On the evening of February the 21st this year I suffered the misfortune of splitting my left elbow open whilst attempting a skateboarding trick. It stung at the time and, once my pads were off, I was horrified to see a gaping cut at my elbow joint.
Whenever I get hurt, I don’t really get fixated on the pain in the moment unless it’s excruciating. Usually my mind projects ahead, thinking about the near term impact the injury will have and I immediately begin working out when I can expect to recover. A couple of years back I had to make a calculated bail whilst skating in the same pool at the skatepark, landing awkwardly on my right heel (in a pair of Vans I never skated in again) and right from the moment of impact I thought; “Damn it! That’ll be two weeks at least.” I was wrong, it was closer to a month before I could walk properly on it again, but the instant self assessment is something of a gut reaction regardless of the accuracy.
When I saw my split elbow in the mirror and then the reaction of the guys at the reception in the skatepark as I was patched up, I tentatively figured I’d be out for two or three weeks at best whilst my body repaired itself. Unfortunately, a week later my arm had become painfully swollen and I was put on an emergency course of antibiotics, double the normal dose, to help fight off the aggressive infection that had taken hold.
Around 25 years ago, when I was an apprentice electrician for the MoD, I would wait each summer morning for the bus to work at the submarine Base. An older guy, Tommy, whose name I had gleaned from the other bus stop folk who spoke to him, would usually be waiting there at that time in the morning, too.
I quietly observed that Tommy was pretty eccentric. Even then he had a bit of a stoop to him and a face full of character. He would wait seemingly indefinitely on the bin lorry picking him up on the way past and he’d chat away about this and that to everyone who shared the bus shelter. I didn’t know what he was on about half the time, but I would still humour him on his chosen subject of the day because I liked Tommy.
Even though I was a naive young man, somehow I was astute enough to appreciate that the world needed more people like him. He was a bin man, which, let’s be honest, is regarded as the lowest of working class jobs, but that didn’t stop Tommy talking to anyone and everyone as an equal. Apprentice electrician or bank manager – it didn’t matter to him and it’s a trait that I thought was admirable.
He was a kind man with it. One time he saw me running in the distance and asked the driver of the bus I was clearly going to miss to wait for me. That was a big deal to me – I didn’t have the best timekeeping record as an apprentice and Tommy probably saved my bacon that day.
This week has been the most gruelling test of endurance at work, and included the first time I’ve gone to work of a morning and worked until the afternoon of the following day in a good long time. I think I was working nights stacking shelves in Somerfield while at college the last time that happened.
That Wednesday morning ’til Thursday afternoon stint was tough, for sure, but the real killer has been the return of the stress related stomach cramps I’ve not suffered for the best part of a decade. It was July 1999, whilst working under ridiculous pressure at Radio Clyde, when I was diagnosed as having chronic stress. For almost a year I had been told by my regular doctor that I kept getting gastroentoritis from all the junk food I was eating.
Sounded pretty plausible to me, because I really was eating a lot of crap at the time.