How the hell did I get here? Part One.
It’s been eight or nine weeks since Doctor Feelgood went to town on my vertebrae with an angle grinder, my ruptured discs with a pair of secateurs, and cleaned out the flotsam under my mangled nerve with a garden trowel. I’m fuzzy on the details but I’m pretty sure the procedure went down something like that.
On the whole, I’m feeling better than a smashed crab, which means a hell of a long way from good. I think that’s what I mean anyway. I keep dropping things because of the lack of strength in my arm and I get shooting pains if my ears are anywhere other than directly over my shoulders. However, when compared to where I was before the operation, I’m an all singing, all dancing, gymnastic yoga master.
Now I am feeling better, I thought I’d dive into my journal from the period affectionately titled ‘The Pain Diary’.
Day 2: “Ouch!”
Day 3: “Oh God, is this as good as it gets?”
Day 5: “Pain controlled with morphine… oh, look – something shiny.”
Day 7: “New painkiller. Pain managed. Comes with depression and compromised eyesight.
Day 9: “Sigh.”
OK, the pain diary might be a tad depressing. Let’s just start at the beginning, ay? I’m pretty sure it had something to do a fish.
On the last week of the school holidays I took my six-year-old daughter for a trip to her grandparents’ place on the far South Coast. A little father/daughter one on one time – what could go wrong? It might be worth noting that the last time we did a trip like this my then three-year-old daughter was bitten on the face by a bastard dog, leaving a scar above her eye.
So this time we were fishing in the river with nary a dog, bastard or otherwise, in sight. The river in question is lined with oysters. When I say lined, I mean absolutely freaking covered in the damn things. For a previous tale of my tussling with the dreaded shelled beasts check out “For the dog lovers” from a couple of years ago.
Being sure to keep well above the snot filled razor blades of death, my daughter and I were having a grand old time. She’d even managed to catch a fish. Nothing to write home about but when you’re 1.2 metres tall and weigh in at 20kg, any fish with half a kick in it is decent.
As most Dad’s would know, the paterfamilias doesn’t do a lot of actual fishing. The Dad’s role is to cut bait, bait hooks, untangle reels, free any fish that might have wandered by and copped a hook in the eye and – this part is significant – free the tangled line and fish with the hook in the eye from the Goddamn oysters!
I took the line and a tentative step onto a flat rock. It looked like a stable enough platform. No oysters… just a little weed… take care not to slip and –
– the whole rock flipped over like a hammock does when Great Aunt Morag in her unflattering muumuu has had a little too much to drink and needs a little lie-down.
Nowhere to go but down from here, and down I went. In my defence, the thought of sliding down Satan’s cheese grater didn’t bear thinking about and I had the presence of mind to push out for the water as hard I could. I cleared the walls of oysters and made it to the water – Yay! But not the concealed watermelon sized rock under the water – Boo! As if slamming into a concealed rock from a great height wasn’t bad enough, slamming into a concealed rock covered in oysters from a great height… you get the picture.
My hand looked like a piece of cheap steak cut open with a butter knife. I got out of the water (after the freeing the fucking fish) and assessed the damage. Lots and lots and lots of blood. Then I remembered my daughter. How was she dealing with the sight of her dear old dad all busted up? Pretty well as it turns out.
So what to do next? No phone reception and 50km from the nearest hospital. I looked at the shiny new Subaru we’d bought only a couple of weeks earlier. I looked at my soaked clothes and the torrents of blood from my hand, elbow and legs. I looked back at the car.
Wherever we're going, it looks like we're walking.
Watch this space for Part Two.