Almost five weeks. That’s how long I have been hospitalised for spine injury, which is in the referral letter as exacerbated PID (prolapsed inverterbrate disc). I think the jury is still out on whether I need surgical intervention or not but since I’d been improving gradually and was finally able to walk and be mobile by Monday with minimum pain, it was safe to send me packing.
I’m going to get a second opinion at my uni’s hospital for spine surgery particularly because the best spine surgeons are there but I think the orthopaedic team at the hospital I was at (where the 999 assigned ambulance brought me) were pretty good. They do have high volumes of patients there though and I doubt I have the patience to go through all that waiting again. Five weeks really put my nerves and my mental health to the absolute wringer and I had to really utilise all my inner strength and my most annoying but most helpful gift: the fact that I am a relentless Pollyana, able to see the “silver lining” in almost any situation. I’m glad I’m me, because it helped stem several panic attacks at being sometimes almost completely immobile, having to rely on strangers for the most humiliating and intimate things.
While I was alone and without family, I was not alone. I’m grateful to colleagues, friends and my amazing neighbour for pulling through for me (and still doing so!) in ways I’d not expected, ever. I am really touched by this. It was a traumatic experience but also a life-changing one, which made me reconsider many things in my life.
One of the more trivial of those things (I shan’t talk about the rest) but also a necessary thing was thinking about all the decisions I have made for my writing career which actually made my writing career dormant since 2020. Including, re-igniting my twitter account. When I killed one of my author accounts last year, I somehow had the presence of mind to save @mythopoetica because I didn’t want some one capitalising on a name I’d built to associate with my “brand” for two decades (yes, two decades!). That id was already taken on Instagram after I nuked that account because of the same reason (we shan’t talk about that as it does no good to look back on the past). So, if you’re one of the people silently reading these pages, you’re very welcome to follow me there. I have about 7 followers right now. Unsure when I’ll ever get to four figures again but that’s the price I have to pay for being fickle. I do pledge to not rant again. I’ve other places for that now (not groupchat, Subhanallah, never again). So, small snippets of my life, retweets and my celebrating and shouting out about stuff I’ve read and enjoyed. I don’t want to add to cesspools of negativity on twitter and have been happily free of that for over a year or more. That’s enough of a reset. It won’t drag me back in because I’ve had a happy and positive private twitter account for over a year. And I like my newish way of engaging with twitter.
What else? The actual writing? It’s really hard to write when you have tubes poking out of you and you can only be on one side or painfully moving to your back to the other side. Which was the story of weeks! During that time I read a lot. Ebooks when my phone wasn’t dying, and physical books. I also watched every movie in all of the Star Wars trilogies. Now that I am home again I fully intend on re-rewatching everything on the big screen, when I’m not grading assignments, supervising, teaching and doing research. I may be on a long medical leave due to my spine and related disability (navigating between wheelchair and walker right now) but I’ve already pledged to keep working.
No, this isn’t toxic academic culture. My students and supervisees need me. I won’t let them have problems with defending or submitting dissertations because of my condition. And doing work remotely on my phone during my time in hospital kept me sane and away from several panic attacks. I don’t recommend anyone doing this when they are ill if it is not helpful, okay. In fact several colleagues told me to chillax and rest. I did. I watched movies, I slept (can’t helped but sleep when you’re on several heavy painkillers). But the work kept me sane. I needed to feel I was not useless, that I was still able to give something to the world. That’s just how I’m wired.
Still, it was really impossible to write anything on the iphone. I did at one point bleat for help at my mentor who was a hero, a friend, more family than family during this time — visiting me more than once to make sure I had everything I needed. She brought me a notepad and a couple of pens. So I wrote. I continued the story of this space opera espionage caper that I first dreamed up when I was teaching Freytag’s Pyramid in a creative writing class way back in 2017. I continued another scifi story. It wasn’t much but at the same time, it felt like a lot. Because of my Star Wars binging, I am in full scifi author mode. And I’m really excited to see where it takes me.
Now, if only this spine of mine behaves itself. I’m still very traumatized by what happened to me and really terrified of reoccurrences.
And, well. I’ve been rather invisibly disabled for years. I always knew about this ticking time bomb in my spine since 2005, but I thought it had resolved itself. I was foolish. Several orthopedists at the hospital have already disabused me of the notion. And now I am rather visibly disabled and likely to be so for awhile though I have hopes of healing. I’ve named my beautiful wheelchair (which my angel of a physiotherapist sourced for me) Freddie (because of Freddie Mercury), and I guess we’ll need to get to know each other very well. Ditto my walker, which does not have a name yet but looks steampunkish (Addendum: Walker now has a name. Bilbo, nicknamed Billy). Look, I need to see the positive in everything and I’m going to do this thing right so I get better. That’s all, I guess.
I apologise for this really unstructured post. But that’s basically all I wanted to say.