Sunday, 24 November 2013

Useless

I've always been someone who needs to be doing something. Sitting around for endless hours is not something that comes naturally to me, so it has been a serious culture shock to be able to do nothing but sit on the sofa with my busted leg up. The only thing that has enabled me to maintain my tentative grip on reality has been the countless hours spent playing 'Red Dead Redemption' on the xbox. The levels of frustration are incredible as suddenly I find myself unable to carry out the simplest of tasks; having to rely on others to do practically everything for me. It's pretty much all I can do to get to the bathroom and back and even after that I'm out of breath. The past fortnight of inactivity has left me so weak it's unbelievable. I wasn't exactly a gym-honed adonis before all this but even I find my current physical state distressing.

Friday saw me attending the fracture clinic at the hospital where I was booked in for my first operation which will take place tomorrow. The consultant explained that the knee joint will be opened up and metal plates put in to keep the bone fragments together in both the [tibia?] and the femur. Once these have healed sufficiently there will be the surgery to repair the damaged ligament which will be keyhole so at least my knee won't need to be opened up a second time. I've never had surgery before and if it wasn't for the side effects of all the codeine I'm taking I'd be shitting myself.
I've been through so much crap this year and just as things started improving for me, this happens. Maybe I'm being punished - maybe it's karma. All I know is that I've never felt so low and even putting on a brave face is a strain. Luckily I'm surrounded by a strong support team of family and friends who I know I'd be lost without and for them I'm truly thankful.

So tomorrow it's off to hospital again, and hopefully I won't have to stay too long, coping with that awful food....
Then I suppose I'd better get a wheel chair organised so I can get about more efficiently and try to rebuild some sort of life beyond the sofa.

PS - it's now 8:40pm and I have to admit that the prospect of being cut open tomorrow by someone who's like a cross between a butcher and a workshop teacher is scaring the shit out of me.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

An unexpected adventure (Part 1)



Monday:
Finished work at the usual time and headed home in the rain with the intention of dropping by to visit my sister en route.
Unfortunately, fate seemed to have other plans for me. As I filtered past the stationary traffic through town I came across a car pulling out from the left intending to turn right. The sudden realisation of an imminent impact, grabbing a handful of brake which proved pretty much ineffective on the wet road, the bone-jarring moment of impact, head bouncing off the a-pillar (thank you Shoei) and landing on my back in a complicated heap was all over in a moment and would have been bad enough. The car driver unfortunately didn't quite find it necessary to brake immediately and continued rolling forward over my outstretched foot, eventually coming to a halt when my foot managed to prove itself as a relatively effective wheel chock for a Vauhall Astra. It seemed to take an eternity of shouting and gesturing before the driver took notice and backed off me, by which time my left leg had been wrenched round in a manner that nature never intended.
Conscious of the potential for holding up traffic and the resultant tide of hatred, I managed to drag myself off the road and on to the path, all the time aware that all was not well with my left leg.
Bystanders picked up my bike and moved it to a safe position while someone phoned for an ambulance.
A paramedic was first on the scene and did some preliminary checks while we waited for the ambulance, and I took the opportunity to phone the wife to let her know what had happened, and a work colleague to ask him to collect my bike.

Once safely installed in the A&E department at Addenbrookes hospital, it wasn't long before I was whisked off to x-ray while being grilled by an irritating traffic cop. All I wanted to do was tell him to fuck off and let me deal with rather more pressing issues that his stupid bloody paperwork, but it never does you favours to get arsy with the rozzers so I just tried to get him out of my hair as quickly as possible.
After the initial excitement of it all began to dwindle I obviously began to drift off into a state of shock resulting in being put on oxygen and having a precautionary ECG (the wife told them of my worrying chest pains a couple of days earlier) and generally feeling woozy, hot, clammy and a bit sick.
Once stabilised I was given a cup of tea and a sandwich and then admitted to a ward. I suppose I did quite well getting to 42 before seeing a hospital from the wrong side, but this was definitely going to be a new experience. A little ironic too that having been riding motorcycles (including some pretty serious machinery) for about 25 years, sometimes like a complete loony, that the time I came a cropper was when I was just trundling through town on a little 125. Probably for the best that I wasn't riding the 1200 Bandit this day.
Really grateful to my colleague who collected my bike from the roadside and took it home for me. I owe him a great many beers. Wonder if it'll be a repair job or just a pile of scrap. Not going to worry about it now though, just as I'm not going to worry about insurance companies or police reports. Let's get me sorted first.

Tuesday:
With the expectation of me going into surgery the next day I was kept on Nil-By-Mouth status for what turned out to be around 18 hours before the wife decided to query it. By then I was so dehydrated I had to be put on a saline drip to bring up my fluid levels. At this point I was feeling so shitty with the pains in my leg, having had nothing to eat or drink apart from one sandwich and a cup of tea since lunchtime the previous day, and with the enormity of the situation I'd found myself in that I felt that I could quite happily have simply died there and then so I didn't have to deal with it.
Luckily the drip was like the elixir of life and before long I was considerably more rational and able to put things into perspective. Pushing away thoughts about whether or not I'm likely to ride a motorcycle again, I tried to stay positive with the notion that things could have been a whole lot worse.
This renewed optimism was slightly tempered by an almost complete absence of communication between patients, nurses and doctors, and it quickly became clear as to the effects of staff shortages and cost cutting on the NHS. The only progress today was that I was wheeled along for a CT scan of my knee, which they were careful to avoid discusing with me later. More painkillers, more blood pressure checks, more pissing in bottles, but definitely no information.
The wife and the boy visited, bringing the essentials of life like rhubarb & custard sweets and clean underpants. There was also some reading material in the form of the latest issue of Bike magazine. In hindsight perhaps not the most tactful choice, but maybe she felt a bit self conscious about buying Penthouse.
  Robocop Mk2 - preferable to a cast when the itches come…



Wednesday:
Wheeled off to x-ray for additional pictures of my foot, with a slight relief to the boredom brought partly from observing a radiology student being trained, but mostly by being propelled there by a motorised thingy that latched on to the bed at the front, which was controlled by the bloke who was also manually steering the other end. It felt a bit bizarre whizzing along corridors on what felt like an automated bed and I had suppress the urge to hold my hands out in front gripping an imaginary steering wheel and making engine noises.
By the end of the day I actually had some news - that because the CT doesn't show up soft tissue so well, they also needed to do an MRI to look for ligament damage before deciding on a course of action. This had been scheduled for Friday morning, which meant I'd have the whole of Thursday to kill. Thankfully I had visitors which helped me maintain my now slender grip on reality. I'm someone who generally needs to be up and doing stuff - sitting about doesn't come naturally to me. But having no choice has kind of made me find some sort of inner peace, and I suddenly find myself able to sit for hours on end with little to do without actually driving myself insane. Maybe it's the drugs…

Bruising starting to come out. Lovely.…

Thursday:
Enough is enough. Fed up with being stuck in this bloody bed, not being able to walk and having to piss in a bottle, I pointed out to the physiotherapist that if I didn't get crutches or a walking frame soon, I'd climb down from the bed and bum-shuffle my way to the bog. Surprisingly this did the trick and soon after lunch I was furnished with a pair of crutches, a little instruction, and the freedom to visit the smallest room at will - although the last time I took a shit was Monday morning and by now I'm starting to get a bit worried. Just as well the meal portions are very small...
Biggest surprise of the day though was actually seeing a doctor. A doctor! In a hospital! Wonders never cease. Turns out I also have a broken bone about halfway along my foot in addition to multiple fractures at the top of the lower leg bone. Still no firm info on what's going to happen until they've seen the results of tomorrows MRI scan. Repair job or replacement parts? Who knows? No doubt I'll be the last to find out - it's only my body after all. Wouldn't be surprised to find myself on eBay for spares or repair....

Friday:
Awoke this morning expecting big things of the day, and it was a promising start when I realised the sergeant-major was standing to attention. At least that still works, which is more than can be said for last night's laxatives. Too much information? Well, in a situation as dull and frustrating as this even the most mundane things become worthy of a higher level of scrutiny than they would normally receive.
Surprised to find myself carted off for the MRI not too long after the scheduled time, and it was an unusual experience for sure. Aside from having watched every episode of House MD, I didn't have much idea what it would be like. In summary I guess it's a bit like having to lie very still while being fed to a giant Polo mint accompanied by the sounds of a late 1970's video game arcade with the volume turned up to eleven. The female technician was very friendly but definitely not Olivia Wilde.
Got back to the ward just in time to miss lunch, but the timely arrival the previous evening of a packet of custard creams meant all was not lost. The food isn't too bad considering the number of people being catered for, but it most certainly won't be featuring in any Michelin guide. I'm gradually learning not to trust the food descriptions on the menu. The promise of roast turkey with cranberry sauce sounded good but turned out to be a slice of processed meat out of a packet, and the salmon was out of a tin, so the safest bet seems to be to stick to something with less chance of going wrong like lasagne or shepherds pie. Getting an odd craving for a Burger King but hopefully I'll be better soon.
Come six o'clock my mood had lightened somewhat with the restoration of bowel function and the desire was there to do a lap of honour round the ward, but I figured that people might not understand and I wasn't keen to end up being transferred to a rather different sort of ward where everyone wears those funny jackets covered in straps and buckles.

Saturday:
Monty Python had the machine that went 'ping'. How lucky they were. At the bed next to me last night was a morphine pump with a bad temper, or as I like to call it - the machine that goes 'EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!'. Needless to say there didn't seem to be much opportunity for sleep, resulting in a slightly more grumpy version of myself this morning. One thing I have discovered since sharing this room with some other people over the past few days, is that I'm perhaps not quite the moany git I've always considered myself to be. In fact I now see myself as a mere apprentice who has much to learn.
Needless to say, the supply of information today was useless at best. The doctors don't tell the nurses anything (obviously "information is power" is the founding principle of hospital politics) so the nurses couldn't tell me what the outcome of yesterday's MRI was and those who knew were too busy playing golf to talk to me. Weekends are obviously pretty sacred to doctors so whatever you do don't do.....well....anything at all at the weekend because if it all goes spectacularly wrong you'll have bled out before the 18th hole has been played. OK that's unfair - anyone doing such a skilled and pressured job as that needs regular R&R to remain on top of their game, both on and off the golf course, but it doesn't stop it being frustrating for those who really need to talk to them.
Fortunately the grouchy morphine pump was wheeled away this afternoon so with a bit of luck the earplugs I got the wife to bring in for me won't be needed tonight.
The left foot seems to be getting even more puffy and swollen today which is a bit disconcerting, but I daresay that if it explodes it might force someone to actually do something.

Sunday:
Managed to have a shower this morning instead of the usual wash with a bowl of water, which felt wonderful right up until I was trying to get dried by which point the exertion had left me so breathless I had to sit down to recover before I could continue getting dressed. Unbelievable, the effect of zero activity for a few days. I now feel so weak it's ridiculous and I can't wait to get home so I can set about rebuilding my strength with the dumbells. The leg will take somewhat longer whatever happens, but if I can make the rest of my body cooperate then that's about as much as I can hope for.
Received a visit from the consultant this morning who explained that the damage to the knee is pretty extensive with the bone fractures on the bearing surface and a ruptured cruciate ligament. The fractures should apparently heal in time, but the ligament requires surgery. They won't be doing this for a few weeks until there has been sufficient healing so for the time being I'll have to attend clinics so they can keep a check on progress but for now I'm going to be sent home. Woo-hoo!

So that was about 11am. At 5pm I'm sat at home exhausted and with a bag of pills and syringes to take care of the next couple of weeks medication. My leg is trussed up in a hinged splint and my mobility is very limited, but at least I'm home where I can sit comfortably with a proper cup of tea, the promise of some decent food and the comfort of my own bed.
Plus now that I have wifi access again I can upload this rather long blog post.

Here endedth the first instalment of my trials and tribulations - no doubt with more to follow.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Superstars and undeserved egos

The first thing I'd like to do this week is to say a big thank-you to the Met Office for their wonderful weather forecast on Friday which made it quite clear that I wouldn't be needing my waterproofs for the journey to and from work. Obviously I only have myself to blame for actually believing anything the Met Office say. There's something very special about riding a motorcycle with your scrotum being gently marinaded in a pool of cold water.
 No such inconveniences for the guys in MotoGP today as Marc Marquez clinched the world championship - the youngest ever rider to do so. What an absolute star!

