I am writing this blog to help or rather inform other sufferers of bilateral quadriceps tendon rupture, which I suffered on the 1 April 2014. If you wish to add a comment, please do, or if you would rather email me with your experience or any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will include as much as I can. I found that most of the information online is medical based, but there are quite a few forums online dealing with the injury. Most other information out there is usually about people who have had a bad experience. Do not get me wrong there is nothing good about a bilateral quad rupture, but now at week 10, I have not had that bad an experience. Well not as bad as some I have read about. But we all have a different experience and outcome. I am writing this as I am hoping it will be cathartic for me, and pass on any hints, tips or help other injured people.
I suffered my bilateral quadriceps tendon rupture on 1 April 2014, and it just so happened to be ‘All Fools Day.' My day started as they usually do on the first of the month. I send all my friends a good luck text message that reads; "White Rabbits." I did not realise then, but this was not going to be a lucky day for me.
I am 62 and my 230lbs in weight obviously was a contributing factor to my injury. First bit of advice; if you’re over 200lbs start thinking about losing some of it. I work in the UK for a south coast based advertising agency, and live in Bournemouth, which is in the beautiful county of Dorset.
The day following my accident the agency were presenting to a prospective client. We were going to stay overnight in Derby as our meeting was at 10am in the prospects East Midlands office. The presentation team was anticipating leaving Bournemouth at around 9pm, as the creative department was still working on the presentation. You know when your spider senses tell you not to do something, well I'm about to do a favour, one which I am going to regret.
As I was walking through the office, one of our other account teams asked if I had enough time to deliver some leaflets. It transpires, they want me to do a door-to-door leaflet drop for one of our clients. As it was only 3.30pm, I thought I had time. After clearing it with my boss, I picked up the leaflets and the map of which houses I was supposed to be delivering to. Then left in the car for Sutton Scotney, the destination of the leaflet drop. Sutton Scotney is a relatively small village in Hampshire, close to Winchester and about 50 miles from Bournemouth. It was a damp, dreary day, and when I drove into the village I parked close to our client’s development. The client is one of the country's largest housing developers. I was about two thirds of the way through the drop when it happened. I was in the Stockbridge Road delivering to what looked like a row of almshouses.
As I was leaving one of the houses, I lost my footing on some loose gravel. The gravel had broken free from the concrete pathway outside the almshouses. In hindsight, I should have just let myself fall, but my natural instinct was to try and stop myself. As I struggled to stop myself falling, I fell forward anyway. The next few seconds were a bit of a blur, apart from the loud pop from my knee/knees, and the searing pain. I fell on to the concrete path and thank god, not on my head. I later found out that the loud popping was my quadriceps tendons tearing from my kneecaps. In lay terms the tendon attaching my thigh muscle to my kneecap had ripped away.
I lay there for a few minutes and tried to get up. The pain radiating from my knees as I tried let me know this was not such a good idea. There was a grass verge running alongside the pathway, and I thought it would be better to drag myself onto it. I remember the long damp; cool grass seemed to sooth my painful, fiery knees. At this point, I was in denial, thinking I'll give it a bit and all would be ok, nothing is going to be further from the truth. After a few minutes and realising I was not going to get up just yet (still in denial), I saw some railings about thirty yards from where I was laying. I thought if I could drag myself there I could pull myself up by the top rail (still in denial). I then proceeded to crawl to the railings. I grabbed the top rail and tried to pull myself up. I soon realised it was futile, the pain was indescribable.
It was now time to realise I was fucked, especially as I could now fit my fingers behind my kneecaps. Luckily I had my phone in my pocket, I called 999 and the nice lady on the other end said help was on its way. The time now was 5pm, and a couple came out from and adjacent almshouse to enquire if I was OK. They obviously had seen me crawling around on the grass. I explained what had happened and that I had called an ambulance.
I then called the office to tell them what had befallen me, and that someone was going to have to come over and pick the car up. I gave the keys to the car to the couple that had come out to help, and told them someone from my office would be over to collect her. I didn’t realise it at that moment, but I was going to be able to give the guys coming to collect the car; the keys myself! The ambulance arrived at 7.10pm over two hours after I made the first call (thank you coalition!). I was left hanging onto that railing for just over two hours. Apparently according to the dispatcher and then triage nurse, I wasn’t an emergency. Sorry, it is getting late, its cold, I’m now damp, I’m in extreme pain and my legs don’t work. In hindsight, I should have said I had chest pains. But what if they had come to me and someone had died of a heart attack, more ambulance crews needed me thinks. I’m not a politically motivated person but hey do you know how much tax I've paid in my life.
