Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Most you would know that I’ve had recently some problems – to put it mildly – with my back. I won’t bore you with the detail, but for most of the last two months I’ve been semi-crippled with enormous amounts of pain and very little physical ability to do anything other than sit in my chair and swear. (This may explain the tone of some of my posts from that time… I’ll leave it to you to judge!)

Thankfully I’m coming out the other side of it now. It hasn’t gone away entirely – I will need some complicated surgery with titanium separators and bone grafts and, who knows, maybe some nanobots and a wheelie bin – but right now I’m feeling a hell of a lot better. Still taking the painkillers, because opiates opioids are not something you come off suddenly, and I am not 100% just yet. But I can see it from here.

My back may go out again. It may not. But I’ve a history of back trouble, since Lorraine had her neck surgery in 2005, so I'm thinking the odds aren't good. I’ve put my name on a waiting list for elective surgery to get the nuts and bolts installed, and will have to wait around nine to twelve months for my number to come up. If nothing’s happened by then, I’ll cancel out of it; no harm done.

Why I’m writing about this, however, is that this period of forced inactivity had more of a profound impact upon me than I would have thought. While I was incapacitated, I was hell on earth to live with. “Grouchy” doesn’t begin to cover it. Nothing was good enough, I found fault with anything, and I would voice my opinion about that, loudly, and often, until I’m quite sure that Lorraine would have happily stuck a knife into me. Quite frankly, I couldn’t say something even halfway conversational; everything I said was a criticism or direct attack, whether it was the latest Sarah Palin faux pas or the dirty dishes that had sat on the kitchen bench for, oh, all of five minutes, but that's not good enough, dammit! This place is a mess! And why is everyone else in the world a flaming idiot? And those morons in America, jeez, let’s not even talk about them, and some bastard at the petrol station cut me off, and what’s up with the bloody weather today?, and…

Yeah. It wasn’t pretty.

On my return to work, limping around with a cane, I joked that all I needed to complete my Greg House MD impersonation was another 50 IQ points and a snarky attitude. A good mate of many years’ standing looked at me and said thoughtfully, “No, I think you’re there.”

I’ve been so glad the last week or so to be able to do something – anything! – that I’ve gotten into it with a will and a smile on my face. No problem. Shovel two trailerloads of mulch because Lorraine had an idea about making over the front garden bed? Great! Let’s do it! Done! Kids playing up? Smile, sit down on the floor with them, and gently and good-humoredly get to the problem and try to fix it. Cup of tea? Yep, there you go sweetie. Do the washing up religiously. Yadda yadda and so on.

The world is sweet.

It’s only now, of course, that I realize how precious good health is, and how not being in good health can disrupt everything. I’m so glad now that we can return to condition normal that Lorraine is wondering what happened to the grouchy old man she’d found in her bed every night this year.

So, my point is this really, and only this: be grateful for your health and the good things in your life. Don’t take it for granted. Life is messy, and sometimes inconvenient, and God yes, there are more than enough idiots around, and I will not give up pointing out their foolishness and incompetance whenever warranted. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s just not worth getting upset about.

Hey, I’m alive, we have a roof over our heads, there’s food on the table, we can pay the bills, and what’s more, I have two great kids and a wife who loves me despite everything. That’s all the reason that I need to be happy, every minute of every day. The rest of it can go and find someone else to piss off; I’m not playing that game any more.

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