The big hamstring update, Merry Christmas everyone. Chapter 31

It’s now been 17 weeks since my accident so before we say goodbye to what has been our very own annus horribilis perhaps it’s time for a final update, to give those who have followed my story some christmas cheer . It is actually a good time to do this as I had my first real physio appointment yesterday. After weeks of this horrendous stage 3 hamstring injury how far have I come? Have I done as well as expected? Would life ever be the same again? Well I am pleased to share some good news with you at last, we are going out on positive note.

For the last two weeks, I have been managing around the house without crutches, the home physio team were more than helpful in setting me on the path to this independence. Small flexion exercises and encouragement from my Lion made this transition seamless. I am now able to make dinner, sit at the table ( albeit for a limited time) and more importantly lie on my side in my bed. Ah the simple things we take for granted!! After we had to cut our Caribbean holiday short because of my father in laws recent fall, the home physio team from the NHS came back for a second visit and were delighted with my progress, particularly managing without the crutches. And tout suite I was discharged back to the hospital physio where the real work could begin.

But first I had a big test, our regular catch up with old work colleagues, affectionately refereed to as the ‘tapas crew’, was planned for 15 December. This was a daunting prospect for me because the meal was in Edinburgh and of course this meant I had to revisit the scene of this terrible accident and this particular meeting (other than the delight of seeing good friends) can be a wine fest. It had been almost 14 weeks since I had a proper drink, so this, aside from the good points, had all the makings of it being a disaster.

The simplest of train journey’s was one of mixed emotion; I could remember so well that fateful day, messaging my family, responding to emails, making plans for the future and, I thought, well prepared for the torrential rain. Today I wasn’t travelling alone, my Lion was by my side and was an assured presence, and I had crutches. The train station was busy with people and I was instantly overwhelmed, terrified I would be knocked over or trip, it was the weirdest feeling. But the crutches were akin to having the power of Moses, and on sight of these I was able to part the crowds.

I should have known the day would have gone well these friends, who started out as work colleagues, are now among my closest friends. Their support as with so many others, had been incredible and mattered so much on my lowest days. We had a great time and after much chat, laughter and copious amounts of wine we opted for safety and took a taxi home. Another day and another achievement, it had made me feel almost normal.

This was the last day I took painkillers, I only had them in the morning that day. And since then have managed without them. For the last week I have only taken them on the very odd occasion when I have over done it. Admittedly there have been times when small changes or improvements lull me into a false feeling that I’m back to normal, only to find actually I’m not that well yet and I need to remember to take time. The date of the physio was looming and I was looking forward to making it into the actual appointment and staying for the duration.

The Lion dropped me off, and I confidently strode into the hospital. I didn’t falter, I made my way directly there without stopping and took a chair and waited comfortably for the therapist to appear. She was instantly delighted at how I responded to her arrival, I stood up with ease, I walked toward her without hesitating and she had a look of sheer amazement on her face. The last time I had been here she had to wheel me out to the car in a makeshift bed. So it was no wonder she was incredulous at the sight before her now. It was akin to a miracle.

I almost hopped onto the bed; it was incredible how my confidence grew just on the back of her reaction and admiration. She was so pleased with me she wanted to write down the positives; I was back working, I had stopped the pain killers, I was still managing without the crutches in the house. A recent day out without them had reminded me I couldn’t rush this, but on the whole things were so much better.

The therapist got out her meter to measure flexion and movement in my ‘bad’ leg. This was a comparative excercise looking at the difference between each leg to give me a more informed insight as to how it was progressing, The good leg had, on a scale of 0-5, a five, while the bad leg had a four. A FOUR, go girl! I was so delighted with this news I could have coasted out the door fuelled by sheer ecstasy.

When I first visited the Physio I had to complete a questionnaire, setting out among other things my goals and one of these was to get back on my bike. And after this meeting I have been promised a work out on the static bike at the next appointment. I cannot believe my good fortune. And yes it is good fortune, not to be sniffed at, but a timely reminder of how important our health is and how quickly it can alter.

In what is my last blog before Christmas, I am happy to share this good news, it’s by no means a full recovery but a bit of recovery that has kick started hope as we head into 2019…………………..

Performing Seal. Chapter 23

This was a big week; depending on my performance, the home physio and GP had my holiday in the palm of their hands. Although I had made many mistakes when it came to holiday planning, this time it was in someone else’s hands. I was keeping everything crossed as the departure date was imminent.

First up-the physio, they had called ahead to ask if I was happy with a student attending. This was quite an interesting prospect after all there were more than a few learning opportunities for medical staff on my journey so having the chance to influence someone fresh out of the wrapper was mouthwatering.

It’s crazy how much I was looking forward to this appointment, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. They arrived on time and the student asked permission to lead the session. We identified the priorities; “I cannot sit, I’m hoping to go on holiday and struggling to walk”. This young man, was confident, listened attentively to my explanation and reassured me with several nods of understanding that felt so genuine, which was something I had seen so infrequently from some medical professionals. So far so good.

He advised that the pool on holiday would be ideal for exercising my leg, walking but no swimming that was too vigorous. My heart skipped a beat – did he just say that! my eyes popped as a result of the heart skipping. I digested this statement and quickly flicked my gaze to the senior physio who had accompanied him. She didn’t appear fazed nor was she forcing these words back in to his mouth, instead she was looking at him intently assessing his guidance and advice without a flinch. It must be ok to go, could that be right?

