Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tea And Sympathy

There's a blog-hop for almost everything these days. For almost every post you can find a blogger promoting that particular theme and add your link to the list. It's a nice way of participating in the blogging community and supporting other bloggers whilst promoting your own post to a wider audience. I was going to write about my week of being flat on my back anyway. I was going to write about it by way of an explanation for my sudden absence from the blogosphere. But then, although I'm starting to feel better, I couldn't muster up the motivation to write a long whinge about it. Who wants to read a long whinge?

meme2Well apparently Rebecca at Here Come The Girls (you can click on the link for more tales of woe and self-pity. There's even a badge and a set day) has seen the need, filled the gap in the market, and provided a forum for whingers in which we can wallow when necessary. So I'm taking full advantage. Here is my account of being incapacitated with a 2yo and no other adult to take her out of my hair for five minutes, give her a bath, take her out for some fresh air, let me go to the doctor...

10 days ago I woke up with a crippling pain under my right shoulder blade (in the vicinity of the muscles that took the brunt of me schlepping too many heavy books around in a shoulder bag) accompanied by shooting pains like darts down my right arm. A friend assured me it would get better after a couple/3/4 days. It didn't. The only comfortable position has been lying down propped up by pillows - and even this becomes uncomfortable after a while.

I have lain on the sofa and been miserable. The sink piled high with dirty dishes. DD's toys have become a layer of chaos covering the floor in every room as I cannot bend down to pick them up. I have seen puzzle pieces disappear under the carpet and wonder when I will ever be in a position to retrieve them. The area around the coffee table where DD sits to eat is sticky and full of crumbs that I cannot get to - I expect an army of ants will deal with it for me soon. As I type the entire collection of dvds is hitting the floor and sliding under the bookcase. I have managed to put the washing machine on a few times and hang out the clothes. A small mountain of clean but crumpled clothes is sitting on the spare bed waiting to be conquered.

Luckily this week has been an academic break for the last of the Jewish festivals that fall in September/October. However, I'm due to start teaching two new courses next week and they require a ton of preparation - I've done nothng and it's getting scary but I can't sit up at the computer for more than 10 minutes. I am now able to write with the laptop propped up on my knees so I hope I can do something later today. So far, every time I try to do some work DD climbs on me and wants to press the buttons - there is no other way I can work so I end up shouting at her, crying in desperaton for her to leave me alone and go away.

I can't push the buggy so we are confined to places DD can walk to. And even then I am reluctant as it makes me nervous to be out on the streets knowing that I can't run after her if she runs too far ahead or into the road. Two days ago I gave up and she and I have been in our pjs watching dvds ever since. Last night she had a cereal bar and a yogurt for supper.

Last week Nadge picked us up and took us to the Kibbutz for a couple of days. I was a difficult guest - I just lay on the sofa and did nothing while everyone else looked after my 2yo child. I feel guilty and sorry whilst also very very grateful and appreciative that DD had a break from my illness for a while and could play with the other children and run around outside. Not to mention being fed with some proper nutritious food.

The doctor prescribed strong anti-inflammatory pills and advised me to book an appointment with a physio-therapist. I can't do that until DD is back at nursery after the break - hopefully it won't be necessary by then. On the other hand, tomorrow we have to walk the 15 minutes to the supermarket and do a shop (delivered) as we are running out of fresh food. Theoretically I have loads of friends I could ask for help.

When we were on the kibbutz Mrs Nadge kindly found a ride for us coming back to Jerusalem on Friday afternoon (it's about 1 1/2 hours drive). The driver warned me that she would be leaving late and may have to drop me off at the Central Bus Station after the buses have stopped running for Shabbat (the Sabbath). Ordinarily this would not be a problem as I could take a taxi for the last leg. But I lay there, on the sofa, worrying about how I was going to keep hold of DD whilst carrying our bag, my handbag and her carseat, find a taxi and put the carseat into it - leaning and stretching being agony... A friend offered to meet me at the drop off point as he would be returning from Tel Aviv in the mid-afternoon. Then the driver changed her plans and we left in a hurry at 10am. Another worry, another panic.

As it happened, the driver's destination was five minutes drive from my home so she brought us all the way. And, as I said, I have friends. But sometimes you just want one person who will cancel any other plans because you need them rather than 50 friends who will see if they have time and gladly fit you in at their convenience. As in this case, things usually work out ok, but I'm tired of the uncertainty and the panic involved in trying to find the available friend and co-ordinate my need with everyone else's life.

A few years ago a friend of mine bent down to take a packet of Wheatabix out of the bottom drawer and was on her back for a year, culminating in an operation on her spine. Every now and then she says it still reminds her that it's there. I read the blogs of women who bring up their children whilst suffereing chronic pain with no hope of relief. I am so grateful for my generally good health and the fact that my back pain is already feeling much better. I  really do appreciate that my week was a small blip in my otherwise smooth life. I know there are people I can turn to in a real emergency and I'm thankful for that. I cried whilst writing this post and my daughter came and stroked my cheek, laying her head on my chest by way of a cuddle. In a few years time she'll be able to add a cup of tea to the gesture - I am not alone here, the 2yo is a person and a comfort aswell as being a whirlwind demolition machine.

