I had a disastrous meeting on Tuesday, which has taken me some time mentally to recover from. It was my last scheduled meeting with the surgeon who put my arm together with a lot of metal in it. But instead, after the usual round of X-rays, the person who ducked into the cubicle was a young man I hadn’t met before, well over six feet tall and big with it. I explained how I was beginning to be able to put my arm behind my back but he interrupted : Oh no, you must think of yourself now as permanently disabled.
He lifted my arm right up until I was on tip toe, then he let it drop. ‘See, I can lift it up but you will never be able to – the tendons will never mend, you must think of yourself as disabled.’
I said I thought they were mending but he asked how old I was. ‘There,’ he said, ‘you are too old to get better. If you were thirty you might but not now you are disabled.’ He asked me to push my left wrist (the one I broke five years ago) against him, he pushed back until he hurt me. ‘You are weak,’ he said, ‘and disabled now.’ Then he left the cubicle laughing.
In the evening I went next door to visit my neighbour, the orthopaedic surgeon. He told me there had been complaints about the young man but asked me not to make a formal complaint because the man had a young family. He said to wait six months and if I was still not better then, that he would himself refer me to the surgeon again to see what else could be done.
On Thursday the physio, who I don’t think is allowed to see me again, lifted my arm, gently and, mostly, it stayed there. She pointed out that I couldn’t do that just a month ago and therefore the tendons must be healing, or it wouldn’t stay up at all. She then booked me into a shoulder class which begins next Friday.
I am hoping that my arm will continue to heal and regain strength. I am hoping to be well enough in another four months to do the 70th Miniatura, to which end I am currently assembling 48th scale dolls.
In life, sometimes you meet the right person in the right job, which makes the world a better place and benefits everyone. Then, sometimes, you meet a person in the wrong job which helps no one except himself. He was arrogant, loud and very keen to put me down and aggrandise himself. My next door neighbour’s wife, a lady of litigious inclinations, was very keen that I hang the young doctor out to dry. Ten years ago my frequent dealings with my mother might have made me frightened to do so, for fear of repercussions, because, with her, there were always repercussions. Four years ago, overcoming my fears by facing them, I might have written a stiff letter to someone senior at the hospital.
Right now I am not inclined to let any ego problems the young doctor owns to become my responsibility. I need to use my energy for my own healing. I do not accept that I am permanently disabled. I do not accept that anything at all is permanent. The nature of the universe is change. People learn and grow if they are capable of doing so; it is a natural process which will occur with or without my help. It is only four months since my accident. My left wrist, still aching, has done all the work for my right arm for four months now but it was only strong enough to do so about two years ago. I think it took three years to heal to that point and it doesn’t even have any great metal screws in it.
Only someone young, strong and stupid, would regard age as a disability in itself or a disadvantage. Many of us improve with age, I certainly have done so. I cannot believe that they paid me to be a teacher at only twenty one, I had a fund of endless ignorance compounded by my strange upbringing. I had a good education and I was quite bright but when I compare what I know now with what I knew then, there is no comparison. I think of my mother, most of her head literally empty, watching Masterchef on TV and remarking on the sauce that was going to split or the meat that had seized to the pan in the wrong way a good five minutes before anyone in the studio had noticed that there was a potential problem.
Life is educational, we are all here to learn from experience. However you are today, you will be wiser tomorrow.
Just think how fantastic you’ll be next week! I’m proud to know you.
Not counting. Four months or thereabouts.