Shame! It’s not a pleasant word. There’s something about the way it rolls off the tongue that really seems to express utter negativity.
But even then it can’t come close to describing how I feel.
The word itself just seems inadequate, much like myself at this point.
The Shame came on suddenly. The realisation that I’d hit rock bottom came like a hammer blow to my already fragile ego.
Hobbling slowly into a doctor’s office to explain the painful injury I’d been carrying with no dignity whatsoever for days, she seemed quite sympathetic.
At this point I should say that our NHS staff are nothing short of fantastic – they must have exquisite training in Buddha-like patience when dealing with people like me.
“It’s my back,” I started confidently, still unaware of The Shame that was about to fell me worse than any injury.
“It’s extremely painful to the extent that it’s hampering my mobility and restricting my movement.”
“Ah,” she said, “I understand. So what was it, heavy lifting? Sports, DIY?”
It was here that The Shame struck me.
The words that came from my mouth seemed quiet, sheepish, small, like the words of someone else, like a child who’s too embarrassed to admit he ate the last biscuit.
“I coughed,” came my reply, in what seemed like a cracked whisper.
“I’m sorry?” replied the doctor.
“I coughed,” I spoke louder this time, deciding to get this over with quickly, like tearing off a plaster in one go.
That’s why The Shame hit me. People every day go about their lives in these fragile bodies, working and playing hard, with all the knocks, scrapes, bumps, and over-exersions that entails. Some people may hurt themselves at the gym, playing football, rugby, carrying sofas up stairs – the list goes on.
But I’d hurt myself just by coughing.
“I see,” she said calmly, “let’s take a look.”
She didn’t appear to be stifling a laugh (I checked), and if the good doctor thought my case wasn’t serious, she showed no hint of it whatsoever.
I’m not used to this level of self pity. Once you injure your back by coughing, you can guarrantee that every cough, sneeze, or twitch in the wrong direction will render you weak as a baby and probably depisit you on the floor in agony.
Had it been a friend, I’d probably be the first to post a video of them trying to roll out of bed straight-backed onto the floor so they could try and climb to their feet.
That probably makes me a horrible person, but I can only imagine I look so comical to others in my lumbering everyday movements. The other day I went to pet the cat. In order to avoid the pain, I had to undertake the slow task of lying down on the floor next to the cat, by which time it had got bored, wandered off and left me lying there.
As I slowly return to walking upright, I can only thank the health staff for their sympathy, hard work, devotion, expertise, and above all for not laughing.