplane and fin that echo the wings. The point is, it’s like a child’s drawing of a plane, like a white duck with a yellow beak; D is for Duck.
And that’s what the puddings are like. With custard.
Where was I? Oh yes, so...the result of doing so many “basic” things which are actually hugely strenuous is that I’m KNACKERED. I’m afraid I don’t have much energy left for seeing people and talking to them. So that was Monday, my defined low; what I forgot to take into account was the glacially slow pace of change. That low’s going to continue for some time. Life was actually easier when I couldn’t do anything for myself. I was washed and fueled regularly like a black cab, but would I want to go back there? Duh.
My sense of balance has been off for a while, spins afflicting my swede when I lie down or stand up. Walking has taken – pardon the pun – a big step backwards. I now qualify as someone who “has a fall” rather than what I used to be, someone who just fell over occasionally. It’s definitely what Rory would call an event when I can’t catch myself and take a couple of minutes to get up again - with help. After three events in a week I became reluctant to walk without supervision. As long as I don’t get dizzy – or cough or sneeze or whatever – it seems to be going OK.
I have a bladder infection. Hurrah ! It’s difficult to turn the tap on and off so…even more time spent in the toilet ! Missing whole therapy sessions ! At least the shit has been cleaned off the handrail after THREE AND A HALF WEEKS. I know the word “shit” is pretty much interchangeable with “stuff” but I mean faecal matter. You know, turd. Poo-poo.
Revelations: For the first few months of my convalescence I thought I’d spend some time indoors and then reappear in Summer just the way I was, albeit with narrower shoulders and two bellybuttons. Later I realised that although I will have spent a year in here I won’t be anything like 100% when I leave; OK, I can continue rehab in the Real World. Last week, however, something happened which brought a new possibility to the fore. I was sitting on the side of my bed; a nurse was helping me with my shirt. I felt as though I was about to fall off the bed and tried to push myself back. The floor was wet from (I thought) the urine bottle under my bed; if I tried to move my feet I’d fall into a puddle of piss. The nurse was aware that something was up; whether I managed to say “er…” I can’t remember. She asked what was wrong and I tried to say “The floor’s wet” but it didn’t come out. “The ffff…flooh”, something like that. The more I tried the less I could voice, my feet were in a patch of piss I was about to fall into and I couldn’t explain what the problem was to anyone who could assist. The total helplessness and frustration made me start to shake all over and, 32-year-old man that I am, I began to cry. The main reason I generally don’t although I feel like it most of the time is the simian gasping noises I make when I inhale; they just infuriate me further and make me feel worse. This time I thought fuck it and just let go, making however much noise came out. The poor nurse was doing an agency shift here and hadn’t seen me before, so she didn’t know whether this was normal behaviour. She seemed to be quite experienced though, remained calm and so forth and eventually I was able to point at my feet and say”The…floor’s…w…ET.”
So where am I going with this? The moisture turned out to be water from my feed pump. The point is, I was rendered unable to move or speak, while someone helped me with a T-shirt because I couldn’t manage it myself, by a bit of water on the floor. EIGHT MONTHS after the accident. Not good enough.
My improvement has been fairly minimal in the two months since I’ve been here, despite increased therapy. Consequently I have to picture an alternative future, one in which I may not be able to walk, talk, eat or drink normally. May not be able to ride a bike, snowboard, swim…more immediately I may not be able to resume my job at Central…an alternative career as a third-rate writer beckons. Better get weaving with that third-rate novel.
My grandad Ted died on the 30th. It was Ted who sold Tig his first Capri for a hundred quid (Tig immediately had to spend three hundred to keep the silver shed on the road). Seventy-odd years of smoking Gauloises or Gitanes…some ropy French snout…can’t have done him any good but he notched up eighty-five birthdays. Not bad. General opinion in my family is that I take after him and Lil, my mum’s parents, more than anyone else. Suits me.
So…things could be better. It was superb to see Amanda and Wale last week, and Will and Karen with her passenger, and finally get in touch with Rus and Helen. Oh, to answer your question, my current physio’s a bloke. The previous one, however…yep.
Again I want to thank everyone for everything and say hello to J’n’H down on the coast, I hope you’re both doing better than me. Sorry I’ve replied to hardly any e-mails, but just getting all this cack to Tig is a convoluted process. Now…a few surprising people have been reading this site’s contents. It was set up so my friends could keep track of me but I’m happy for anyone to read it. Do me a favour, though? Bung me an e-mail: steve@sparshott.org and tell me who you are and how you came across this site. Unless you’ve been sending viruses from Italy in which case FUCK OFF YOU WORTHLESS, SMALL-MINDED CUNT(S) and go and do something useful like building Ducatis or voting Berlusconi out of office. Said viri probably arrived from an automatic mailer, but someone with a .it address is sending them to the sole connected computer of a long-term residential hospital. Big and clever. CUNT.
Deep breath. I actually made notes for this update and haven’t covered any of the subjects therein. I’ll just touch on one: Bad Man Walking. There’s been a bit of an outbreak of perambulation here, in which Neal has been involved. He’s very, very slow – makes me look like Linford – and shaky, but he decides where he’s off to and goes…and keeps going…and keeps going until he gets there, sweating. Last week he went from his room to the gym, about one-and-two-thirds corridors’ length. It must have taken about half an hour. Respect, as we used to say. I just saw him with a fat black file and asked him what it was. “My lyrics,” he said, showing me the spine. So I’m not the only one here writing. Oh, Sue – Badman don’t answer no e-mails. Thanks for Modern Toss, published by the delightfully-named Shitflap. Apparently their website’s quite good.
That’ll do for now. Wrote this lot in two hits and now my back aches.
Did anyone watch Six Feet Under last week? It’s only a posh soap but the scene with Brenda and her brother was thoroughly disturbing. I was thinking “No, he’s not…oh dear, he is…no, don’t ! NononononoAARGH ! INAPPROPRIATE !” and I don’t even have siblings.
I’ll finish with news for avid fans of my bowel movements. Despite the fact that I’m not chewing anything properly, amateur visual analysis suggests it’s all getting digested properly. Except…it’s true about sweetcorn. Like Lego hydrant indicators. See ya !