Things Lady M Says: Pain Management Edition

I am constantly both in awe of and moderately frustrated by Lady M’s pain threshold and how she talks about it. Being a strong soul, she endures life threatening injuries with aplomb, migraines with mild annoyance, and the ongoing nerve storm of her fibromyalgia with hot water bottles, swearing, and threats of physical violence against anyone touching her.

I may be slightly exaggerating about the latter. 

What this does result in is a situation where she is in so much ongoing pain that she tends to downplay how she reports it. You can imagine the complications this causes when she’s dealing with medical professionals.

A recent case of this came when her back muscles spasmed in one of our body balance classes. A paramedic was called as the class finished around us, and I had to remind Lady M to not use “The Jo Scale”. Instead she was to pretend to be a regular person. The number she was quoting on the 1-10 pain scale immediately jumped from a 3 to an 8.

Fortunately it turned out ‘merely’ to be a muscle spasm hitting her sciatic nerve rather than the prolapsed discs in her spine that she had a few years ago (did we mention those before?). 

In conversation this morning, Lady M said that the pain hadn’t been so bad, it was just that she couldn’t move one of her legs and that had been the worst of it. I asked why she couldn’t move her leg, and she promptly responded: “because of the pain.”

Being half asleep, I asked if that didn’t mean that it had actually been the pain that was so bad, but again she reiterated that no, it was her being unable to move her leg. “Because of the pain” I added in helpfully.

By the time we’d gone round the circular conversation the third or fourth time, we were giggling with the silliness of it, but Lady M insisted I just wasn’t getting it. I was countering this with the argument that this was precisely why she had such difficulty getting doctors to take her seriously.

Many of Lady M’s worst disruptions come from her invisible illnesses. Between mental health, migraines and her newly diagnosed neurological condition, it can feel a wonder that she can get up in the morning. 

Being unable to move her leg or sustaining physical injury, is far easier to explain and demonstrate to a third party, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that this what Lady M has fixed on as a memory of the event. It becomes easier to relate the difficulties of the moment to other people with a symptom they can relate to rather than just a blanket “it hurts”. 

While most people are empathic enough to understand the concept, it somehow becomes more real if there’s something to point to. It’s something we both find ourselves frustrated by, even between ourselves – so don’t feel bad if you have difficulty understanding someone’s situation. It’s, dare I say, normal…

Why I’m Careful With Things Lady M Says

It may not always seem so, but I do every now and then check the silliness inherent in my little series of Things Lady M Says.

For those new to this blog, these are little ruminations on the sometimes idiosyncratic usages of words that Lady M comes out with. On first look they could be dismissed as “oh she’s using the wrong word”, but they usually have quite innovative implications and meanings when you take a longer look.

A good example might be where we were discussing someone’s aspirations for moving up in their company, and I asked if the problem had anything to do with outdated skill sets. She paused and said they were totally indated on the technical side. Then she hit me for laughing.

Many of her little phrases tend to be portmanteaux for longer phrases, but there is a more serious reason for her more innovative approach to vocabulary. It’s also something that’s only just really come to light.

One of the effects of Lady M’s fibromyalgia is a form of “brain fog”, where words just slip away. With her command of multiple languages, she often subconsciously dips into another language if the brain fog temporarily deletes a word from her conscious vocabulary. 

When she doesn’t do this, and instead creates a whole new word to say what she means, I have to step back and at least mentally applaud. Rather than let herself get stuck and frustrated at her own brain slipping out of gear, she assembles a new way of expressing the concept. 

There’s not many people that can do that.

More Things Lady M Says

Lady M is akin to a force of nature, especially in her attention to detail when it comes to work, contracts, and organisation. It is a defining attribute of her work life, along with her setting impossibly high standards for herself and everyone who works with, around, or for her.

Perhaps that’s why it tickles me that every time she talks about checking the fine details of things, she uses the phrase “crossing the i’s and dotting the t’s” – and nobody ever questions it.

Well, except me, because I’m awkward like that…

Things Lady M Says: What Day Is It?

We had a packed evening for #Tuesday last night, and as ever once conversations got going and plans started to be laid, things got complicated.

We’ve all known and taken part in those freewheeling torrents of laughter and chatter that cut back and forth, switching partners in a frantic dance. Perhaps then that’s why, when asked if she would be at the pub again next week, Lady M asked: what day is that?

