April 8: It’s my first full day home, and it’s so good to be out of hospital. Yesterday was incredibly intense and frustrating; at one point I thought I would never get back home. The ambulance got lost on the M3, so I had to direct. Anyway I got home, and Bridges had delivered the equipment I needed to survive the next, how many so weeks. First thing to do is practise getting in and out of bed with my trusty Zimmer.
The bed at home is much lower than my hospital bed, if only I could have brought that home. But if you cannot get a chair or commode out of them, what chance the bed? Anyhow with the aid of a pile of pillows, I manage to do a Fosbury Flop backwards onto the bed then shuffle around till I’m comfy. That was stage one, stage two getting out of bed. Now this is a bit harder, especially as I had a novice to counterbalance the Zimmer. But eventually we did it. Then there was commode practice, once again shuffling over the bed till you can transfer onto the commode, and then back off. Well that’s ok, I’m now feeling hungry after my exertions.
Peter had earlier in the day been to Marks and Spencer to get me some shopping in for me, so I put an M&S Chicken Jalfrazi in the microwave and had my dinner. It was from the ‘Good for Me’ range so only 345 calories.
Third bit of advice, be hungry I am about to spend the next part of 12 to 16 weeks inactive. Hunger is your friend; a full tummy is going to be very quickly, a fat tummy. And an unwelcome friend, that’s going to be hard to shift. Especially as you’re never really going to be a gym bunny again, your tendons are only stitched to your kneecap remember.
It was now around 10pm, I was getting tired and decided to try and sleep. So with my trusty wee bottle, actually I have two, you need two, take it from me. Fourth bit of advice, one night you’re going to forget the wee bottle! Not a mistake to maker; so make sure there is always and empty by the bed. So off to bed I go; the problem with trying to sleep with the splints on is this, you can feel them around your legs, and they’re tight and your legs are hot and sweaty. And of course you cannot move in the night, so you wake up in exactly the same place as you fell asleep. You also tend to sleep more upright, which actually is no bad thing.
I wake at 6am and need the loo; I’ve used the bottle now its commode time. So bum shuffle across the bed and manoeuvre onto the commode, exhausted already.
Ok, here is another picture painted with words, which comes with that over 18 warning. So I get my bum on the seat, which seems to have a smallish aperture and swing my feet onto the chair that Peter has positioned opposite the commode. I still have my hospital issue open backed gown so nothing to get in the way. After five minutes I’m done, that was the easy part. Now it’s clean up time. This takes the best part of 30 minutes, and half a pack of Andrex moist toilet tissue. After trying and realising it is not going to work sitting on the dam thing, and as I cannot get up, roll over onto my side in a fashion and with great difficulty go to work. I’m 90% done; I’m going to need the flannel and soap for final 10%. I drag myself back to the middle to of the bed trying to not soil the sheet.
Most distasteful, now I wait for Peter to appear so I can finish off. 8am there is a knock on the door, would I like a cup of tea? Yes, but the rest of my arse needs cleaning first. So out comes the Zimmer and with Peter counterbalancing my weight, their is a 4 stone weight difference, I haul myself out of bed. While Peter goes and makes the tea, I finish up, it has taken an hour to do a number two’s…….. And I’m worn out. Trying to prop yourself up on a crutch, while trapped in the splints and bending to clean yourself is exhausting, and plays havoc with your lower back. I have to say I have had little to no pain from my knees, and I have stopped taking the painkillers. But my back is killing me. I do the splint shuffle back around to the bed, and do a Fosbury Flop back onto the bed and drink my tea, and do as I am told by my surgeon; rest.
It’s now 9.15am and Peter brings in my Bran flakes, piece of advice number five, nutrition is key to helping with a range of things. First and paramount is the fibre, you really do not want to become a no times a day man or girl again. Just digressing from this narrative for a moment, this injury in the main does not affect women that much, its mostly men over the age of 40. Female tendons must be more bendy and stretchy. Also, the operation for the repair didn’t exist until the first one in 1949. Does not dare to think about, before 1949 you would have been disabled for the rest of your life. I suppose on the upside you would have got a disabled parking permit, and a wide space at Sainsbury’s.
