The Fall

The title of this post feels a little overly dramatic, like it should be accompanied by a resounding dun dun duuuuun, but I couldn’t really think of a snappy title for what was undoubtedly one of the most terrifying events of my life so far.

If you have read my previous posts then you will see that I’ve had a recent foray into disability and have been slowly coming to terms with my changing ability and unfolding diagnosis.

One thing that has been happening more often lately is the subluxation of my ankles where my ankle ‘gives way on me’, and although I’m becoming more used to it I hadn’t quite realised how bad this could be. On the 19th April it came into sharp focus.

It was around 6.30 in the evening and I was coming downstairs. My 8 year old son was playing in the living room and I was having a relatively good pain day, so I don’t think I was holding the rail. About 6 steps from the bottom of the wooden staircase my right ankle decided that I was no longer allowed to stand up and I descended on my lumbar spine, hitting the edge of each step with my back as I went.

I screamed. I probably swore even though my son was there and I knew instantly that I’d hurt myself quite badly. Tears streaming down my face I looked at my son and he looked absolutely horrified. I needed to try and stay calm in spite of the panic as it was just him and I at home, and although the pain was unreal my motherly instincts meant that I needed to be calm for him. I used him as a leaning post and managed to get myself off the floor and onto the sofa. I text my husband and he was on the train home. I needed to distract my son so I calmly called my mum and sobbed quietly as my son spoke to his Grandma.

When my husband arrived home I finally admitted how bad things were, I thought I’d broken my back and we needed to get to hospital. We dialled 111 who were kind and patient as they went through the assessment with me, and my husband messaged a neighbour to see if she could look after our son.

As he took him round to his bed for the night, a paramedic (Aaron in Bishop’s Stortford, if you know him please tell him he’s bloody magnificent at his job!) turned up and filled me with morphine, funny distractions and gas & air.

As my idyllic little cottage is down a ramshackle footpath the lovely Aaron couldn’t get me out on his own. A second crew arrived and put me onto a spinal board and then a third crew were needed to negotiate the tight corners and turns and bumpy terrain and finally get me into an ambulance.

I eventually got to hospital around 11pm and an X-Ray revealed no fractures but that my muscle spasms had pulled my spine straight when it should have been curved. I also had a very large haematoma on my spine.

The photos below show the injury the next morning (top), at it’s worst (bottom left) and as it is now, a month on (bottom right). (NB Please forgive the hideous 90s tattoo)

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The real horror about this whole thing however wasn’t the pain or the injury or even the fact that I thought I had broken my back; the real terror was the thought of how things would be had my husband not been on the way home. Not only was this not a freak accident that will never happen again this is something that is very likely to recur, given the deterioration in my joints and something that could happen at any time of the day. My husband is a shift worker and works in a place where working late is often inevitable and other than him I had no one to call. And what if the injury had been worse? What if it was dangerous to wait 4 hours between falling and getting into the ambulance? As the third crew needed to negotiate the rocky path were brought over from 60 miles away there would have always been a delay.

The fall meant we had to look seriously at the future and at what adaptations we’d need to keep me safe at home. And we’re probably looking at more than hand rails.

Kiran’s World of Pooverts

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Ok so I’ve kind of nicked the title from Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe but with good reason, you see I seem to have spawned a child with the same sharp cynicism of Charlie, someone on whom advertising doesn’t work, someone who sees adverts for the big smelly pile of poo they really are; that someone is my son, Kiran and he is just six years old.

When Kiran’s television watching habits changed from the delightfully advert free Cbeebies to commercialtastic Cartoon Network I must say I was worried. I thought we would be entering the world of ‘I want that’ and ‘you should buy this’ but I was pleasantly surprised. Watching Kiran watch adverts is pretty special, he’s like a mixture of angry old man and Abraham Lincoln. He can only speak the truth and he will expose adverts for their lies and he does it beautifully.