Jason from the office arrived at the scene around 6.30, it does not need to be said that he was surprised to see me still there. Now follows a scene from a sit com, we decide to see if I can get into Jason’s car. At this point, I was at the top of a grass verge that ran down to the road. Jason parked his car as close to the verge as he could. This by the way was in a small lane where one car could just pass. So we are now holding up the passing traffic. I let go of the railings and crawl down the verge to where Jason’s car is parked. I literally tried to crawl into his back seat like a dog (no comments from people who know me). This proved impossible, and the pain indescribable. As I lay on the grass, with onlookers gwaping on, the ambulance arrived. It’s now 7.10pm.
It was not until they tried to put me in the ambulance that I realised I had Tourette’s syndrome. When the ambulance guys picked me up the pain was utterly indescribable. They ask you in the hospital to describe your pain on a scale of 1 to 10…. You know when they say something is priceless; well my pain was numberless. I am now in the Guinness book of records for the most expletives in fifteen seconds.
The journey was bumpy and painful but soon I would be in the hospital. On arrival at A&E I was pushed into a cubical and moved on to the bed, this was going to be home for the next six days, I mean the bed.
I wished; I really do wish, I could say my care was above and beyond, they were obviously very busy or understaffed or both. I may not be a politically motivated animal, but there’s something not quite right in the National Health Service.
To start with they have an obsession with your blood pressure, after the doctor saw me and said he thought I had a double rupture of my quadriceps tendons. A nurse/care assistant appeared and handed me a gown, said get undressed and put this on. Then promptly left, how I got undressed is a mystery to me; I was by now on painkillers, but they hadn’t kicked in yet. I managed to get my jacket and shirt off, but my shoes and trousers took me over 40 minutes and a lot of pain. I was left with just my underpants not to put it politely, and I couldn’t get them down past my very swollen and painful knees. The nurse came back in and seeing I was not finished turn to go back out. I shouted after her asking if I could have a pair of scissors, she never inquired what I wanted them for, just went out and came back with a pair, and then promptly left again. I could have wanted to do away with myself, or someone else come to that, but all I wanted to do was cut off my underpants. Can someone tell me, was it too much to ask, if the nurse/care assistant could help me get undressed? Bearing in mind the state I was in.
I now lay there in agony as my abdominal, quadriceps and calf muscles start cramping. Apparently it’s a side affect of the quadriceps rupture, and an added agony. Eventually, a porter runs me down to the x-ray department and while waiting outside I meet Darrell. Darrell had been hit by a car while getting into a taxi at Winchester Railway Station. The station is some 700 yards from the hospital. He had a similar experience to myself; had to wait one and a half hours for an ambulance; 700 yards from the hospital (well done coalition, or rather should I say Labour where did all the money go). Really I’m not political. Darrell went in first, the next time I saw him he was in the next bed to me on the orthopaedic ward. I was next in and was out back in my cubical in no time. The doctor came to see me to confirm the original diagnosis; I had ruptured both my quadriceps tendons. So no going home for me then, ho-hum. He fitted both my legs with what they call cricket splints. And the best way to describe them is that they are a bit like full-length cricket pads that go right around your leg. They have metal rods inserted length ways so your leg is unable to bend. These splints are going torture me for the next 6 weeks.
When I got to the ward it was 11.30. I drifted off into a fitful sleep.
On the other side were three elderly gentlemen who all had or were having hip replacements. The guy opposite me also had dementia; he would sleep most of the day and then wonder around all night. How the night staff put up with him, well I take my hat off to them. He would swear at them, try to hit them when they tried to put him back to bed. It got me to thinking maybe the chemical cosh is not such a bad thing. One night he managed somehow to get a pair of scissors, and was roaming around the ward with them. It was quite scary particularly as I was trapped in bed. When a member of the night staff came in Ron that was his name hid the scissors, he wasn’t that demented. I got the care assistants attention and told him about the scissors, he retrieved them not making me Mr Popular with Ron. He was shipped out the following day thank god.
Anyway it was now 5.30am on my first full day at the hospital. Around 6am, I had a cup of tea, bliss, and the first of my daily blood pressure tests usually 4 in a day, and of course the painkillers. Breakfast came at 8am, an individual size box of cornflakes. I was so hungry anything would have done, even the box.
At 10am Mr Bailey my surgeon came to examine me, and informed me that I would be going down to surgery in the afternoon. The best outcomes are from early intervention; the earlier it’s done the better the outcome. The rest of the day goes slowly, the splints around my legs are now somewhat irritating, the thought that I have got to keep them on 24/7 for the next 6 weeks is appalling.
