Like a tit I was telling everyone how AMAZING I was feeling after Eli arrived, and I really did. I had bounced back well from a horrendous pregnancy and a brutal birth and I was feeling like my health worries were behind me. Someone must have heard me being a smug twat though and decided to piss on my chips because it genuinely didn’t last long.
Eli arrived on the 23rd of September and by the 21st of December I was on heavy duty painkillers for my back and could barely walk. I’d had bother with my back on an off for a few years but fuck me, this was a different kind of pain. The docs did what they could but the NHS is under a huge amount of pressure; everything was taking too long and in the meantime I was housebound. Now, *SPOILER* babies are hard work – FACT. Especially mine because as well as everything else he had chronic acid reflux with a bit of colic chucked in for good fun (aye, I really did get hit by the lucky tree). So take a baby that’s hard work, add a dash of housebound, a pinch of not being able to drive, a sprinkling of can’t carry this heavy baby elephant (he was huge) and 12 truckloads of heavy duty painkillers and it becomes a bit like Crystal Maze with loud noises and no team mates. EVERY room and EVERY movement is a challenge and, well, it couldn’t continue really. I was immobile, piling on weight and getting totally fucked off.
I’m really lucky to work for a firm who offer private healthcare and after discussing with the GP we were both in agreement that I needed help a lot quicker than the NHS could move. So off I went to see a consultant privately who took one look at me and booked me in for a scan the next day. I’d never had an MRI scan until then and I presumed, wrongly as it turned out, that it would be quite a sombre affair. I guess if I hadn’t got stuck laid down flat it would have been… now I know what you’re thinking, I’m, well I’m sturdy aren’t I, but you’ll be disappointed to hear I didn’t get wedged in, it’s just that I was pretty much unable to lay flat, which is exactly what you need to do in a scanner and I’d cut off the feeling to my legs, my back had jarred and I needed both scanny people (official title) to kind of roll me onto the floor and help me up. SEE, YOU FEEL BAD FOR LAUGHING NOW DON’T YOU? (If you don’t then you’re a lot like me… high five!). I was mortified and vindicated all at the same time.
This beauty is my scan… you see the how the 6th sausage down is more lorne than link? That is a disc, and both that one and the one above it were pretty fucked. Sometimes, these things can right themselves out if they’ve only just happened so the surgeon wanted to give me a injection v similar to cortisone in my back to see if that would help and give it time to heal. So I was back the following week, knocked out and stabbed in the back – quite literally – and then discharged to see if it would work.
It didn’t and by the time I went back in again 8 weeks later my lorne sausage disc had gone all sorts of crazy and was now compressing my spinal cord so, after much excitement it was agreed that surgery should happen pretty quickly. Quickly as in 6 days time. Fuck.
To be honest the thought of surgery didn’t frighten me as much as living as I had been doing so I was right up for it – plus, a few nights away from a colicky refluxy baby? BONUS! I went in, got the discs sliced and boosh, problem solved. Except in recovery apparently as I was coming round I’d tried to get myself off the bed to go and see to Eli, as you do. I was high as a kite and off my head on drugs but as I came round the male nurse came into focus, his name was (probably still is) Jesus. I shit myself. This was not how I thought I’d meet him and I tell you what, he’s not how I imagined. That beard and dress combo you see in the pictures is clearly just his dotting around the house outfit – our equivalent of joggers maybe? Anyway, I’ve met Jesus and can confirm he’s a tiny wee spanish looking felly. Who knew!
Anyway, Jesus brought me back to my room eventually, after I satisfied him I could pee. I’m hoping that was a clinical marker of success rather than a pervy thing but I once got chatted up on eBay by a bloke who was buying my size 8 stilleto boots to wear himself so I’ve got form. It could have gone either way.
I got bored being laid up on my own though, I missed Christiaan and the tiny wee screamer… so for the second time in 9 months I got myself discharged earlier than expected by impressing the surgeon and OT hours after surgery. I had got myself out of bed, showered and was stood at the window with my bag packed. I shouldn’t have been able to do any of that but the pain from the surgery was WAY less than the pain I was in before hand… also… drugs. Drugs are epic.
I was allowed home, but only if I promised to rest. So I did. A bit. See, here’s proof, this is me with Bear who is a lot like a big furry baby sitter in these situations. He’s an epic cuddler is Bear, he gets really invested and gives you loud purrs and headbutts, exactly what you need when life’s a bit challenging. And yes, I look like shit… it’s a common theme in life.
Living with a baby after your second major surgery in under a year though – not so much fun. I wasn’t allowed to lift him for the first 12 weeks, well apart from that time he pirouetted out of the high chair and landed on his face (true story) and my instinct kicked in. That was the hardest bit of all – watching him cry and want me and not being able to care for him. Christiaan though, is a man of remarkable resilience, patience, love and sincerity and Eli wanted, and still wants, for nothing. He’s got a Dad in a million that kid.
Within a few weeks I was able to walk short distances again, my physio each day would be to walk out the front door, down my steps and over the road to the grit bin, and back. That sounds easy enough right? Not when your full gravitational swagger has been hacked and you live on a hill it’s not – it was fierce but it payed dividends.
4 weeks after surgery I was able to do something I’d wanted to do since Eli was born; take him to the beach. It’s only at the bottom of our road but because of the not being able to walk, drive or carry thing it had always been utterly out of reach for me. This is his first time feeling sand in his toes (wearing Scandi clothes, more on that another time) and it was a gorgeous gorgeous way to spend an hour.
Life was going to be great from here on in…. right?