Hobbies and Pastimes – No1 ‘Needlepoint’


Poor J has had a real bummer of a week! Seven days ago she woke up a virtual cripple with debilitating lower back pain – there was no rhyme nor reason to it, it was just there!


I could certainly empathise with the pain she was in having been through years of agony and then enforced early retirement. So it was that she started on a regime of rest, muscle-relaxants, pain-killers and anti-spasmodics. It was to no avail and so Tuesday saw us in consultation with the neurosurgeon at our local hospital.


What an ebullient character he turned out to be. After the usual battery of tests and scans it was ‘hands-on’ time as he bounced around his office, prodding, poking and bending poor J’s extremities all accompanied by his booming and jovial running commentary. I should add that all this is happening in a jolly mix of pidgin-english and Turkish which is being translated for my benefit simultaneously by J (who understands perfectly) and our charming Ukrainian-born translator. Taking notes at the desk is Mr Neurosurgeon’s secretary/assistant.


Finally, it was prognosis time – no trapped nerves or arthritic bits to worry about – this was all to do with J’s sacroiliac joint and was very treatable (he said).


He prescribed this and that and finally added that she would need an injection in her ‘bum’ (his word, not mine) every day for a week, either at the hospital or at the clinic which had J a bit discombobulated at the thought and the inconvenience.


My hand shot up, ‘I’m good for that!’ I exclaimed. The chance of needling J for a week was not something I wanted to pass up. ‘As long as it’s into the muscle I can do that!’


Mr Neurosurgeon looked skeptical, ‘Just what experience have you had of giving injections?’ he asked.


‘I’ve injected the dog many times’ I claimed (which is true), ‘injecting her will be no different!’


Satisfied with my qualifications, Mr Neurosurgeon decides, for good measure, that I need instruction on exactly where to stick the needle. ‘Turn around’, he says to J ‘and drop your trousers.’ There is a sharp intake of breath from the lady secretary at the desk. The rest of us, Mr Neurosurgeon, our Ukrainian translator, me and, of course, J are quite unflustered – dropping ones pants to a doctor of either sex is pretty normal.

In the interests of accurate journalism I need to state that I’ve touched-up the lines for clarity as J keeps washing them off! You can make out three neat puncture marks in the ‘top third’ as per instructions (original and genuine model – no photoshopping)


Flourishing his ball-point pen, Mr Neurosurgeon exposes J’s right buttock (discreetly), ‘It must be divided into thirds’ he said as he drew a large cross on her arse in true Irish style, all of which reduced us to howls of laughter – even the secretary eventually joined in as she tried to hide her embarrassment behind some document folder or other.


Eventually order was restored and I was solemnly instructed to make the injection ‘here, in the top third’ as he pointed at the top right quadrant!


I declined the offer of a practice go under supervision in favour of testing out my ‘needle-point’ skills in private! Every cloud has a silver lining!

my ‘needlepoint’ kit


Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü Health Clinic


ps I’m pleased to report that J seems to be on the mend and I now feel free to share my pleasure at helping her healing process – there are also four more jabs to go!


22 thoughts on “Hobbies and Pastimes – No1 ‘Needlepoint’

  1. I’m bloomin gobsmacked. J must have every faith in you or is in such pain, she doesn’t care who jabs her rrrrrrrrrzzzzz. Brave lady, wishing her a speedy recovery! x

  2. The good news is she is recovering… Bad news is she wasn’t feeling good.. Know what I was at the hospital today, for I am having really very tough times with my shoulder.. Very acute strong pain, thought it was what they called “frozen shoulder” after having x rayed and than an MR, the doctors said there was a tumor like thing in the vicinity.. so they now are checking if this is malign or benign.. Think they will come up with a result mid next week… (they said most probably it is not a deadly fellow, and something I might have had since birth, but, we’ll see.
    Meantime Alan, I remembered a story about a couple who got early retirement due to pain. Story was like this, after they get married, they go to Italy for the honey moon.. Than they return to US, where the man works for 10’s of years till he starts complaining of a very tough pain in his muscles. The pain is so strong that he can’t go to work. The doctors cannot diagnose the reason for the pain, so he gets an early retiremnt and tries to learn to live with the pain.. After a couple of more years, however, same kind of pains start with the wife.. This time, the doctors think there has to be a common reason, but they cannot find why.. They check everything, including the water they drink, the pipes to the house etc .. but no help… The lady gets an early retirement as well, and the two start to live a poor life in pain. The man, starts investigating the mechanism of pain in the body, he searches and searches.. and finds that such pain is generally is a result of lead or cupper intake. Finally he finds out that, when they were on their honeymoon in Italy, 20-30 or maybe 40 years ago, they bought two coffee mugs. This, being glazed but not properly cooked in the oven, leached some tiny amount of cupper every day with the cup of nescafe they had every morning. Unluckily they did not break the mugs by accident, also they did not want to change, buy a new pair, since this was part of their past.. So they kept on drinking the same poison for years, eventually it started these pains in both of them.. Dropping the cups into the bin.. Pain of years.. cut off within a couple of days, just by stopping to drink from the same mug…
    Your story of repetitive back pain, reminded me of this story I read somewhere some time..
    All the best..

