I was dreading physio.
I felt as though another GA and op would be preferable.
The appointment was made. I counted off the days and decided each day would be an opportunity to practise a stagger/limp/hobble.
Except I didn’t. I decided every day was tomorrow and put off applying the splint, putting on a shoe, and attempting to take a step without falling over.
I wanted to enlist Partner’s help. He wanted to help in the morning. I wanted to practise in the evening when I’d had all day to psyche up to it.
But on the evening before
the op/torture physio he obliged, so with one arm around his very strong shoulders supporting my operated leg, I took a few tentative steps.
The next day, around noon, we tried again. I stood up. OWWWW! and sat down immediately as the pain shot through my heel and up my leg.
My ambulance transport arrived and carried me out as efficiently as ever. ‘Physio?’ asked one I’d not seen before.
‘Yes. I’m not looking forward to it.’
‘It might not be that bad,’ he replied.
Huh. What does he know about an ankle broken on both sides, I thought. I looked out of the window and felt sick.
There is clear demarcation at the hospital entrance. The ambulance staff get a hospital wheelchair, bring it into the truck using the electric tail-lift, I hop in and they drop me just inside the door and demand that reception gets me a porter. Physio is about ten seconds away, but clearly ambulance staff do not pass reception. Same process on return. Porter dumps me at desk, reception calls for an ambulance.
Sadly, once in physio, I didn’t have long to wait.
A fit healthy-looking young man called my name and off we went to a curtained bay.
Now, part of the reason I was dreading this, was because back in hospital, before being discharged, my crutch experience was not good. Hopping on unstable crutches and with the handicap of a few extra kilos of plaster was not a success. I was wobbly, and hopping up steps was a disaster.
But luckily, he didn’t throw a pair of crutches at me and say, ‘Start walking’.
We did paperwork, discussed accident and op, and what I did in my spare time. Uh? What’s the relevance of that? I rattled off walking, swimming, cycling, reading.
‘We need to know so that we can get you to be able to cycle again.’ Ah.
‘We’re not just being nosy,’ he added.
Unlike Mr Doom and Gloom surgeon, he didn’t seem to find anything untoward with the current state of The Ankle.
‘Some swelling still, muscle wastage, all to be expected at this stage,’ he said.
And then I had to stand up, and lean on the bed and move from side to side.
At least he wasn’t having me running round the ward.
‘I’ll print out an exercise sheet, so you’ve got a record, don’t worry about remembering.’
Then I lay on the bed and we started on some exercises. I could live with this. I was definitely relaxed.
And when I was putty in his hands…
‘We need to get you walking. I’ll go and get some crutches.’
Oh. My bubble just popped.
Clever technique these physios. Charming, persuasive, supportive, and you WILL walk.
Totally different attitude to nurses, whose immediate urge is to look after you, and do everything.
Here – it’s actually the rehab department – the whole focus, unsurprisingly, is on getting you to do everything to regain independence. Nurses would take off my splint and put it back. In physio: ‘Can you take off your splint/put it on.’ It was an instruction disguised as a question.
So I did as I was told, put on the splint, shoes, and prepared for the worst. Except I didn’t fall over. Yes dear reader, I really did limp/hobble around the cubicle. I was rather pleased. And then he pulled the curtains aside to reveal the big wide ward. ‘Keep going,’ he said encouragingly. Mr Steel Fist in Velvet Glove.
Perhaps we were going on a trip around the hospital? I headed towards the door not daring to disobey. Just before the door, ‘Now start turning around in a big wide circle.’
I did that too. And off I limped back to the luxury of the wheelchair. Except I was in such a rush to escape from the crutches I was told off for not following the correct seating procedure. I was covered with shame, I offered to make amends.
‘Shall I do that again to practise?’
Velvet Glove looked slightly mollified. ‘Yes.’ So I did. Not the walk for goodness sake, just the up and down. But to be fair, he did explain why what I did was wrong, and that the correct way would avoid putting undue pressure on my shoulders.
And that was one of the good things about this session. He actually did take time to explain what each exercise would do, and which muscles would or should improve.
Back in the UK, say turn of the century, I went to see a physio about my back when I had sciatica. No X rays, just a GP referral. Physio decided my spine was like Quasimodo’s and I needed to realign it by leaning against door frames. Or walls. Once she had pronounced that, she cleared off leaving me to lean against something while she diagnosed other Quasimodos. The ward was probably full of ten or twenty of us all leaning against something while she was having a fag and a coffee break.
In Gib, I got 40 minutes personal attention from start to finish. He was thoughtful, helpful and supportive. He must do this day in, day out and get bored to tears, but I thought he was very good. We’ll see what happens next week, because oh yes, he wants to check on my progress and we can try stairs. Gulp.
Interestingly one neighbour was asking about my health with Partner and said he’d paid privately for his daughter’s physio because the hospital service was poor. I’ve only had one session but I certainly can’t criticise the service I received. And like anything, it’s luck of the draw who you are allocated in a state-funded service. Discussing this with Partner after my session, he muttered, ‘His daughter is fat. As gross as my sister was.’ I can imagine that might make physio difficult.
Wellington Front is the scene of the mishap. I finally found some photos that in true Blue Peter fashion, I had taken earlier. So here they are. Plus the evil perpetrator Snowy, good dog Pippa, (who at least never landed me in hospital on his various cat escapades), and some riveting ankle shots. Well, it is more or less riveted together. Captions on all photos if you hover or flick on the gallery mode.
I saw the same cheery chaps on my return ambulance trip.
I told the one he was right. 'It wasn't so bad, you were right. I should listen to my ambulance staff.'
'I broke both legs at once,' he added nonchalantly.
'No, jumping out of a parachute. I was in the Parachute Regiment.'
No wonder he looked at my piffling broken ankle without sympathy.
'I was walking in eight weeks, and running after twelve. Otherwise I'd have been out of a job. Mind over matter. They don't mind and I don't matter.'
And while mind over matter is a cliché, it is true in terms of recovery, as a number of you have reminded me.
Which brings me to the last part of the post. Gibraltar is now on its famous summer hours. This is where government and utility offices work even less hours than normal, and *some* shops but not all, also change their hours. This is so they can all enjoy summer and go to the beach. There is nothing consistent to it though. But if you want to get anything done between mid-June and September, the only safe hours are 10-12 noon. Otherwise you fall prey to bizarre and inexplicable opening hours.
Construction does not operate summer hours. Why would it? Makes far more sense for construction workers to be out in the heat of the day while oppressed air-conditioned office workers are released early to go down the beach.
In fact Partner’s firm did introduce summer hours once apparently. All the greedy Spaniards moaned about it, so it was scrapped.
However, I too will be on summer hours in an attempt to sort mind over matter and improve my rather feeble gait. And because I am frightened of my physio.
I have six sets of exercises to do four times a day, plus walking practice. That will be taking priority over blogging. I’ll be around intermittently as and when.
Have a lovely summer. Or winter if you are darn sarf of the Equator.