This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
BPG is back – but where’s she been?
February 16, 2018
Some of you may have noticed that BPG has been pretty quiet for a while. No, I haven’t gone into rehab. No, I haven’t been detoxing at some wonderful spa in Austria. Nor have I got lucky and found a glorious Samoan rugby player – wish I had! No, after a long silence, BPG is back but with an injured back.
It was the silliest little thing. On Christmas Day I was carrying a tray – cheese for 20 people – and I missed a step. At the time I was aware I had slightly jarred my back but being fairly well topped up (with champagne) and because I was with all the people I love most on this side of the world, I ignored it. A wonderful time was had by all. This included my first husband asking me to marry him again (!) – you can tell how much we had drunk! Fortunately I was still in control of my head and I refused politely… but I digress.
A week went by and the pain in my back got worse and worse. I was due to fly out to Thailand on the Tuesday with OG, my long term and extremely patient, travelling companion. I kept ringing and warning her that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to cope with a 16 hour journey in economy. She has had lots of accidents and normally just bites on a piece of leather when injured! So she told me to buck up and get on with it. What was my pain threshold? I do remember very clearly the pain of having two babies – they say you forget the pain, not me!
Anyway the pain started to be absolutely excruciating. It went from the middle of my sacrum through my buttocks into my hip and then down my leg to my knee. Sciatica you all cry! No. Apparently not. If it was, it would have gone down to my foot.
I phoned Trailfinders and enquired if I could upgrade myself. Being Christmas holidays of course, there was not even a seat for the tiniest of bottoms, let alone mine! It was now Friday and I was due to fly on the Tuesday. I was dosing myself with paracetamol and ibuprofen but nothing helped.
Egged on by OG, I went to see an osteopath, a wonderful girl who I had been to see in the past and OG goes to regularly. According to OG she would solve everything. Especially sitting in an economy seat for 16 hours which was really worrying me.
I was complimented by the osteopath on my pain threshold as electrodes fizzed through me from acupuncture needle to acupuncture needle, sending a sharp pain down to my knee. I went home hoping the acute muscle spasm would lessen. I then had a night of pain which I wouldn’t wish on the Devil. I did not know where to put myself. There was was no physical position that wasn’t agony. I paced up and down the corridor, had glasses of wine, tea and whisky. I got in a hot bath and banged my head against the wall. My hands were shaking so badly with pain that I could not fill a hot water bottle.
Finally at 7am, after a very long dark night, I rang my lovely neighbour who immediately got dressed and drove me to our little cottage hospital. The lady behind the desk saw my problem immediately. My friend said afterwards I looked as if I had been tortured. I was grey with pain and lack of sleep. I was taken in to see the doctor on duty, who immediately tore me off a strip for going to an osteopath and having needles put in my back. He prescribed painkillers you can buy over the counter and told me to see my NHS doctor on Monday.
I then had the worst weekend of my life.
Childbirth is painful yes… but at least eventually the pain stops and you have a wonderful gift. There is an end result. But back pain is relentless and there is nothing at the end but more pain. I honestly don’t know what I did over those 48 hours. I couldn’t settle to anything. I couldn’t eat. I cut short phone calls and I didn’t want to speak to anyone. My son offered to come over and get me and take me to his house. Or come over and just be with me. It’s funny when in those situations all I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and say and do nothing.
On the Monday morning I was at the doctors at 8am. They took one look at me and squeezed me in. I had rung the travel company on the Sunday and they had said I needed a doctor’s certificate if I was to claim any money back and it had to be before the date of travel. The lovely lady doctor immediately realised there was no way I could travel and immediately wrote me a letter and prescribed much stronger pain killers.
I was relived that I was getting stronger painkillers but I was certainly in no fit state to call the travel people and explain my predicament. My mind was wandering and I couldn’t stay on a subject for more than 5 minutes. Finally I pulled myself together and rang the insurance company. They must be used to people blubbing on the phone. They were very nice and told me exactly what to do. I had to ring the travel company and get a cancellation notice. OG wisely got on to the travel company herself to make sure she wasn’t cancelled as I don’t think my messages to her were making much sense.
It is absolutely horrible to be in really bad pain on your own. You feel very vulnerable and start thinking about “what if”. What if I fainted? How long would it be before someone came to find me? What if I left an electric ring on? I have discovered quite a few other single ladies feel the same so we have an agreement now, that in dire circumstances, we can ring each other at any time of the day or night.
It is now a month since I should have flown out to the sunny Antipodes to see my grandchildren and have a lovely girlie holiday on the way. Plus go and stay with friends who were going to take me to Queenstown on the South Island of NZ to see the sights. Thinking back on it, one trip on Christmas day has affected so many people.
The moral of my story is aways insure. It is false economy not to. My great friends did all the booking for Queenstown in NZ – including hiring a car and Airbnb. They had also sorted out my return ticket from Sydney to Queenstown because it was cheaper that way. If you were organising a holiday in your own country for yourself and friends you would never in a million years think of insuring would you? Well they didn’t either.
The problem is that it is extremely difficult to get your money back. Airbnb should give you back 50% but it looks likely they refund despite giving the owners two weeks notice and, as it’s the height of the season the owners have sold the beds again. Not fair! No it isn’t. My lovely friends have seen Queenstown many times. They were only doing it for me… and even worse they had let their house! You see how these things just roll on and on.
Hopefully, having listened to this little tale of woe, you will remember nasty things do happen. People say it only happens to one in a million. Well I am that one! I have had the only lavatory which had a hairline crack and had it fitted into marble! I have been knocked over on a zebra crossing wearing bright red with a feather boa and 3 pairs of eyelashes – how could anyone miss me! So just remember You could be that one in a million too!
It’s nearly 6 weeks now. I’m on very strong painkillers which are wonderful. I float around like a goddess. Hmmm… I think I’d better wean myself off them otherwise PackPacking Granny might become BackPacking Junkie and that really would be a problem!
Read more of BackPacking Granny’s posts here
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