A couple of months ago I spent an hour bouncing up and down in the back of a pick-up truck (aka ambulance), after having turned a corner with my bike’s stand down and been flung off. Not fun, but the story has an amusing continuation, after a doctor emptied a large syringe into me and let my friends drive me home. I felt splendid and told them “no, don’t bother staying to look after me, it’s just a scratch, I’ll see you after I get back from rock-climbing tomorrow”.
The next morning I attempted to get up but found find myself completely unable to move, pinned to the bed by the excruciating pain of moving so much as a millimetre. I realised that I wasn’t even able to climb out of bed, let alone up rock-faces.
Even worse, I badly needed to pee and, as I was living alone in a remote patch of jungle, nobody would hear me if I called for help. “Thank God for mobile phones” I thought, reaching for my Samsung, which to my consternation I then found was a couple of feet out of reach. “Hmmm, not good, not good at all” I thought, “it looks like I’m going to wet my bed”.
I lay there doing my best to avoid the inevitable until, with huge relief, I heard my friend Mai walk in the front door. She hadn’t believed me when I had said I was OK and had come to check up on me. She gently pulled me out of bed, from where I was able to make it to the loo, making her giggle as I hobbled along with my knees pressed together in order to keep the waterworks closed.
A week later a hospital doctor pinned up an x-ray of my back and then peered at it intently for a worrying long while.
“Oooo”, he said, pointing out something on the x-ray to his nurse.
She looked at it and said “oooo” too, disconcerting me immensely. Then they showed me the x-ray.
I didn’t say “ooo”, too, as I didn’t have the detachment of their impersonal interest - this was my back we were looking at, not theirs.
“Eeuuuu, what’s that?” I said instead, as I could see that a bit of bone had broken off my spine.
“No wonder my back hurts”.
“No”, the doctor explained, “that’s not the problem, that injury happened years ago, I can tell because the gap between the bone fragment and your spine has calcified. Here’s the problem”, he said, pointing at my two broken ribs.
“Oooo” I said, relief flooding through me at not having broken my back.
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