It's almost over now. I'm in discomfort rather than pain. We have survived with no great loss in the grand scheme of things. And the phone just rang. It was a friend asking if I need anything. She said, "Do you have enough food in the house for you both? Do you need any help? Rachel, I know you're terribly British but I'm just round the corner and you can call me any time." She is also a single mother with a baby under a year old and I wouldn't dream of putting her out. So maybe it's just me being a martyr. Ignore me and I'll endeavour to resume normal service as soon as possible.


  1. Feel better now? Last week I was down for the count with back pain and depression because I don't have classes to prep or any foreseeable income until the spring semester and because I missed the holidays in some ways and I enjoy Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We all need to vent once in a while, and this is a great place to do it.


  2. Thanks Lisa - yes, oddly I do feel better now. It is so unlike me to vent in this way but, as you say, we all need to once in a while. I hope youare feeling better too :)

  3. Two words. POOR YOU! That all sounds horrid. I think you should call your friend because if she offered help then I'm sure she won't be put out in the least. Then you can repay the favour someday when she needs your help.

  4. @motherporridge - the trouble is I don't really know what I can ask her to do for me. What I really need is too much and the little things I can manage.

  5. Gosh what an awful time for you. You definitely are entitled to a good old moan. You are definitely allowed to feel sorry for yourself. Do the doctor's know what it is? I'm glad it's starting to feel better. It sounds like you are coping amazingly well and trying to do as much as you can. Don't worry about the housework - a bit of dirt never hurt anyone and 2 year olds don't care! Could you hire anyone to help with that - I don't know if that's possible where you are but as you don't have anyone else to help.

    The one good thing is it sounds like you've got some fantastic friends there who help without needing to be asked. It's times like that when you learn who your real friends are. I'm rubbish at asking for help too and just struggle on but it's so lovely when someone sees you're struggling and offers to help and actually offers something practical rather than just says let me know if I can help.

    Anyway I hope it gets better soon and is just a temporary thing.

  6. So sorry to hear you've been so unwell Rachel. It's been a very difficult week for you. Really brings it home when the mum is sick, doesn't it? At least I have a hubby to help when it happens here. So glad you're surrounded by good friends though. Do make te most of that, you will always get a chance to return the favour;-)

    Hoe you're completely better soon.

    xx Jazzy

  7. Thanks Rebecca and Jazzy - the problem with asking for help is that nothing is essential it's just a matter of feeling better, which isn't always a good enough reason to trouble someone.

  8. Ohh bless you sweetie, I hope you have managed to get some prep done by now and are feeling slightly less fraught.

    How lovley to spend some timeont he Kabbutz so dd could play and you could rest, that Nadge is a bit of a diamond!

    With regard to helping, I am pretty sure you would offer yoru services to friends even if it was for non essential stuff, so why not allow them to do it for you. People enjoy helping when you alow them to (I need to remember that!).

    Mich x

  9. You have been through the mill just recently... I've always been well and yes it's easy to forget how valuable your health is. You have reminded me to thank my lucky stars. Eat well, be kind to yourself. Get well soon. x

  10. @Michelle - yes Nadge is a diamond and so is his wife and his lovely children. I'm very lucky to have them as friends.

    @Lins - thanks for your comment and believe me, when this is over I will try very hard not to forget to be thankful everyday for being pain-free.

  11. I think your friend would be willing to come over and talk to you -- just having someone in whom to confide helps (yes, even if you have a blog upon which to whinge :-)).

    I know what it's like to deal with toddlers with crippling back pain, and I felt every wince and tweak that you described. I'm really glad you're feeling better.

    Chag same'ach and shana tova x

  12. @pltmamma - thanks for your kind words but I had to laugh. If I invete my friend over for real tea and sympathy I'd put my back out again trying to tidy up for company - I wouldn't be able to help myself.

    Thanks Rosa :)

  13. I know what it's like being in pain and having to look after children. I've suffered with back pain since my eldest was 3 months old. I was a single mum and it was horrible having to rely on friends for help when I couldn't move for nearly 3 weeks.
    It's not so bad now because I'm mobile again and married. I have 3 children and they're all at ages where they can do things for themselves and each other when my husband is at work but it doesn't stop me feeling guilty for not being able to do it all myself.
    I hope you're all better soon xx

  14. Shell Louise - this has truly been a sobering experience for me. I have nothing but admiration for mothers who suffer chronic pain. I admired them before but now I more fully appreciate what this involves. And thank you - my back seems to a little better every day.

  15. Poor you, hope the backs getting better. I had a bad back a few years back and was largely out of action for several months. Luckily I had lots of help, I can imagine it must be miserable on your own with a little one and yes you have lots of friends, but its never easy asking for help.
    Really hope you're soon back on form!

  16. Thanks Nikki - I am getting better every day now. I think it's hard defining exactly what you need in the way of help. I go through a possible list and discount each item as not essential.

  17. It is horrible to be reliant on others and I have MadDad to help me, but even then he has to go to work and I just have to manage. There is no other option. I am hoping your back improves. I am seeing a spinal specialist on 2 November about mine