There are some bonuses to being confined to bed for a short time. Netflix, box sets, on-demand TV are certainly up there. Right now I’m hard pressed to think of many others, aside from being offered and accepting endless cups of tea.
In the eight days since my operation rendered me NWB (non-weight-bearing) and my horizons have been limited to bed, bog and occasionally couch, I’ve started to write a blog about a dozen times.
Each time I’ve been too easily distracted by something on Twitter, daft memes on Facebook, on Wednesday by death and destruction in London and on Friday gleefully joining in the schadenfraude at Donald Trump’s public humiliation.
There’s the other thing about being stuck in one place with your only – ha! – contact with the outside world being social media, 24-hour rolling news and the bing bing bing of texts and Whatsapp notifications.
You are never really alone.
I’ve had weeks – months, in fact – to prepare for this. I told myself I’d use the time productively, that I’d rest properly and use all those quiet moments for contemplation and serious thought as to where I’d direct my future career. I’d start reading that pile of novels by my bedside and even finish ( or at least re-start) writing my own book.
I’ve slept a lot. But mostly I’ve obsessively browsed social media, read far too many think pieces, watched far too much rolling news.
All those other things I promised I’d do? Not so much.
And having done nothing but immerse myself in news, I’ve experienced several times that terrible feeling of being completely overwhelmed by all that’s happening; a feeling exacerbated by the knowledge that, for the first time in my life, I am physically incapable of doing anything in response.
It’s disconcerting, more than a little terrifying and yet has been oddly liberating, too.
Because, for the first time in my life, I’ve accepted I can’t do everything. In fact, I can’t do anything. No more mini messiah complex of thinking only I can help, only I can do it, only I can sort things.
So instead of lying here fretting because the carpets need hoovered and Debbie hates hoovering and I don’t want her to do stuff she hates…
Instead of anxiously and fruitlessly worrying about the effects of proposed healthcare reform on poor Americans…
Instead of obsessively following the machinations of Brexit and Indyref2 and giving myself an ulcer over how I can influence either…
Instead of agonising over the terrible, tragic and pointless loss of life in London and wondering long into the night how I can personally persuade angry people to take a deep breath before saying or doing something they might regret forever…
Well, I’m not doing any of that – not any more.
So I have found one other bonus of being confined to bed. The frustrating time for recuperation has been the space that unexpectedly let me work out that too often I’m busy doing nothing. That my reaction to all those big overwhelming events is too often to throw myself into a frenzy of activity, as if by mere movement alone, I can magic any problem away.
It’s chastening to accept that no matter how essential you think you are to the world turning, the reality is that life goes on regardless of whether you’re spring cleaning, joining protest marches or – as I am right now – adopting a Zen-like approach to an almighty itch halfway down a stookie*.
My recovery from the operation could take up to nine months. I appreciate how lucky I am that it’s not more debilitating, and while I hope I get better faster than that, the long-term aim of short-term physical limitations has to be that I appreciate better the times when I really can do something that matters.
Until then, I’ll be busy doing nothing.
*Scots word for plaster cast