19 November 2016

Water under the bridge

To be able to walk effortlessly and completely pain-free beside the river, when many of the preceding days had to be spent unable to walk... unable even to lie without pain, unless staying utterly flat and still... when the battle just to rise up to use the toilet rather than confront the messy indignities of the bedpan involved an agonising struggle assisted by sticks and supports after long thought-out plans for steeling oneself in preparation for the torture that would come... when a mere sneeze felt like a skewer piercing through the spine... To be able, after all that, to walk effortlessly and completely pain-free beside the river again is to be awestruck in wonder at what muscle and nerve can achieve with barely any conscious intervention, when they are all working properly again, and to appreciate how casually we accept the almost miraculous machinations of a functioning body, which we generally expect unthinkingly to be there for us while we stress and obsess about other and so often more trivial things. My spinal cord, imperfectly arranged in its malformed canal, is 61 years old, or 62 from its moment of conception, and with good care and good fortune, it may carry me around and by the river for a few years yet, it seems, and with a more grateful mind perched atop it than the casually expecting beast it has supported until now. I think the nerves and the muscles may have conspired in an act of hot rebellion to inform me that their support should not be taken so lightly. So now, with their help, and with my gratitude, I seem able to move on.