Corporal Collapse


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In general, my health is fine except for a few chronic ailments that I have learnt to live with. This year, in particular, has been an exceptionally good one, owing no doubt, to all that hand-washing and mask-wearing and lock-downs. No flu or cold bugs have dared to come near me. That is, until my mini holiday, see last fortnight’s Packing article when the gods decided to wreak vengeance upon me for enjoying myself far too much for their liking.

Initially, I had no one to blame but myself. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. I decided that not only would I have my hair cut and re-styled but gave permission for my eyebrows and eyelashes to be tinted. The eyebrows were a complete disaster but due to advice from a friend, were rescued and some semblance of matching my hair achieved. I was quite pleased with my eyelashes; you could actually see that had some. I remember a friend of my Mother’s declaring that in my youth I had “eyelashes with which to sweep the gravel path”, whatever that might mean. In the 1960’s I would apply false eyelashes. In those days my hands were steady, nowadays the simple application of mascara is fraught with peril. All appeared well to begin with but over the next few days, my right eyelid began to feel increasingly uncomfortable until it was obvious that some kind of infection was making itself apparent. Yes, a dreaded stye was beginning to close my eye and spoil my incomparable beauty. I tried some simple solution such as applying hot compresses but to no avail. Eventually, I decided to throw myself on the mercies of my lovely doctor as I had acquired other complaints besides the eye infection. For several weeks I had felt a pain in my shoulder which I kept saying to myself that would cure itself in the fullness of time. It did not. It was becoming impossible to lift my right arm and even removing a sweater was becoming a painful exercise. Furthermore, I had what I had self-diagnosed as a wart on my leg but it had not responded to any wart treatment, even those home remedies such as pineapple, aspirin, vinegar and the weirdest of the lot, burying a small piece of steak at midnight, muttering incantations and letting it rot. The wart is supposed to drop off when this has been accomplished. But no, nothing seemed to work, my doctor said he doubted that it was a wart in the first place and recommended I should visit the skin clinic on the Island, which any sensible person would have done in the first place.

Like the poet John Donne in his Hymn to God, the Father, “When thou hast done, thou hast not done, for I have more”. I was visiting his surgery with a shopping list! Every doctor’s nightmare! I still had the peeling palms of my hands to show him. Some form of contact dermatitis. In this case, I have solved the problem myself by the simple expedient of purchasing and wearing cotton gloves when driving Ferrari.

Even my trusty steed was coming out in sympathy with all my multitudinous ailments. I had noticed a distinct loss of power and speed whilst driving him and began to worry if he too was failing, so I took him to the scooter shop on the Island where the technician listened to his heart and pronounced that he needed a transplant. His batteries were failing! I have ordered new batteries and reassured him he will soon be speeding along like a teenager again and all his little lights will be glowing with enthusiasm indicating full power.

As for myself, the news was not quite so cheery. After an ultra-sound and X-ray on my shoulder, the results were sent to my Lovely Doctor so he could fire his guided missile with steroid warhead into exactly the right spot. It seems to have landed with unerring accuracy as the arm is already behaving itself, the pain dissipating with pleasing rapidity enabling me to type and regale you with my woes. The “wart” was not quite so simply solved; this I was told, needed to be excised since it was a dreaded skin cancer. Not happy, Jan! But again it had to be done, although perhaps without my surgeon assuring me I would be fine as I was “so brave”. Who wants to be told that courage would be needed? I was even more alarmed as she drew an enormous zig-zag line both above and below the offending “damned spot”. I watched as she carved a large piece of flesh from my leg. I always supervise medical procedures, telling her to make sure she got it all as I was not returning for her to have a second go! To be fair, the operation was far less painful than I had anticipated and I must afford her full marks both for her skill with the anaesthetic needle and scalpel. Her embroidery left just a little to be desired but on the whole, congratulations were in order. Now all I have to do is wait for it to heal so I can, once again, indulge in a proper shower. I have little fear of infection as the antibiotic for my stye can only help my leg. Two for the price of one!

Ah, yes. The moral of the story. Beware of enjoying yourself too much, the gods will become jealous and inflict their own form of punishment.