Sunday, October 02, 2011

It's Over

Well, it's over.

The training and the anticipation finally gave way to the event last weekend.

I've very pleased to say that, along with my colleagues on the team I completed the Princes Trust Wild UK Challenge 2011 - I've even got a medal to prove it. The kayaking was a breeze, the cycling enjoyable (although the hills are a bit steep in Devon) and the walking very tough on my sore feet, but it was well worth the discomfort. Thanks to all who sponsored me.

I've lost weight, I feel fitter than I have done for a while and I can look back on a rehabilitation that now feels complete. True, I still have aches and pains and will probably never regain the lost mobility in my left ankle, but overall I have to be very pleased indeed with my situation.

Once more I would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported me. All the staff at the Sheffield NGH Limb Reconstruction Team, friends and family and Maggie (of course!).

That's it now; no more need for the blog (unless I can find something really stupid to do next!).

I really do wish all the best to anyone who stumbles over these ramblings whilst contemplating a period of injury or disability and trust that you can find some hope in what others have achieved.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Wild Challenge 2011 - Am I mad?

It's been a long time since my last post and things generally continue to improve. If it weren't for my inherent laziness I'm sure I'd be fitter by now, but I'm doing more walking now including a nice little trip to the French Alps last September.
However, when the chance arose to do something really silly to focus my attention on getting fit I just had to go for it.
In September 2011 I will be taking part in the Princes Trust Wild UK Challenge which involves Walking, Kayaking and Cycling about 100 miles from the North Somerset Coast to the South Devon Coast in two and a half days. I've not done anything on this scale since I was a student, so this would be a big deal even if I hadn't been through a few medical problems over the last few years.
In any event, I'm in light training now and will gradually ramp this up so I can hopefully be ready in September.
If anyone would like to provide some moral (OK, financial!) support, my sponsorship page is:
Wish me luck. Please.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Full Circle?

It's taken a while but last Monday I made my first solo flight on my return. Great feeling; not apprehensive at all and very rewarding as I have enjoyed my dual flying in preparation for this.
Onwards and upwards

Sunday, January 10, 2010

One Year On

Well, not exactly 1 year, but close enough.
This is really an excuse to say that I've made it back onto the ski slopes.
We went to Winter Park in Colorado as it was the best place to get back to the slopes.
My thanks go to Jacques at Le Feet Lab who made the custom boots (for some reason my old boots didn't fit any more!). He really is a star when it comes to such things and I couldn't have done it without him.
I also had a couple of sessions with guys from the NSCD (National Sports Centre for the Disabled) to check me out and give me some tips about how to adapt. Thanks Beth for your support. This organisation seems to be pretty unique and to see some of the Winter Paralympic athletes training rather put my situation into perspective. If anyone reading this needs, and has the opportunity, to visit the NSCD I'm sure it would be life changing.
I only had one significant fall (a graceful somersault into a snowdrift when I hit a rock) and an embarrassing topple over when I was standing still! I found my fitness levels obviously depleted but managed to ski 11 days out of 12, only taking that 1 day off having twisted my knee and wanting to spare myself for the last day.
The company was great, the food gargantuan in portion size and I lost weight?
I shall refrain from commenting on the travel except to complement the bus driver who drove us back from Heathrow to Manchester in a blizzard.
The moral, as always, is never diminish your ambitions. If you want it, go and get it!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Last Post?

Hospital today.
In the nicest possible way I've been told that they never want to see me again!
X-Rays look great. Ankle still very very stiff, but getting a bit better all the time.
Just back from a week in the French Alps, including a 2 hour walk on alpine paths - I think I even surprised myself a bit.
All my thanks go to the whole team at the NGH. Also, thanks to Maggie who has had to put up with my ups and downs. Much harder for your friends and family than it is for the patient.

Monday, April 27, 2009

First Flight

As some sort of milestone I had my first flight since the accident on Sunday. Nothing at all eventful but great to be back in the air again. I'll need to do a fair bit of two seat flying and catch up on 3 1/2 years lack of practice but that first step has now been taken and I look forward to getting some solo flying in later this summer.
In the intervening period we have had a couple of weeks in France. Pretty good weather for the time of year and a chance to build a little more fitness during some interesting walks. I suspect the good food and wine won't have helped the fitness levels but certainly didn't do me any harm.
Due back at the hospital early June, but nothing particularly exciting to tell them. Mobility continues to improve slowly and I do recover much faster now following a bit of a walk. Only time will tell how far I can take my recovery.
We do have a ski holiday booked for next season so that will be an interesting experiment

Saturday, January 31, 2009

On Yer Bike

So far, so good.
I'm gradually improving the movement in my ankle and my recovery rate from walking is getting better as I try and exercise more. I've no idea yet how things will pan out, but if I keep trying I'll achieve whatever is possible. I've bought a bike so that I can work on my leg muscles and over all fitness. I can't believe how much muscle and stamina I've lost, but I suppose 3 years is a long time without being able to exercise properly.
Excitement is mounting now as we are putting the plans together for a skiing holiday next Christmas. I've no idea how to get my boots on now as the lower left leg is quite a different shape now. But I do have custom boots with a lifetime guarantee so perhaps I can get them adapted.
Nothing much more specific in the planning yet, but as much walking as I can attempt.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


