My mate Andrew teases me mercilessly about my life being like a soap opera. ‘What’s happened in this week’s episode?’ he’ll ask whenever I’m in the office, before I bring him up to speed with a previously-on-Lisa-Lynch omnibus of the mail-order bridesmaid’s dress that got held hostage by US customs, the VW-camper hire company who did a runner with our Glasto-van deposit or losing Sgt Pepper beneath the foundations of the flat while we were getting the kitchen done.
But, by Andrew’s own admission, the broken back saga has lifted me beyond the realms of EastEnders’ market stalls or Coronation Street’s cobbles and into full-on, escaping-from-a-mental-institution, faking-your-own-death, affair-with-your-daughter’s-fiancee, Melrose Place territory. I mean, come on. The famous last words of ‘this is going to be the best June ever’... the dramatic fall (in a bikini, no less) immediately thereafter on a terrace overlooking the sea… the deafening screams disturbing a tiny island’s peace… the terror on the faces of the hotel guests as the stretchered patient is carried down three flights of stairs… the celeb-worthy boat that was chartered to sail me over to the mainland hospital… the emergency-room MRI drama… the will-they-won’t-they cliffhanger of whether surgery was necessary… the nail-biting anxiety of how to get back to Britain… Never mind who killed Archie – breaking your back on a getting-over-cancer holiday? You can’t write this stuff.
And it’s a good job, really, since I doubt even Melrose Place has scope for plotlines about heavy-handed bed-baths, a 30-year-old forced into wearing nappies (I kid you not), and a husband having to lift his immobile wife onto a bedpan. (And I thought I’d left my dignity at the door with The Bullshit.) Plus, of course, there’s the fact that this series would need to be dubbed, given that it all took place in Spanish. Which, in a fortuitous turn of events, is the same language in which my husband is impressively articulate. (Mind you, I bet even P could never have imagined his language skills could see him through a conversation about the merits of a colostomy bag.) If I were a believer in fate or religion, I’d think that God put me and P together for reasons like this. As it is, though, I just feel bloody lucky – despite The Bullshit and The Backshit – to have Him (P, not God) on my side. I mean, sheesh – talk about landing on your feet. How many fluent Spanish-speaking scousers with a talent for caring for ill wives can there be in the world?
After my last post, an anonymous commenter questioned the legitimacy of my back-break story. ‘Is this a wind up?’ they inquired. ‘Are you a fraud? Get better soon, if you're for real.’ It’s a question that, I imagine, most people asked when they learned about my holiday in a Mexican hospital. And fair enough. Because, whoever the anonymous commenter that was brave enough to raise his or her reservation was, they were right to do it. Hell, I can barely believe it myself. But – even more of a pain in the back as it is to admit – I assure you it’s true.
Actually, it all feels a bit too real right now. See, as much as my new ailment has brought with it all the attentive, thoughtful and impossibly generous gestures that remind me of the tidal wave of loveliness that hit once I was diagnosed with The Bullshit, it’s also a frustrating reminder of what it’s like to go from normal girl to ailing patient in a terrifying instant. And though I’ve become worryingly good at this dealing-with-adversity lark, there’s a crapload of other stuff at which I am depressingly, well, crap. Like being accepting of my situation for one.
Yes, yes, I know that getting better – be it a broken back or broken boob – is all about baby steps, taking one day at a time, not pushing yourself too hard, yadda yadda. But, goddammit, I’m just. so. sick. of. having. to. get. better. in. the. first. place. that my tolerance of the one-step-at-at-time approach is akin to an anorexic’s tolerance of Big Macs. Add to that my growing resentment of the people around me for the sudden change in our roles – from independent adult daughter to helplessly dependent child; from happy, loving wife to grumpy, marital burden – and, dressed up in a wheelchair and an uncomfortable back brace that’s half period-drama corset, half suicide-bomber chic, you’ve got one heck of an impatient patient on your hands. So, I'm sure you'll agree, it'd take one helluva twisted mind to make up a story like that.
Thus, running joke as it may be, I have to admit that my life does seem to have all the right ingredients for a drama series. (Minus, perhaps, a house fire, car chase and an interrupted wedding... but give me a couple of weeks and I’m sure I can sort it.) But what, I wonder, is coming up in the next few episodes?
VIOLENCE! After weeks of reliance on her family, will Lisa finally snap?
TRAGEDY! How will Lisa cope with missing her beloved Glastonbury?
REVELATION! What will the results of her parents’ gene testing uncover?
DOUBT! By how long will Lisa’s life-saving surgery have to be delayed?
TENSION! When will the painkillers give Lisa a break from constipation?
TRIUMPH! Will Lisa learn to do a wheelchair wheelie like that kid off Glee?
Yup, it’s a soap opera all right. I just suspect that this is the kind of show that nobody wants to watch. Mind you, it never stopped Eldorado…