So going back to the nutrition, and advice number five, fibre and protein are two essentials, but there is a lot more to the healing process. Most of us never give a second thought to how we actually heal, you can get an injury and it just heals up; simple. What we neglect to appreciate is just how complex and well orchestrated our bodies and the healing process actually is. If any step along the way is ignored, missed or interrupted the healing process can become delayed and problems will occur. So to put it in lay terms you need to eat well to get well.
Tissue healing requires good nutrition. Bilateral Quadriceps Tendon Rupture needs all the help you can give it and more. Diet plays a vital role and needs to include enough calories, proteins and nutrients.
My good friend Sandra Kontos introduced me to a diet supplement called ST-Repair it’s formulated to supplement the diet of those recovering from injury or those preparing for surgery. It has worked well for me, and at the time of writing this some nine weeks after arriving home I am about a week to two weeks ahead of my recovery plan. Its ingredients have a long and well-documented key role to play in the healing process and used alongside a healthy diet ensures that all the basic repair materials are in adequate supply to support the bodies natural healing mechanisms. Promo Ad over. So eat well, get well.
Back to my first full day back home, after my breakfast it’s lazing in bed with those dam splints, most days for the next two weeks are to become ‘Groundhog Day.’ Breakfast is followed by ‘The Wright Stuff;’ that is surprisingly interesting in a daytime sort of way. If anyone thinks I have been watching Jeremy Kyle forget it, please where do those people come from? I obviously have led a sheltered life; mind you one of the protagonists looked like a chick I once knew!!!!!!! Fire Service has a lot to answer for; I used to be such a nice boy.
After ‘The Wright Stuff’, it’s time to work myself up to shuffle out of bed and have flannel wash. Nine weeks on and I’m still washing my bits with a flannel, oh and good news the bits are back, but you don’t want me to be going into that now do you….. Do I hear Tracey saying yes, pleaseeee, bad girl. After my wash, I dress in the only thing I have that I can wear with any decency…. Nurse Lynne bought me some granddad nightshirts, from Mark and Spencer, oh my god they are so sexy; I don’t think, but needs must.
So next, I do the splint shuffle with both crutches into the living room. I had been watching ‘Reach for the Sky’ starring Kenneth More, it’s about World War 2, fighter ace Douglas Bader. Well to cut a long story short he has a flying accident and loses his legs. They then fit him with a pair of tin legs, and the way he walks in the film is the way I’m walking now. Douglas would not be beaten by his disability, and went on to be a fighter ace in WW2. When he was shot down over France and captured, the Germans eventually took his tin legs away from him as he was always trying to escape. I am not going to let this injury beat me, and when my rehab is over I like Douglas will get back in the saddle.
It takes some time, and I eventually arrive at my new chair. See picture. I call it the OAP chair, for two reasons, one it’s like one of those chairs you see in a rest home with all the oldies sat round watching something they don’t really want to on the telly.
And of course it makes me feel like an OAP, before any comments like, oh yes you are, I’ve another 3 years. Anyhow I’m not becoming an OAP till I’m 75!
So I station myself in front of the chair, usually you would just bend your knees and sit. But I can not bend my knees, so you have to take a leap of faith, cast aside your sticks position yourself so you can plant your arse, take hold of the arms of the chair which are obviously behind you. Then slid your feet out hope you have got it right, if you have you’re end up with your bum on the edge of the chair, and your legs out in front of you. Stage two, Peter has been hovering just in case I miss the chair and end up on the floor, thank god this has never happened. To make stage two work you need something to rest our legs on, I have a large what my grandmother would have called a pouffe so Peter positions the pouf just in front of my legs, with a handy bit of rope I hike my legs up while Peter pushes the pouffe under. So now I’m set for the rest of the day, so to speak.
My heads, not in the right, place to do much, or anything that needs too much thinking. So for the next few hours I watch inane TV. In the next few weeks I’m going to get through five seasons of ‘Braking Bad’, and a number of other box sets on Netflix, Amazon or Sky. I also found on the Internet some fabulous educational and therapeutic websites. So now I have gained a much wider knowledge of such things like what is a milf, a creampie is not always something you eat, a pearl necklace is not always purchased in the jewelers and some people shave more than their face. It was most enlightening; I have definitely decided to become a masseuse.
