‘It’s a healing miracle’ gasps the consultant at the fracture clinic as he signs me off his list. And it’s great that my bones have knitted together so fast and I can nearly straighten my arm above my head again. But how come it feels like hundreds of teaspoons are tapping on my tendons and a random movement still has me screaming in pain?
‘You can’t expect things to revert to normal straightaway. Your body has to recover first. Try and focus on the positive,’ the Nearly-Beloved tells me, making me wonder if he’s accidentally been reading my self-help books? More likely he’s just bored of my moaning.
In turn I’m bored of Covid 19 and its endless variants. After fifteen months of leading a limited life, even though we appear to be in recovery, there are after-pains and trauma, because not everyone’s healing miracle happens at the same speed.
Some have discharged themselves straight away and are out on the town every night, raring to make up for lost time. Others refuse to leave their beds. Even though double-vaxed, they still disinfect their shopping and guard their distance. They’ve been fed a diet of pandemic pessimism for so long now that they can’t imagine any other reality.
Indeed, Freedom Day has come and gone. And, whilst our cousins on the continent are jetting off for holidays in the sun, we’re mainly marooned on our isolated island of infection. And just in case we don’t buy into this fatalistic future, let’s predict a fourth wave and ten years of booster jabs and travel restrictions. I turn off the news quickly, aware that energy goes where attention flows.
Instead, I decide to be more mindful of my surroundings and invite my boys to an ‘Open Gardens Day’. Grunting Teen snorts his refusal. He has better things to do now. A hike with his mates in the Peaks. ‘Mind you don’t go near open water,’ I tell him. He rolls his eyes and leaves me to take the Nearly-Beloved on a stroll round the neighbourhood.
This turns out to be a mistake. Manicured lawns. Thriving flower beds. Colourful shrubbery. A far cry from the wild jungle at the back of our house. The Nearly-Beloved is about to sink into despair. But a beer and the footie help to revive him as well as my promise to do some much overdue weeding.
A few hours in and I’m about to pull up a giant-beanstalk cow-parsley lookalike when Grunting Teen returns, surveys the scene and screams at me to stop. ‘Giant Hogweed, mum,’ he explains, ‘don’t touch it. Really dangerous. Causes burns and blisters. Can even make you blind if its sap goes in your eyes. Don’t you remember? Alnwick Castle. 2015. The Poison Garden.’
And yes, I do. Cannabis plants, hemlock and deadly nightshade. Fancy that! Not good news we’ve got a biohazard growing in the garden but on the positive side my attempts at culture have finally paid off. In fact, I’m so impressed that I even omit to comment on his suspiciously wet hair. Instead, I don a full hazmat suit and safely dispose of the offender.
‘Well exciting, innit?’ says the adolescent who obviously enjoys an element of danger. But I focus on the positive. He’s no longer a social recluse. He’s been out in the fresh air. And he’s come home in one piece.
We opt not to tell the Nearly-Beloved about our hogweed exploits. As it is he’s already watching the news and depressed that more summer music events are likely to be cancelled. ‘That’s the second year running they’ll have called off Tramlines,’ he moans. But then it’s announced the festival might go ahead as part of a pilot event. ‘Hmmph, unless we see another surge in cases…’ is his upbeat reply.
And yes, maybe the new variant is spreading but that doesn’t mean to say the panic has to spread as well. So, when a few days later I spot two more of the suspicious weeds, I don’t wait around, but deal with them quickly and effectively. And even if my shoulder twinges, I remain focused on the positive. After all, a month ago, I was still wearing a sling. Sometimes you’ve just got to believe in miracles.