Darrell goes down for his surgery me next, I hope. Mind you that depends on how long they are with Darrell. During the afternoon I have seen three different anaesthetists, all really saying the same. Am I allergic to this that or the other, had I had anaesthetic before. And that they might give me a spinal anaesthetic. What would I prefer? How do I know, I just want to get it over with. It comes to my turn for the operating table; off I go still in my trusty bed. Best thing about the hospital, the bed. I arrive in the theatre area, soft music playing. I’m pushed through some more doors and I’m in the anteroom, the next doors take you into the operating theatre. It’s in the anteroom that they put you to sleep, not literally. I don’t know if you the reader have had anaesthetic, I was expecting something slightly different. They had decided not to give me an epidural as I could not lie on my side. So we went for the (Full Monty), the anaesthetist said as she administered the drug, you're go off to sleep and awake after the procedure. So I’m waiting for the lights to go out, they didn’t. I now start to panic and start mumbling, I’m not out, its not worked; a nurse at my side said its ok its all over! What, it didn’t even seem like I went out at all, two hours of my life in a millisecond. I got back to the ward around 9pm and slept like a baby till 6am.
I was awoken by the usual 6am blood pressure and med’s round, the day slipped by slowly, Mr Bailey and his registrar came to see me, he told me how the operation had gone, and that the splints had to stay on till I went back to the hospital for my six-week check. He also said that I would probably be in the hospital until they thought I was fit enough to go home, somewhere between a week and two weeks. And then it would be bed rest for six weeks! When I asked him when I could get back to work and normality, he used an apparently new medical term, ‘Suck it and see.' Apparently people with a singular rupture get back to normality within four to six months. I have a rare bilateral rupture, so it’s how my body responds, hence the new medical term ‘Suck it and see.' I’m now depressed, and it’s hard to make me depressed.
Hospital food was good; washing consisted of a care assistant coming once a day with a bowl and a flannel and you got on with it. Where was the busty nurse to give you a bed bath, gone with the carry on films and my teen years? I had a visitor from work, who brought me some books, biscuits and fruit, nice. Thanks Tiff x.
As mentioned earlier, the day of my accident I was going to be ending up in Derby, so I had my overnight bag with me, and my computer bag. So I had my Ipad, Iphone and wash bag…. The Ipad was invaluable? Email, music, Sky Go, Netflix and Porn. So here’s my second bit of advice, always carry and overnight bag and all your communication devices. You never know there could be a calamity around the corner. Towards the end of the day, they shut our ward down, Bartlet Ward by the way. The old guy opposite to John had an infection, so now we are a closed ward. That meant the doors stay shut and everyone coming in has to wear a silly plastic apron what good that does, who knows. This went on for the next four days. My abiding memory of that stay in hospital was the heat, no air-conditioning. I run on hot anyway, but I was covered in perspiration virtually all the time I was in the hospital.
The rest of the time I was concerned mainly about my bowel movement, not to put to a finer point on it. The painkillers also kill your ability to pooh. What concerned me was this, they were feeding you well and they were, but where was it going? I had been a three times a day man, now I’m a no times a day man. I tried on a couple of occasions to use a bedpan. I had this weird idea that it was going to be something substantial; the care assistant produced what only I can describe as a cardboard flat cap. You could have worn it. Well, I sat on it for and hour, nothing, the idea of having a dump in that thing put you off anyway. If I had managed to do one, it would have gone everywhere. You have to remember I’m stuck in bed, and in reality it was a godsend I couldn’t pooh. Also, bearing in mind I’m 230lbs, when the thing came out from under me, it resembled more a flattened, flat cap……
The next night I gave it a go again still no luck, so they wheel in the commode. High tech stuff, and also a chair to rest my legs on. Commodes are not made for men; I lower the bed to the height of the commode, and drag myself across the bed to shuffle my bum onto the seat. As I’m writing this some ten weeks after these events, I have to tell you I still have to do this from my own bed on to my commode just to be able to get out of bed. Anyway as I say commodes are not for us guys, there is no room to manoeuvre your privates into the bowl, that’s if you can call it a bowl. I don’t know about anybody else, but nine times out of ten when I have to go, I also need a wee. So this is the picture you need to have in your mind, it comes with and over eighteen warning.
There you are sat on the commode in your open-backed hospital gown obviously designed for that dwarf from The Game Of Thrones, with your pee bottle on your ever shrinking manhood. After half an hour, I realised the game was up and I was never going to pooh again. Shuffle my bum back on the bed and carried on sitting on my golf ball. Well that’s what it felt like.
