Wednesday, 2 December 2009

One down and one to go!

Managed to drive down to Sheffield for my latest session with the experts. Finally managed to get to see both of them on the same day so didn't have to waste two days on this.  Things started well when heading in to the hospital car park when someone on the way out handed me a ticket with several hours parking time left on it.

First up (after a visit to the x-ray department) was a visit to the wrist specialist. After a quick view of the new x-rays he says that I don't need to see him again and I can try to use the wrist in as normal a manner as possible. Suitably buoyed by this news I head off for some lunch. Actually pain in the hand/wrist is a bit of a limiting factor at the moment, still at least there's no medical reason to hold back.

The afternoon saw me at back at the hospital and queuing (well sat down) and waiting to see the elbow specialist. Soon it's my turn and I'm partly dreading the result of the x-ray from this morning: if the bones are fused then it's an operation and even longer away from being fit again. Fortunately they aren't fused but he's still worried about the lack of progress in the ability of my arm to extend more. I get a partial all-clear : I can bike and go to the gym but he'd like to see me again in three months. No mention of climbing so I'll have to see how that goes.

This Monday was another visit to the physio in Skipton. Again lack of progress in my elbow is a concern. More exercises and pushing and pulling eases things a bit. One exercise I've been given is to hold a time of beans in my outstretched hand trying to stretch my arm until I tire then hold it for ten seconds more. After twenty minutes, ten seconds extra doesn't do much! Will have to use a heavier weight I reckon. So visits to the gym are in order I think.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Onward, ever Onward

Well, the physio seemed happy with the progress in my elbow, sufficient for me to be trusted with a rubber band! OK, it's one of those theraband thingies they use but at least now I'm starting to add a bit of strength to the muscles. Apparently the lack of flexibility at the elbow is as much to do with the biceps having undergone trauma as well and being shortened as a result so the exercises aim to counteract this. Despite the effort being very easy I felt decidedly sore after the first session, amazing what eight weeks of little to no exercise does.

The elbow has more movement now but it's still a way to go before it will be back to anything like its companion.

Getting more running done now, including a night run (on road) last Wednesday just to prove I won't fall over in the dark! Everything was soaking though, at one point the entire road was 5cm deep in running water for about 30 metres, the result of the monsoon we've been having for the last couple of weeks. This also made itself felt yesterday when I did my first off-road run to the top of the local fell and back. The only bits where you didn't sink in were covered in concrete! It was really hard work. Somewhat amazingly my time wasn't anywhere near my worst so I still have some aerobic fitness - I managed to run all the uphill bits which I thought I wouldn't be able to do.

Another step (or sit down really) forward today was that I drove the car for the first time in nine weeks. Just down to the village and back but it's a start.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

I Feel Good!

I meant to post this yesterday but didn't get on the computer!

Another visit to Sheffield on Monday with attendant public transport woes - this time a bus strike in Sheffield threatened to scupper things, fortunately it turned out that the bus I needed was operated by a different company to that affected by the strike. I got to the Orthopaedic clinic with five minutes to spare! The consultant was pleased with my progress but the next visit will need another x-ray just to check that the joint hasn't fused. He didn't say but the implication was that an operation will be required if it has fused - I certainly don't fancy my arm stopping with 30 degrees to go to straight. Even better I've now got both the wrist and elbow consultants in sync - my next visit is in a month and I'll see both on the same day.

So why do I feel good? Well I went for my first run in eight weeks! It's actually the first exercise other than walking that I've done in that time. It was only a five mile run round the roads around home but I didn't want to risk anything by running off-road and falling. I could have gone for a run earlier in the week but with the clocks going back last weekend, it's dark when I get home and again I didn't want that extra risk.

No doubt I'll feel sore in the morning!!

Another trip to the physio this coming Monday. My wrist has improved lots in the last week or so despite a tendon in my thumb feeling quite painful, there's lots of mobility, not as much as in my right wrist but much better than when the plaster came off. The strength is coming back as well, though this is as much about pain as anything. As well as the exercises I've been given I've been trying to use my arm in everyday activities, after all it's the subtle movements that you need to master rather than simple flex and extend.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Bend me, bend me

First visit to the physio today. Fortunately it had been transferred to a local hospital so no convoluted trip down to Sheffield.

It has been a bit of a strange week following the removal of the cast eight days ago. Work colleagues are still asking "When did the pot come off?" Obviously they never got a boy scouts' observation badge! Allied to this was a depressing weekend. I think it was partly due to it being the first weekend out of pot and the consequent realisation that I can't do what I want to do, the pot effectively hiding this fact, after all I'm not in the habit of running, biking or climbing whilst wearing a cast. Also on the Sunday I marshalled  and took photos at the Bronte Way fell race - it wasn't too bad actually but afterwards as I walked home I felt down with the thought that I couldn't join in.

