Friday morning. 6am.
The phone rings. It’s Michael.
I’d been down the coast, visiting family with the boys for a few weeks. We were now making our way back up to FNQ. I was hanging out to see Michael (and also, to hand the boys over to him for a few hours of Dad time 😂).
“So, darl…” Michael says “It’s a public holiday up here on Monday so the preschool will be closed. You’ll have to have the boys”.
My Inner Feminist did not like this.
“Why will I have to have them?” she retorted.
“Cos I have to work darl. I’ve had these clients booked for weeks”.
“I have to work too” Oooh! She was getting real sassy now!
“Darl, c’mon, don’t make this more difficult”.
His reasonable tone made her more enraged.
“I’m not darl, but you’re assuming that if the boys aren’t at school, I’m going to have them. That’s not fair.”
“Darl I’m not assuming anything, please don’t make this one of your feminist things. You have to have them, I’ll be at work, ok?”
I could stick to my guns, insist it wasn’t fair. Or I could let this go, be nice, not rock the boat, get along with my partner who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks, and had (until minutes ago) been missing terribly.
“Fine, darl. No worries I’ll have the boys”.
My Inner Feminist was quiet for now. Defeated momentarily.
I hung up, looked at the time and turned to grab our bags. We needed to be at the airport in an hour.
A stream of expletives erupted from me, as a sharp pain rang out through my foot.
“F%$^*(()k f$%&778k F456775kkkkkkkkl!”
The boys looked alarmed as I laid down on the bed and rolled around like a marinated pork chop.
I didn’t know what had happened, but somehow I mustered the courage to look at my foot.
A tiny pinprick of blood that wiped away easily with my finger. I palpated my foot…. It felt… fine? Fine-ish?
What on earth had I stepped on?
I scoured the hotel floor and spotted a slender silver needle sticking upright out of the carpet, like a soldier about to go into battle.
“You absolute prick” I said to the sewing needle, casting my eye balefully over its dismembered body. All but a third remained.
So what happened next? Did I assume, having only found a third of a needle, that the remaining two thirds were lodged deep in my foot?
No. I did not.
I put my shoes and socks on, shepherded my two young children out of the hotel, into our transfer, out of our transfer, entertained them for the three hour journey to Cairns, traveled from Cairns to Port Douglas, reunited with the fella, did two loads of washing, went to bed, got up at 5:30am to go the gym, went to the gym, took the boys to gymnastics.
The pain had been slowly building, until 12pm the next day when it all of a sudden became unbearable.
Michael got home from work and I drove to the nearest hospital.
I was half expecting them to say “You silly sausage, it’s just a bruise”.
But instead they said, “Wow, it’s really deep”.
The needle was still in my foot, and had nestled itself securely amongst my bones.
“Oh, and it’s resting on a nerve” the radiologist added helpfully. “That would explain the pain”.
What followed were three long nights and three long days lying horizontally on my bed, gritting my teeth and clinging to the pain medication schedule like my life depended on it (yes, I am a theatrical patient at the best of times).
Pain is a funny thing. Actually, no it’s not. It makes the world dark. Makes you sweat, lose sleep, be awful to the people that you love, and it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to be so singularly focused on something that’s causing you so much torment and anguish.
You’re not “you” because how could you be anything else but the pain?
And, I know pain. I’ve been in pain multiple times over the past decade. For me it’s manageable, because I am recovering. I am getting better. After an operation, I imagine my cells getting down to biz, bossily barking out orders to other cells “We need some more over here! C’mon, chop chop, Turia doesn’t have all day!”
I help my cells by eating good nutritious food (and ice cream) and by drinking water and by resting and by repeating the whole cycle again. I place my wounds under a bioptron lamp, tenderly dress and bandage them.
That was what I found frustrating. The sticking point with the needle, if you will. The pain had no purpose. I couldn’t recover while a 2cm piece of a sewing needle was lodged in my foot.
I got to Cairns on Tuesday, burst into tears while talking to the doctor, and it was all pretty straightforward after that. I had an operation to remove the needle and woke up feeling like my foot was on fire. But each hour that passed after that, I got better and better. I needed less pain medication because I was getting better, my head fog cleared, I was no longer thinking about the pain and was thinking things like “I wonder if I could get Hakavai into tennis” and “What show should I binge next?”
Last night I had stir fried bok choy with garlic and onions and rice for dinner (And spring rolls. And deep fried prawns. Because: delicious).
I am getting better.
Oh, and Michael ended up having to have the day off on Monday anyway.
My Inner Feminist is pleased.
PS – Our medical system is amazing. I went to public hospitals, and got operated on in a public hospital. I got x-rays, ultrasounds, and prescriptions for pain relief. The professionals I saw were sympathetic and action taking. I am booked in for follow up appointments. Thank you!!
PPS – Want more stories like this from me? Join my letter gang and I’ll share a weekly story or update with you. Promise they’re not all about x-rays.