Recently, presumably as a result of the constant bending when foraging for firewood, my back started to really play up. I was finding myself bent double and unable to straighten. However, living the way I do, I had no choice but to continue. No firewood, no fire. No fire, no heating. Very simple.
John popped by, and becoming somewhat concerned, bought logs from the local farm shop, which I was very grateful for. However, I cannot afford to keep buying logs and I cannot expect other’s to do the same. So, before long, I was out foraging again.
Then it happened. It was taking me ages to pigeon-step my way into the woods, collect whatever I could carry and head back. A distance of just a few yards. After a fourth foray, which entailed dragging a sizeable branch, I decided that I really needed to rest for a few minutes. I was in extreme agony. I managed to get into my caravan where I promptly collapsed. I could not get up. Every movement was met with excruciating pain. It was then that I realised that I needed help!
With tears of agony, I eventually managed to reach up so that I could lean on my bed. From there, I found that I was able to retrieve my mobile. I logged onto the village Facebook pages and composed a short appeal with a brief explanation, asking particularly for assistance in gathering firewood. I also mentioned that I was low on water.
My son, Michael, telephoned shortly thereafter. I was still on the ‘phone to him when Michael, the scaffold pole man,* appeared with three four-pint cartons of water. He was followed by a wonderful lady who introduced herself as Rosemary. She appeared with a huge bag of logs that Michael lifted in and a hot water bottle, which I was told to keep as “it is a spare.”
By now, I had managed to get to my feet, though I was leaning on any available surface for support. Michael and Rosemary left and I continued my conversation with my son. Within a few minutes more I had to terminate the telephone call as there was another person at the door. This time, a wonderfully kind lady called Cindy. I knew her as some-one who had commented on a number of posts that I had posted on the village Facebook pages. Cindy had some pain killers and gave me the telephone number of the local GP. A few minutes later, Michael, the man who had offered the scaffold boards,* appeared with two large butts of water and some wood. We three chatted for ages. In fact, Michael and I got on so well that he didn’t leave until gone 10pm! In that time, I learned that he is a fireman who had attended the terrible high-rise blaze at Grenfell Tower.
The next morning, more logs and food turned up. Rosemary appeared with loads of shopping. The local postman, Eleodor stopped by to check on me. Eleodor is brilliant; an old-school postman. He knows and looks out for everyone; just as it was years ago, before the rise of Thatcherism. Eleodor is Romanian, has lived here for more than 20 years and married to a Polish woman who he met here. His children are born English.
I telephoned the GP surgery to arrange to see the doctor. I explained that I was unable to drive. Unfortunately, Cindy, who had offered to give me a lift, was unavailable until the next morning, so I managed to get an appointment for the next morning.
Mark from Elham turned up in the afternoon with an armful of parcels for me. I had contacted him to explain that I was unable to collect them myself. (He had long since offered his address for post).
The next day Cindy ran me round to the GP surgery. She, and a number of other people, had highly recommended the doctor, but warned me that he likes to give injections. “It’ll be the first thing that he’ll ask you.” Sure enough, the first thing he said as I entered his surgery was, “How are you with jabs? Do you want a flu jab? COVID vaccination?”
I declined. I then informed him of my back issues and the medication that I am prescribed. I told him of the collapse, etc. I said, “I have been double-dosing in a bid to ease the pain, but all I’m doing is getting spaced out. It’s not having any effect on the pain.”
“You don’t want to be doing that.” He said.
“No, I know.” I agreed. Then, “You’re not going to like this, especially as you don’t know me, but I know what I need. I need to go to the next stage. Whenever I end up in hospital, they don’t mess around. They go straight for the Oramorph.”
“Do they?” He asked as he began to press against my spine from the neck down.
The moment he pressed the damaged part of my spine, my reaction was enough to convince him that my need is genuine. “OK.” he said, “I agree.”
Shortly thereafter, I was collecting the medication I needed.
On the way home, we popped into the farm shop for some groceries. Cindy insisted on paying for it.
At home, I dove straight into the morphine, overdoing it a bit, resulting in me floating on air painlessly and dozing a lot.
In the next couple of days, more food appeared and Fireman Michael turned up to do some wood chopping. He had a wheelbarrow with him which he used to collect a few large Beech logs that had been cut from a fallen tree he had spotted along the footpath. It didn’t take long before I had loads stacked. He just kept going saying that he was really enjoying the exercise.
*see entry A cold, a bath and lifting my caravan…