So in the first two weeks that’s how my day goes. Wake up, commode, clean up, tea, breakfast, flannel wash, morning TV lying in bed. Mind you that’s where I’m supposed to be. Then shuffle out to my chair, more TV, dinner, more TV and bed. Then it’s Ground Hog day again. It’s frustrating, depressing and just plain boring. But it’s not forever. Well, I hope not………
I had my first visitor on 12 April, then over the past nine weeks many more, my friends Sandra and Paul from North London came down one Saturday, I thought originally to spend the weekend here. But no, they came just to see me; I was so touched.
Also, my friends Rob and Andrea came down from the Cotswold’s, I’m more popular than I realise. Visitor’s break up the ‘same old; same old cycle.’
The staples in my legs had to come out two weeks after the operation, I needed to get the District Nurse to call round and perform the task. This was not going to be straightforward. I am about to hit National Health Service bureaucracy again. Since I moved from Christchurch to Bournemouth some 5 years ago, I had still been registered at my doctor’s surgery in Christchurch. I had to agree to no home visits, but I didn’t think that was going to be a problem. Well, not until now. I phoned up the surgery to organise the District Nurse to call and remove my staples. It seems they use staples these days rather than stitches. Anyway they cannot arrange it for me as I need the Bournemouth District Nurse. So it now transpires I have to unregister with the surgery I have been with for 30 years and reregister with a doctor in my catchment area. Really!
So online I go to find a surgery, I eventually get through to The Westbourne Medical Practice. It coincidentally happens to be Peters. I have to download a registration form and take it back to them with ID! Well, obviously I cannot go up there, so this is the ridiculous part; Peter goes up there with the form and my photo ID!!!! So that’s ok then, what was that 1960’s film called ‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.’ Well, it certainly is now. You know some bright spark with a bunch of GCSE’s gets paid a shed load of money to come up with these great ideas.
So now I am registered I can organise the district nurse, she is coming on the 16 April exactly two weeks from the operation. All’s well that ends well as the man said. So the day arrives and the district nurse appears. This is the first day I have had the splints off, since the operation, it feels so good. The nurse takes off the crepe bandages and peels off the dressings. I have 42 staples; they look like a zipper going down your thigh and over your knee. They also look like slightly larger office staples, and guess what the implement to remove them is very much like the staple remover on my desk. At this point, I think maybe I’m getting local anesthetic to ease the pain. Silly me National Health Service isn’t, out they come, one by painful one, giving a delightful ting as they drop into the metal bowl I am holding.
I am delighted to hear from the nurse I am healing well, so there is no need to redress the wounds. Just put the splints back on. I have to point out at this juncture the inside of the splints, which are mainly foam, stink and are damp. But they have to go back on, and now only very slightly irritating the wound. They really should give you two pairs, so you can wash one set and wear another. When we did get round to washing them as they did really hum, it took hours for them to dry. And while they are drying you are stuck where you lay. So bit of advice number six, before you wash the splints go to the toilet. Later that day Caroline my hairdresser, no laughing now, I might not have much hair I grant you, but enough to cut. Anyway Caroline is coming to make me feel human by cutting my hair.
The next four weeks slip by very slowly as I said visitors come and go, I have some paperwork to do for the office. A couple of days after I had the staples out, I had a eureka moment. I had been up to this point having to rely on Peter to help me out of bed with the trusty Zimmer. I desperately wanted to try and do this myself, but impossible with the splints on. Then lying on the bed one morning after thinking about all the possibilities, like tying a rope to the door handle and other equally insane stupidity, it came to me. Well, I could get out of the chair in the living room by pushing myself up and swinging my legs down as I pushed up. Could I use the same technique with the commode? I tried it straight away, shuffled my bum onto the seat from the bed, and pushed the chair for my legs away, which was actually the difficult part. Put the arm back on the commode, and then push up; it worked oh my god, a little more independence back. And also freed me from having to use the commode for what it really was there for. All I need it for now is to get in and out of bed. I’m on a roll; obviously my brain is perking up. If I tie a rope to the pouffe, I could pull the pouf to me eliminating the need for Peter to push it under me. I can by now raise my legs slightly on my own so two bits of independence in one day.
So now for bit of advice number seven, how to go to the toilet for a number two when you cannot bend your knees or sit legs bent. I call this the bomb run, in homage to my Father, god rest his soul. Why because during the war he was in bomber command.
