14 days before Christmas I had my 60th birthday. Mrs Monk was under orders to not make a big deal out of this, as she had done in the past with big bagel birthdays. I was determined to carry on as usual with my Tuesday Tennis. As it happens the tennis was somewhat uncommitted, especially by the ladies of the group who seemed overexcited with the anticipation of the Christmas lunch that would follow the day’s tennis. Champagne, no less, was served on the court interrupting the tennis some more, and my birthday was toasted. My pumped up desire to hit balls finally subsided.
I was reminded of my age in March by chance and after many checks it was determined by my doctor that I should be prescribed pills to control my blood pressure and cholesterol.
These are bitter pills to swallow because I remain very young at heart and agile with running and jumping and serving and volleying, 3 times a week.
7 days before Christmas and further to my Doctor’s advice to take my medicine, he also sent me along for another “routine” check of my arteries and how they function.
I was summoned to Southend Hospital, my first visit as an outpatient. I was in a rush because it was Tennis Tuesday and when I arrived I discovered that 6 other people had 9 am appointments, and that there was only one machine to do what needed to be done to all of them, including me.
I was directed to remove everything except my shorts and to put on a gown and join the other people waiting in the corridor. I waited and waited outside the only male cubicle which was occupied. After the longest wait I noticed the door of the ladies cubicle begin to open and thought I might use that one if it became available. Unfortunately the door had opened inadvertently and an undressed old lady was standing there for all to see.
“I saw nothing” I called out
I could wait no longer and I decided to use the third option of the disabled cubicle. I got my kit off and dressed up in the flowery gown provided, and then joined the group of people waiting in the busy corridor. I was the only man apparently dressed as a woman.
After some time the man that had occupied the male cubicle finally appeared. I was worried about the femininity of the my gown but this man had spent all the time tying every ribbon on his gown with a flourish of a double bows. He looked as sweet as Shirly Temple. He sat next to me and I felt like a man again.
In due course I was summoned down the corridor through a crowd of strangers and then into the room where I was duly scanned. They told me I could wait for the results but I said, “No thanks, I’m in a hurry. I play tennis you know. This is just routine y’know.”
It was 4 days before Christmas and I dragged my legs out of bed and pulled a sock onto my left foot, with no problem whatsoever. So far so good, but when I leaned down to do the same to the right foot, my back snapped with a jolt, followed by a cry of pain. I searched out Mrs Monk with an old man hunched walk and got her to pull on the missing sock. I recovered soon enough but tennis would be off the agenda for a while.
It was Christmas Eve and all that needed to be done before Christmas Day had been done, and we were set for a nice evening.
Mrs Monk was in the kitchen and I was on the couch tidying up the remains of Christmas wrappings. I leaned forward to pick up some discarded Christmas detritus and again my back snapped, but this time it seem more serious and certainly more painful. I fell in a heap on the floor and waited for the pain to subside I got into a position so there where was less pain, and called out to Mrs Monk.
I stretched out a leg and started to crawl toward another part of the room. I called out to Mrs Monk again, and after the fifth anquished cry for help, she rushed the 10 yards from the kitchen and took control of the situation.
This was worrying because naturally she wanted to help me up off the floor, particularly of concern, because dinner was about to be served, and I was in the way. I knew that this would hurt, so I insisted that I would be allowed to lie there and wait for the pain to abait.
We considered calling an ambulance, but after some time I was able to stretch a leg, and pull this muscle, and then that muscle, and in due course to crawl back to the couch and get on to it, and remain there and contemplate my future as a tennis ace.
3 days after Christmas and all is better as long as I don’t laugh. I am having a light tennis knock with Mrs Monk tomorrow and we shall see if I can make her look good on the tennis court..