There is little more unsettling for a man in his 40s than a pain in the chest, particularly the left side of the chest and down the left arm. I know it is unsettling because I have just had such an experience. On Friday I became aware of an ever increasing ache down my side and I have to admit I was getting a tad nervous. I casually mentioned it to Polly who immediately rang for an ambulance – Oh no she didn't, I forgot, she rolled her eyes and reminded me that a few months a go I'd had an ECG and that my heart was determined to be the fittest thing about me. “Besides,” she added, “you never get ill on a Monday morning, it's always bloody Friday night when casualty is shot full of drunks and getting someone to look after the boys is virtually impossible.”
“You don't care,” I muttered.
Polly spent the next 40 minutes listing in exacting detail the many many ways in which she cares for me. Once we'd passed helping me go to the loo, cutting my toe nails and practically dying during the birth of my second son, she sailed on with reminding me of the nights she'd sat by my bed in Intensive Care and the times she moved my shoulder, leg or head in the middle of the night. “And. . . and. . . I married you!” I said I was sorry.
I spent the night in some degree of pain (physical not emotional) and tried to work out what was happening. I realised it wasn't my heart, unless I had been been grossly misinformed during biology classes at school, and the heart was actually located outside of the ribcage. The pain felt muscular and was most acute when I moved my arm in certain ways. And then I remembered. That morning when I was being hoisted from the bed to the wheelchair I had partially slipped out of the sling. At the time I had felt a sharp jolt of pain in my left knee as my weight was suddenly transferred to that joint and I had been distracted from any other damage done. I must have wrenched one or more of the muscles on the left of my chest.
Saturday was miserable as every time I moved my left arm I was incapacitated by pain all down my side. Every now and then Polly would say something along the lines of “And I cooked you a roast chicken last Sunday even though I'm a vegetarian!” It was a long long day.
Sunday morning dawned at last. Polly mentioned that she was also the one who drove me everywhere. Kalepo and Godfrey got me into the wheelchair and helped me in the bathroom where during getting washed one of them moved my arm in such a way that something went clunk. Not click – clunk. The pain suddenly eased. Not a lot but enough to give me hope. It still hurt but the sudden intense sharp pains were better. As I left the bathroom I heard Polly call out “I wonder who cares enough about you to do all your dirty laundry?”
Now it's Monday and I'm taking slightly fewer painkillers. It still feels as if a particularly vicious bison has kicked me under one arm but I think I'll feel better sometime soon. . . when is Christmas? Polly seems to have forgiven me (Lord knows she's had enough practice) but still occasionally drops in an “Oh and I care enough to. . .” into a conversation.
I'm going to have some tea now. And yes, Polly's cooked it.