The week slowly got better as the memories of the weekend faded. This morning saw me in one of the local physio departments. It seems that electronic tranfer of details hasn't reached this far north so the first ten minutes or so was spent going over my accident and subsequent treatment. The physio was pleased with my progress given that I'd only been out of plaster for 8 days. A few exercises to do on both wrist and elbow since she could hardly work on one in isolation given they are adjacent joints.

So now it's a case of making sure I don't do too much and ruin things or not enough and slip backwards. Marshalling at the Withens Skyline on Sunday and another visit down to Sheffield to see the elbow guy again.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Please Release Me!

The BGR dinner went well, I got very drunk! Met lots of folk I knew though it was a bit awkward for Cath as she only knew one or two people. Around 350 turned up but sadly some didn't pay for their dinner which is a poor show.

Finally got the pot off yesterday and it feels weird! I was quite nervous about yesterday as I was worried that I'd either have to keep the pot on for another week or they'd x-ray it and put a new pot on. I'd been counting down the hours for most of the week so it would have been a big disappointment for the plaster not to have gone. The arm looks weird - it's still swollen but even so it's about 2/3rds the size of my right forearm.

Once the pot was off, it was off to the consultant and he began to set me up with some physiotherapy, unfortunately down in Sheffield again. It would have required taking two days off work each week so I asked if I could be transferred to my local hospital so hopefully that will go ahead.

As it was I had a session in the physio dept there. Some odd questions - Did I have nightmares about the accident? As if! Actually I can visualise it but it's just an episode - it happened, move on. Apparently I've been doing the right thing in holding my elbow at the point of discomfort for twenty seconds or so, it's the basis of what they do in physio anyway. I've got about a third of the movement and a quarter of the strength compared to my right wrist/hand so there is plenty of room for improvement. I need to massage the wrist four times a day to help with the swelling.

Back to see the wrist consultant in six weeks, another ten days for the elbow guy.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Three steps forard, one step back

Well another visit to the (fracture) clinic. More a tale of lack of joined up thinking in public transport than anything major to report as regards my elbow.

A web check on train times had given ten past the hour as departure time for Leeds, so I left work at five to and headed to the station. Only to find that the Leeds trains leave at twenty five past! Get into Leeds on the hour, but the train to Sheffield leaves at twenty five to, well one leaves at half-past but "you don't want that one - it stops at every station and visits a few you don't want to go to!". Quick(er) train taken I'm in Sheffield and have a bit of spare time to get lunch. The hourly bus service gets to the hospital with a couple of minutes to spare so it's a rush to get there in time, but running is somewhat awkward in sandals. I needn't have bothered - the waiting room is packed.

It's ten past FIVE when I eventually get to see the doctor! A few questions (both ways) with a bit of elbow manipulation thrown in and all of ten minutes later I'm on my way home. Progress is good apparently and I've to keep movement going and try to extend the range that I can use. It seems unlikely that I'll be able to ever fully straighten my elbow - "It's in the nature of elbow injuries" apparently. Asked about the likely length of time for recovery and it's stated "many weeks", questions about sporting activity are met with "erm …".

It's rush hour when I get out and rather than wait 30 minutes for the bus I decide to walk - it's as quick as the traffic for the first mile anyway. Then I'm on another bus route and get a ride to the station. Again a choice of slow or quick train, the slow one arrives first and rather than stand around for another twenty minutes I take it - I'll take the quick train next time! Fortunately the connection time at Leeds for the Skipton train is just a few minutes so a rush across the concourse gets me seated and at 8pm I get off the train to be met by Cath after a rather long day.

True to form, I somehow manage to tweek my elbow whilst sleeping and it's felt sore all day. Oh, well.

Repeat next week when hopefully the cast is removed.

Got the Bob Graham Club dinner on Saturday night so something different to look forward to.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

You were lucky

So back at work - at least sitting at work all day is better than sitting at home all day! I can do something even if it's at a slow pace and I have to stop periodically to lif my arm up to let the swelling in my fingers go down a bit - it's just the fact that there's so little movement in th arm that's the problem. There's a lot less pins and needles in my fingers as well now - they don't feefl as "sparkly" as my niece would say.

