Best Laid Plans And All That

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So, I’m at my Mum’s this week as I mentioned in my previous post. Mum and I are taking it easy. Ha. But not out of choice, and not in the way we imagined we’d be doing. That’s because I “put my back out” on Saturday.

I know that phrase means something different for everyone. Backs are, uh, personal, and unique, aren’t they? To me, that phrase usually means a disc issue created by straining while doing something silly.

Like last year when I fell skiing and landed on my butt with my skis uphill, and my head downhill. A position from which it is very difficult to extricate oneself. And despite Hubby’s protestations to take off my skis, I tried to hoick my legs up, and around, and down. That hurt a bit. I felt the pull on my lower back, but everything seemed okay after a minute, and we continued skiing. Then that afternoon, while changing the sheets, twisting to pull the fitted sheet over the mattress, I finished the job. And I don’t mean making the bed. As I said at the time, it’s not sports that will hurt you, it’s housework that’s dangerous.

Saint John River in New Brunswick at sunset on a calm fall night.
Sunset stroll. The river is beautifully calm.

This time around I injured my back through a series of silly choices which Mum and I both knew better than to make. It all started when I was making up the bed in my room, actually her spare room off the living room. I couldn’t find the quilt that goes on my bed. Mum was calling suggestions from her big chair in the living room. I still couldn’t find it. Mum, exasperated, yelled, “I’m coming in.” Then I heard whirring as she launched herself from her big electric chair. She struggled to her feet, then couldn’t squeeze her walker between the chair (I mean, that thing IS huge) and the cedar chest. So she carried on without the walker, hanging onto various pieces of furniture, until eventually she stood in the doorway of my room and pointed out where the quilt was. Thanks Mum.

Then she tried to turn around and go back the way she’d come. Uh, oh. As Mum says, she doesn’t reverse well anymore. So I lept in to help.

But how?

The path between the chest and the chair was too narrow to allow for us to stand side by side so she could hold my arm. Instead, I put my arms around her waist from behind. We proceeded for a couple of awkward steps, trying not to laugh. Then, Mum stalled. She couldn’t bring her right leg forward, couldn’t “get her hind leg moving,” as she says. Her bad knee and general pain and stiffness from arthritis make moving hard, and tedious. It’s so frustrating for her; she wants to move her leg and it won’t cooperate. Growing old takes an inordinate amount of patience, I’m learning.

Sometimes Mum talks to her bad knee, warning it to not dare give out on her, or she tells her leg to get moving. That day she talked to me instead: “Give that leg a kick, Susie,” she barked. Nope that didn’t work. “See if you can lift it at the knee, and then I can move it forward.” Okay. I leaned to the right, and grabbed her leg with one hand, still holding onto her with the other. With my help, the knee bent, and rose, and she moved the leg forward. Yah!

Then she swayed to the right. “She’s going down,” I thought. So, I lifted my right knee until my thigh was parallel with the floor. She held onto my leg, and used it as a kind of handhold to push herself upright. We stood there awkwardly for a few seconds. Mum catching her breath, hanging onto my leg. Me standing on one leg like a stork, holding her from behind. Maybe wincing a teensy bit. But only a bit.

Saint John River in New Brunswick at sunset on a calm fall night.
Saint John River, looking upstream towards the Keswick.

Then, once Mum was back in her chair, I went back to making my bed. Cue the ominous music. That damned fitted sheet did me in again. What is it with me and housework?

Saint John River in New Brunswick at sunset on a calm fall night.
Those trees are not on the other side of the river, but on Sugar Island where the farmers’ ferry runs in the summer.

So. There we were. Mum feeling bad that I’d flown all the way down here and hurt myself on my first day. Me feeling… well… pain. Hip throbbing, lower back in spasm, upper back aching from not being able to straighten up. Walking bent over and to one side. And grumpy. “We look like twins” Mum said from her walker. “Hardy har har. Not as funny as it looks, Mother,” I snapped.

But. We have progressed a little since Saturday. I made a full meal for us tonight. Couldn’t muster much beyond scrambled eggs and toast for a while. Standing for too long hurt, getting up and down hurt… well… you get the idea. I went to see a physiotherapist yesterday. He was wonderful. I go back on Thursday. I stocked up on painkillers. I’ve been making full use of Mum’s heating pad. Last night I even went for a short evening stroll down to the ferry landing.

The river was calm and beautiful. It felt wonderful to be moving. Upright and moving.

This is me below on my sunset stroll. Sans makeup, crunchy hair hidden by my toque. As Olivia says to Cesario in Twelfth Night, this is me kiddo, all me, no enhancements. Okay, she actually says, “‘Tis in grain, Sir. ‘Twill endure wind and weather.” I say, thank god for low lighting. Ha.

Sans makeup on my evening stroll.
“Tis in grain, Sir. ‘Twill endure wind and weather.”

So the best laid plans, and all that, can fall apart. And have fallen apart. I still hope to get to the bank later in the week for Mum. And maybe to the book store for her after my physio appointment on Thursday. But I won’t be cooking up any extra meals to freeze like I usually do when I’m here. We won’t have our Jane Austen movie binge. Although we have managed at least one episode of The Great British Baking Show each evening before early bed. And we probably won’t get to the wardrobe organization and clear-out that we were both looking forward to so much.

