A Broken Arm

by - Wednesday, January 31, 2018

On New Year's Eve, you fell and broke your arm. You knew it immediately, and your face told me as such as I helped you up, parting the crowds to head to A&E where we'd ring in 2018 together. Nile Rogers regaled us with his Good Times on the waiting room television as we waited for the Morphine to kick in, two of a sea of party revellers in need of patching up. Neither of us have ever been more sober.

It was a long evening. 11.30pm trickled into 8.30am as we were passed from Nurse to Doctor, Radiographer to Receptionist, all as kind and patient and undervalued as the next. Fear chilled us both as they mentioned surgery, lengthy rehabilitation, permanent nerve damage. What was a unfortunate slip on a wet gig floor became an ominous sentence, a funny story of #NYE2018 turned potential for a lifelong disability.

Sometimes, it takes a bout of ill health to make you realise you truly love someone. It can also make you question it too - question if you're strong enough to embark on this journey of care for another person that is one day, inevitably going to end in a darker diagnosis. It says nothing about the person you are, but everything about the person I am, the depression that clouds over whenever I consider the inevitability that one day, a broken arm will be the least of the ailments of the people I love, and that trip to hospital as a pair will end with one of us leaving alone. Tracing the path back along those long, disinfectant-scented corridors, heavy with words you never wanted to hear. We lose your gorgeous, brave, loving Nephew to an unspeakably cruel illness just days after your first plaster cast, and all of those fears are confirmed, as if some higher power is punishing us for being content for so long.

The worst thing about a broken arm is the lack of closeness, especially when we both need it most. Cuddles on the sofa are suddenly tenuous, intimate moments resigned to helping the other person bathe or wash their hair over the sink. The routine of waking, mealtimes, pill times and poor sleep on the sofa replace spontaneity, trips out or a shared responsibility of the housework. There's a fear too - fear that you making things worse, that you aren't being patient enough.

But, slowly but surely, this fear gives way to recovery, to better nights sleep and to conversations that look outwards rather than in. The road seems long, and narrow, but through a sense of perspective, through patience and selflessness and commitment, the horizon grows closer. We begin to feel grateful for the softness, the quiet and calm to reflect and rebuild after such a tough start to the year. Slowly, surely, your strength grows in equal proportion to my affection for you, my desire to see you better.

They say that surgery isn't necessary - you ask where I want to go on holiday this year. Our world grows bigger again, and for now, at least, this becomes a fire that we've been able to fight. Together.

I'll fight fires forever with you.

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