My answer that it would also be a Tuesday, same as it usually is, was met with laughter and a salutation of single digits. What Lady M had meant was to ask what the date would be, so that she could consult her mental diary and compare it to the many demands on her time.

She keeps this mental list carefully corralled – a marching order of dates and times of almost encyclopaedic volume – but I suspect that for some time to come, she will be reminded that Tuesday happens every week on a Tuesday.

Things Lady M Says: Working From Home Edition

I always try to be a little circumspect about what I hear when Lady M is working from home – largely because of business confidentiality. I grew up in a vicarage, so instantly forgetting other people’s conversations is pretty much second nature, but every now and then Lady M uses some fantastic turns of phrase that I can’t help but grin to.

One of those was recently overheard while she was joining a teleconference call. I only heard her side of the conversation, but I’m guessing she was running a couple of minutes late because her opening words were: “Hi, I know, sorry about that, I was just so ingrained looking at a contract I lost track of time a bit.”

wp-1457738961251.jpgThe thought of being so engrossed in the material of a contract that you are physically entwined and mired in it’s very substance is a rather scary image – one worthy of almost Lovecraftian imagery of being swallowed up whole by arcane tomes written by giggling prophets of elder gods. It’s the sort of thing that Terry Pratchett would mention when writing about the Library at Unseen University, where unwary students would be overpowered by the magical books they were browsing. All that would be heard would be a brief scream and one of the books would be found looking smug and perhaps with a few extra pages between its covers.

Lady M has legal training, so she does pore over her documentation with a keen eye. She regularly confounds retail staff by actually reading all the terms and conditions before actually signing anything, and so this image of being utterly ingrained in a document… actually works – even if I suspect she meant a combination of other words like immersed or engrossed. Now, as long as she doesn’t start getting text randomly appearing on her forehead, I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’ll just be keeping a close eye on the books around us to be on the safe side…

Things Lady M Says: Gin Night Edition

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Knowing that the Ladies M all read this blog, it was perhaps inevitable that they be on the look out for turns of phrase to inform these posts. Lady M may roll her eyes, but the sparkle in her eyes when she reads them or is asked about them by a certain supplier representative, betrays a joy in the silliness and word play evoked.

In this case we have a classic that was carefully leaked on social media so that Lady M could neither deny it or conveniently forget it. To be fair, with the amount of gin consumed it was almost certainly so that the witnesses wouldn’t forget it either.

Rather appropriately then for #Tuesday, Lady M was heard to venture that: “I only drink when I’ve had a hard day down the pub.”

Now this raises the wonderful image of a hard-drinking dedicated bar-propper putting in some serious overtime in a social context. You could be forgiven for assuming that Lady M worries about getting too much blood in her alcohol stream. However, those who know her will confirm two things: firstly, Lady M can put away a serious amount of alcohol when she puts her mind to it, but secondly she doesn’t tend to actually drink very much on any given occasion.

In part this is down to #Tuesday being a ‘school night’ and she needs to have a clear head for navigating the M25 and beating people over the head with contract clauses. Far more importantly, Lady M does not need alcohol to be the life and soul of the party. Her natural effervesce and lust for life makes her shine forth despite herself.

So in this sentence we have another example of that razor sharp mind adding clarifications as if arguing a contract, even after several drinks. Unfold the sentence into “I only drink when we’re down the pub when I’ve had a hard day” and it’s hardly contentious.

That said, I do like the challenge of treating Lady M’s conversations as legal clauses in real-time. Keeps us all on our toes and keeps the potential for teasing high as well.

Things Lady M Says: The Irreplaceable Piano

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Keep Calm and Use the Konami Code

One of Lady M’s pride and joy possessions is the piano currently sitting in a corner of our lounge. It is largely being used as a dumping ground for all manner of things and as a flat surface to put greetings cards around the year, but the plan this year is to clean it off and get it retuned.

It is a well-travelled piano. It came South with Lady M, and travelled with her when she moved to Switzerland and a third floor apartment with no lifts. When she came back to the UK, to come to the second floor and also liftless flat that we’ve moved into, the piano came too.

The piano is an antique, old enough to have ivory keys, and is a solid piece of furniture. The removal company was less than happy about trying to get it up the narrow staircase and tried to argue that they hadn’t been told about it when they were booked. Efficient as ever, Lady M brandished the printouts of the emails detailing the piano’s existence and value from the original quote.

“It’s Irreplaceable!” she cried, “It’s an antique and they don’t make them like that any more! If you damage it, you’ll be paying for a new one!”

