I HIT rock bottom last week and disturbed not just myself but you kind generous people too. For that I’m sorry but, then again, actually I’m not, on one basic level. Truth, honesty.

We made a pact – well, I signed your end as well as my own – that from day one you would hear my voice, see what I was seeing, feel what I was feeling. I would never lie to you, although, as we know, truth comes with its own subjectivity, and I never have. If you like it’s been a journey into ageing at times; the one, if we’re lucky, the road we must all walk with only one ending.

Last week’s column was a howl of despair that shocked us both and for the first time I could see not even find a pinprick of light or hope.

For, God knows how many times in this past five years, pompiers have blue-lit and klaxoned me to Moissac hospital. This time a broken humerus at the shoulder socket was diagnosed and so my descent began.

I told you the basics last week, so let’s not revisit it. Terror and possibly a more hidden cause still under investigation, had/have stuck my feet to the ground and left me incapable of lifting them.

I have no confidence in my legs, none in the trained staff in the re-education centre where I am now, and can only give in to panic and become a wriggling dead weight slumping backwards, always backwards, drawn inexplicably to hard, dangerous ground.

My fingers have dug into their poor arms and they have winced in pain. I care but don’t care. Later in the temporary safety of my bed I have apologised over and over.

These kind women have gently explained that they will not drop me, they surround me ready for everything but in my rigidity, I may harm them. I hang my head mortified but I cannot let go of what I see as my only saviour – me.

At night my cheeks burn hot as I think of the awesome courage and perseverance of former colleague, Melanie Reid, left a tetraplegic following a riding accident. She writes her own column but I’m sure lists only half of what she suffers and has become an inspiration to others similarly afflicted. Forgive me, Melanie, I whisper into the night in my shame.

In the first days I wanted to curl up and go home. Hear English, wrap myself in the past, be taken care of, bathe in long ago familiarity – return to all I’d walked merrily away from all those years ago.

So, I was easy meat for my son who coldly said I now had to come back near to him, to my grandchildren who were growing up not knowing me. I had no real friends in France, no life of the kind I loved, no intellectual stimulus. I could only agree for I know he is right, but then he said the dog would have to go – there’d be no place anywhere for him.

With a hand slippery with snottery tears I hung up.

I told it all to a friend met on Twitter.

Last night into my box came links to quaint, expensively purpose-built retirement villages which would take dogs – the right dogs of course to go with the beige middle-class couples sipping their gins in the promo pics.

A vision of the beast tearing around the manicured English lawns in the Home Counties brought more tears to my eyes – tears of laughter.

There and then I vowed that this morning if they took things slowly and didn’t grab me, I would place my faith in the nurses’ strong hands and breathe and stand.

With the vision of the bloody retirement village before me – I did it; four baby steps, shivering with fear, but it’s a start. Later as if sent from above, three good old friends, long lost touch with, phoned and I finally understood no man is an island; we’re the repository of each other’s memories and yes, lives.

The proud independence I’ve fought for all my life is just a bleak trap if alone and sick at the end of that life. We need our tribe; need those near who share our dark ways and the reasons for why we are as we are. Need those unfinished sentences; need that love.

I know my son’s coldness is the product of his own fears and impotence in the face of his intractable mother who will bend to no man. It’s also denial – he cannot accept I’m no longer the woman I was even ten years ago. Well, he’ll just have to.

It is now almost 4am, for stage two of my claw back is penning this myself with one finger. I need to feel the flow of the words under my fingers, need to reconnect.

I don’t know what the coming days will bring so I wanted at least to give you today. But I’m standing – if trembling – at the bottom of the pit ready to climb and rise.

For my mental health I need to change many things. But sod your retirement villages and keep your hands off my dog.

Onwards and upwards.

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