Living Between the Lines

More haste less speed

I have often been told that I move too fast. I am impulsive by nature and apparently, my actions follow suit.

I am constantly hearing,

“Slow down!” and “What’s the rush?” as my family and friends implore me to cross the floor slowly, to take my time.

It isn’t something I can actually control of course. If we are born to be cautious and considered, no amount of nagging will make us make snap decisions, cut corners or move faster. Similarly, being born to rush from pillar to post, to trust to luck that whatever decision one has made will be fine, does not make it easy to walk instead of run.

This is probably why I am normally covered in bruises. There is nothing more likely to produce a squeal of pain than me making beds. Now I know that the beds are wooden. I know that each has a head and a foot. I know that the wooden frame sticks out beneath the duvet at the bottom. So, please tell me why I act as though the bed has no corners, let alone lethal, hard wooden ones, and attempt to walk right through them every time?

I think the worst case scenario came a few years ago when I went to Majorca with my husband and our four young children. (Once child number five arrived it was years before we could afford such extravagance again).

For three days we enjoyed an idyllic holiday. The children loved it, even though temperatures were hitting 105 degrees in the shade. We lazed by the pool and made use of the kids’ clubs that were part of the deal. Perfect!

On the third night I woke to hear a child calling. Instinct took over. I leapt out of bed, ready to run to the rescue of my two-year old. Next minute I was flying through the air and landing ‘smack’ on my shoulder. My foot had caught in the sheets and I had fallen, landing on the stone tiled floor.

Husband, also hearing the screaming child, ignored me for the moment and ran to the other bedroom. I say ‘ran’ his is the more considered approach so I suspect he walked, carefully. I could hear him soothing toddler who was then apparently asleep again. Husband returned.

“He’s fine,” he said.

“I don’t think I am,” I muttered.

At that point, the pain had not surfaced. I managed to stand up and survey myself in the mirror. Something appeared to be wrong with my shoulder. The top of my arm was no longer in its socket. In fact, said top of arm was almost under my chin.

“That doesn’t look right,” husband said helpfully.

Around that time the pain began to register in my brain. Now, on a scale of one to ten, I’d say the pain was 10+ made worse because there was no possible way of stabilizing the arm. I say this having had four children.

It hurt.

A doctor was summoned. Bear in mind that this was Majorca – Spanish speaking and no NHS.

The Doctor was very kind.

“Ho’pital,” he said after a moment.

I almost fainted. This was not because he had said, “Ho’pital,” I had been on the verge of passing out for about an hour and a half kept conscious only by eldest daughter mopping my brow with a cold flannel to keep me awake. I dreaded to think what might happen if I fell to the floor. (This thought had come a bit late in the day really).

The Doctor spoke some English. He spoke enough to tell me that the shoulder might be broken. The ambulance might be a while. I was given a pain-killer. It dulled the pain slightly. I didn’t faint.

We waited.

Three hours after the fall, the ambulance arrived. Husband and four children were now dressed. I was clad in a flimsy dressing gown and shorts – the best I could do with my arm rotated into such a gross position. We took the lift down six floors. The Doctor indicated the ambulance.

I saw a bread van. Granted, the bread van had a green cross painted on the side. A swarthy Spaniard jumped out and opened the door for me, helping ease me into a seat in the back of the van. My husband stepped forward.

“No, no, h’only lady, lady h’only!” the Spaniard gestured, slamming the door. I winced.

“I’ll follow in a taxi!” husband called after me, and we were off.

As I sped across a foreign island towards Palma in a bread van driven by a wild haired stranger, some time in the early hours of the morning,  I could only think that if I survived this then it would be some tale to tell.

About an hour later, we were in the hospital and a wheelchair was brought out. I was whisked inside for X-rays. I could not fault the care I received from that point on.

“Not broken!” exclaimed a delighted Doctor, waving an eerie image of the misplaced limb in front of me.

“We’ll soon have that back in its socket.”

I hoped so.

As I was wheeled to the cubicle where the miraculous medical manoeuvre was to take place, I caught sight of my husband and four children patiently waiting. They had made it then.

Alas, the arm had been out too long and was too far rotated and swollen to be simply pushed back into its socket. I was taken away for a general anesthetic.

When I awoke some time later, the pain had gone. I was told I could leave once I had been checked over.

