Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Taken Aback

A funny thing happened on the way to the enlightenment…

One of the great weird anomalies of my increasingly daffy existence is that I have only ever had backache three times. The first time was the result of falling from a horse when I was drunk and riding bareback. This was not so much an accident as an inevitability. I'm sure Calamity Jane would have done it differently. The other two times I was doing absolutely nothing to warrant it, honest.

In all the years I trained in Aikido, a martial art in which you fall from shoulder height onto a hard mat approximately fifty times per hour, I never once injured myself. My legendary lack of prowess on the body board has seen me nosedive into the sand at speeds at which I could invite Jeremy Clarkson to eat my board shorts. I may have tumbled from the raging surf with my bikini top wrapped around my neck like a tie after a bar brawl, but I never had more than the odd sand graze to show for my simulated super wash. In my endorphin addicted thirties I was known to do back to back gym classes of Tight Tums And Bums which consisted solely of tortuous crunches. Not a twinge in the lower lumbar department.

My first experience of mysterious backache happened about five years ago. I woke up in the morning and could not move, for no reason. I was alone so you can stop your sniggering in the back. The pain lasted for a couple of days and then disappeared. Then last Tuesday, it occurred again. I had been industriously cleaning the flat in anticipation of a visit from yet another realtor with a shirt made out of tablecloth material and boy band hair when suddenly my back seized up and I have barely been able to move since.

This is really no great inconvenience for me since I like nothing better than to confine myself to my bed but it has meant that sitting at the computer has been impossible. As you know, I don’t like doctors so I have just been taking it easy and it does seem to be getting better. Of course I have self-diagnosed everything from diabetes to bird flu but never seriously entertained anything other than I’m just not very fit and flexible at the moment and cleaning out the cupboard under the sink will never be a good idea.

I did manage to stumble up to irritable Argun, the Stationer on Saturday. I truly felt that my discomfort could only be enhanced by a withering stare from the great man himself. I desperately wanted to buy a new index box and record cards too. I’m sure there’s a fantastic free foolproof indexing system available on the internet that also improves your chess game and makes you a mozzarella, basil and tomato focaccia for lunch but I am very fond of filling out the cards and have been able to lie in bed for the last couple of days getting my fourth draft into order.

The last time I called Argun ‘irritable’ I got into trouble from Dave Hill who said ‘don’t you love Argun?’ to which I replied, ‘of course I love Argun, but he is extraordinarily irritable’. I hasten to report that the rest of the staff at Argun Stationers are unreservedly delightful which is just as well as these are the ones you mostly interact with. Argun stands at the back like a stern Buddha overseeing the photocopier and it was in his capacity as grandmaster of repro that I crumbled in the face of his inscrutable irritability some years ago.

One of my closest friends died and it fell to me to organise the entire funeral. I had just started a new job which was an ‘8’ on the intolerably hideous employment experiences scale and my friend had a vile villain of a partner who infuriatingly conjured a preposterously fake posthumous emotional state where none had existed before, rendering the mere uselessness I had carefully factored in, an untenable liability.

You could say I was a tad stressed when I rushed to the back of the shop with the Order of Service for the imminent funeral to be printed on fancy card to find an implacable Argun lying in wait. Because I hesitated for a nanosecond about the choice of card, he berated, ‘you must be more decisive!’, at which point I pleaded, ‘cut me some slack, my friend just died’. He remained resolutely unmoved by my plight. That man is a reality TV show waiting to happen. It is a lovely shop though and has absolutely everything in it, albeit arranged after the fashion of a Diagon Alley junk shop.

So, officially invalided or maybe that should read invalidated, I shall generously award myself a few more days of taking it easy and continue with the therapeutic task of cataloguing curious events on the Costa del Sol from the comfort of my own bed. Hasta luego!

Cartoon from the incomparable Michael Leunig


Leesa said...

Just a quick note to let you know that Battle of the Blogs has started. Round One will last until Sunday evening.

Leesa (http://dsmoya31410.blogspot.com)

Reading the Signs said...

