Not going to the osteopath worked a treat. Walking out of that surgery after hearing the crunching coming from inside the consulting room while another patient was being done proved to be just the cure I needed.
Now, I want to make absolutely clear before we go any further that I am not about to insult osteopaths. General Osteopathic Council, stand down. Individual enraged osteopaths, replace your receivers. Do not start dialling the switchboard. Do not begin composing emails beginning: ‘Dear Sir, I wish to express in the strongest possible terms…’
Relax. There is no need to complain. Let me say for the record: I support practitioners of alternative medicine; I couldn’t be more complimentary about complementary cures.
I applaud osteopaths. I believe in them, I admire them and all the wonderful work they do. Osteopaths of Great Britain, I salute you.
It’s just that, as it turned out, not going to the osteopath was the best thing I ever did.
I walked out of that surgery with the sound of crunching ringing in my ears and
I went home, where I lay in bed in intolerable pain, unliberated by the skills of the elaborately muscled hero who might have stopped my three-week headache by making me go pop-pop-pop like a sheet of bubble wrap for 40 minutes, and I brooded on my fate.
I had been too frightened, too cowardly, too lily-livered to put myself in his freakishly strong hands.
And so, in desperation, I decided to go back to the GP. A tiny voice inside me was still telling me a doctor might know best. Look, I can’t explain it. You might call me deluded, but this is how I felt.
So back I went to the local GP surgery and this time I got a different doctor, one who didn’t stick a thermometer in my right ear, then tell me to go home and take paracetamol like the last one. I told him I thought something had snapped inside my head, that a piece of my brain had exploded. You know, like an aneurysm. He took my blood pressure. He said it was fine.
‘What can I say to reassure you?’ he said, with saintly patience.
I felt wonderfully relaxed as this marvellous man shone the healing power of listening on me. I asked him if I might perform for him the action that sparked my agony. He nodded. I suppose he might have been thinking: ‘If I go along with her I’ll get her out of here quicker…’ but he really did come across as interested and concerned.
I got up from the seat, bent double and swung my head to the side as I did so, imitating the motion of ducking under a fence.
I sat back down. ‘What do you think?’ The doctor looked at me for a moment, then said: ‘I think you’ve pulled a ligament in your neck.’
‘Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?’ I was overjoyed. ‘So I haven’t had an aneurysm?’ He shook his head.
‘So it might come right soon?’
He nodded: ‘It would take about three weeks from the time you did it.’
That would mean any moment now…
And sure enough, as I left the surgery I realised that the pain in my head had completely evaporated. My neck was better. Knowing it was going to get better had relaxed it from the inside. The power of conventional medicine had worked.
When I got home, the builder boyfriend had returned from work with a petrol strimmer in his truck. I have been asking him for weeks to help me tackle the nettles that are shorting out the electric fences at the horses’ field.
Ecstatic with the absence of pain, I jumped in his truck, went with him to the field and watched as he strapped on his new gadget and set about the overgrowth. It was a glorious evening and as the strimmer roared away I luxuriated in the feeling that all was right with the world.
When he finally killed the engine and stood back to admire his work, I reached into my bag and asked if he would like Diet Coke or Fat Coke.
‘Chicken Kievs,’ he said, looking horribly red in the face.
‘I said would you like a drink?’ I shouted, although I was shouting into the still summer evening, for the strimmer was off.
‘Chicken Kievs!’ he shouted back.
I walked up to him, Coke in hand, pushed it towards him and said: ‘I didn’t ask you what you want for dinner. I asked you if you wanted a drink.’
The builder boyfriend really was very puce in the face, and his hair was standing on end, which is never a good sign. ‘Drink?’ I said again.
‘Chicken Kievs!’ he said, striking terror into my heart.