26 July 2016 - D day…

On 1st Jan, like millions across the world, I placed my new year resolutions onto my fridge. I was excited at the challenges that lay ahead. I would like to share some;

1. Be happy. Always. Whatever..

2. Dance with my mother in law on her 80th birthday (Dec 31)

3. Carry my father in law home drunk on his wife’s birthday

4. Handstand on a beach in Sri Lanka

5. Live more. Work less

6. Rock with Tom Jones in Abu Dhabi

7. Kiss more…

8. Learn French

9. Never forget…

18 days after placing these resolutions onto my fridge I honestly thought my world had ended. Over a stupid game of 5 a side football. A serious rupture requiring surgery. I will never walk again……? How ridiculous could I have been?

This website and its members ability to continue to push a positive mental attitude, my wife’s ability to make me continue life as normal - a holiday to Oman? 4 weeks after my Op? Are you serious? (She was!) A hilarious physiotherapist, and, the piste de la resistance … my employer terminating my contract and removing my medical benefits immediately all built an inner resolve. This resolve ensured this ‘minor’ injury wouldn’t change me as a person although it has massively changed my life.

My surgeon told me on Jan 26th. In 6 months time you will be running 5km. No problem. You will get your life back. Many don’t…..

I am at 4km. On 26th July’ (or before) I will run 5km. Apart from the handstand on the Sri Lankan beach - I was too nervous, and rocking with Tom Jones in Abu Dhabi  - sadly his wife passed away meaning the concert was cancelled, there is nothing to stop me meeting my resolutions especially dancing with my mother in law!

For everyone out there, if you are going through the same journey, be strong, dig deep, take time to recover and be well, both mentally and physically. As the famous song goes ‘life is a roller coaster you’ve just got to ride it’..

Be well. Keep smiling.

Call me a pansy but…

45 seconds. Exactly. No more. No less. I actually jogged for 45 seconds. No physio to be found. I was on the treadmill, at the gym, alone. I cried. Ok, as our good friend Manny said in his last post ’some will call me a pansy’. I don’t care. I’m with Manny. My wife always says, ‘ It takes a man to wear pink’ well, I’d like to add another, ‘It takes a grown man to cry!’

15 weeks ago today I left my life in the hands of a man with a knife. A man I had never met before in my life. He promised I would be jogging by June. He didn’t let me down. Was I scared when the treadmill reached 6.5 mph? Too right I was. Petrified!

I’m currently looking for work in Kuwait, courtesy of an uncaring employer who kindly cancelled my contract, in my darkest hour, and the thought of job hunting, in a foreign country, with one fully functional leg, left me a little nervous about the future but,  you know what? If I can jog for 45 seconds then anything is possible!

It’s been an emotional few weeks. I said goodbye to Tina + Anna (the crutches), to my job, and now, to my fear of re rupture due to jogging. I must be careful 15 weeks is still very short in the world of Achilles recovery. I need to respect the injury.

To Manny and all the other pansies out there. I salute you!!

Goodbye Tina + Anna….

In a previous blog back in February I discussed my trip to Oman. Flying Oman air was a great experience particularly the cabin crew. Seeing my crutches I was guided to a new seat to allow the leg to be horizontal during the flight. I was also given 2 very quick glasses of wine to calm my nerves…

On landing, I was handed my crutches. ‘This one is Tina and this one is Anna’ said the beautiful Omani cabin attendant ?! Of all the names in the world, how on earth Tina  and Anna came to be I will never know. But, the names stuck, and T+A as they have been fondly christened, have been with me through some tough times.

There have been times when they went totally missing. On one particular visit to the restroom, after a couple of beers, I headed off back to the restaurant. Half way to table I got the feeling something wasn’t quite right…. Yep, T+A were still upright, in the restroom!

So this week we said goodbye. It was a great love affair but destined only to be short lived. Tina wasn’t in good shape. Following my fall into the restaurant fountain in Oman, she had a nasty bend at the bottom and wouldn’t have been of any use to anyone else. I thought of adoption. ‘Crutches online.com’ or handing to the Kuwait hospital where, bizarrely, they do not give you crutches or sell them. They came as a pair. Anna wouldn’t have survived without her mate.

I picked the best skip in Kuwait. I see it each week as I shop for the groceries. It has a beautiful sea view and faces the sunset. Only the best for T+A…. As I laid them both to rest carefully, a shop attendant collecting grocery trolleys stopped.’Are you ok sir?’ He asked. ‘Just saying goodbye to 2 good friends’ I replied. We both stood in silence, a touching moment indeed.

Thanks T+A. I will always remember you….

You want me to do what…?! :-)

So the Dutch physio tells me to step onto the treadmill. 5km per hour. A very nice walk. I’m now at 14 weeks post op and every day feeling stronger. Back in my flip flops. Walking on the beach. Sometimes I forget. Especially when gazing at my beautiful wife over a cool glass of beer during one of our weekend trips to Bahrain (remember no beer in Kuwait). On the last trip, after one too many cool beers, I headed of to the washrooms and on my return totally forgot to limp…. ouch! Believe me you only do it once!

