It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a house is always put on the market in far better condition than the one in which the inhabitants have been living. Thus the last few weeks have seen little jaunting, barely any writing, and much cleaning/gardening/decorating/minor building works/wiring in of smoke alarms, etc (not all of it by me).
Back in the day, I moved house five times in four years, each time with a new baby or pregnancy, and again, after a hiatus of six years, when my children were aged 8, 6, 5 and 2. So I reckoned this time, nearly 18 years later, it would be a doddle.
I reckoned without Ted, my border collie, who has proved keen to help me paint and now has green Go Faster stripes.
I reckoned without falling off the doorstep and breaking my leg. In two places.
As luck would have it, Cathy Over The Road’s friend Maggie was visiting when my ankle gave out and I crashed to the ground, so I had two nurses to escort me to hospital, and two young and rather fetching policemen (who were on the spot to stop motorists driving through the timed no entry sign on our road) to manhandle me into Cathy’s car. (I expect they’re used to that sort of thing in their line of work.)
As luck would have it also, our brand new super hospital is a quarter of a mile down the road and A&E wasn’t too busy at half four in the afternoon.
I’ve always had weak ankle joints and tend to sprain my right one every couple of years or so, so going to Radiology with an ankle like a balloon is a fairly regular occurrence for me. However, I could tell by the look on the nurse’s face, post (agonisingly painful) X-ray, that this time was different. ‘The doctors have yet to look at it,’ she said, ever so slightly reprovingly, ‘but I can tell you you’ve broken your tib and fib so badly you’re going to have to have an operation.’ But I have paintwork to touch up with Dulux Eggshell Barley Twist if it’s still available, I wanted to cry. I need to plant up troughs and pots to put around my pond so prospective viewers don’t stand on the wonky paving slabs and fall in. But I could tell neither she nor the universe would be persuaded.
‘There’s a rumour swirling around outside that you got yourself in here with no pain relief,’ remarked one of the doctors in the plastering room, while the other one winced at my X-ray.
‘I think I must have a high pain threshold?’ I said doubtfully as they handed me the gas and air.
‘Yes, you must,’ he said. ‘Now push against me as hard as you like but don’t stop breathing the gas.’
‘Where’s my baby?!’ I wailed a minute or so later. ‘I always get a baby when it hurts this much.’
‘You’ve got a beautiful plaster cast instead,’ said the second doctor. ‘Neatest one I’ve ever done, actually. And they'll be cutting it open tomorrow to operate!’
But it wasn’t the same. To make matters worse, I didn’t even have a decent story to tell. Falling off a doorstep in Filton is hardly the same as falling off a yacht in Greece which is how my friend Claire sustained a similar injury. ‘Yeah, you’re going to have to work on that,’ everyone advised me.
There was some delay and much pushing of my trolley around the hospital before a bed was located. Having witnessed its construction for that last eight years, it was interesting to have so comprehensive a tour of its interior. Eventually I found a berth and fell into a thankful sleep, only to be awakened with good news - more morphine – and bad news – I had to transfer to another ward. I finally docked in at Level 3 Gate 7b Bed 38 – whatever happened to Cotswold and Mendip wards? – which made me feel as if I’d checked into the departure lounge for an unknown destination with no guarantee of coming back.