So without going into too much lurid detail, with the toilet seat up you shuffle yourself up to the toilet bowl, with the backs of your legs just touching the bowl. Now is the tricky bit, radio down to the bomb aimer to take aim, balancing yourself place your hands on your bum cheeks and its bomb doors open (just hope it’s not a grand slam you have in there or napalm). Radio message from the bomb aimer ‘bombs away skipper.’ Direct hit. Make sure you have a wee bottle to hand just in case you body decides to let you down and starts to leak fuel so to speak. At the time, I am writing this some nine weeks after the operation I’m still on my twice-daily bomb run.
Now comes the clean up operation, your need moist toilet tissues and a flannel. There will be a residue, which your need a copious amount of toilet tissues for. When you feel, you have done an 80% clean up job you’re need the sink and a flannel. Always bear in mind you only have one hand free for the clean up, as your need the other to balance on a crutch.
Some more advice, with the splints on, you cannot wear your regular clothes, well at least the lower half. So what do you do, my visitors don’t want to see my nightshirt, well if they don’t mind, I do. So I had this idea of getting oversized three quarter length shorts, three sizes too big.
That would allow me to wear a shirt and the shorts. My recovery period is going to take up all of the summer so shorts will be ok; no one is going to see me apart from friends, as I’m not going anywhere soon. Most people that know me will also know, I only wear shorts in the South of France, then only for swimming mostly. Only small boys should wear shorts; don’t ask me my thoughts on jeans, you’re not like it if you’re a jean wearing forty year old. So you guys in the office and you know who you are, put your trousers back on. I had also thought of a kaftan as an option, something like the Sheik of Arabic, or maybe more Demis Roussos. But thought the better of it. So now I have my shorts, two pairs and virtually live in them, but at least I feel more human.
The daily routine is now fairly set for the next 6 weeks till I get the splints off and replace them with dial braces. Dial braces restrict your ROM (Range of Movement). The idea is during the day the braces are locked in extension, and be unlocked for physio. But I’m running ahead of myself.
So for the next 6 weeks here I am on house arrest, well that’s what it feels like. My appointment comes through for my 6-week check with my surgeon back at Winchester Hospital, or to give it its proper name The Royal Hampshire County Hospital. 12 May, is the day, so now how am I going to get there? Slight panic, I will need an ambulance as there is no way I’ll get into a car.
It’s time to big up some people, firstly there is obviously Peter without who knows what would have happened. I also have had and continue to have excellent support from my office, the company I work for have been fantastic. From the outset when they knew of my predicament they have been there for me. If I need anything, I only have to ask, I’m getting paid, and they are covering at least the first six sessions of my physio. If I need an ambulance they will provide it, I really cannot ask for more. But as luck would have it the hospital is going to provide transport to get me to my appointment with Mr Bailey. I am going to need someone to come with me, and Peter has his own appointment to go too. Once again the office offer to help, Helen says she will come with me, a weight off my mind. But in the end, Helen does not have to, but thank you the same Ms Byrne. Miracle of miracle’s my son Alex takes the day off to come with his old dad; it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. On talking to Mr Bailey’s secretary, discussing the transport situation it becomes clear they only have three wheelchairs with leg extensions, and it will not be possible to reserve one for me. So I’m forced into hiring one for the day. It ends up being an essential bit of kit; Alex and I would not have managed without it.
May 12: The ambulance arrives at 8.30, Alex pushes me down to the lift and out to the ambulance, and off we go. We arrive for my 10am appointment at 9.30. Alex and the ambulance guys push me up to the orthopedic clinic. We wait; they are running late around 45 minutes or so we are told. Alex goes off to the Costa, they are everywhere now, and comes back with the Medio Skinny Latte that I ordered, and a whole bunch of calories that he is stuffing in his mouth.
At this point I have to say I was expecting to have x-rays, scan or something. No nothing further from the truth. I go in to see Mr Bailey, he opens up the splints and examines my scars and say they look good, and then says if they are healing that well on the outside they will be on the inside. Now bearing in mind my quad tendons are just stitched to my kneecaps and will never actually physically or biologically reattach, it’s a tad disconcerting.
Now during the last past six weeks I had found out that one of our great thespians, Derek Jacobi had befallen the same injury I had, only a week before mine. I was in ‘Sutton Scotney,’ he ‘The Maldives.’ I would not wish this thing on anyone (one or two exceptions). I bet Mr Jacobi had x-rays and scans after six weeks. National Health Service or private, remember what Dave says were all in it together. Yeah right.