Of course a lot of time is spent explaining to my workmates what happened. The next thing they invariably say is "You were lucky, you could have broken your back or been killed" Which is actually quite a stupid thing to say. I could have been lucky and walked or hobbled away with few or no injuries at all. What happened, happened and once the hold broke with me in that particular position physics determined where and how I would land. The only possible variable was how tense I would be on landing - I know of an instance where someone decked out and tensed up on landing with the result that his thigh bones pushed through his pelvis, not good.

There's no point going back over events and saying to yourself "what if ...", it's happened and we can't turn back the clock and I just have to deal with things as they are.

A lot of the swelling has gone down - I can already get a finger or two down inside the new cast to scratch itches! As far as itches beyond the reach of my fingers go, all I can say is that happiness is a twelve inch plastic ruler! The wrist seems to be healing up quite well and I can flex my arm to maybe 45 degrees, though it's limited by the cast somewhat. Hopefully things will continue to improve over the coming weeks.

Patience groundthumper, patience.

Friday, 25 September 2009

The next step

Yesterday's visit to Sheffield saw me leave with a new lightweight pot on my arm.

I had gone down to Sheffield with instructions not to eat or drink after midnight in case the pot switch moved my wrist. If that happened then I would have to have an operation to reset it. Fortunately all went well and there were no problems. Another set of x-rays and a few instructions and I was on my way.

I've got this pot for three weeks by the end of which, the wrist should be set. Then rehab work on the elbow can begin in earnest.

The elbow is currently larger than my upper arm, so still some swelling then. It felt a bit odd to have the elbow unprotected, but I'll get used to it. I've got a "collar and cuff" support and have to avoid extending my arm past 90 degrees but can flex upwards to my shoulder.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Starting to look better

The trip down to Northern General yesterday went better than I expected. Firstly, where was all the traffic? We headed through Bradford at rush hour and it was quieter than on Easter Sunday. The M62, M1 & Sheffield were the same. Consequently we were nearly an hour early!

The session with the consultants also went well - the elbow has reset OK so I don't need another operation. The wrist also looks fine. I've got to go back on Thursday to have the cast changed and providing that no-one knocks my wrist while it is out of support, that is on for another four weeks. If it does get displaced then they'll have to operate and reset the bones but it will still only be four weeks in the cast. They want to give me limited movement in the elbow for a while so the cast will be both shorter (wrist support only) and lighter - fibreglass not plaster of paris.

With a bit of pestering the consultant reckoned I could go back to work next week. I called in at work on the way back and it is fine with them as well, so I won't be quite so bored.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Alcohol !!

Now it's one thing not being able to hold your drink because your arm is in a cast but quite another when you feel ill after just three pints!

We went out the other night for a curry and some beer with a few friends. Now the curry was very good (even though I prefer the other curry house in town) as was the beer, but having not drunk anything for the last couple of weeks it rather got to me. I hadn't been taking the painkillers for a few days but there could have still been traces in my system. I certainly had  a hangover the following day and don't think I'll be having another drink for a while - how many times has that been said?

Today my forearm is hurting a bit. Don't know why, it just seems as if it's been knocked somehow - far too long after the event for it to be bruising coming out. The cast is starting to get a little loose now as the swelling has gone and my muscles begin to waste. Also, the bandaging around the cast is beginning to look a little shabby so maybe they'll replace it on Monday when I'm at the fracture clinic.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Another take on things

Nothing of note has been happening the past couple of days apart from the increased boredom so here's Mike's take on the events of Sunday 6th ...

Not content with a day climbing on Stanage yesterday, Bob and I decided to re-create Doug Scot's epic retreat from the Ogre.

Bob kindly offered to take on the role of Doug, while I emulated Chris Bonnington (minus the beard and posh accent).  To maximise realism, Bob then threw himself from the top of Stanage (luckily a fairly low bit) clutching a rather large detached block, and landed heavily from a good 20 feet.

To maximise reality, this took place at the far end, furthest from the road, but since we couldn't abseil back to the car, we decided to go for upper body injuries instead of broken legs.  We weren't sure at the time, but these later transpired to be a cracked lower vertebrae, dislocated elbow and broken wrist.

Bob comes from tough farming stock who think nothing of getting to hospital minus an arm, so when he'd recovered a bit, he set off walking to the car, while I packed up and followed with the rucksacks.  His pace was such that I didn't catch up with him till the car.  Unfortunately, this led to the low point of the day, when he had to flag down some 'off roaders' on the causeway to help him over the stile!

We then proceeded to the Northern General, where as ever the treatment was excellent, except for when the Radiographer dropped a lead tablet on said elbow.  the screams from Bob were blood curdling, and created some very worried looks from the other walking wounded waiting for an x-ray. Given they had just given him a shot of morphine, it must have been VERY

Two goes at resetting the elbow resulted in Bob being taken to the operating theatre under a general anaesthetic about 8.30 last night.  I got a message from Cath to say he was back on the ward about 10ish, and things had gone well.