The Physiotherapists came to see me on the Friday, which would be the 4th April. They wanted to start to get me ready for ambulation. Two very nice girls, they had not come across someone with a bilateral quad rupture before (if another person tells me how rare it is I’ll scream). It seems they had practiced on themselves with the cricket splints. They brought with them, a walker (Zimmer frame) and a pair of crutches. I still use all these things to this day 23 May. They had worked out a way of my getting out of bed with assistance and the Zimmer frame. So this is the picture, I get myself into a position after a lot of shuffling around where I’m perched on the side of the bed, with my legs, angled to the floor. One of the physio's counterbalance one side of the Zimmer and I hoist myself up, it took several attempts. But I was up, hooray. Now the crutches, after a while, I got the hang of it. It wasn’t pretty, but I could very slowly get about. They asked if I would like to sit in a chair, yes was my reply, so they parked me in a chair got another for my legs and departed saying they would be back…. They never did. After four hours my bum got numb and I couldn’t get anyone’s attention, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I used one of my crutches to push away the chair supporting my legs and then with my bum on the edge of the chair pushed myself up on my arms. I still use this method for getting out of a chair to this day. I can only sit in chairs with sturdy arms. So now I’m up, I balance on my crutches and get to the side of the bed. The beds to low, so I use the remote control to raise the middle of the bed get my arse on to it, and literally throw myself back onto the bed. That was enough for Friday. I’m now exhausted.
Lynne came to see me the next day on the Saturday. It obviously shook her seeing me like this. She doesn’t drive distances, so it was really great she drove down from North London. It was good seeing her, but I made sure she headed home before it got dark. I was sad when she had left, and worried till she calls to say she was home safe and sound.
In the evenings, a nurse comes round and gives you an injection into your stomach. It’s to stop you getting deep vein thrombosis, and it stings for ages.
On the Sunday, the sister tells me I can go home today and they are arranging transport. At this point, I didn’t realise there was a hidden agenda. I’m asked if I have had a bowel movement, apparently I cannot go home till I have had a movement it transpires. I told her the hospital had done four things, fixed my broken knees, got rid of my appetite, made my penis disappear and screwed up my digestive system. She saw the funny side, I think. So it was a suppository for me (maybe she did not see the funny side). First there was the examination to see what was up there. I had to roll over on my side and the sister was going in. She asked if I would unclench, I had to inform her I wasn’t clenching just had a tight bottom. I was eventually probed and informed I was full, you don’t say? She obviously didn’t find the golf ball up there. The suppository was inserted and I was instructed to hold it in. Within ten minutes, I was shuffling towards the commode. The relief.
Later as I lay there, I think to myself I have nothing at home to help me, I called the Red Cross to see if they could lend me a high-backed chair with arms to sit on, which I am doing as I write this, a commode, and a table, for my bed. There was no reply. Sunday? I waited all day for the transport that never came. At 9pm, the sister came and told me I’ll being going home tomorrow now. But they needed my bed space and I was being moved, that’s why there sending me home they need my bed space. That Sunday night I ended up in a corridor come cupboard. It’s was cold, and a shock from the greenhouse heat of my ward. In the morning, I’m moved to the outpatient ward. It was a bit like going back in time, this was an old fashioned ward if I could only have spent the last six days here.
I had gone back in time to 'Emergency Ward 10', they asked if you would like a cup of tea, I mean whenever you wanted. I called the Red Cross again and got through to a nice lady and told her what I wanted. She said they could help, but it would be at least 4 to 5 days. That was no good to me; I needed the stuff today. Because I was out of my NHS trust area I couldn’t get the things I needed from the occupational therapy department at the hospital. Well done whoever thought that one up? You're not always conveniently going rupture your quads in your own NHS trust’s area. Anyway I decided to call a local to where I live disabilities equipment supplier. They could deliver that afternoon, so I bit the bullet and purchased the items. All the time being frustrated by the poor phone signal, it’s amazing it happened at all. At 1pm the ambulance arrived to take me home, we arrived back at base at 2.30pm, the reason it took so long? The driver got lost, the irony was not lost on me.
My friend Peter was there to greet me; he had agreed to move in for as long as it took. I wouldn’t have been able to come home if had not agreed to help me. He was a lifesaver. What the cost of private home care would have been I don’t know, but two hours a day at least, for 7 days a week you work it out.
Anyway I’m home now.
Back Home (Welcome to Groundhog Day) 7th April 2014
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: Youtube; About the injury after 1.32 in.
Bill Philips: Youtube; About the injury after 1.32 in.
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 archive 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.