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11.03 pm Wed 8th December !

Disaster struck. Just getting ready for bed when I felt a sharp pain near my ankle accompanied by a loud crack. Fortunately I was able to collapse on the bed. And so began a journey into the unknown. One I could have done without.The next morning we got on the phone for help and eventually struggled up to St Austell minor injuries, a good choice as it turned out.

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I didn’t have to wait long in reception to have details recorded and not too long to see the Triage nurse who pretty much confirmed my fears. There was a queue to see whoever was on duty and when my turn came it was a very efficient nurse who explained my plight and ordered a plaster cast amid lots of form filling. Plastering then took place – fascinating to watch – and left to dry. Since I wasn’t allowed to put any weight on the left foot, a Physiotherapist was summoned to help me to walk or actually to hop! We tried all kinds of gear with variable success and, in the end, settled on a Zimmer frame with 2 wheels and armrests. Unknown to me at the time the nurse was doing a virtual referral to the Fracture Clinic at Treliske. I was a bit sceptical at the time but it was very efficient as you will see later. Thanks to my wife Jean, we didn’t go to Treliske in the first place, and I could well have still been waiting there!

All in all it was 6 hours in the department, but the staff were fantastic with lots of banter and the charge nurse was an ex dental nurse and paramedic, so we were able to swop amusing stories to pass the time. Daughter Wendy turned up to take me home but on seeing the size of the Zimmer and the state of my leg, she took her Fiat 500 home and returned with a larger car. So in the pouring rain we set off home. Wendy is a good organiser and on arrival at our house there was a wheelchair borrowed from a neighbour, and 2 strong men to carry me and the wheelchair in the rain down the steps and into the house.

As we had been promised, the next morning, an NHS Occupational Therapist appeared with lots of advice and all the necessary gear for a prolonged ‘rest’ in the house. We are now the proud owners of a Zimmer, a special heightened loo, fitted blocks to raise the bed, a commode wheelchair, and the promise of an outdoor wheelchair to come. I had entered a new world! In for the long haul as this diagram illustrates –

broken tendons take 50% more time to heal than bones

Within 48 hours an appointment came through from Treliske fracture clinic (the system definitely works) and also a letter for some physiotherapy. Hopping around on one leg gets a bit of getting used to !

The occupational therapist had advised us that we needed an ambulance to take me to Treliske and after several phone calls one was booked, and duly arrived on Thursday 16th December. They were brilliant and transferred me from my bed out of the front door, and up the steps on to a stretcher in the ambulance for the trip to Truro. We were straight in to a private room and 55 minutes later I had all the examinations, confirmed diagnosis, prescription for anti-coagulant injections, physiotherapy referral, and a ‘boot’ fitted by the occupational therapist.

Well I’m in good company – at least AJ made the final!

Ambulance arrived shortly after that, and I was on my way home.

An interesting journey back as we had to pick up another patient at the isolation unit which is next to A&E. There were 23 ambulances in the queue – 7 of which had been waiting for more than 12 hours. Mine arrived 20 minutes early after a message to all ambulances to speed up removal of patients to ease pressure.

Duly delivered home and we now have an outdoor wheelchair to take me out, although the steps outside the house require 2 or 3 helpers to reach the car, which someone else has to drive. I was told 4 months minimum to take the wheel again.

So after all the excitement, stark reality starts to kick in. I’m in for the long haul with all my physical and medical aids, although there has to be a funny side to it:

In my dreams
All ready for a test drive!

The first stage of the process of life re-orientation, and besides having to think long term recovery, we have to master the essential basics. Just getting from A to B in our bungalow is slow but the trusty Zimmer gets me around. Sleeping with a boot on isn’t easy and a few sleepless nights are inevitable, but a method soon evolves and is now very little problem. Washing, or anything for that matter, standing on one leg is not easy but one works it out eventually. Going to the loo is tricky and I’ll leave that to your imagination. The plastic part of the boot is obviously waterproof, so a shower is possible (and very welcome, especially the first one) and the lining can then be dried while I put on the spare one provided. One of the easiest tasks is my daily injection of anticoagulants into my stomach area (to prevent blood clots in the leg). Almost like being back at work!

One of my most useful tools, courtesy of the Lions Club, is a litter picker, although I would much prefer to be doing the real thing!

With all these daily jobs it is essential to do things in the right order and I am again amazed at the extent of help on the internet. There are countless videos on how to achieve all these things, and every conceivable query is answered somewhere on the net.

I am very impressed with all the treatment and advice that I have been given by the NHS. Without exception everything has been 100% efficient, and our house is brimming over with apparatus and instruction booklets – and everything free! So:-

I usually spend half of my spare time outside either walking my 10 to 15000 steps or gardening. The time of year and the weather have definitely been in my favour for the change to indoor activities. No shortage of those with quite a bit of TV sport, Duo Lingo, reading and music to enjoy.

As you can imagine, my dear wife Jean is now my carer as well, and I would not be able to manage without her valuable and capable assistance. Love you lots Jean !!

This learning process has coincided with Christmas and New Year and the whole family got together several times for meals and carols. I even managed to play the piano! I’ve actually been out of the house 3 times, being transferred between wheelchair and car by my family for which I was most grateful.

For more than 40 years have observed a Dry January and this year, I am hoping, will be no exception and this will be the subject of the next blog!! It’s now Jan 3rd, so 3 down 28 to go – that’s a good start!

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