At least I still get to watch the MotoGP thanks to BBC iPlayer, and the other evening I witnessed something that only served to confirm that the very worst of television programmes has to be seen to be believed and gave me assurance that doing away with the TV aerial and licence was one of the best things I've ever done.
It's bad enough at this time of year when every time you turn on the telly there's someone trying to convince you that you need a new sofa in time for Christmas, but having gone for so long believing that Big Brother, X-Factor, and Strictly Come Dancing were the bottom of the barrel in lobotomy TV, I've discovered a whole new low.
Perusing the 'recently added' listings on LoveFilm in search of something new to watch, we spotted something called 'Jersey Shore'.
I have the distinct feeling that many American readers will at this point be rolling their eyes in despair, and rightly so. This programme features the very worst examples of the human animal. People who quite frankly give rise to the suspicion that at the time of their birth the doctors in the maternity ward accidentally threw away the wrong bit. People who's perfect sexual partner would certainly be themselves because I've never seen or heard such prime examples of manic narcissism in my life. I've met many egotistical dip-shits who think far more of themselves than anyone else does, but these self-obsessed excuses for human beings take it to a whole new level.
Needless to say we had to switch it off before many minutes had passed as I didn't want to have to resort to throwing things at the nice new telly - it wouldn't have looked good on the insurance claim form.
So although getting rid of live TV enabled us to live a life with significantly less intrusion from the ever-present world of bullshit, it still managed to sneakily find a way of inflicting itself upon us.
Luckily there's always alcohol to round off life's sharp corners....

http://www.motogp.com 
Marc Marquez - we are not worthy.
(Image from http://www.motogp.com)


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Hang the DJ

Silly season is almost upon us once again, and as usual I'm quite happy to not be a part of it. For me, the annual commercial festival of greed and gluttony is something that happens to other people, and since opting out of it and not having it shoved down my throat at every opportunity by the TV, I'm able to trundle through this period with no additional stress whatsoever.
It goes without saying that it's not completely unavoidable because whenever you set foot in a supermarket from late September onwards you're confronted with yet another world record attempt at building the tallest tower of Quality Street mankind has ever seen, and every pub and restaurant is desperately trying to tempt you to book your Christmas dinner for roughly the same amount that would feed an African family for a year.

It also happens to be pretty much the only time when my whole family gets together, and because I like these family occasions with their comfortable informality and the chance to see those who I don't really see as often as I'd like, I'm prepared to dilute my principles on the whole Christmas thing to join in. This year will be a little different as it's going to be in a small local social-club type place that's normally used by old folk, rather than in someones house where things can get a little cramped. This does mean having to tolerate decor that went out of style around the end of WWII and worrying stains on the furniture, but at least the younger kids will be able to enjoy the thrills of being catapulted out of those chairs with the flip-up seats and playing endless games of 'What's That Smell?'.
In an unusual and slightly irrational moment I volunteered to sort out the music; some appropriate tunes to provide a backdrop of sound that might at least provide material for discussion during lulls in conversation, played at a volume that doesn't need to be competed with by having to shout but at the same time doesn't fade into an indistinguishable murmur that nobody notices.
Instructions from Father were basically "No Depeche Mode, no Fields Of The Nephilim and make sure you include some Christmas music".
Well really. Did he really think that I'd include Fields Of The Nephilim when however much I like them, I'm perfectly aware that it's totally inappropriate for a family do? But I see no reason to not include Depeche Mode's 'Enjoy The Silence' whatever he says, and as for Christmas music, well let's face it, it's all shite really. The only exceptions I'd make to this would be a selection of compositions by Bob Rivers like 'Chipmunks roasting on an open fire' or 'Walking round in women's underwear'. I'd love to be daring enough to slip in Kevin Bloody Wilson's legendary 'Hey Santa Claus', but I suspect the young kid's parents would be none too thrilled and the olds would be spitting their pre-mashed mince pies across the floor if I did so, so perhaps not.....
This leaves me with about four hours to fill, which shouldn't be a problem. After asking around for people's favourite tracks and combining most of those with a varied selection from my own collection I've already exceeded five hours without even trying. It's harder than expected, though, to pick tracks that will be acceptable to most and will be inoffensive to those who aren't really into them, particularly as the age range of those attending is likely to be between two and eighty. Finding things that tread the middle-ground between Bob The Builder and Glen Miller while avoiding the pitfalls of Eminem isn't as easy as it sounds, especially when you keep wanting to chuck in a few favourites to shake things up like The Prodigy's 'Smack my bitch up'.
So for now it looks like an easy going blend of 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's with a few surprises thrown in, totalling more hours than are available for the event and set on random, so that if the old bloke complains about the lack of Christmas music I can just pretend it's the computer's fault for not picking them out.
Next time I think we should have our family get-together in the summertime, and then I'll definitely be able to avoid any suggestions of Jim Reeves, Bing Crosby, Vera Lynn, and bloody Tijuana Christmas. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!