    1. . . getting better is ‘some and some’ as it turns out – as for the embroidery, I thought the first three ‘stitches’ were very neat.

  3. Hello Alan,

    Well, I was in an academic meeting with colleagues and administrators when your post came to my iPhone.

    It being the usual less-than-enthralling meeting, I covertly read your post, but, alas, a smile began on my face (not good during such a droll meeting), and then it was everything I could do to not burst out laughing as the target was illustrated. I almost had to put my head down on the meeting table to avoid detection.

    What a bind!

    Of course, my empathy (I too have occasional intense back pain in the lumbar) for J was stressed severely by the humor (or visa-versa) and tone of the post.

    Good to hear that she is better and feeling better. It’s a very scary thing to be in that much pain and disability. I’ve always been very concerned that my back might cause me problems during my visits to Turkey. I have an outstanding chiropractor here at home, but I’m not sure that such treatment and skills are available in Turkey (I hope I am wrong).

    I’ll be in your area starting early June; I look forward to seeing J and you soon!



    1. Ed, I’m with you, although thankfully I wasn’t in a meeting when I started laughing out loud…! Just hope A gets J all fixed up before the departure to Iran. I have SI issues on a regular basis and they’re no fun for plane travel!

      1. Hey, you two! Don’t mind me, should I just go sit in the corner and let you empathise with each other, or should we stand in a circle and pass the embrocation? ;-D

  4. Oof yaa, Alan! I (J of senior dogs) honestly don’t know if I’d let you prick my bum. I’d be left laughing so hard, you’d miss and heaven knows what’d happen then – maybe paralysis. Geçmiş olsun, J, and just remember – you have to get well so you can spend two weeks traveling around Iran with him

    1. . . it’s been a real bummer (yes, we really do say that) for her – she’s slowly mending we think and will see the neurologist again in a few days – fingers crossed!

  5. Oh my God!! I can’t believe J let you post a picture of her bum. My husband would murder me if I dared. (But he is Italian– you known bella figura and all that). Don’t expect any Italian male bum posts from Mozzarella Mamma — Unless they are some sort of Dolce & Gabbana model that I have snuck up on (Hmm, that could be fun). Gosh, I hope J is doing better. What a misery. Backs are so difficult. Actually I think I am going to go do my doctor-recommended back stretching exercises right now. I had my zumba class class today and am feeling a little achy and creaky. By the way– what happened to your trip to Iran — did I miss a post? I will go hunt through your posts now.

    1. . . she seems to be slowly mending (sees the neurologist again tomorrow) and who say she knows or reads the blog!! The Iran trip is on for 19th of April for about 16 days.

  6. Totally geçmis olsun. Lower back pain is not in the least bit pleasant… Hopefully your needlework will have the desired result before your trip to Iran. (I managed to rupture a disc on the plane on our trip to Mexico City – Ashley ‘replaced’ it in the archaeological museum – a rather interesting experience).

    1. . . there was no relief and a couple of days ago she was taken as an in-patient and had a series of injections by the neurosurgeon – ‘Voila!’ – back to normal (is that a pun?). As for Ashley’s expertise in manipulation he should set out his stall at Ephesus – all those weary, battered tourists!

  7. Hi Alan. I am sorry to read Janet is poorly. Hope the ‘jabs’ are doing the trick. Hoping to be in Dalyan last week in April. Best wishes to you both. Mary

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