“Let’s get you sitting” and within minutes he had me standing on my good leg, curling the bad leg behind me. I had to do 30 a day, no more no less. I felt like a performing seal, my tongue protruding from my mouth and gasping loudly with each repetition. (Did I just make that noise?) Such was the level of concentration I’d lost touch with reality. Fair play to him, his good manners ensured that he contained his laughter at this performance. “Next let’s introduce some weight bearing on the bad leg”. He encouraged me to stand on one leg, both hands steadying me on the settee against another fall. A performing seal now a flaming flamingo, nevertheless I was so elated at being able to achieve this.

After a few travails up and down the red carpet he had me ready for the catwalk with an improved technique for using the crutches. I was really working it now. “Take a hot water bottle on the plane they can fill it for you, get some mobility assistance and you’ll be fine”. I asked about DVT’s and they gave me some simple exercises to repeat on the flight. That pretty much concluded their visit with a follow-up appointment after the holiday. I actually want to jump for joy ( don’t worry I won’t yet).

The blood test results revealed a slight improvement in my blood levels, certainly enough to allow me to get away. Again some advice from the GP about DVT’s and I was good to go. Finally I could pack the case. However I had one last test to pass, and it was significant.

The final test was an indulgence I had been denied since before the accident. It was a social occasion; a dinner invitation to sample some Tuscan fare with our friends. I could hardly contain my joy but I how would I cope? I had not enjoyed any wine for over 12 weeks. I put on some make-up, looked out a figure hugging outfit ( you have to make the most of this weight loss it wasn’t likely to last) and off we set. Conversation, music, wine, Prosecco, debate, music, company, fabulous food, oh how I had missed that.

I can confirm I passed that test with flying colours, yes normal service has been resumed and it’s true!! At last I am OFF to the Caribbean……………….

The Caribbean is like melting ice cream. Chapter 17

8 weeks in and our Caribbean Holiday was teetering on the brink of cancellation. This was a bit of a bummer,  because we’d been looking forward to it and couldn’t have predicted  that a slip on the wet pavement would threaten it. I mean really! 8 weeks and still I  cannot walk any distance or sit, it’s almost unbelievable but that’s where I am.This made physio the number one priority. We had two weeks to decide if this holiday  was on or off.

I was banking  on my second appointment being the catalyst for change, and keen to make a real effort given we  had to abandon the last one.   Preparation for  the arrival, and maximising participation were crucial.   Our holiday depended on it.

The appointment happened to be the day after the burnt vegetables,  statistically  failure can be traced back to seemingly unconnected past events.   And the charcoaled vegetables triggered  a chain reaction; I couldn’t eat the meal, that  contributed to me missing some medication and later forgetting to take it at all. The ensuing  chaos meant everyone was stressed, the house was filled with smoke and the pots were blackened. My tolerance for drama was limited and I couldn’t settle in bed so didn’t get much sleep. All of this played directly into my pain management and the following day I would pay dearly for this.

Still blissfully unaware of the impact of yesterdays events my other preparations went according to plan. I arrived on time, avoided the  car park, was deposited at the door albeit by myself. I  trundled into the department unaided and  a tad undignified as I was still dependent on the crutches. I followed the green line and slowly made my way into the sanctuary of promise and hope.

The reception area lay as far away from the entrance as possible. You were teased on the approach  with rows of inviting comfortable seats, only accessible when you’ve finally discharged patient responsibilities and checked in.  Having accomplished this I grabbed the nearest seat available hoping my therapist would arrive soon. My pain was slowly building to a crescendo.  Lack of pain relief the day before was reducing  my resistance to  anything but a basic tolerance. A woman I knew walked by me and I looked her way but  I was sufficiently distracted to forgo introductory manners. She was deaf so it didn’t seem to matter, and she sat down next to me.

I was struggling now and incredible pain was starting to engulf me so making polite conversation was the last thing on my mind.  I stood up, I sat down, I shifted from side to side, I put my leg on the coffee table but I could not  find comfort. She was deaf not blind but failed to notice I was paying her no attention, and kept talking. I wanted to scream in her face to ease my tension. (Wanted to but wouldn’t, as I say basic tolerance.)   Just as I was about to explain she was summoned and I was left  grateful, writhing  and waiting for my turn.

Then the physio arrived and I inhaled a faint aroma of the Caribbean. But I knew the moment I got to my feet, I’m not going to manage any  of the planned leg gymnastics.  And sure enough 3 minutes into our appointment and she’s looking to discharge me thankfully suggesting that I might benefit from home physio, as  getting here was taking so much out of me. I started to weep, ( I know its getting to be a habit), but I could  feel the Caribbean was beginning to slip from my grasp.

Defiantly I stood up drawing on every ounce of determination, balancing precariously on the crutches but she could see I was verging on hysteria. She brought me a wheelchair, combining this with a four wheel zimmer and bridged them with a pillow, where I could rest my leg. Then she and her colleague guided me rather haphazardly on the makeshift bogie  out to the exit and my husband waiting by his car.

How the hell would we make the Caribbean  when I couldn’t undertake a 10 minute appointment with the physio. Like a melting ice-cream on a hot July day, it was starting to slip through my fingers………….

woman dropped fail failure
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