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Difficult Roads Lead to Beautiful Destinations

This post must start with a huge THANK YOU. I am overwhelmed by direct messages from wonderful people offering get well wishes after my mishap at the end of October. That thing called ‘human inquisitiveness’ has also prompted this post; people want to know what happened. A brief review follows.

Saturday 28 October 2017. Working with our 19-year-old son, Sasha on a DIY project in the ‘little girls’ bedroom. Ha ha, they are 11 and 13 years. Not little anymore . . .

After a few hours of enjoyable work, I became tired and had an uncomfortable ache from hip to toes in my left leg. Recognising and ignoring it, I blamed the nervous system illness I have had for many years but we decided we had done enough for the day and our stomachs growled. So we packed away the tools.

Sasha gave me an appraising look and told me to go downstairs, he would finish. I didn’t want to quit yet. It’s not that often that we have the time to work together but five-minutes later the pain had increased so intensely I couldn’t stand. I knew then that this wasn’t the regular pain thing.

Helped to bed but not able to remember the journey is an interesting experience that has gone in my ‘notes to include in writing’ file. I was upstairs, then I wasn’t and found myself falling into a very dark place where exquisite pain was the companion. I take morphine to manage daily pain, the regular dose and the boosters had no effect , so I asked for a glass of rum (I don’t drink spirits). It had the desired effect, and I slept for a short while.

On waking, I discovered only one position that didn’t make me want to scream, bite into the pillows . . . but it wasn’t practical; my upper body was at right angles to my legs and there was little space for Sarah to join me in the bed later. It was suggested that an ambulance be called but I didn’t want that because the thought of more fuss and movement was very unappealing. I don’t want to recall the following thirty-six hours until the point where I gave in and agreed that an ambulance was necessary. Nor do I want to revisit the journey from bed to the ambulance. Those guys were great, but they had no magic wands except a powerful ambulance and a siren with blue light to get us through the roadworks joining the main route from home to Carcassonne.

Nobody was expecting Christmas trees while we travelled around the Carcassonne ring road at 120 KPH. Expletives from the driver followed by a thud and scraping sound beneath the vehicle diverted our attention. Recovering his composure, he explained that a car and trailer carrying unfettered Christmas trees had shed part of its load. We were dragging some of it along on the under carriage. After a few radio exchanges he said he wasn’t going to stop, and we carried our new load the remaining four kilometres into the ‘Urgence’ bay.

Colleagues detached the tree and were excited to receive their first Christmas tree of the season which they proudly stood in a corner; standing at over two metres tall. No damage to the ambulance. The triage team, examined and attached three liquids that brought a quick drugged haze and an emergency MRI scan that showed a disk in my lower back had moved into the spinal canal.

Seven long immobile days later, I was transferred to a specialist hospital near Toulouse where on 04 November; a surgeon removed the disk and performed a spinal fusion operation. The next day, I got out of bed and walked. They performed a miracle! The pain in the leg has reduced considerably, but it’s going to be a long road to complete recovery. My usual optimism will take care of that.

That’s the story and one I must say was not enjoyable to relate. Yet look at the positives; the skill and dedication of everybody involved was humbling. The ‘get well wishes’ too have played a great part in recovery.

Back and work now relinking to the positive thread I left behind almost six weeks ago.

Friday Teaser

Recent health issues have caused chaos with my work but I am happy to report that editing my current novel is back on track and plans for the one to follow that are well underway. I’ve not worked on two novels simultaneously before but something tells me that this is currently the way to go.

I hope you enjoy this short peek at a possible opening to ‘Supper in Jerusalem.’

Stood on a Mediterranean beach at dawn, watching the sunrise and fading silhouette of a small fishing boat that just left him. Simon couldn’t think of a better postcard view.

Turning inland, the desolation of a once thriving fishing port burned the positive images to ash. Evidence of domesticity smashed and broken still smouldered after another attack. The rumble of a solitary aircraft returning from its silent hours sortie over desolate cities. Bombs dispatched to the rebels, and innocents.

Simon heard the call and placed himself on the fringes of the most complicated civil war of his lifetime and he didn’t care for his safety. He cared only for those who wanted to reclaim their lives. He didn’t know who they were where to look or how to approach them. Trust would be an issue. They had been deserted while others around them joined factions with dangerous agendas that excluded their well-being and ignored their futures.

Over eleven million people fleeing the violence. Five million fled to neighbouring countries that don’t have the infrastructure to care for them. He looked at the crumpled leaflet in his hand and recited from memory.

“Nearly eight years since it began, the war has killed more than 480,000 people. Crowded cities have been destroyed and horrific human rights violations are widespread. Basic necessities like food and medical care are sparse.”

Clearing his throat and pulling back the tears, he continued.

“The U.N. estimates that 6.3 million people are internally displaced. When you also consider refugees, well over half of the country’s pre-war population of 22 million is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, whether they still remain in the country or have escaped across the borders.”

It started with protests about the government, people wanted change, not the destruction that came their way. The situation became worse after outside parties intent on gratifying their own interests got involved; Russia, The USA, China, the list goes on. The number of civilian casualties and families forced to leave their homes in search of safety exploded when the major powers threw in their weight.

He opened out the leaflet and looked at a picture of a smiling young man standing on the rubble that had been his school. Years of his life lost to the war.  No family. No education. No basic human rights. The headline read, “Resolved to do something about his future.”

Simon had to find this young man before it was too late.

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