3 years after the accident. 7 weeks after the frame removal. Here is the anniversary cake Maggie made for the team at the NGH. She appears to want me to take up the can-can!
XRays today - all looking good.
I was naturally somewhat apprehensive about todays visit as we have passed the point of no return. Now I can focus on improving my fitness and mobility and get back to all those things I have missed. I have been warned off parachuting, and I imagine that a bungy jump might leave my foot attached to the elastic and the rest of me down below, but otherwise I've plenty to go at.
Back in 6 months just in case, but in the meantime we wish all the best to the orthopeadics team. We owe them all a great deal.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


It's been 3 or 4 weeks since the frame was removed. As best I can tell there has been no movement in the leg so am hoping that things will look OK in early December when I have my next XRay. I feel that if it looks OK in December then I can be pretty optimistic for the future.

It's definitely not straight and I have restricted movement in my ankle, but it continues to get easier and less painful as I use it more. We were hoping to do a few mountain paths in France during half term, but the photo will probably explain why I had to stick to the low ground.

It's strange how quickly you get used to not having the frame on, even after nearly 3 years. It's certainly more convenient and less damaging to my clothes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Standing on my own two feet

Well, it finally came off on Thursday. The XRay didn't show any movement since the dynamisation so the go ahead was given.

It was quite an interesting process - especially when one of the wires wouldn't budge so Maria had to get the mole grips out. They were, quite honestly, the largest pair of mole grips I have ever seen!

Still, bravery lollipop in hand we set off back over the hills to go to a concert that evening. No hanging about before enjoying my first frameless time for a while. We just have to keep our fingers crossed now that the bone is really solid this time. The leg looks a bit of a mess and possibly still not quite straight, but if it stays in one piece that will do for me.

Anyway, a couple of photos as much for my benefit as anyone elses.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Two weeks and counting

The CT scan last Thursday was very promising indeed, so much so that the frame has been dynamised and I go back on the 16th October, hopefully for the frame removal.
Comparison of the 3 CT scans quite clearly shows how the gap has filled with bone although we can't be sure how strong it is until it gets a real work out. I can't see any obvious problems since the dynamisation; perhaps a bit of soft tissue discomfort, but no significant movement. I gave it a small test last night at a reunion of some old (or should I say former) workmates. A bit sore by the time I got home, but that was perhaps because I was driving so couldn't dull the discomfort by drinking excessively. I'm hoping things continue to be positive and that October will see the start of the end of the journey.
After congratulating Emma in my last post I got to see some photos of the new arrival posted on the treatment room door. I'm sure everyone who attends the clinic wishes Emma and Jessica all the best. I wonder if this means I get an apprentice to work with Maria on the frame removal?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Too busy to post

I just realised that it was April when I last updated things. To be honest, the Lizzie now has little impact on my daily life. I work hard, relax in much the same way as before and generally get on with life. True, I can't walk as far or fast as I used to, and once a week we have to suspend activities while we get the dressings changed and the pin sites cleaned.
Where are we now then.
Since I last posted in April I've been "oscillating" the frame to stimulate the bone growth. A second CT scan in June looked quite positive with definite evidence of new bone bridging the gap. My last visit in August confirms that things still look OK on the XRay, but the key date now is 2nd October, when I have my next CT scan. I am told that I should expect the frame to be dynamised on that day unless the CT scan shows anything untoward. That would then suggest frame removal later that month.
As we have agreed that this is the last chance the results of that activity will determine whether I keep my leg. I'm feeling very positive, but also realistic. There is new bone, but is it strong enough to support an overweight fifty-something layabout? Only time will tell!
One final word, congratulations to Emma, limb reconstruction nurse and proud new mother.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The April Update

The biggest news this time is that the digital Xray is now working at the hospital and you can now look at the pictures on a PC monitor. I love the zoom feature!
Even with all this technology it's still not obvious what state my leg is in. It looks OK on the Xray, but we'll need another CT scan to be sure. I'm back in another 2 months so we'll see what is said then.
Since my last post (cue trumpet!) we've been to Malta for a holiday. Lots of walking, at least until I got a fine blister on my toe which went septic. I've also had some attention from Laurent who is training as a Reiki instructor.
Of course, we'll never know exactly what is having most effect on the leg but we'll keep on trying and many thanks to everyone who is helping out.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Long Time No Progress

It's been a long time since there's been anything much to report.
Having put everything back onto the frame we've been waiting for something to happen. X Rays continue to show good bone growth but remain inconclusive.
Last Thursday's visit still showed nothing dramatic so it was agreed that they would squeeze me in for a CT scan. Very interesting process and certainly gives a better picture than the normal X Rays. It appears that the fracture site is still non-union at least on one side. After all this time it's a bit frustrating and we have decided to repeat the oscillation process that we used on the last frame to try and stimulate things.
It is starting to get to the point when we need to consider what next if this doesn't heal. We're still a few months off knowing, but I've been asked to consider my attitude to the two fundamental options. Another operation to remove the odd bit of bone, try and fix the rest onto the ankle and stretch the leg to make up the difference is certainly possible, but there's still no guarantee of success. Amputation is the other option, which would at least be a reasonably known quantity. Too early to need to decide but it doesn't sound like my mobility would be much different in either case.
As Mr Dennison said, "the main difference is whether you have to put your leg back on to go for a pee in the night". Now, you can't make it more succinct than that.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Long time - no post

