Following my surgery, my folks allowed me to stay with them for almost six weeks. Of course, it would have been better under different circumstances, but it was a unique chance to spend some quality time with them all. Recovering from a knee operation is dull when you’re restricted from moving around and doing normal things, but my family managed to keep me smiling throughout (except the tea snorting incident which led to an embarrassing meltdown). I was understandably nervous about returning to my shared flat in London with all its stairs, and if I’m honest, slightly reluctant at leaving the safety of dozy Suffolk.
The time came to leave, and I had help packing up my things. Since I couldn’t walk, there was no chance of catching a train with my bags and my disused trumpet (thanks Fred). Tom’s parents had kindly offered to give us a lift back to London, and although I’d had nightmares about travelling on the tube with crutches, I was keen to get stuck back into work and return to reality. I said my goodbyes, thanked everyone for their support, patted Fred on the head and hopped to the car.
Tom handed me a note the next day which had my Mum’s handwriting on the front. It was unexpected, and I suddenly realised she may have actually billed me for my stay at home. After all, she’d been joking about it for a while, but then she’d also joked about the captive scenario in the Kathy Bates/James Caan classic Misery, where the character Annie Wilkes begins to abuse her role as carer and does everything in her power to keep her patient. I was allowed to leave, so that was a good sign.
Inside, a watercolour rabbit with drooping ears stared at me with mild concern. I opened the card, and out fell a separate sheet. I read the card first, before stooping down awkwardly to reach the paper. Written on the page was a list of items and services. I sat down. It read:
‘Thank you for staying with us, Friday 22 April – Thursday 2 June 2016.
- Pick up from Rugby (Hospital)
- 41 days B&B
- 2 foot pedicures
- 1 haircut
- 3 fish & chip meals
- 2 Chinese meals
- 1 night out (Grandad’s 70th birthday meal)
- 1 trip to Coventry (to see surgeon)
- 1 icecream by the harbour
- Approx. 150 cups of tea and coffee, and 60 litres of water
- 5 showers
- 1 visit to the pier
- 1 (half) pint at the Red Lion
- Basic nursing care
- Flower arranging services
- Evening meals
All the above – no charge because we love you xxxx’
It made me cry, and not just because five showers in six weeks is disgusting.
Thanks Mum x
Pictures L-R: the card, my bill, and Fred’s reaction to my departure