Being Bionic

I’m betting Wonderwoman never had the problems I’ve had over the last couple of days; and if she did there was probably a Bond inspired M equivalent on hand to pick up the pieces. Why am I comparing myself to Wonderwoman I hear you ask? Have I to sporting electric blue lyrca hot-pants with matching vest (not forgetting coordinating cuff with oh so special powers denoted with a gold star)? Oh and do you recall the darling headband and knee-length boots with a practical heel?

No the small children of Barry have not been exhibiting behaviour so terrible that they need quite so extreme a punishment; although 4-year-old Godson has narrowly avoided a yellow card when he bit an older child! I confess to being more than a little shocked to hear that children at his school receive yellow cards for bad behaviour and if they get 3 yellow cards they are excluded! You have to wonder if IDS has had some input into such disciplinary measures all in the cause of catching deviant behaviour early or has someone been watching too much football perhaps.

Godson is 4 years old and has been in full-time school for less than 4 weeks – surely there are other ways of handling such misdemeanours? It makes me want to scoop him up and run away with him whilst metaphorically making a wax effigy of the evil queen who calls herself his teacher! Instead I shall stick to reading him stories on a Saturday afternoon – now we have graduated from Aliens Love Underpants the pleasure of repeated story telling has returned! As he attends Welsh school this will be his only exposure to the English language as apparently he won’t learn to read in English until he is 7.

Anyway back to Wonderwoman or more accurately Bionic Woman; the Spinster is a bionic woman – seriously I am! About 5-6 years ago I had a spinal cord stimulator fitted as an addition to my pain management armoury. It’s like an internal TENS machine activated by a rather chunky remote control which is not the easiest item to incorporate into ones outfit! Do I look like the kind of woman who’d embrace faux leather? In the early days I did approach a designer whose handbags feature (significantly) in my wardrobe to come up with a more stylish solution but sadly this sophisticated foray came to nought.

The manufacturer of the stimulator equipment is indeed called Bionics and I have the Precision model inserted into the top of my right buttock. Yes I have an implanted device which must be declared in airports specifically to the security personnel. I had always understood I could no longer go through the scanner arch business. (Nor can I be cremated without it being removed either). I say had because on Friday (at the Clinic) I was informed that such precautions were not necessary! The advice is apparently to cover the manufacturer in terms of insurance claims. So the Welsh Government security guys no longer need to shout ‘Woman with implanted device coming through’ when I next go for a meeting! I kid you not this actually happened; with absolutely NO evidence of humour or irony.

Last week in preparation for my appointment at the Stimulator Clinic I made sure the implanted device was charged and ready for servicing. In spite of being told by the Consultant Surgeon (before he agreed to proceed with the operation), that the procedure was very expensive – I seem to recall the figure of £25,000 being mentioned – I have only been to the Clinic once at my own request. A curious way to manage investment but hey that’s the NHS for you; such paltry sums as metaphorical pin money. Since the operation I have lost weight and the device is no longer 2 cm below the skin; it’s 5 mm at most. Should an unsuspecting pickpocket ‘caress’ my back pocket in search for not so buried treasure they might have quite a surprise! Teach people to touch what they don’t own!

When I say weight loss what I really mean is redistribution; whilst the quantum is smaller overall the reduction is not exactly statistically significant. The general impact of gravity seems to have shimmied the flesh in a southerly direction exposing the implanted device on account of my having inherited my father’s flat backside. The impact of this is that it doesn’t charge properly; I have been advised to pad the battery to con it into ‘thinking’ its mate inside is deeper than it really is. This is the magic bit – I charge the ‘grey welsh cake’, otherwise known as the battery, in the same way as any other rechargeable battery. Then I place it in the very attractive nylon net pouch on the Velcro belt (see above). The battery has to be placed exactly over the implanted device otherwise it bleeps to tell you contact has been lost – if I tell you it takes anywhere from 2 to 8 hours to charge you can imagine the problem.

The location is between my waist and my hips i.e. the most difficult place to stay in situ. Initially the hospital supplied industrial strength sticking plasters so you could literally stick the battery in place; these were most convenient if eye wateringly painful to remove. But hey now I’m a threading regular (facial hair removal) I’d happily cope with the skin tearing sensation! But the hospital doesn’t provide plasters (on account of the cost presumably) and as they can only be purchased from Bionics who seem not to supply the actually users I’m reliant on ‘the belt’. A pair of close-fitting knickers is the solution – preferably the lyrca flesh sucking variety that restrict the blood supply – the resulting numbness that would alarm a regular citizen funnily enough doesn’t bother me!

Whilst charging myself this time something happened that has only ever happened once before; I couldn’t turn myself off. In the days when I used the stimulator regularly I always had 3 AAA batteries to hand for the remote control but that was sometime ago. About a month after I’d had the equipment installed I turned it on as I got on a train after a day’s training in the North East. As I got up to go to the loo I went to turn myself off on account of the impact on my balance – remaining erect on a moving train is a challenge at the best of times and I wasn’t exactly up for ending up prostrate over the lap of the adjacent passengers! The remote control flashed error message and then died; without turning the stimulator off. I confess I did have a little wobble and text various members of my family asking them to contact the clinic – the time was 6 pm. To make things even more relaxing the train was stuck behind another train with engine problems! By the time my wonderful father met me on the platform of Chesterfield Station I had been stimulated for almost five hours! Father had a box of batteries from his shed and we huddled over the contents until we found suitable AAA ones to put in the remote control. Thankfully this was the problem and finally I could turn the bloody thing off – exhausted and very much shaken not stirred!  Last week the same scenario presented itself only I no longer have crates of AAA batteries in the house so I had to steel myself and drive to Tesco with the stimulator still on!


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