Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hail to the hooded crow...

Blogger has a handy widget that lets you know the kind of search terms people use that result in their stumbling across your blog, along with other fun stats and stuff. It's always entertaining, especially since one of the most common search terms these days involves 'king's nipples' or 'nipple cult'. A while ago, somebody stumbled across the blog after doing a search for 'matriarchal spaceships' (I think that one's my favourite). Yesterday, somebody arrived by way of searching for 'invoking Irish zombies.'

The mind boggles, it really does. But I'm sorry to disappoint.

Anyway, I've not had much to say recently aside from bits and pieces in the news and reviews (of which I'm intending to catch up on a few more at some point), and that's mainly because I haven't been doing much. I slipped a disc in February and I've been having problems ever since, though quite what the problem is now is yet to be determined; I'm undergoing another course of physiotherapy and it's been decided that my disc isn't the problem right now, and I suspect I'm heading for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (though that's by no means certain); whatever the case, it seems I'm stuck with whatever it is for good now, and will be dependent on a cocktail of medication just to get through each day. I can't be too active, or else I end up in even more pain, and alongside not sleeping too well and taking a lot of drugs that can make you tired, well. There's not much chance of that happening often. So yeah, not up to much these days while I figure out the limits of my capability now. It's a voyage of discovery!

A life of pain and drugs is not a prospect I relish, to be honest (though I'm well aware my situation is nowhere near as bad as it could be; I know folks with similar problems who have it far worse than I do), but it's not something that comes as much of a surprise, really. Just before this all happened I'd taken a trip into town to run some errands, and just as my daughter and I had got off the bus and were walking towards the shopping centre, there was a hooded crow perched on a wall. They're very distinctive birds, with their light grey bodies, and I've seen them before on travels around the Highlands - always in large groups, though, usually flocking around roadkill, or something. I don't live in a part of Scotland where they're common, but I do live near the edge of where they tend to live, so it's not outside the realm of possibility to happen across one. But when you happen across one in unusual circumstances, and they have religious significance to you...well. I don't know about you, but I tend to take note of that. And if it was supposed to be a sign, then I wasn't expecting it to be a good one, given the associations. (Pointless aside: In Ireland, the hooded crow is the emblem of the O'Tooles of Wicklow. In the fourteenth century, they are said to have gone into battle with the cry, Feannóg abú! - Hail to the hooded crow! That's a kind of attitude I can admire...)

So anyway, here I am, lumped with it for the foreseeable future. And of course, I'm not the only one facing something like this, and nor am I first. When the general diagnosis involved a buggered disc I went searching for folk cures and charms to see how people dealt with it before the advent of Tramadol and the like (might as well make it a learning experience). I didn't exactly find much that could help! Take, for instance, George F. Black's Scottish Charms and Amulets:

Some of the natives [of North Uist] wear a girdle of the Seal-skin about the middle, for removing the Sciatica, as those of the Shire of Aberdeen wear it to remove the Chin-cough.

Well, I did see a seal sun-bathing on a rock near the shore last month, but I think people tend to frown on that sort of thing these days. Personally, I like seals alive more than I like them worn as a girdle in the hopes of relieving sciatica.

John Gregorson Campbell, on the other hand, has this to say about leum droma ('leap of the back' - a slipped disc, or bad back in general):

When the back is strained and its nerves are affected so that motion is painful, the afflicted person is to lie down on his face, and one who was born feet foremost is to step thrice across him, each time laying his full weight on the foot that treads on the patient's back. There is not cure unless the person stepping across has been born feet foremost.
Ronald Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p228/490.

Technically speaking, I could give this one a go because my husband was a breech baby, but then again he's about twice the size of me, and even without a knackered back I suspect trying this would break me, even if I could persuade him to try.

At least there's Tramadol...