Hello everyone, did you have a nice Easter? I’ve had a great week footering about and not doing very much in particular. I had planned to write about my walking adventures this – but as I didn’t actually walk the length of myself in the last seven days, that would be a tiny bit hypocritical – maybe next week.
I did manage to finally complete a cross stitch for MC. She has been asking for months – i’m moving on next to a montage of the family’s favourite curse words – it should be ready by the time YC graduates!
I did however get a few jobs done, one of which was booking my next sneer (smear) test. There was a slightly awkward moment three years ago at the last sneer. I was on the couch all stirruped up – the nurse was focused down the business end with her canary and davy lamp (a line I have nicked from the Bolter) when she asks, ‘so what type of contraception are you using?’ ‘None – I replied’ ‘Oh????????? – are you trying for a baby?’ at this point her rather bewildered face appeared from between my knees.
‘No, not trying for a baby’ – clearly at this point the poor nurse thought she was dealing with some sort of half wit. She abandoned her prodding and came and sat beside me, rubbing my arm in a reassuring way speaking in her slowest most pastoral (patronising ) voice she explained that even when you are as old as me (43) you can still get pregnant if you have unprotected sex – not to mention catching something that might require an ungent and an antibiotic.’ Now, you have to imagine that the next sentence I uttered began low and by the end could be heard throughout all of Ireland’s 32 counties and possibly beyond.
‘ Nurse, it’s not a problem, because I haven’t actually had sex with anyone since the 2nd November 2012!!!!!!’ (This was 2016) The rest of the test was conducted in a shocked silence and I was soon on my way. It would have been ok had the door to the nurse’s office not led directly to the waiting room – I sympathetic glances (and appraising looks!) as I walked out were awful. I even heard someone mutter, ‘God love her, November 2012 is a while ago.
‘Having said all that, it’s an important thing to do – so next week – I think I will just lie and tell her that I’ve had to take out shares in a rubber plantation i’m doing that much shagging. I wonder will she believe me?
Hello again, I hope you had a good week. All good here. I had a particularly great day yesterday, spending time with friends.
During the day I was in The Dock honesty box café with Belfast Stitch and Bitch ( and we did a lot of both). Later I headed out to dinner with my BE friends as one of our number is heading off to Australia for a month. BE is a church group supporting people who are divorced, separated or widowed. For many years Mother and I took the piss and referred to it as ‘divorced, beheaded, died’ but actually it is wonderful ( yep, i’m churchy – who would have thought !). We do not, as EC suggests, sit round crying and talk about our ex husbands. There were lots of tears last night, but they were tears of laughter and at 3am when I was delivering weary travellers home, our ex’s were the last things on our mind.
So, I am broadcasting today very tired but mercifully clear headed (I was driving). So, the horse…..
As part of my ‘trying not to die’ campaign last summer I did a lot of walking with the girls. On one trip MC and I went to some camping pods in the Glens of Antrim to hike and have a horse picnic (seated on, not made from). There was a slightly tricky moment when they led out a spritely Follyfoot style mount for me and then, having noted my girth, reconsidered and called for ‘Flo’ who had a generous hint of Clydesdale.
It’s a great idea, someone quad bikes your picnic to the top of the hill, you ride up, eat, chill and ride back down. So far so good. I am a reasonably competent horsewoman, although as I am abbreviated in stature I do resemble your wee dame Thelwell. MC can actually ride very well. Our picnic came to an end and as we still had some time left the ‘horse lady’ suggested we do some paddock work. This was the moment when I SHOULD have said, ‘i’m grand, you and MC work away.’
It all started out quite smoothly, we moved around the paddock at a sedate rising trot. Unfortunately, i’m not gifted at horse whispering and while I thought my knees were saying ‘fine girl you are Flo, keep trotting away’ my equine pal heard ‘let’s canter’. I promptly lost a stirrup and in my increasing agitation thought it would be an idea to take one hand off the reins to try to fix it, listing me dangerously to starboard.
Now what follows is my honest recollection, MC disputes the timeline (falsely alleging I pissed myself causing the fall). Picture the scene, it has been a lovely but long afternoon ‘in the saddle’, followed by a rising trot and then an out of control canter….. As I began my gentle descent from an upright position I lost my other stirrup and everything suddenly felt, slick. Yep, I was experiencing a moment of not even slight bladder weakness. It was the perfect storm, fast moving horse, no stirrups and lubrication. Apparently it was the most middle class fall in history. MC observing from the other end of the ring, heard my plaintive cries of ‘excuse me, excuse me’ and noted me moving towards the rails hanging upside down around Flo’s neck. Gravity eventually won and I hit the ground with a thud.
I was terrified, I had a worrying pain in my lower back and that awful cold feeling in my gusset. Horse lady ran to my side and did all sort of spinal checks, meanwhile MC had to ride across the paddock to corral a slightly disgruntled Flo who was ‘pure scundered’ and probably chafing.