So to the kittens: it's their first time to the vets tonight for the first of their immunisation shots. A couple of weeks after the second shot and they should be good to start exploring outside. We'll also have to think about getting them neutered before too long, though really it's probably going to be a surprise Xmas present for them!

Monday, 14 September 2009

To the Left ...

It occurred to me last night that all my major injuries have been to the left side of my body. I'm not talking just about the last week but throughout my life.

My first major injury, i.e. one which required hospital treatment was when I broke my left thumb skiing down the Mer de Glace above Chamonix in 1987. Not being a very good skier plus skiing in mountaineering boots and carrying a sack full of climbing gear meant that the accident was inevitable. It must have been something to see me nearly make the backward somersault when I hit the pressure ridge in the ice! My left thumb took the full force of that one - and again when I repeated the feat ten minutes later.

It was 1993 following an altercation with a Peugeot 405 estate outside our house that I next made the acquaintance of A&E facilities. A short flying lesson followed by a slightly longer journey in a very nice ambulance lead to three days in hospital and thirteen weeks in a full length plaster on my left leg. The main break was a fracture to the fibula but there was also some knee damage: a fractured tibial plateau and it was this that led to the extended time in plaster. At the time I didn't realise just how bad the injury to my knee was and it was only last year when the arthritis started that I found out.

Now this.

Currently the right-hand side of my body is very worried!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A Week is a Long Time ...

As I begin this post it is one week almost to the moment since my accident. No doubt there will be quite a few more before I'm declared "fixed".

Whenever something like this happens (as if it's a regular occurrence!) it's not the big limitations - like not being able to go climbing - that get to you but those little tasks that you forget that you use two hands/arms for. An example is brushing your teeth, not the actual brushing but getting the toothpaste onto the brush: put the brush onto the level section at the side of the hand-basin; reach over and get the toothpaste; open the tube and squeeze enough onto the brush without knocking the brush off the edge of the basin. Then you can do the actual brushing. Shaving (with a razor & gel) is similarly fraught. Everything just takes more time, just as well that I've got enough of it!

I've been using my time to update parts of my website - some of it I didn't get round to doing when I moved ISPs; some of it needed updating so that I spend less time in updating it (if that makes any sense); and some is just making better use of the features at the new host.

Pepper and Mack provide lots of amusement, though being kittens they are very inquisitive especially when you are eating your breakfast - trying to balance a bowl, eat from it and fend off the marauding pack is quite difficult with just one hand. I'll try and get the camera set up to get some play shots. I'll also need some weekly shots to measure how they are growing - the modern equivalent of the old height chart on the kitchen door for kids.

We'll just have to see what the next week bring.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Indian Summer

Typical!! Poor weather throughout the summer and as soon as I'm unable to get out, the weather is brilliant. With the full week of sunny and breezy weather, even the high crags are going to be dry. Oh, well ...

I phoned my manager yesterday to explain what had happened - he was fairly relaxed about things. I also posted off my sick note - I think thatit is the first sick note I've ever had! Whenever I've been injured before I've been self-employed so haven't needed to get one.

I must have got pretty bored yesterday as I attempted to weigh (rested good arm on scales then bad arm and took the difference) the plaster cast on my arm - I think it's about 1.5Kg, it feels quite a lot whatever weight it is. The arm was a bit sore last night, don't know why, just one of those things I suppose.

We've decided to call the second kitten "Mack", seems to suit him, he's definitely the happier of the two to sit on your lap. Rang the vets to get them innoculated but they are a bit young yet so will have to wait. They are currently in one of their active periods, racing round the room then getting stuck because they haven't learnt how to retract their claws under load yet. Now that I'm writing about them they are sat watching me type.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Crosstown Traffic

Well the trip down to Sheffield for the fracture clinic was somewhat tedious but enlivened for all the wrong reasons.

Going through Bradford we ended up in a traffic jam to get on the M606 because the slip-road was shut for no discernable reason other than there was a Transit flat-bed with a load of traffic cones parked there. Half an hour to do 400 metres! Still got to the clinic on time.

Another couple of x-rays of the elbow then ten minutes or so with the consultant. The x-rays of the elbow from Sunday were most impressive (I haven't managed to get copies yet) but certainly not for the squeemish! Those of my back and wrist less so, they looked like the usual translucent lumps - I consistently fail to see how anyone can make a diagnosis from such images but they do.  It's definitely looking like I will be having another operation - the ligament have most likely been damaged and will need fixing in a way yet to be determined or revealed.