Please can we agree once and for all that cleaning out cupboards under sinks is just not a good idea? - I mean cleaning the places people can actually see is bad enough but those hidden and unmentionable places do very well with the Quentin Crisp style of maintenance.
Two words: Arnica ointment. Massaged into back after bath, before sleep.
Wishing you good recovery - but all the cataloguing business sounds very intriguing.

That's so pants said...

Thank you Leesa! It's all very exciting and I will have to make the supreme effort to get this wretched back fixed and write stupendous blogs for the next week.

Hi Signs - Yes, yes, I know but it will all have to done eventually. I am just spreading the load. I discovered that I own a monkey wrench which was news to me. Arnica - yes of course! Why didn't I think of that. Maybe I'll find some in the bathroom cupboard. I'll go and look now

swimmer6foot4 said...

Just a quickie to say how utterly impressed I am with your usual state of fitness and sad to hear you are in such pain. As a regular lower back pain sufferer I must second Signs, arnica (in any and all forms I can get it) helps me, along with hot water bottles and calling in favours from all those friends who did massage courses (but never took it up professionally).

Muscle relaxants of your choice can help too, along with very gentle swimming (sadly, hard to obtain in "dry" Hackney).

Feel free to tell me to bog off and mind my own business but ... the worst thing I've ever done when my back has "gone" is to ... sit up in bed.

Do you think they are obliged to wear table cloth shirts and boy band hair or is it de rigour?

Looking forward to those stupendous blogs so get well soon.

nmj said...

Pants, Your back is probably in spasm, this is not good, you really need to take care, best if you do see GP and get some meds which enable you to move without pain, cos if the pain is stopping you from moving, it will make your back even stiffer, you might even get lovely narcotic painkillers, I had them once when all I had done was stand up and suddenly felt like a lead ball had whacked me in the lower spine. It recurs but I got physio and am supposed to do gentle stretches which of course I stopped as soon as the pain went. Really hope you feel better soon, and I hope you post your costa del sol episodes.

That's so pants said...

Who needs doctors when you have such wonderful and knowledgeable blog friends? I did look in the bathroom for some Arnica but realised I probably threw it out ten years ago and it probably wouldn't be much use anyway if it was that old. I am going up to the chemist this afternoon to buy a whole new tube. I'm actually very serious about not trusting doctors - I hear nothing would challenge that and many things that would confirm it from friends who interact with health services. I've always said if something wants me badly enough it can have me and I do sincerely mean that. I have always been a pretty efficient self-healer. When I had this backache thing before it really did go away after a while and I fully expect the same to happen again. I have managed to take long walks and am incredibly grateful that I live in a completely flat area. Thanks for well wishes, it is appreciated because it's always frustrating to be slow and a bit preoccupied I think.

Reading the Signs said...

I've heard it said that doctors are sometimes ok when it comes to sickness, they are just no good at health. I'm sure they would give you painkillers in a twinkling.

Re. the Battle: I can see your link but can't find your name on the voting panels. Have I missed something?

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs - Not really that bothered about painkillers to be honest. I so rarely experience pain that it makes a nice change. I have bought a tube of Arnica now and have enjoyed smearing myself with that. I'm one of those weird people who hates massage - I enjoy physical contact in very few situations. Don't know about the voting - to be honest, I haven't had time to check it out but will.

Ms Melancholy said...

Ms Pants - your unofficial status as the 'blogger's blogger' has travelled far and wide so you have, quite rightly, got a bye in the first round.

Back stuff is a real bastard. Can I just say 'osteopath'? Mine is very sexy, which makes it an extra special treat. He sorts me in 2 sessions. And I get to fantasise a bit whilst I am there, so its win-win really. Hope you feel better soon. I miss you when you are quiet.

Matt said...

Hope you are feeling better soon Ms Pants: until then, glad you're enjoying some time with your feet up.

And thank you for posting a cartoon by Michael Leunig, who is just about the only thing that Melbourne's paper The Age has going for it these days.

That's so pants said...

Hi Ms M - A bye? Is this good? It sounds bad. My back is getting better, thanks.

Hi Matt - Leunig, sigh. You know he is the Australian Steve Bell. I have loved everything he has done for 35 years. I met him in 1977 and took a beautiful photo of him which I might post - it's that good. It's black and white, unfortunately so you don't get to see his incredible aqua eyes. Man, he was a babe!