|Cartoon courtesy of Mark du Toit|
I'm in the opening stages of another book at the moment, and researching my little socks off. This has caused a certain amount of domestic alarm. Beloved mother, you see, was a nurse before she retired, so when she rang her eldest daughter to ask how she was and how The Boy did in his school cross country race, she got a barrage of questions I had been saving up to ask her. They went a bit like this:
- How often do you turn someone who is completely paralysed to prevent bedsores?
- Would you feed them through a tube?
- How soon would muscle wastage set in?
- What kind of physical therapy would they receive?
- If someone was just pretending to be paralysed, would the therapist be able to feel it?
We wittered on for about twenty minutes about the care and treatment of paralysis, until suddenly I hear: "No, stop it. Give me the phone back, go away. Everyone's fine. Stop worrying."
Then in a tone of complete exasperation: "She's writing another book."
Turns out that esteemed stepfather was having kittens listening to her end of the conversation, thinking that someone in the family was paralysed and in hospital. I suppose it's slightly better than being caught trying to find out how to be an effective terrorist.
And so my personal contribution to the craft of writing today is: when you do your research, be careful who's listening.
My writing challenge is going to be how to cover do-it-yourself catheter removal when breaking out of hospital. Sexy, huh?