Friday, 15 August 2014

Living with fragility

I'm not sure if I've talked much about the way my family's brittle bones have shaped our lives, but an incident today reminded me. Cecil, who has come to be near me, was taken by one of the carers for a first visit to the doctor this morning. She tripped and fell onto one knee on the way back. The knee was bruised - a not unusual thing for an elderly lady, but no lasting harm was done. It was being ice packed when I arrived and she was quite happy to come out with me after that.

I realised later, what a curious pleasure it was for me not to have to worry about broken bones. For all of my life, so long as Mum was alive, from my first steps, every tumble has been met with the anxiety that something was broken. During my childhood, this was Mums major fear since, for her, every childhood fall resulted in breakages. I was frequently asked, with great anxiety, can you wiggle your toe? move your arm? articulate whatever limb had been hurt. Then I grew up but she reached menopause, and began to break again so, once more, every fall was a crisis. I truly have spent hours in A&E, sitting beside her, hoping her pain was not too great, as some limb or other had been broken. I have been lucky enough to escape the brittleness, though not the entire effects of having a connective tissue disorder. Cecil has escaped entirely, her mother taking after Nanya, 

unlike my grandmother, who took after Howard, whose fine featured face gazes at me in my study. 

So poor Cecil is bruised, but not broken, and could take a walk with me along the seafront for coffee and cake. We had a fine time but I am always careful to make sure she holds my arm unless on very steady ground - a habit learnt with Mum. I hook my left elbow; we say, in unison, "take my arm and call me John", and off we go.

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