Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes
Sunday July 2nd 2017
The drizzle on Thursday is heavy and steady. Isis wags heartily when Am. joins us on the old bowling green in Kings Heath Park at 10.00. Friend Am. dog sat for a night and a day for Isis soon after I adopted her, and always gets a warm reception.
Am. is spending the day with us and, back home, Isis obviously wants to be with us in the front room. But she finds the light too bright and retreats.
Soon, we are startled by loud crashes and clonks. We rush into the back room to discover Hairy One with her back to the door, tugging mightily at the floor of her huge cardboard box den.
Her tenacious efforts to drag her box into the hall, and then, presumably into the front room, have caused all the indescribably horrible piles of files, documents, dog toys and cushions which I’ve dumped on top of the box over the months to cascade onto the floor. This would alarm most dogs. Isis, of course, is oblivious to the noise and just carries on tugging.
I explain to Isis that the box is too large to go through the door, and we return to the front room.
When our guest has left, Isis and I venture out into the drizzle once more, this time to go to Highbury Park.
There are a few cars in the car park but no-one in sight when we reach Hairy One’s pines. Naturally, neither the dismal weather nor the desolation are of any concern to Isis as she threads her happy way among the trees.
The drizzle settles softly on my hair and clothes as I drift off to other times and places.
As one does.
Absently, I look up just in time to see Isis barrelling towards me at top speed.
But not in time to take evasive action.
SMACK! She crashes into my lower legs. I feel myself lifted into the air. Then I land on the ground with a sickening thud.
I must have lifted my head and both arms up automatically to protect them. I suppose because 1. it’s instinctive to protect one’s head, 2. I’d already sprained my right shoulder and it’s very painful, and 3. I need to preserve the other arm for everyday tasks.
I land on my rib cage and stomach.
Isis skips away apparently unhurt and totally unaware that her protector is lying, even wetter than before, on the sodden grass.
For several minutes I gasp for breath, not daring to move.
Good news: as there’s nobody around, I don’t have to scramble up, feigning nonchalance.
Bad news: if I’m unable to move, I might end up lying here all night.
Might Isis exhaust herself after a few hours and come and lie beside me to keep us both warm?
Unlikely. She’ll probably dance the night away. And, anyway, she isn’t keen on the cosying up thing.
After a few minutes of this unhelpful fantasising, I find that I am able to move. I sit on the soggy grass for another five minutes, then cautiously get to my feet. Very, very, gingerly, I walk towards Isis, capture her and creep down the slope to the path. My sternum and ribs feel like they’re on fire, but I can’t hear any cracking noises. I think I’ve been lucky. Again.
When we are near to the car park, I sit on a fallen tree trunk close to the main path. I don’t feel steady enough to drive yet and here, even in this weather, there are dog walkers about. If I pass out someone might assist me.
I release Isis to play by the hedge.
Back home, as the evening wears on, I become increasingly anxious. Over the phone, Polymath, sighs deeply. “Not again”, she says, and recommends that I look up NHS choices on-line and check out how to treat bruised ribs.
I do and am not greatly cheered to learn that the pain often takes a few weeks to subside. I also learn that it is important to stand up every hour and take ten very deep breaths to ensure that fluid does not gather on the lungs.
Eek! That’s alarming. As the evening wears even further on, the pain gets worse. I’ve been told that damaged ribs can be excruciatingly painful. So that’s normal. That’s all right then.
But it isn’t all right.
I try not to think about fluid gathering in lungs or any of the other nasty symptoms which the web-site says indicate a medical emergency.
What if a bit of rib floats off and punctures a lung?
What will happen to Isis if I have to call 999?
You can’t lie down without squashing your ribs. Standing up is less painful but I can’t stand up all night.
It would be much easier if I were a bat.
But I’m not a bat, so I phone Am. who lives close by in Selly Park, and explain my predicament. She says she will come over and stay the night. I don’t think this is necessary, but gratefully accept her offer to drive over if an emergency arises and take care of Isis.
We decide that I will hide the door keys in an agreed spot in case I fall off my perch before she can get into the house.
I feel calmer now, but don’t have a restful night. After plastering the injured shoulder with Deep Heat, I stuff a pillow under it and swallow a high dose of Co-codamol.
Then, sitting under the duvet, leaning against five piled up pillows so that I can breathe, I read my Kindle. After that, I listen to the World Service until 4.00. Then I drop off.
I do this again the next night.
But carrying Hairy One downstairs in the morning is increasingly difficult, so I resort to sleeping downstairs on the futon with her. That’s not a bundle of undiluted fun either. Light comes through the glass doors and disturbs her so she frequently jumps up for a quick jig. Not good for sore ribs.
Another negative is that the longer Isis spends entertaining herself in the park, the more burrs and grass seeds she collects, especially in her fluffy ears and whiskers. She does not, of course, enjoy having the greenery removed.
She has, however, concluded that the deal for removing bits should be the same as that for an all-over brush and comb: as long as we don’t snap at human, we get rewards when the ordeal is over.
To draw my attention to this new arrangement, as soon as I stand up, the wily canine retreats to her box and waits expectantly.
How can I resist you, my hairy projectile?
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk