Week 1

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The first week was essentially a feet up exercise where I was mainly occupied with coming to terms with the new reality and researching what to expect over the coming weeks. The hospital hadn’t really given me much in the way of information in this regard, just a sheet of A4 giving a broad outline of a fourteen week treatment plan which didn’t even mention the first two weeks. So it was a massive comfort to get onto the internet and find that a great many people had written, blogged and vlogged about their experiences. They all had stories to tell and advice to give. There was much to learn.

The first lesson was how to get things done with minimal mobility. When I’d got home from the hospital I was deeply shocked to find that I couldn’t even get up the two steps to my front door without getting on my hands and knees and crawling. God knows what the neighbours must have thought.

The next realisation was that as I could no longer carry anything, it would be impossible to take a drink from the kitchen to the living room. I was determined not to let this stop me and I worked out that if I put the cup on a tray, I could slide it along the floor, usually by pushing it whilst on my hands and knees. My wife arranged to work from home, but on the occasions she was out, this was my preferred way of getting food and drink from the kitchen. I started looking into ways to make life easier, but things like trolleys were just too expensive for the short space of time they would be needed. I decided to grin and bear it.

My knees were taking a hammering and it wasn’t just the trips to the kitchen. It was also to get upstairs, which is where I usually went to deal with the next big shock – daily anti-coagulant injections. I’ve never injected myself with anything before and usually look away when nurses take samples. The idea is to gather together a fold of stomach fat (not a problem for me) and inject into it. On the very first go I lay there with the needle hovering just millimetres over my skin for two or three minutes before I finally got the nerve to press it home. Ouch!! The hospital had suggested getting someone else to do this but there was no way anyone else was getting near this. I had to do it my way. Over the course of the week I ended up with numerous bruises across my stomach. Not good, but at least I knew where to not put it the next time.

Another thing I realised was that using crutches is nowhere near as easy as some people make it look. There’s a definite art to it and it takes time to get it right. It’s also tough on the palms of your hands.

Personal hygiene is another area which takes a bit of a hit at this stage. The hospital warns that you shouldn’t get the plaster cast wet. So straight away a shower is out of the question and getting a bath while holding my leg out of the water seemed fraught with risks. In the end I opted for standing up at the bathroom sink and doing the best I could. Not easy when you can only stand on one leg. Luckily the bath is right next to the sink, so I used it to put the knee of my bad leg on whilst washing. I ordered a bag to go over my leg and protect the cast while showering, but I’m writing this at the 3 week mark and I’ve yet to use it.

During the week I didn’t have much in the way of pain and certainly didn’t need any pain relief at any point. When I did have problems it was largely incidental pain from the cast, or my good foot which was taking a hammering, along with my good knee, which is actually my dodgy knee.

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