How do you do it? — I mean writing with such creativity, humour and wisdom while being trapped in a collar-thingy that would stop me from moving, thinking or imagining anything beyond getting it off.

The quote above comes from a recent email; my good friend Michael fired this off to me on a day when that very question was all that filled my mind. Sore, frustrated, unable to move, think or imagine anything beyond this collar-thingy, I had spent most of the day trolling the net, trying to find out just exactly why I was trapped within it.

Now, it appears that when it comes to gathering information, the majority of humankind is actually looking for confirmation of an existing opinion. We think we’re out to learn something, but it’s actually rare for us to accept information that contradicts what we think we know – or want to continue to believe. In my case, although I did dig up a stray article that questioned the effectiveness of a cervical collar, the overwhelming bulk of evidence was in favour of carrying out the full sentence. Reluctantly then – two more weeks to go.

So for those of you like Michael trying to fathom how I do it: an exercise. Try this at home! A couple of pool noodle rings hot glued around your neck might give you the idea – or a really thick towel rolled and wedged under your chin maybe? You should not be able to move your head more than a few degrees to right or left or be able to tilt your head up or down. If you need to see your feet or spit when brushing your teeth, you must incline the whole upper body, not just your head. Reaching too far forward will hurt; it might seem that you can crouch rather than bend to pick up an object on the floor or the lower shelf of the refrigerator, but it will involve reaching, I warn you! You won’t be able to look down at the book or computer on your lap, so you will have to perch it on your knees or balance it on a pile of pillows – otherwise, you’ll find that your eyeballs are sore by the end of the day whenever you look up. Need relief? Recline, but the pillows will have to be adjusted so that shoulders and head are supported with no pressure forcing the collar into your neck – a tricky business, let me tell you. Fortunately, there are two collars – the softer one is for sleeping (and showering!) but you still have to arrange your pillows strategically. If, like me, you don’t normally sleep on your side, you will have to wedge yourself in with more pillows so you don’t roll over during the night.  Oh…and eating? Sit up straight and…hmmm…yes, reaching forward without looking down…well, never mind. The collar is great at collecting spills. And dribbles. Lots of dribbles. No worries, the collar is also washable. Too bad about your shirt.

Now for extra fun, walk about in public; taking note of all the double takes will provide amusement. Don’t trip, though – remember you can’t see your feet! It’s only for six weeks.

I find myself strangely sympathetic toward yoked animals these days. Oxen. Haltered horses. And those amusing pictures of pets wearing cones after surgery? Not funny.

cone dog