killer heels and the victory of ice
But there was snow before Christmas, snow after Christmas, more snow, then more snow, and yet more snow may be on the way. I like snow but the cold and ice were wearing. I began to wish I hadn't put off the extravagance of double glazing and loft insulation, just because I had other bills to pay.
I was glad to be offered a lift to the fencing club dinner, especially since I wasn't sure about walking more than a few yards in my new (to me) shoes. The rules for the dinner said "cocktail dresses or dinner jackets." I possess neither. However one of the local charity shops had a dress that would do and I was glad to think of profits reaching the British Heart Foundation. The problem of matching shoes remained - until I remembered the elegant shoes my daughter bought on eBay which she'd attempted to sell me when she discovered they didn't fit. I decided to teeter elegantly - but the shoes didn't seem quite right for snow on ice.
Emerging tentatively from the car, I found the shoes more efficient than I'd expected. The sharp heels stabbed through the ice and I seemed surprisingly more secure than in the walking boots I'd been using for daytime excursions. Even at the end of the meal, after a glass or three of wine, I had few problems in crossing the icy pavement.
The following week, I left the house a little late on my way to work. I'd glanced out of the window on snowless roads and pavements but wore my walking boots just in case. Sturdy shoes are a wise precaution in these days. I took a few steps outdoors then slid, heavily, on my behind. A pain darted from my spine across my waist. The postman saw - or heard my scream - and came to help. "It's the black ice," he told me.
I looked again. Pavements and roads were shiny with a thin, lethal layer of ice.
Somehow I got up and, despite the pain, continued on my journey. After twenty minutes of careful sliding, I attempted to cross the railway bridge. The slope defeated me. Again I needed help. A couple of passers by attempted to aid my journey. The three of us linked arms, took a step, and slid backwards downhill together. The bridge was impossible and I worked out a detour involving departure from the nearer platform.
I fenced in the evening, despite the pain. I wasn't the only fencer to have slipped on the black ice. I felt lucky - Casualty had been full and the police occupied with collisions. I went on fencing - but carefully. I found cycling tricky and took taxis. The pain didn't go away.
It took me two weeks to go to the doctor and several days after that to get to the x-ray department. When the results came through, I had to see the doctor again, though they weren't labelled urgent. I'm not quite sure of the diagnosis though it included terms like "compression fracture" and "damaged vertebra." No-one's quite sure when the damage was done - some of it might have happened in my fall from the loft a couple of years ago.
The doctor recommended "low impact exercise." "Not swimming," he said, explaining that most people bend the spine doing breaststroke and that this wouldn't be good for me. He gave me a sheet of exercises. I've tried them - they would normally be simple but just now they hurt quite as much as the original fall, so I've given up.
I asked the doctor about fencing. "It's only once a week," I said, with my most persuasive and encouraging smile. "I'm not very good at it and I don't do that much." I took his smile for assent.
He then began one of those sentences which includes the words "considering your age." They're never good news. He's referred me for further tests for osteoporosis. But he doesn't think it likely. Nor do I. I've looked at the websites and the only indication I've got is a fracture - young people have those too.
Meanwhile, I'm enjoying fencing even though I'm not doing as much as usual. I don't know whether I'll still be fencing this time next year. But I hope to be there when the chef finally returns from Paris this autumn, even if her current level of fitness means I'm unlikely to beat her.