Doris from Devon edits her closet. That would have been fun. Maybe in the spring we’ll do that.

I guess the worst part is that I have not been good company this week. There have been no cosy chats in Mum’s room after she is in bed when I pop in to see what she’s reading. No reminiscing. No jokes. Well, except the one about us being twins, which I regret to say I did not take with good grace.

Maybe the weekend will be better. Maybe I’ll be in less pain and better humour, and I’ll whip us up a quiche, and a pan of biscuits, and we’ll watch Pride and Prejudice, for like the twentieth time, until the wee hours.

We’ll see.

P.S. Things must be looking up. I‘ve even broken a smile once or twice as I‘ve been writing.

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44 thoughts on “Best Laid Plans And All That”

  1. I’m so, so sorry! Best wishes for a complete recovery Sue,as soon as possible<3
    You couldn't believe how I can relate with all of this (plus a little more :-)),and feel your pain (in more ways than one)
    Hugs to both of you
    Dottoressa

      1. No,no,they don’t-I was only thinking here about back pain this time-and how simple ,everyday , movement can have painful consequences (and sometimes even broken bones or tendrils ).
        All the rest is silence 🙂
        So take your time,be careful and I hope everything will go away in a couple of days. At least,you can be together and can talk
        Dottoressa

  2. So sorry to hear that Sue . Back pain is the worst . My sister , a physio , works in a dedicated back pain clinic & admits there are many unlucky people who just can’t be helped . It does sound as if your problem is treatable & you know how to handle it . Hubby agrees with you , it’s not the serious lifting that causes a problem it’s usually when he bends to stroke the dog ! Fortunately you & your mum have that important ingredient for coping – a sense of humour .

    1. That casual thing that triggers back issues is what makes “being careful” so difficult. Stu put his back out once picking a bean from the garden. Not that it surprises me that picking beans can be dangerous. 😀

  3. The tediousness of back pain. No visible signs but limited movement and a constant desire to punch someone, anyone in the face if they so much as breathe funny. You have all my sympathies and good wishes for a sensible recovery. Not speedy because that usually means you will be twinging away in another week or so. I will continue to push the idea of gin – it acts on smooth muscle, thereby relaxing the poor tense muscles that are overworking to bring stability. Just don’t drink so much that you think dancing to be a fine idea.

  4. Oh no! How painful. It doesn’t take much at all to tweak your back. Likewise, it’s disappointing as you both had plans to accomplish certain tasks.
    I remember those times I’d visit my mom in her room for those late night talks. Such special times for me.
    Take care…Uber eats in your neck of the woods. 🤭🤗😉

  5. yes, getting old and aging is not for the faint of heart. It stinks! My girlfriend once said to me that whoever said these are the Golden Years should be shot! I think I agree! Hope you get better soon. You are in good shape otherwise so I think you will be fine.

  6. My dad always said that the ‘Golden Years’ should be renamed the ‘Rust Years’. Very sorry to hear that your planned trip to visit your Mum has not turned out the way it was expected to…the best laid plans don’t always pan out as we hope. Back pain can be very disabling and take more time to heal than we expect…but hopefully enjoy the quiet times with your Mum as much as possible and sending warmest wishes for a quick recovery.

  7. Back pain is the worst! Mine “went into spasm” about 12 Christmasses ago, and it was weeks before I regained mobility — and much longer than that before I let go of the apprehension that accompanied any twinge. And that was without an obvious underlying problem like your slipped disc. So much sympathy for you, and for your mom whom I’m sure is wishing she could still hug the aches and pains away for you. my virtual hugs to both of you and a sincere wish that you heal quickly but even more that you’re still able to enjoy the time you have together. I know that’s really precious to you. xoxo

    1. The last time this happened I was off work a week and in Physio for weeks afterward. I have a feeling that is where I’m headed this time. Just would be so much easier to be home and not here. I know that sounds selfish. But at home Stu would be doing ALL the cooking. 😩

  8. sorry to hear you are in pain. hope it clears quickly enough for you to have a little quality time with your mum. as someone who does not cope at all well with illness or injury i feel for you

  9. I can commiserate, Sue – back pain is the worst! I hope that it clears up soon enough that you’ll be able to do some of the things with your mum that you’d planned to do. That time with aging family members is so precious!

  10. I’ll bet that your mother doesn’t really miss the closet clean out and other activities. She’s just glad to see you and sorry that you hurt. My dad has passed away, but I remember going to see him full of plans and promptly falling down the stairs and spraining my ankle. All I could do was sit in a chair with me leg elevated with ice on it. He later told me it was a restful trip, and aside from being worried about my ankle, he loved the conversation far more than clean closets and frozen meals. Besides eventually I’d have to deal with the closets, which was true!

  11. So sorry. What a disappointment for you. I’m sure your mom just loved having you there. My husband and I tend to have back emergencies when traveling. But only when visiting family. Our doctor thinks it’s stress related. I once had to call an ambulance for my husband just to get him out of the hotel! My worst trip ended with my family taking me out of the hotel on a luggage cart. It’s something we still laugh about.

  12. Bless you for the love and care you show to your mom. I so hope your back heals quickly. Your mother loved having the time with you in any condition you were in.

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