It's funny how life can take you from a very high point and plunge you deep into the mire, that's pretty much what happened to me last week. It started off with a problem that Helen had at work, I won't go into details but it meant that she was facing a reprimand for stuff that really wasn't her fault and naturally, she felt pretty badly about this. One her characteristics is that she absolutely hates being blamed for anything - whether guilty or innocent - and over the years I've learned to keep absolutely stumm when there's the smallest chance of my words being taken as an inference of blame. No surprise then that this really upset her and brought on a bit of a desolate mood, one that I recognise and from which I know it's all but impossible to extricate her.
So things around Chez Exile were not at all sunny if I'm honest, but they got immeasurably worse around 0500 on Wednesday morning when the phone rang, shaking me out of a pretty deep sleep: It was the police, calling from Leeds General Infirmary with the news that my youngest son, Matt, had been assaulted during the early hours by some drunken/drugged yob and was in A & E in a pretty bad way - initial examination appeared to indicate that his jaw had been broken in several places. Needless to say, we rushed off to Leeds post-haste, I was half-mad with worry about his safety and anger at him letting this happen. I should point out here that Matt does live with me, his mother and I have been divorced for years and she actually lives in Devon - *nearly* far enough, though I'd prefer it if she was on the other side of the channel.
We got there and he was in a bad way, his face was already very swollen and there was lots of blood around, the policeman who made the initial response was taking his statement. Here's what happened: Matt and his mates were on a night out in Leeds to say goodbye to each other, they'd been friends for years and were now off to University and going their seperate ways. They left whatever place they'd been in and were asking directions (not sure where to) from a group of four lads when one of them - immediately to Matt's left and for no obvious reason - hit him in the face, breaking his jaw in 4 places and fracturing the upper right joint. Hitting someone from outside their peripheral vision is a cowardly thing to do, but entirely in keeping with some of the scumbags you get thereabouts, I can't really describe how mad I was when I discovered this, but my immediate concern was for Matt's well-being.
He was put immediately onto the "acute" list and had to wait about 30 hours for surgery. This might sound like a long time, but I'm assured it's far from abnormal .... all I can say is that it's heartbreaking to see one of your own children in such distress, his mouth and teeth were completely messed up and he was quite incapable of either eating, swallowing or even yawning. They gave him an strong IV painkiller (tramadol?) and it was the first time in his life that he'd been given any kind of opiate and I'm sorry to say he reacted very badly to this, his pulse raced to over 115, broke out in a sheen of sweat and would have been very sick if there was anything inside him at all. The retching caused him agony, not at all funny. Anyhow, he was wheeled in around 1400 on Thursday afternoon and actually in theatre for 3 hours. I'm told that LGI has some of the best maxillo-facial surgeons in the country and I don't doubt it. When he came out of surgery things looked hugely improved - his face looked aligned and in proportion again, the swelling had considerably reduced - this was because they had taken a huge blood clot out of his cheek (with a commensurate hole/stitches unfortunately) and the very good news was that they'd only had to remove one tooth - a wisdom tooth - during the course of the operation.
The bad news is that he how has four titanium plates holding his left cheek and chin together, along with four (temporary) titanium studs inside his mouth that have bands attached to keep his upper and lower jaw aligned. The swelling came back pretty soon after the operation and he is as bruised as hell, plus in considerable discomfort. I suppose we should be grateful really, this could easily have killed him. He was released from hospital late on Friday and spent most of the weekend sleeping, I'm also pleased to report that he is looking a lot more chirpy today and we're making progress with things that he can eat. Obviously there is no question of chewing his food, so it's a soft diet for the next 6 - 8 weeks. Helen has made a cauldron of her delicious veggie soup (which I love as well ), smoothies, oatmeal, scrambled egss, chilli .... that's how far we've got to date. He will be fine. Of more concern is his Uni start-date, I was meant to be taking him to Newcastle on Saturday to begin life as a Bloody Student, but I suppose that will be dependent on the outcome of his first follow-up appointment tomorrow. I hope it works out for him, he will be devastated if anything affects that start date.
Changing subject, all this meant that we had no exercise all week and by Saturday lunchtime I was chafing at the bit. The sun was shining so I went out for a quick bat around my local "short course" on my bike and then on Sunday we met up with Andrew and Stef for a nice 14 mile run out on Barden Fell and up to Simon's Seat, then back to Storiths afterwards for bacon butties, cake and tea. I felt nearly normal again by Sunday night.
Watching the news that night, I was surprised to see the highlights of the GNR - I'd completely forgotten it was on! Not that I paid it much attention mind you, I'm not a supporter of this race (despite the fact that I've done it in the past). I know this event is important to a lot of people and if that's the limit of their expectations, all well and good. Personally, I think it's a crap course for such a big race and once I'd learned the extent to which Nova International rip off Joe Public and all those charities, well, there isn't a chance of me augmenting Brendan Foster's pension fund. I don't know how he gets away with it to be honest, it's plain usury. In terms of mass-participation events, the London Marathon is infinitely better value and a better race.
Anyhow, enough of my whining. Later.