Last Tuesday, 1st November, I went to lunch and the theatre to see The Woman In Black with some friends. Thoroughly enjoyed myself, and it was just as well. That evening, on my way to bed, I was trying to shut the cats into the kitchen when one of them - the naughtier one, Lady Godiva - decided to have a game of hide and seek. Now both my sons have said since "How can you fall over a cat?" I put it to every cat owner I know: "How CAN'T you?"
I fell - and badly. Hit my head on the sink (butler) on the way down and landed on my right hip. It didn't occur to me at the time that I was - er - getting on a bit and hips are a bit dodgy, especially with mild osteoporosis. I managed - somehow - to get to my feet and get upstairs to bed, aware that I was more or less in agony all over. By the morning I felt as though - well, actually, I don't know. I had to phone my poor son Miles to come and get me up - after all, the loo waits for no one. Luckily he lives round the corner. He stayed all day, collected a prescription for me (I phoned the doctor) cooked me dinner and generally made sure I was all right.
The following morning was very little better, and to my shame, I called daughter Louise in tears. She appeared very quickly (good job they are both musicians and not working during the day) and was there to let in the paramedic (yes, really) attached to our local GP practice who arrived to assess me. Torn back muscles is the diagnosis - and I was lucky.
So, what have I learnt? I have learnt that my children are wonderful (as if I didn't know that already) and that Facebook is terrific for keeping the immobilised in touch with the world. My friends have had to put up with inane postings every five minutes. I have also learnt that advice is freely given and not always appropriate, but nevertheless appreciated. My friend Suzanne and I both already knew this, as migraine sufferers we have received much well meaning advice in the past.
The other things I have learnt have been more practical. I regularly go and have my nails painted with gel polish, which does not respond well to ordinary polish remover. And I currently cannot go and have it removed, with the consequence that my nails look quite interesting at present. I cannot stand, so I find it difficult to cook anything - and peeling potatoes! Well. I haven't been able to wash my hair. As someone who has tried, despite age, to keep looking presentable, this a blow. I have to throw the cats' bowls at them as I can't bend down. I couldn't put the bin out. (Enter Miles again.) I can't get up and attend to a sudden banging noise - or to anything else. And I'm dead worried about other things which are coming up - looking after the grandchildren next Sunday while Louise does a Children In Need event with Len Goodman at The Waldorf, going to an audition, going to a friend's special birthday dinner and going down to Wales for my special publisher's party. Will I be able to travel by then?
I also discovered that constant pain is very wearing and actually makes you feel ill. It affects the ability to concentrate and has therefore put the writing of the next book on hold, although as we have a nice long deadline that isn't too much of a problem.
And one thing that surprises me, I hate the fact that I can't do the automatic tidying or sink cleaning that we all do all the time, even if we aren't great at housework. (I'm not.) I can't pick things up. I can't reach up to hook my dressing gown on the back of the bedroom door. I can't make up the fire.
I have a much better appreciation of those people confined to a wheelchair permanently, like my friend Caroline, and I want a zimmer. And I was touched at how many people, some of whom I haven't known long or well, offered genuine help.
And another thing - are you still reading? - I have been presented in a variety of ways with several - yes, several - plot ideas. One involving Thames mud. (Courtesy of Judy Astley.)
Today, I am dressed. It took forty minutes to do it, but I do feel better for it. I am just about to make the difficult journey from sofa to kitchen and find something to eat. And now I've written this blog post, I almost feel like having another go at the next book.
Oh - and I forgot the side effects of three different sorts of pain-killers...