Here are my three favourites:

Cillit Bang: The oh so familiar, yet equally obscure, LEGO haired grinning adbot takes to the screen clutching his purple bottle and exclaims: “I’m Barry Scott…” as he does so Kiran’s face contorts with injustice and he shouts at the telly… “NO YOU’RE NOT!” I don’t know how he knows this, maybe he can just spot a liar with the accuracy of a Jeremy Kyle lie detector but ‘Mr Scott’ watch out, Kiran has your number.

Vanish Gold: You wouldn’t think that children would have much interest in stain removal, they seem to be the ones making the mess, not cleaning it. And perhaps if they were to have any reaction you’d think it might be closer to thinking they witnessed sorcery. The advert in question shows Vanish Gold being applied to a host of stains and then put in water as a big gold clock counts down to the thirty seconds in which the advertiser claims they will have gone. And they probably have, I’m not going to dispute it’s efficacy but, er, Kiran does. See, when the clock hits thirty seconds the bits of cloth are still in the water and as it takes some time to take them out of the water Kiran cries fraud. “It’s longer than 30 seconds!” “They haven’t even gone!” “They said it takes 30 seconds but it’s longer and so I don’t even think it works, do you mummy?”. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Some irritating PPI ad: This is the simplest but possibly the best. You know how there is a glut of these generic adverts with generic men telling you the same thing about insurance that you probably didn’t buy. They’re annoying right? Kiran thinks so too. So a man comes onto the screen and announces  “Don’t you know you might be entitled to PPI compensation? Not interested?” and Kiran shouts  “No! I’m a kid!” He doesn’t understand why mummy starts giggling…

It’s not all angry cynicism though, there is the occasional advert that pierces even the most sceptical heart. We were out one day and Kiran starts to sing  “Rice rice baby…Mmmm tasty!” he sings it repeatedly, I ask him to stop. “Why?” he asks  “Because it’s annoying” I reply. “Nope. It’s funny.” Kiran states this like it’s absolute fact, “Dude, it’s a bear singing. What’s not funny about a bear singing?” I have no response, he’s stumped me and Muller Rice you should be proud, you got through to the harshest of critics…

Nicola Sheehan is author of Tiger Tiger

My name is Nicola Sheehan and I’m in love with my bed…

It’s crept up on me over the last few years, I used to get up early, hop out of bed all perky as soon as my alarm went off. I used to find myself getting leg cramps or backache if I stayed in bed whilst not sleeping. I’m not sure when it changed, when the snooze button became my best friend or when the duvet suddenly became the softest, warmest and let’s face it the most wonderful thing ever, but it has undoubtably happened.

Maybe it’s single motherhood, that great loss you encounter of any time actually belonging to just you, where you can’t even have a poo in private, maybe then your bed beca your fortress of solitude. Or maybe it’s because some of the best things ever happen in bed: sleep, sex, the occasional fry up bought to you with love.

No, I’m not sure what it is but I love my bed. I’m writing this from bed now. Bed is awesome.

If I’m honest it’s not just my bed I’m in love with. Don’t get me wrong I am fairly confident that my bed with it’s feather mattress cover and super soft downy duvet would win competitions for comfynes but I’m not that fussy. Gimme pillows and a mattress and just enough room to starfish and I’m happy.

I don’t really get why John and Yoko made the news with their ‘bed-in’, how is staying in the comfiest most awesome place in the world a protest? I would happily do that for no cause. It makes me wonder though, perhaps I should adopt it as a marketing scheme. Rebecca, in Tiger Tiger, likes her hibernation:

I had been deeply ensconced in my new hermit-esque lifestyle for the best part of a fortnight; it was treating my state of incapacitation pretty well actually. I wasn’t having to do some crazy acrobatics to have a shower and I wasn’t having to develop racing driver type skills to negotiate the hairpins and straights of my flat, instead I was hibernating in my own little pit stop. I was more than happy to stay in my bedroom until my cast comes off in another 3 weeks.

Maybe I should emulate her (and John and Yoko) and have a bed in until I’ve sold my next hundred copies. Just don’t tell anyone that I actually like it…

Tiger Tiger is available from the Kindle Store for just £3: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiger-ebook/dp/B00D5EYHAM