So, Im on the treadmill and the dutch psycho says ‘run’! What the f…. ? He puts the treadmill up to 6.5km per hour, thats marathon speed in my book, and shouts ‘run’! I shout back ‘ ‘f**k off!’. He gets my point. ‘Ok, he says, maybe next week?’ . Yea right mate. Maybe…. ha!

‘Get on to the steps’ he says. I step on carefully to the first step. ’second please’ he says. I go up one further step. ‘Right. Jump!!’ ‘WHAT??? Have you gone totally mad??’. ‘JUMP ENGLISHMAN.JUMP’…. I jump like a little new born lamb. It took an eternity to travel through the air. I braced myself for the pain as I hit the floor. And I landed. On two feet. No pain. Slightly embarrassed I turned around to see the laughter on his face. I wanted to hit him but at the same time kiss him! Its a PT/patient thing right??!

We did it 5 more times. On the 5th my achilles said ‘ok sunshine, now don’t take the *iss’. So i left it there.

Tomorrow is PT day. Wish me well. I have no idea what awaits. A parachute may be required….. :-)

I really do not believe it!

Two shoes? I can wear two shoes? Yep, said the physio. But only at work and take it easy.

So I exactly 9 weeks and 1 day, post op, I went to bed excited at the prospect of waking up and taking my spare shoe to work. Two shoes? Never could I have imagined something so small could have meant so much!

Up I got at the crack of dawn. Boot on. Sandwiches in work bag. Off I drove to work. Got to my desk excited to remove my hoot and guess what? Yep, I’d left the shoe at home…. 10 weeks. My big day. And I blew it!


The treadmill….

Ok Adie, said my fantastic Dutch physio, get on the treadmill. The treadmill? What, THE treadmill?! I could have kissed him. I haven’t been on a treadmill since January 16th. 2 nights before my fateful appearance on the Kuwait 5 a side football pitch.

He started the treadmill. I nearly fell off the back immediately! Nothing can prepare you, having had 9 weeks on crutches and a boot, for the weird feeling of attempting to walk again. Why are you limping on the wrong leg? he asked. He was right, my whole co ordination was totally wrong! 3.5km per hour I walked at for what seemed an eternity. After around 30 mins I asked how many kilometres I’d walked and for how long? You’ve done 800 metres and we are on 6 minutes!

We sped up to 5km per hour. I was nervous. I kept thinking of re rupture. All the horror stories I had read and then something strange happened. A young Kuwait came into the room. He was no more than 16 . In full dishdasha. Limping badly. His smile lit up the room. I hope you recover soon ,he said. You are western you saved my country during the gulf war. Without you I would not be here. My family would have been killed. I will return when you have finished. You deserve special treatment.

I could have cried. But that is Kuwait all over. Full of love and affection particularly for the  British and Americans.

My mind was totally taken away from the treadmill. Adie, said the Dutchman, I’m going to speed up the treadmill. Is that ok? Feel free, as fast as you like. I’m ready.

Amazing how the mind works and how it influences the body….?

Happy birthday Oz…!

I’ve known my mate Oz for nearly 33 years. He’s my father in law. Not like your normal father in law. A friend.  In his company we laugh. A lot. And so off to Scotland ,where father in law lives, my beautiful wife headed to see her dad. Rightly so. On his birthday. Leaving me in the sandy desert of Kuwait with my ATR….

Well sod that I said to myself. And promptly booked myself a flight. Alone. I left the crutches behind and headed off to Kuwait airport to fly the magnificent BA jumbo via Heathrow to Glasgow and then via train down to the beautiful south Ayrshire village of Maidens - Turnberry to those golfers on the blog where a mr Donald trump now owns the vast majority of the area! With my Medi boot the ATR was soon forgotten. It is funny when a barman or cabin crew see the boot they instinctively think I need alcohol? Too right. And long may it continue!

So 7 hours from Kuwait to Heathrow flew by (sorry). An hour and a beer later another hour to Glasgow. And then a further hour on the train to Ayr and I was nearly at my adopted home. Picked up by my fantastic sister in law I arrived at father in laws door, strolled in as if I owned the place to surprise him on his birthday. Best thing was he had booked a large, not cheap, table at the local restaurant, and now he had to add another seat. Oh how I laughed. He didn’t!

And now I sit in Heathrow airport awaiting my trip back to the desert. The lady opposite me is in a wheelchair. Her brain is active, her smile infectious, she is laughing but her body cannot respond. I remember my father who lost his life to motor neurone disease. And I thank god that I have a small injury. It will recover. I can still travel across the world ,with little difficulty, to see my old pal. Life is precious. Enjoy every moment. Never complain. There is someone always in a far worse position than you. If you don’t think it’s possible, make it happen.

Happy birthday Oz. Thanks for the meal!

Not such a good idea..

Off to the beach I went. Alone. Sea water and wounds go together well. The salt water helps the healing process. I strolled down the beach in my Medi boot looking like a cross between robocop and an ageing baywatch life guard from the 80’s. I once came out of the sea in my trunnies and was told that with 4 more packs to add to my 2 pack I could pass as Daniel Craig… