Ribs To Go

My brain has decided to separate itself from the rest of my body; in fact, it may have disappeared altogether. 

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of an injury to my forehead I sustained when opening a kitchen cupboard. Now look, I know how to open a cupboard; I’ve been doing it for well over five decades. But on this occasion, my brain decided not to tell my head that it had to move out of the way before the door swung open onto it, making a whacking great dent in my skull.

Two days ago, I returned to New York from Los Angeles and found the smoke alarm beeping in my apartment. Knowing I had to change the battery, or at least remove it to get a decent night’s sleep, I pulled out the spare office chair from the nearby cupboard and stood on it to reach the alarm – the chair with five wheels and elasticated, totally unbalanceable seat, as opposed to the perfectly solid small stepladder just a few feet away in the kitchen. 

Everything after that was in slow motion. 

First, I felt the wheels deciding to take a lone visit to the bathroom behind me, accompanied by the sound of what seemed like a runaway train. My hands fell from the alarm straight onto the painting below, which I instantly let go of because I didn’t want to damage it. Then, realizing that I was in free fall as the last of the chair slipped away, I felt suspended in mid-air for what seemed like several seconds before accepting that I had to succumb to the inevitable and just drop. It was a bit like Virgil’s entry into Thunderbird Two – but without the Thunderbird.

So, I am now sitting here with what I suspect are several cracked ribs, possibly broken, one semi-usable leg with a cut knee, a twisted shoulder and two swollen hands. But at least my Women’s Bits are intact (I think. The jury’s out for the moment).

Having planned to return to the UK tomorrow for my summer holiday, I have had to cancel it all and stay resting. I can’t open the refrigerator door without experiencing pain and have been advised that carrying or lifting anything is out of the question until the ribs heal (I’m making an exception for wine glasses, but even they are not plain sailing). 

I wouldn’t be able to transport a make-up bag, let alone a case, to visit the 14 groups of friends and family I had planned to see over the next 10 days; and as for coping with the seven different trains, and goodness knows how many taxis – it would have killed me.

In my defense, every time I’ve stood on the wheelie chair in the past, it’s been fine. My brain had forgotten to remind my body, though, that on those other occasions, I had left it in the cupboard where there was a whacking great ridge preventing it from moving a centimeter. But I was tired after a long flight, and the beeping was driving me nuts. Prior to replacing the battery, my first thought had been to go to a local bar to relax with a lovely cool Stella. 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But then, as a friend pointed out, I might have gone to the bar, returned the worse for wear, still tried to fix the alarm and broken a lot worse. I have very optimistic mates.

I’ve never been an accident-prone person but the emotional and physical stress of selling my UK house has taken its toll. When I was hospitalized with high blood pressure before Christmas, I knew that this was the year things had to change, but I was wiped out packing everything up, selling or chucking stuff; even the incredibly kind friends who helped me nearly had breakdowns dealing with it. 

It’s also actually harder than I thought it would be, not going to bed and waking every morning worrying about debt. Everything, if it’s with you long enough, becomes your friend, and every loss is still a bereavement, albeit one of minuscule importance compared to the very real and traumatic loss of losing a loved one. 

We cling to and come to trust the familiar, even though we know it is bad for us. As I sit alone, nursing my broken ribs, I realize I have not one friend close by in New York who could even go to get me a pint of milk. So, I’ve spent a couple of days doing sums again and worrying about money. 

Debt was my best friend for too long and I’ve called on it again in my hour of need.

Talking of friendship, a very weird thing happened. Out of the blue, I got a very stroppy text message from someone I had regarded as a very close friend in LA. I had no idea what she was talking about and she was unprepared to talk about it. Upon pushing her, she said that I had ignored her message of Tuesday and now she was very hurt that I had ignored it.

I sent her a photo of her messages – and I have every one she has ever sent me. She accused me of deleting it. I genuinely don’t know how to delete and later went to the Apple community forum to find out how.

Not all messages get through, and when a phone is in Airplane mode, they often go astray. I have no reason to ignore this person, who is incredibly sweet and kind and I love her company, but I am not the sort of person to deliberately ignore any message or e-mail. And I would certainly not have had the inclination or energy to do so while dealing with Wheeliegate.

It’s made me realize how lonely life is, away from the people who know you well, understand you and know you are not a liar. 

Sometimes, people just don’t want the friendship anymore and maybe they have to find spurious loopholes to get them out of it (my friend of 10 years’ standing in Bath once did the same thing). I have no idea. 

But I wish with all my heart at the moment I was going to the UK, where I’d planned to see my friends of 30 years plus.

I’ll be thinking of you all this weekend and sending much love as I tuck into my home delivered food. 

I think I might devour ribs doused in Tabasco sauce. 

At the moment, it feels like a suitable punishment for the damned things.