On searching the Internet, I found a blog by a guy in the U.S.A, by the name of Steven Gartner. He has had two bilateral quad ruptures. Poor guy, anyhow he has formed a club, and it is called ‘The Band of Ruptured Quadders.’ President Clinton is a member and so am I now. There is also a great blog by Jim Clawson who is the godfather of Quadders. Below I have inserted links the reader might find the content interesting.
Steve Gartner: http://www.quadtendontear.com/p/blog-page.html
Bill Philips: Interesting Watch after 1.32..
So back to Derek, I thought as another brother quadder I would see if I could send him a message of support. Well, I could not find a Twitter address for him, but it seems he had a Facebook Page. So I send a message of support from one temporary cripple to another. Well blow me down, did I get a message from Claudius; I didn’t. Why did I think he might send a fellow quadder a reply? Well, I’m glad The Praetorian Guard gets you in the end. And I never did like Cadfale.
So Mr Bailey says I’m doing so well I don’t need to use the dial braces, and when I get home just to discard the splints and use the crutches to ambulate. Wow, I’m now thinking Mr Bailey is Clark Kent, he obviously has x-ray vision. We discuss physio options, the National Health Service can provide one a month and there’s a waiting list. The physio at the hospital had already told me this. The company I work for have organised private physio for me, what can I say. Mr Bailey wants to see me in another 6 weeks; I hope to get there by car.
The ambulance takes Alex and I back home, this time we did not get lost and are back home in 40 minutes. Its time to take off the splints, so sitting in my chair with my legs up on the pouffe I undo the Velcro straps which I had done many times to let air to my legs, but now they didn’t have to go back on. It’s a bit scary, they have become a bit of a comfort blanket.
The first time I get up out of the chair is so weird, I feel so wobbly. Mr Bailey had said not to push myself, but just by walking about the apartment with my crutches, combined with the Physio, would produce the desired effect. By the time I go back to see him in 6, weeks I need to achieve 90 degrees of ROM. I phoned Hayley my physio to make my first appointment, obviously it has to be a home visit, and Friday 16 May is the day. In 4 days time rehab starts. By Wednesday 14, May, I began to feel more confident without the splints. I wasn’t wobbly anymore, and I could shuffle around the same as if I had them on. The splints were now redundant, I have since been told by Hayley, that rehab for my injury takes at least 4 months from the date you start, so I’m hoping I’m not redundant by September.
16 May: My first physio session today, after the assessment we start the treatment, first the massage to help the swelling dissipate. Hayley informs me the swelling is more akin to wallpaper paste as its been sitting there so long. Then it’s the ultrasound, this helps break up the scar tissue. Hayley gives me three exercises to do three times a day, see picture.
This coming Tuesday 3 June will be my sixth physio session and Hayley says I am ahead of schedule. The rupture in my left quad was much worse than the right, it was a ragged tear. As a consequence, my right is coming on faster than the left, but that said as of today 1 June I have 50 degrees of ROM in my right and 30 degrees in my left. So I am well on target for my appointment on 24 June with Mr Bailey, which I just received.
27 May: Over the past nine weeks and still to date I cannot wash my feet; apart from this I look at my toenails in dismay. Nurse Lynne when she has visited kindly washed my feet, so I’ve had my feet washed three times in nine weeks. But sadly nurse Lynne does not do the cutting. So today I have Kay coming from Feet Rescue to rescue my feet. And it transpires they need rescuing. Apart from great looking toenails, I also have great looking athletes foot! So now it Lamisil Cream and surgical spirit spray. The hidden cost of this accident is building up.
That really nearly brings us up to date, as I said in the first post, I have not had that bad a time of it. I have read some horror stories online. So I have to be grateful. The downs for me have been the boredom, tedium and my frustration, also the unknown.
Most people, who know me, know I have a strong positive mental attitude.
So this will not defeat me. I am determined to take something from this experience, and move on in life. The ups for me have been plentiful; the love I have received has touched me deeply is just one. So today is 1 June, it’s a ‘White Rabbit’ day exactly two months from my accident. My knees continue to repair. I am going to post my progress every week, so come to the blog on Fridays to see how I am getting on.