I felt as though I was wearing a T-shirt. I looked down. My arm was securely back in its socket and kept in place by a swathe of sticky bandages wrapped Tarzan-style round my torso. A top layer provided a sling for my wrist. Oh well, I wondered how long I would need this on for.

The doctor smiled,

“Keep the bandages on for two weeks then visit your own Doctor and he will remove them for you,” he told me brightly.

Two weeks? I was speechless.

Our holiday was to last a further ten days.

With no chance of being flown home early (unless I went alone perhaps) I was reduced to having my food cut up for me and finding a way with colourful cotton wraps so that I could get dressed and cover the bandages. I suppose it wasn’t so bad really, just very inconvenient but one lady evidently thought otherwise.

Sitting at the side of the pool beneath a sunshade, dangling my feet in the water, I realized that two middle-aged women swimming across the pool, had stopped to tread water and one was pointing to where I sat,

“Oh My God! Look at that poor woman Beryl!” she said, her face a picture of horror, “That must have been very bad sunburn!”

One way to spend a holiday
The bandages

You might think this would have taught me a lesson but no, I was born to rush and I really don’t think I am about to change any time soon…and on that note, can’t stop, must dash!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Teresa

    What a dreadful, painful experience – I was wincing all the way through this until I got to the bit about Beryl and her friend when I burst out laughing! And you’ve a lovely smile in that picture when you must have been sooo uncomfortable!

    • Deborah Barker

      Hi Teresa, the worst part was not being able to dress properly. I bought a selection of large scarves/sarongs and wore them, Tarzan-style, to cover the bandages. i had a couple for day time and a couple for evening wear. Could have left most of my wardrobe at home!

  • Andrea Carlisle

    With that fabulous tan, how could they possibly have thought sunburn?

    This made me queasy. I’m glad you went under for the procedure, and I hope that your tendency to rush doesn’t cause anything even remotely like this to happen ever again. Poor Deborah!

  • Martha Gates-Mawson

    That was painful to read! I can’t imagine anything more painful that the arm out of the socket. But glad you recovered and it appears from the photo you got a very nice tan to boot. (Re bruises – our family bruises so easily, I am quite sure part of our DNA is banana.)

  • Katie Gates

    What a ride of a post, Debbie! That must have been sooooo painful, and yet your arm just needed to be “put back.” Ooh. That story is going to stay with me for a while. I am going to be particularly careful next time I’m near my bed. Its corners are cruel!!!

    I love the family pic. I’m surprised that sling contraption didn’t get picked up by fashion designers!

  • Deb

    That’s the most amazing bandage I’ve ever seen. Another great story, and I loved the picture.

    I’m a rusher, too, and am always finding weird bruises I have no memory of creating. It’s nice to know I’m in good company.

    • Deborah Barker

      Hello Deb, the bandage was certainly the strangest I have experienced. The inner bandages were sticky (I can only leave you to imagine the additional pain when they were removed) Glad to have you as a companion in the rush and bruise brigade!

  • Hilary

    Hi Debbie .. oh gosh .. that must have hurt so much. I love your husband’s remark .. “That doesn’t look right,” husband said helpfully … I had a good laugh there ..

    Anyway glad it’s fixed .. and wooden beds don’t do us any favours do they – I have to admit it’s something I’ve avoided buying .. I can slip round my ‘divan’ style bed.

    Enjoy this week’s bruises .. keep them small if pos! Cheers Hilary

    • Deborah Barker

      No bruises so far this week Hilary, oh wait – just a couple – where’d they come from?? Divans would be the answer I suppose and rubber corners on tables and washing machines… 🙂

  • Jessica

    I popped over from Deb’s place.
    Wow, that sounds horrible!!! But what a cute pic and what beautiful kiddos you have. 😉 I’m glad it was just the socket. *shudder*

  • Sandi Babbitt

    Oh my! What a scary story! I’m so glad it worked out better than it could have been. And you’re right, you lived through it and it’s a great story!

    I was also a “rusher” and I am still a walking bruise, as I constantly bump things that I know are in my path. But, I’ve been slowed down the past few weeks by knee replacement. Not for the first time, though, you made me think about how many times I’ve fallen due to scurrying around without paying much attention to where I’m going, and I think a few of those falls are part of the reason I’m sitting here with my knee elevated today!

    So, be careful!!

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