A bit depressing really - after I broke my thumb skiing, the consultant said I was "lucky", "most people tear their tendon and need up to six months of treatment/rehab.  Your tendons were strong enoughto pull the bone apart so three to four weeks"! Basically break bone rather than soft tissue, much easier to fix and heal.

The journey back took 2 1/2 hours - for 60 miles! Most of this distance was on motorway, M1, M62, M606, but just the sheer volume of traffic meant that the M62 was taken at perhaps 5MPH. The vast majority of private vehicles had just one occupant - crazy. Then there were the idiot drivers of Bradford to contend with, now that's worth a rant in itself.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Lows and Highs

Yesterday I should have mentioned what this blog is about - at least in the short term, I don't know where things will go later on. I thought that I'd record just what goes on after a fairly serious accident and how decisions get made, the ups and downs etc.

So far the lowest point was getting discharged from A&E. You'd think that getting out of a room full of ill people would be cause for celebration but you are moving from a controlled environment where staff can sort out medical needs in short order to a chaotic one. At the same time you aren't "healed", just good enough to be shown the door and free a bed up for the next casualty. In addition I wasn't told what they'd done in the hour long operation I'd had on Sunday night - I'd been in CT scan when they did the rounds - hopefully I'll find out tomorrow when I visit the fracture clinic..

The big problem with sitting at home all day and being unable to actually do anything other than surf the web (write this blog) or watch daytime TV(yeeuch!!!!) is boredom.

I get enough TV as part of my work  so tend not to watch much at home anyway. Also the body tends to do its own thing in these situations and diverts resources, i.e. energy, into fixing itself, so consequently you feel weary and tired all the time. Even caffeine doesn't have much of an effect. You just have to put up with it.

Enough of the moaning, it's not the attitude you need to get better. The day before my fall we had picked up two kittens from some friends to replace our previous cat who died earlier this year. Yep, it's cute fluffy kitten picture time!

We are calling the black one "Pepper" and the tabby one either "Spice" or "Mace". They've settled in really quickly and haven't called for their mother at all - I think they were just the right age as they were just starting to eat solids so their mother would have started to turn them away fairly soon. There's about an hour of rushing around, playing, fighting, eating then about an hour of sleeping before more play, etc. At the moment they're in sleep mode. Me typing on the computer must be quite interesting because they'll sit watching me from the back of the settee. Like lots of young kids they've ignored the toys we bought for them and mainly play with bits of newspaper that we had been drying onions on. The tabby one seems to prefer me and Pepper prefers my wife, we'll see if that continues.

Hopefully they'll soon be big enough to venture outside or else all our furnishings will be ripped to shreds!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Only Way is Up

Well, after thirty years of climbing, it had to happen. On Sunday, 6th Sept I was soloing some easy routes at the far left end of Stanage when a hold broke and I fell 6 metres , landed awkwardly, dislocated my left elbow and broke my left wrist.

We were at the the far left end of Stanage soloing some easy routes at the start of the day to get warmed up. I had backed off the top move of a route because I wasn't happy with the sloping holds and moved into the top of the neighbouring route and was pulling on a boulder in a crack and moving my feet up when the rock broke in two, a piece about the size of a laptop bag came away. I flew outwards about ten feet and landed on the edge of a small step formed by small boulders. My feet slid from under me and my body twisted to the left and my elbow and wrist hit the rocks, then my back landed on them.

Once the initial panic died down, my climbing partner, Mike, checked my arm for breakages but couldn't find anything. Since I was able to walk, I headed slowly back to the car, about two Km away. The low point was having to ask a group of off-roaders to help me over a stile! They weren't interested in offering further help though. Once Mike had caught up with me (he'd had to tidy up and carry both sacks) he drove me into the A&E at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.

Sat for what seemed like ages in the admissions room watching people with minor cuts and the like being turned away - what some folk think of as an emergency beggars belief. When it was my turn with the triage nurse, within two minutes I was trussed up on a stretcher and being whisked into the treatment area.

Once admitted, I had lots of x-rays, the worst bit was when the x-ray recording plate fell onto my arm, even though I was on morphine, the screams were loud enough and horrible enough that those outside were turning pale. I ended up having two attempts at resetting the elbow before being taken into surgery and having the elbow set and the wrist pinned on Sunday night. I was due to have another op yesterday but it was cancelled - the first I knew about this was when they said they were discharging me - because I'd been due in theatre I hadn't eaten or drunk anything since coming out of the first op - a total of two pieces of toast in thirty hours.

The arm is better today but wiggling my fingers still hurts, it'll just take time I suppose.