In Sickness and in Health: Listening to my husband swear again is music to my ears

Earlier this year, Rebecca's husband Nick was hit by a car and seriously injured. Here, in one of a series of columns, she writes about the aftermath of his accident

Share

“Did Nick used to swear much?” The nurse looked at me carefully, wondering, perhaps, if I was going to burst into tears after hearing Nick swearing very much indeed. “Oh yes,” I said happily, if a little sheepishly.

Nick swearing again after months of silence is like seeing the sun pierce through a cloud when it looks as though a shaft of heaven is beaming down to us muggles below. In this case, the cloud is traumatic brain injury and the ray of sunlight is a glorious torrent of bad words. Happy? Too effing right.

Sheepish, though, because a lot of the profanity is undoubtedly my fault. When Nick and I met, he swore as much as the next man, or at least one who didn’t say sugar, or flip, when he meant something saltier. I swore as much as the next woman, all of her friends, her builders and her foulest-mouthed family members put together. Still do, but I’ll try to keep it clean here. I know, I know - people say that swearing isn’t big and isn’t clever, but my more imaginative curses have the hallmarks of both.

A slug of Anglo Saxon can connect like a punch, but I find that it’s all about deploying it with a lightness of touch. It can disarm, and it can also charm, shock or win over. And I’ve not worked at a newspaper for more than a decade without learning how to curse like a strung-out, hungover news editor on deadline.

After a brain injury, it’s not unusual for people to have a stage in their recovery when all guns are blazing, profanity-wise. Some relatives must be horrified to hear their mothers letting rip with previously unuttered obscenities. Granddad’s church friends are, no doubt, taken aback when he starts calling the doctors a bunch of ******* *****. Hence the nurse’s tentative question. Then again, I can’t think of many situations where flicking through one’s inner Profanisaurus would be more appropriate.

Quite apart from the disinhibition that frequently comes after trauma to the head, it’s not a time when whiskers on kittens and raindrops on roses spring to mind. Bodies hurt. Minds are shattered. Everything is confusing and frightening. Nurses are inspecting, injecting and disinfecting.  If you can’t have a good swear after a brain injury, when can you? “Please could you stop doing that, my good woman, and explain why exactly it is that my mind and body are is such a parlous state” is unlikely to be the first thing to trip off my lips were I in Nick’s position. When Nick had a root canal a couple of years ago, the dentist told Nick afterwards that he had never heard someone swear with such flair. No wonder the air in the rehab unit is turning blue.

So yes, here’s to the swearing, even if it means Nick calling his mum and brother a pair of useless berks (in the original, rhyming slang version of the word). I tell him off if he swears in front of his daughter, ask him not to try to not be directly rude to the staff, and then I drill him to say please and thank you. A foul mouth born of frustration and fear is one thing, ill manners, I believe, is something else entirely.

READ MORE:
Super stressed at 34? Tell me about it
In Sickness and In Health: The invisible support network that keeps me going

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
 

My shameful failure to live up to the spirit of Christmas

Howard Jacobson
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all