Happy New Year, folks. Hope you all get what you want and deserve - and if you don't, then the foundations are put in place for next year.
It's not often I feel upbeat at this time of year. In fact, this is the first time. Ever. And it might not happen again so I need make a record of it.
The reason behind my optimism is slightly unusual if you're a stranger to my shores, but makes perfect sense otherwise: pain. Allow me...
Since February 2004, I've been in constant pain from a bad back (and yes, I can hear your raised eyebrows and see your disparaging giggles). It's my lower back; vertebraes L4, L5 and S1 to be exact. I'd love to say I hurt myself wrestling crocodiles or breaking down during a marathon session of fornication that was only ever going to end with someone getting injured, but the truth is, all I did was stand up. I got out of an easy chair. That's it. Nothing special. Just straightening up with a tray in my hands, taking my empty dinner plate back to the kitchen (we were in a rented place between moving houses so the dining table was out of operation). Something popped just above my arse and all hell broke loose. Since that day (the 24th), I've been in unforgiving agony. I'm not going into details because it's boring for both of us, but suffice to say I've had a number of x-rays, scans, epidurals and operations, all of which have left me with metalwork where a disc used to be, screws in L5 and S1 and a prescription drug habit - and still I hurt. A lot. Oh, and I've been told by my 'wonderful' surgeon that it will remain like this until my dying day, whether that be next week, next year, next decade or next century (please god, no...).
But, fingers crossed, something might be about to change. The sun seens to be breaking through the clouds. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.) You see, I'm starting Pain Management Therapy.
Actually, I started it before Christmas - 3 days in Fazakerly hospital - but will be returning from whence I came on Tuesday (5th) for 3 more weeks. The idea behind the 'intensive' (don't you just love that word?) treatment is to teach me new ways the handle the pain and get on with things. Through a series of therapies (physio; occupational and group), the doctors intend to show me how to 'beat the pain' - with the added bonus of perhaps weaning me off some of the more liver-damaging drugs I am now dependant on (kids, so 'no' to Co-Codamol). Admittedly, I'm not one for the 'alternative' therapies but after going through so much shit to get to this point (and it really is a sore fucking point) I'm willing to give anything a go - and I have to say: so far, so good. Okay, it's only been 3 days, and those days have hurt like a bitch, but I can see what they're trying to do. Not only is it mind over matter, they're also showing me I can handle an even more intense pain than my usual standards without resorting to pills. By pulling me from pillar to post and breaking the padlocks on cupboards withholding distasteful memories, they're proving to me that something is possible.
And though I might regret saying this, I like it.
Don't get me wrong, I've tried to live as normal a life as possible throughout this pain. I've worked when I shouldn't, lifted things that were beyond my capabilities and driven further and longer than ever intended. I've walked, stood, sat and shit. In other words, I've done just about the same as the rest of you. But that's probably (according to my surgeon) where I went wrong. I didn't rest properly. Things didn't heal correctly (or he fucked up. It's one or the other). So now I'm totally shagged out. I'm knackered and my body feels as fucked as my mind!
But maybe, just maybe, for the first time, I might be able to handle it.
It's no secret that I'm an oddball. I always have been. I offend without meaning and amuse without intention. I'm a loner who craves company and an architect who hates buildings. I'm a good friend and will defend those I care about to the hilt, even if it means destroying my own credibility/career/livelihood, and I'll ignore those I loathe, which often means fucking things up before they've even got off the ground. This then gives me a guilt complex, dark thoughts and issues I don't particularly like. I act like a dick. Not a drunken dick, but a scary, weird-type dick. I long for attention and the opportunity to be left alone. I plea for acceptability and yearn for impropriety. I'm more fucked up than some, less than others. But I could always handle these things before the constant pain. Before that annoying, infuriating, screaming, ridiculous pain. It gets in the way of just about anything. I wake each morning and ask myself how much pain I'm in. I sit to meals and wonder if I will be able to finish my food without wanting to puke or take a pill. I go to bed and wonder what time the pills will wear off and the pain kick in (basically, what time I will wake). It no longer restricts itself to my lower back and right leg, it's everywhere. Nerves are so fucked they will never return to normal. Muscles have wasted away and left me looking like two people split down the middle. I have lost feeling in the one place no man ever wants to lose feeling and there are occasions I have to insert a rather large hose into that very same appendage in order to pee. This is my life. This is how I live.
(Admittedly, it would now all be over if it weren't for my other half, but that's a completely different tale.)
There's a lot riding on these next few weeks but I'm willing to give it a go. It won't be a failure because I won't let it be; nor will it be a roaring success because that's just being delusional. It will be what it is designed for: an aid; a help; a crutch.
And who couldn't use a crutch?
So yes, it's a happy new year to everyone, but most of all - and I never thought I'd say this - it's a happy new year to me. And I apologise if this post appears slightly self-indulgent, but as someone famous once said: fuck it!