Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk of about half a mile along the river from my home with my daughter, partly to ‘get some air ‘ (I had barely been out all day), partly to get some exercise, and partly to experiment with how far I had come in terms of general mobility since having my hip replacement operation six days’ previously.
My original intention had been to make a low-key but solo excursion, simply to get some ‘me’ time – I have been sharing my flat with my two supervisors ever since been released from hospital on Monday evening and, for someone like myself who is used to a lone existence, it has felt more of a ‘communal’ experience than a normal one. I cannot stop myself looking forward to the day when I bid my fond farewells, shut the door and can finally return to ‘doing whatever I want’ … which, if truth be told, isn’t really very much … but I suppose it’s ‘the opportunity to do exactly what I want’ that gives me the fond illusion that I am free and able to ‘do my own thing’ at last. Er … even if it’s nothing!
However, when I mentioned that I might pop out, my daughter immediately insisted on accompanying me – she wasn’t going to risk me going off and falling over, she’d never forgive herself.
Dear reader, part of my excitement today is that – halfway along the trip, in a space where there was an even tarmac road about 120 metres long, I handed my stick to my offspring … and walked unaided, just upon my own two feet, for all of 100 metres. Okay, I had felt marginally more stable with a stick in my left hand counter-balancing my errant (operated upon) right hip – and I definitely walked with a slight ‘sailor’s gait’ limp caused by minor discomfort resulting from having to expended greater concentration upon my balance – but I actually did walk 120 metres unaided!
Earlier I had rung back one of my oldest mates – the one who had offered to have me stay a few days with him and his wife (both of them fellow workmates in a different existence) as part of my recuperation.
After ‘doing my party turn’ describing (at his insistence) how my operation and recovery since had been going, we got onto other things and he let slip that he had a hospital appointment of his own coming up shortly. He had cancer about fifteen years ago and I know he has had regular check-ups ever since. However, it turned out that this was for something entirely different.
He announced that he had caught Lyme’s Disease – of which I’d heard, but knew little, viz. that it is spread by tick-bites. He said that a lot of it came from America, which was news to me, but overall it sounded quite worrying. His current symptoms were blinding headaches and double-vision in one eye. As a result, he told me, he had given up driving.
Given up driving?!?!?
This is the guy who would drive 300 miles upon an errand for anyone at the drop of a hat (simply for the pleasure of making the trip); who belongs to the Aston Martin Owners Club even though he doesn’t; who repairs his own cars; who for nearly ten years worked on a private team racing Caterhams all around Europe. In short, who’s a complete car nut.
I felt a charlatan. The idea of my staying a few days in the country had come entirely from him, entirely out of the blue – and clearly from his heart, knowing that a mate of his was going to be coping with the aftermath of a hip replacement. I’d even been with him on a ‘lost’ rugby weekend to Lyon as recently as May this year, on which (as he reminded me yesterday) he’d seen at first hand just how badly I had been struggling with the state of my hip.
And now he had been rendered ‘confined to barracks’ as regards car-driving for the time being – and possibly permanently.
He must have been devastated by this development.
My hip troubles paled into insignificance. I told him I felt that I should be offering him the chance to come and stay with me – not the other way around. I suppose it says something that he laughed at the suggestion …