The story of a man and his leg

Hello internet. How’ve you been!

It’s been a while. I guess I’ve been putting off this post if I’m completely honest.

But I should say something about my unexpected life-changing event. (As opposed to the long-expected one when I turned 40 in April, which turned out to change very little).

It all started on the last Friday in January, when I was at Young Life, our new club for teenagers in Craigavon. One of the major parts of Young Life is doing very silly things, and so it was that I was dancing to Gangnam Style, having practised it all week. Towards the end, I had a sudden sensation of being kicked in the ankle. It really hurt. And when I looked round, I could see another leader, dancing vigorously like myself. I assumed she had kicked me. But it really hurt! At the end of the song, I lay down, and couldn’t get up on my own. I hopped off for a wee sit down until the pain passed. But it still hurt a lot when I put any weight on it.

So off I went to casualty at Craigavon Hospital, where the nurses were very entertained by the fact that I had hurt myself dancing to Gangnam Style. Within very few minutes, the nurse diagnosed that I had ruptured my achilles tendon, which was then confirmed by an x-ray showing no broken bones. Apparently it does feel a lot like being kicked, but that’s just the feeling of your tendon snapping. Yuck! Unexpectedly my parents turned up, and were able to take me home, which was good as I left in a pair of disposable trousers and my left leg in plaster to the knee.
I know! Disposable trousers! They are the very thing when you’re putting a leg into plaster, as it saves any cutting of the patient’s trousers.

I stayed at my parents’ house for a week, working from home on my laptop and mobile, which was great for a while, but when they went away for a few days, I headed back to my own house. The fact that my car is automatic, and therefore didn’t require any use of my left leg was brilliant, as it meant I was able to be out and about. While I was on the crutches, I was even able to use disabled spaces, which was kind of fun. And the Tesco home delivery service was great at delivering all the microwavable meals I needed.

After a couple of weeks the plaster was taken off (which was less scary than I had expected – it turns out it isn’t a circular saw – it’s a vibrating thing which can’t cut skin), and I was given an aircast boot instead. It was to be my constant companion for the next half dozen weeks. It was great at immobilizing my leg, and keeping my foot in an equinus position (toes pointed down), but it’s a ton weight, and really hard to sleep in. It was a great relief when my physio (Oran at the City Hospital, who was very good) finally told me I could take it off when I was sitting down or sleeping!

From there, it was still slow progress to get to the point where I could put my foot flat on the ground, and then more before I could put my weight on it. But I met my target of being able to walk again by my birthday. At the start of April, I was able to walk to Tescos without crutches (not very far, but an achievement), and even made it back onto my bike (including cycling back into the office after a long time working from home without going crazy). By the end of May, I was able to do a 15 mile cycle, and a 5 mile walk into Belfast round the shops and home again. I wasn’t doing either very quickly, or very well, but I was at least able to do them again, and was overjoyed.

By the middle of June, I was even able to run a couple of miles, but then had a bit of setback when I hurt my ankle again in London. I am guessing it was running for the train wearing a heavy rucksack, but it was much sorer again after that, so I had to take things a bit easier for a while. But I am now back to being able to walk long distances (like to the top of Cregagh Glen on the 12th of July), and cycle for an hour (along the Comber Greenway). I even took a dog for a walk today! So I’m sufficiently confident in my walking that I have re-booked my cancelled birthday holiday to New York and Washington for September, when hopefully I will be back to full strength.

The whole thing was a fascinating experience – my first major injury in my life, first time in plaster, first time on crutches. I remain astonished at how easily it happened, and how easily I hurt it again (usually playing with my nephew, who is nearly two now, and harder to catch than he used to be). But now, 6 months later, I am over the worst of it, and hopefully it won’t have any long-term ill effects.

So now you’re up to date!

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