I'm in recovery this week after a trip to town for the last of this mega-series of 40th birthday parties. Crushingly, during three out of four of them I have had to retire injured, and my inner party animal is having to face some painful truths.
This last party was 1972 themed and my friend Emma-Jane went all out with spectacular vintage Woman's Weekly finger food, including a bowl of curried Nutri-Grain. It was so revitalizing to see old friends, so good for the soul to have catch-up conversations and belly laughs and cocktails.
But I started to fall apart half-way in. The problem is that I live out of town so I'd had an evil 3-hour traffic-jammed trip in, and my body betrayed me. There was a terrible moment, when I had to sing for the crowd to start off our sort of flash-mob birthday performance and an hour before, I was fully up for it. I was ready to commit to an earnest, nobby delivery that would have Emma feeling painfully worried for me, before the crowd burst in to save me from social suicide.
But when the time came for the speeches, I felt awful. The grinding pain in the middle of my back was making me feel sick, and the humidity was intensifying my queasiness. I felt trapped - I couldn't engage in conversation, but I couldn't exit the party. I can't sing, I thought. Fuck, I can't not. I have to sing.
Do. Not. Spew, I told myself as I climbed the little stairs, and got through the song. It was more shaky than comedic, but I didn't throw up. After that I lay down in Emma's room for an hour or so, and rallied again to chat and hang out at the end. I was so happy to talk to old friends, but I felt, and still feel, a seething, angry emotional reaction to the incident. Part humiliation, part anger, part fear of the future.
Sometimes having a bad back - or any kind of chronic illness, I imagine - is like being trapped in a tiny room with an obnoxious relative. One minute, you're hanging out the washing, or baking a cake, whistling quietly to yourself and thinking about peanuts, when bang! You're in the stinky, airless, uncomfortable closet again with Uncle Trevor. You are stuck. You cannot un-have a relationship with them. You cannot get out. You just have to wait until they move a little further away from you, and give you a little space to breathe.
Soon, I hope.
I wish you all the same. x