As more than one person has remarked – and nowhere as loudly as the cackling coven on #Tuesdays – if it’s Irreplaceable, then paying for a new one is impossible. The argument over the interpretation of this phrase resurfaces regularly, largely to wind Lady M up, as she falls into the trap each time of trying to clarify what she meant.

We of course know what she means, but the entertainment value for some of arguing the strict meaning of the word Irreplaceable versus the word Priceless continues to bring eye-rolling you can hear in the next County.

Things Lady M Says: Conditional

Yet another in our ongoing series of weird and wonderful sayings and misheard shenanigans – mostly because it’s a good excuse to play around with language and tease Lady M at the same time.

Today’s phrase came during a conversation over the Christmas break about how difficult it was to arrange time with someone ‘because of all the conditional shit in their life’.

On querying the sentence, this was revised to ‘consecutive shit’ and then ‘all these shit things happening for them one after another that is knocking them sideways.’ I may also have received a mock punch in the arm and been told off for having swallowed a thesaurus when I was young. (This must have been back in the Jurassic period, but I digress).

Odd though it sounds, I rather like this particular phrase. There’s a lot packed into it in terms of referencing changing conditions, or in someone’s availability being entirely uncertain depending on a virtual flow chart of conditions. It could also be used a bit more pejoratively to talk about someone placing a lot of conditions on the likelihood of their appearing, though that wasn’t the context for this particular conversation.

Like so many of these strange sayings, on reflection there seem to many appropriate levels to it, densely packed and only truly appreciated when excavated afterwards.

Things Lady M Says: New Year Edition

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We’ve all done it, making innocuous statements that are perfectly fine, but badly timed. I usually manage to come out with appallingly timed wisecracks just as someone reveals a tragic additional piece of information about a situation for example.

Sometimes what we say is perfectly valid in context and timing, and yet is enough to bring tears of laughter. Today’s example came as we were settling down to sleep this evening, and I remarked how it was warmer tonight.

“Well yes,” she said, “it was late and the temperatures plummeted last night. It was the coldest night of the year.”

“What’s today’s date?”

“I… Uh… What..? Oh, well… I suppose that wasn’t difficult!” She began to laugh.

“It was definitely the coldest night of the year, given it was the first night of the year.”

“Bugger off, you know what I meant! Coldest night of the Winter then.”

“Has that started yet, do you think?”

“Are you really lining up a ‘Winter Is Coming’ reference?” I may have nodded in reply.

“I’m so writing this up.”

“Don’t you dare! They’ve all started reading this blog – well, a couple of them anyway.”

“It won’t be any worse than what they hear from you in the office on a daily basis.”

“That’s true.”

So the challenge I guess, is now to see who the first person who works with Lady M will be to break cover on Monday and ask her if Friday was the coldest night of the year so far.

Even if this Sunday is colder, it’ll be worth it, but you may have to buy her a fresh coffee to make it up to her. Drop me a note and let me know if you did…

Things Lady M Says

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One of the great joys in life is playing with words, stretching your vocabulary and finding new ways to express yourself. As someone who makes things up for a living, I people watch and keep an ear out for turns of phrase as a matter of course. Whether it’s stressed out mothers in the supermarket, foul-mouthed squaddies waking up after an all night drinking session, or bemused elderly gentlemen ensuring about computer courses, none of them measure up to the sheer glory that can be a discourse by Lady M.

In addition to her native English, she also speaks French, German, Arabic, and some fairly rusty British Sign Language. This can lead to some conversations taking place in a form of polyglot when she’s tired, ill, or inebriated. When she runs out of vocabulary in one language, she switches to another.

My great amusement though are those times when she stays within the English language and grabs similar words to make entirely new meanings to what she intended. With her bemused permission, I’ll be documenting a few here over time, possibly as a regular feature. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll even make a whole set of pages around it.

Today’s phrase: “It’s been a rough month with all the conditional shit in her life.”

Now, this could have been a reference to someone being penned in with clauses and conditions, but she quickly amended it to say that  “consecutive shit” was her original word intention; as in: bemoaning a series of disasters that had befallen the person she was talking about. Perhaps you had to be there.

Those who know her will appreciate the skilful way in which precisely the wrong words are used in every day situations on a regular basis that at the same time sound completely correct. She claims it isn’t a test to see who’s listening when she talks. I have my doubts.