When Horse Lady suggested that I get up, I was a touch reluctant, and I repeatedly growled, ‘just give me a minute.’ Eventually I managed to get to my feet and the relief of not being paralysed was obscured by the indignity of having furry trousers where the sawdust had stuck to my damp pants!
After completing the fastest accident report in history I drove gingerly back to the campsite and straight to the shower. Sometime in the middle of the night – I was not asleep, despite a generous dose of painkillers, I heard the dangerous word ‘Muuuuummmmmy’. Yes? ‘Just a thought, did it never occur to you to say “stop” or ” woah” to the horse – I don’t think Flo spoke Radio 4?’
The only residual damage was a very sore back which could only be soothed by a hot water bottle….……….
I hope you had a good week. I was on half term so it was all good here, just lurking about with friends, knitting and populating my all weather bookcase (mini greenhouse). There was a slightly shifty moment whenever I found myself in floods of tears looking at the children’s utensils in the garden centre – but I put this down to ‘my age’ and ploughed on.
Anyway …..as promised, the story of the stroke…. In June of last year YC and I were on the Scout Parent and Child weekend (it used to be the father and son weekend, but we’re all PC now). This is a great tradition which was reintroduced a few years ago. Being a ‘lone parent’ ( I prefer this to ‘single parent’ – it puts me in mind of a lone wolf – a bit badass, the irony!) I have always gone along to these camps and done EVERYTHING – just in case my children felt left out. In reality they have always been more scundered than impressed, but on this particular weekend, I had walked, climbed, swam (in open water – more later) and eaten more processed meat and white bread than is good for a person. It was great craic. The Sunday afternoon tradition is to climb Slemish mountain, but I told a very disgruntled YC that I didn’t feel up to it.
I hadn’t slept well the night before, and in the time I did sleep I snored so loudly that one of the other ‘Mummies’ actually slept outside on the bowling green to avoid the noise. On Sunday morning I felt ‘odd’, I can’t describe it any other way – but I just knew something was different / off.
Having arrived home (and put the dirty washing in the machine) I sat down for a rest and a knit. I knit all the time and was anticipating a relaxing afternoon. However….. as I sat in my chair with needles and yarn in my hands – I couldn’t do it. Not in a Sartre, existential crisis sort of a way, I simply couldn’t get the message from my brain to my hands. It was like having a jigsaw puzzle where all the edges are straight. I was still putting this oddness down to tiredness so I went upstairs to lie down.
I realised very quickly that something was very wrong – this was a very odd kind of oddness. I called downstairs to MC for help. Unfortunately, MC had taken advantage of my absence and thrown quite a party the night before. This had involved the (previous agreed) burning of the old rabbit hutch (sans bunny) in the garden and a number of concerned phone calls from neighbours. As a result she was feeling a shade delicate and a touch reluctant to mount the stairs. However, she did come, took one look at me and reached for the phone.
Paragraph six, in which the story pauses a little (OMG, last week Charlotte Bronte, this week George Eliot – have I no shame?) In our house, we are essentially not very nice people, almost nothing is sacred when it comes to making in-house jokes. One of these activities was a family parody on the TV Stroke advert….. you know the one, FACE, ARMS, SPEECH, TIME! At all sorts of inopportune moments, in church, family gatherings, supermarkets etc, when one person shouted ‘face’ someone else had to follow with ‘arms’ etc. It was this habit in appalling taste that probably saved my life.
When MC came up to the room – despite the fact that ‘inside my head’ everything was fine, she was able to see that my left hand side was not the same as the right. She called the ambulance and immediately the operator started taking her through the checklist. There was an awkward moment when MC started pissing herself laughing in the middle of the 999 call. I’m hoping that the ambulance operator put it down to nerves, but it was actually a moment of macabre humour in the middle of a very scary situation. While this call was in progress, the fast car having already been dispatched, I experienced a pain in my head which was utterly indescribable – it gets the name ‘thunderclap headache’ and they are not joking.
The ambulance car arrived followed quickly by the ambulance, there was a flurry of activity, during which I believed I was making complete sense. I was quickly transported to the local emergency department accompanied by MC. She was still feeling rather fragile and was a distinct shade of green. One of my more vocal ramblings on this journey was ‘I was swimming in open water’ – I repeated this over and over. Eventually a very bemused ambulance man looked at MC with a ‘what the hell?’ expression. The eyeroll that followed nearly dislocated her retinas, she replied, ‘ she’s a fu***ng Geography teacher, she thinks she’s got Weil’s disease.’ To his eternal credit he managed not to laugh!
A swift trip to the hospital, a worryingly short wait in the corridor and a great deal of excellent care from the staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast got me back on my feet. This was by way of some fascinating things in a drip, a scan a lumbar puncture (not a lot of laughs there) and some stern conversations about lifestyle, stress etc brought me to discharge. A bit fragile, very fuzzy, totally shaken, but mercifully still me.
I would love to say that in the coming weeks I transformed into a sylph like kale lover with a wardrobe full of lycra. Weeeeeeeeeelllll, not quite, but I did do a lot more walking and camping last summer, which brings me to, the horse………