I hadn't realised just how long it had been since my last post, but so much has happened.
Busy at work (as ever) and trying to catch up on a few domestic duties but failing miserably time has just flown by. No special celebrations for the second anniversary but marked by a few thoughts of what had happened in the interim.
At one stage it looked like we were on the last stretch with the fixator. The X-rays look great and we started the dynamisation process. After 2 weeks with the vertical rods slackened off the snaps still looked good, but I was sure my ankle had gone over at a bit more of an angle again. Nothing much, but the two lower rings were definitely closer on one side than on the other. We decided to be extra careful and tighted the nuts up again applying a small distraction to the site by pushing the rings a little further apart. This might show if anything is going wrong and can often stimulate a bit more bone growth.
Back again early in January so we'll see then. In the meantime, best wishes for Christmas to anyone who is still reading this.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Before and After

Time to post some photos.

Having got the foot ring off it is easier to see the current situation. It looks like the foot is not totally straight, but pretty close. Actually, with the flap looking so bulky it's difficult to get a real perspective of the leg.
Going back to look at the situation before the latest operation it is obvious why another frame was necessary.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fun with a foot ring

I've had an infection in the pins of my foot ring pretty much continuously since my last post. It got really bad for a few days while on holiday in the middle of France, but that's behind me again now as the ring was taken off today at the hospital.
The latest X Rays look really good and everyone seems very happy - there is even a suggestion that we might dynamise the frame if things look good in 6 weeks time which would be an amazing step forward. It would be a long period of dynamisation, but I'll take every positive step forward that is being offered.
I suspected that having the wires taken out of the foot would be more painful than higher up the leg and I wasn't wrong. More blood and certainly more initial discomfort, but it all feels so much better a few hours later.

Friday, July 20, 2007

OP 1:Broken Bones 0

Seems like a while since I posted but things have been hectic.
Clinic session back in Sheffield during their flooding crisis was an eye-opener, at least the hospital was quiet as very few people could travel to get there. It took 3 hours to do a normal 1 1/2 hour journey. Worth it as things were looking good at that point with the free flap seemingly part of my leg rather than my thigh now.
Yesterday went back for X Rays and they look quite stunning. The bone that was grafted in is really firming up with the help of the OP 1 stuff, known affectionately as pixie-dust. It's quite noticeable on the X Ray how much more opaque the bone is and eveyone is very pleased. So much so that I hope to get the foot ring off when I go back in 6 weeks if progress continues at this rate. I'll be glad to see the back of the foot ring as it only took 5 weeks to get a nasty infection in one of the lowest wires this time around. Just hope it's not my MRSA back although I did swab clear of MRSA when I went in to hospital but you just never know.
The wounds around the flap are still being dressed twice a week but they are healing pretty well too, so fingers crossed for the next few weeks

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lizzied again

Back from hospital with my new lizzie attached. I managed to get away with just over a week in hospital which is impressive bearing in mind what they did and the fact that I was "on the table" for 12 hours for the operation.
Lots of interesting new things to learn about from this process.
Because there wasn't enough flesh around the original break site I had to have a free flap taken from my right thigh and plumbed into my left leg using micro-surgery. The donor site was then stapled up and a skin graft applied, also from my right thigh. The flap is very delicate at first so I had 3 days in a sweat box - well a side ward with all the heating on and a strange heater called a "Bear Hugger" to pump hot air around the leg. It looks a bit like someone has attached a flesh coloured tennis ball to my leg, but 2 weeks on it still seems to be OK. The graft sites are also settling down now two (I had a second skin graft from my left thigh onto the wound on the back of my leg to help close it up).
The bones were chistled out again, straightened up and packed out with bone from my pelvis and some clever "pixie dust" that stimulates the healing. The donor site for the bone is certainly the most painful bit right now but even that is getting much better.
I've two appointments next week, one each for plastics and orthopeadics. The plastics is mainly to change the dressings and probably remove the staples, whilst at the ortho clinic I think they want to take another 5% out of the angle of my foot, presumably using the lizzie nuts and bolts - sounds painful but let's wait and see.
Walking is difficult even on crutches and I keep falling asleep so I guess I've a bit more recovering to do.

Friday, May 11, 2007

New Nose

Well I've had the nose fixed so I can breathe again.
Nothing dramatic, but I wish the consultant had remembered that he had put 2 stitches into the plastic split up my nose before he tried to pull it out.
Now I'm heading towards my second lizzie.
I have a pre-op assessment for the plastic surgeon on Monday and then I go in on 6th June for the operation on the 7th. Not sure how long it will keep me out of actions but I'm strangely looking forward to having the fixator back on as without it I have to be so careful on my crutches as I can't afford to break the foot off before the surgeon does it for me.