It is easy to mistrust technology when it has electrified the bejeezers out of you. A repost today: the story of my schism from, and reuniting with, a singular, tingular little machine.
I first met the little machine which was to prove my nemesis, in a cosy sitting room, in a house somewhere at the foot of Dartmoor.
There, I was growing more matronly day by day, and expecting the birth of a lovely bouncing baby.
The whole pregnancy thing was new to me. In truth, I never really became accustomed to it. Nature compulsorily purchases you and turns you into a child-growing factory.
My midwife sat me down and told me that I needed the little machine in question – a TENS machine-, to relieve the early stages of discomfort which I could expect from childbirth.
It consists of a couple of pads which one attached to one’s lower back, where back pain tends to be. It has a dial. It administers tiny electrical impulses to the muscles, relaxing them. Keep it low, and you get lovely little tingles which relax one’s musicles perfectly. Turn it up and the tingles become more and more insistent.
I never, of course, turned it up that far.
It was a great help. I found it restful, relieving, restorative. It and I were buddies, which was good, because by this time no-one else could get close enough to me to offer any kind of group hug.
Three years later, I found I was once more with child, and there was no time for the TENS machine.
A month before Felix was forecast to hit the ground running, he began to make himself plainly understood. He has never lost this capacity. It was evident he was becoming impatient for a little action, and he was coming out if that was all right with me. Or even, possibly, if it wasn’t.
Heaving a sigh, I grabbed the suitcase and headed for the labour ward.
A very clever midwife looked me up and down. Her ward was full to bursting because it seemed every prospective child in the area felt the same way as Felix. She housed myself and my husband in an enchantingly pretty little room, and she took measures to calm me down so much that Felix would reconsider his decision.
And once we were ensconced in that lovely little place, she gave me a TENS machine.
I had forgotten how to use it. I stared at the machine with the very same mixture of incomprehension that I had used with the chemist’s shop assistant three years before. I attached the pads to my back, and I sat back on the sumptuous bed.
I must have been watching an exciting television programme, or engaged in a particularly animated conversation with my husband, because about a minute after this, my hand slipped.
Round went the knob to the maximum setting. And I shot up in the air and began, vociferously, both to dance and to protest.
At times of pressure, is it not the cruellest joke of all that our ability to communicate opens the nearest window and jumps out?
My words became incomprehensible, if slightly comical,screeches. Phil was trying mightily to decipher these, and divine why his heavily pregnant wife was now doing a light-stepping insane tarantella round the chintzy room, but he drew a blank.
Eventually, by sizing up my overt non-verbal language, he managed to glean enough information to realise that the little unassuming machine was at fault.
We both grabbed the machine and tore it off. And sat there, breathless. I savoured the sensation of not being attached to over-enthusaiastic electrodes. The aftermath was strangely cathartic.
And then we settled down to work out what we would tell the midwife about the dishevelled state of her machine and its now less than perfect electrical wiring.
I never saw one again: until today’s physio appointment.
The nice lady physio brandished a tens machine. “Hold on there while I put these pads on,” she said, and everything in me wanted to make a mad dash for the street from whence I had come.
But I was already out of puff, and she looked fit enough to tackle me and win. So I let her put them on.
Now, she said, how’s this? And she turned the dial.
I became a pastiche of that painting: you know, The Scream?
She read my body language and turned it down to the minimum setting. Then she gave me the controller, and said: you do it, then. Every time you feel comfortable, turn it up.
I did. I had ten minutes on that tens machine, controlling my minor demon with an electric dial. And when I walked out of the clinic, I was floating about two feet off the ground due to elation, electricity and a feeling of distinct self-worth.
I smiled foolishly all the way round the supermarket.
Picture source here