The Marionette Thing (or the Power-Off).

I just went out to run an errand and what I have now come to think of as “The Marionette Thing” happened. Which is to say, there I am, in the middle of congratulating my opposite neighbour on his ongoing recovery from a hip replacement (OMG irony alert!), and suddenly I’m on the tarmac with my face actually resting on the actual kerb. I cannot get up. And then after a second or two of flailing about, suddenly I can get up. How do you explain that to your neighbour. “Sorry, I’m a bit disabled,” I say. “No, I’m fiiine. Ha ha ha. I am quite used to it.”

This happens. My lovely birdy cardi is all covered in mud and grit. I’ve skinned both palms enough to make them sting, but not bleed, twisted my back and one knee quite painfully, got mud on my face, and I am furious with myself. This is not the worst thing my broken body does to me, but it’s up there in the top three, not so much because of the risk of being physically hurt when it happens (I am so far beyond giving a shit about pain), so much as the sheer fury I have for myself during and after it.

And then the fear I have of going out again, after a bad one. This wasn’t a bad one (a bad one puts you down an escalator, face first.)

I don’t know what happens. There’s no warning, no particular trigger other than it seems to happen on weeks when I am more tired than I realise. When it happens, I abruptly lose all power to my muscles. I remain conscious. But everything else has zero power going into it. As if I’ve been shot. Or as if someone’s cut my strings. Or as if someone’s just randomly flipped a power switch inside me to the “off” position, for a laugh.

For a split second I can’t move (this is when I fall). Then I can move my limbs – but without any power, like a newborn. And then, a couple of seconds after it happened, everything works ok again – I can actually feel the power reconnect – and suddenly I can scramble up and deal with the embarrassment / injuries / concerned bystanders.

It is easier to deal with this when it happens when I’m alone. When I’m with someone I have to deal with what just happened to me AND the fact that they are concerned/embarrassed/don’t know what to do/try to help me up.

If you’re ever with me and it happens, I’ll tell you what to do: point and laugh a bit. That way I can legitimately tell you to piss off and make weak V-signs at you. This will help me enormously.

What you mustn’t do is try to help me up. Because if I’m still down there it means I don’t have enough power to get up yet, and unless you think you can carry my ass (clue: no, you can’t unless you brought several friends and a winch), it’s best to leave me to it.

I came in and changed my muddy clothes and went straight back out. I could not put off my errand, and I know from experience that when this happens you have about a 20 minute adrenalin window where you remain unaware of having hurt yourself, during which you have to get your shit done, because once that wears off you’re not going to feel like going anywhere for a bit. So I ran up the road, got my stuff, hurried back (it wore off about 3/4 of the way back: ow, also boo hoo), put things away, and then hid in the toilet, where the Team Garden can’t see me, and had a nano-weep.

And now I’ll wash my lovely cardi and have a cup of tea.

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