Hazel McHaffie

Back or books? Which takes precedence?

Just over forty years ago I damaged my back in an accident at work. Suffice to say, it involved a difficult delivery of a baby, a retained placenta, a slippery operating room floor, and a heavy anaesthetic trolley. I was pregnant at the time so declined X-rays to establish a precise diagnosis.

I’ve had problems ever since, occasionally even necessitating spells of bed-rest, and crawling on my knees because standing and walking were too painful to endure. Age and decay have compounded the wear and tear.

But about three years ago I discovered an osteopath with magic in her fingers. She has not only righted wrongs in my muscles and joints but has imparted pearls of wisdom to help me get myself out of fixes.

orthopaedic cushion I now perch on a special cushion (a bit like a giant whoopee cushion) in the kitchen. In my study I luxuriate in a wonderful supportive chair given to me when I left the Institute of Medical Ethics. In bed I know just how to unfreeze my lower back and get moving. The underlying problems remain but they are much less intrusive.

My writing chairI am also now much more aware of posture and position so can generally keep myself more flexible and comfortable – within the limits of advancing age and decrepitude, of course!

But I’ve just made a rather disturbing discovery. My lifestyle has much to answer for. For the last five or six weeks I’ve been on the go all day every day looking after children and sick people, catering for a stream of visitors. Endless cooking, cleaning, ironing etc. Rarely sitting.

Result? Much less pain. Much more flexibility.

Conclusion? A writer’s life is not good for my back.

Ah, but it IS good for my soul. Oh dearie me, yes. How I’ve craved the peace and solitude of my working life, the creative satisfaction of listening to and observing my fictional friends and scribbling their story. It’s been a form of cold turkey.

So, come September, when the summer madness dies down, I plan to throw caution to the winds, to hang with my aching back, and welcome them back into my life again. Wallowing in my addiction!


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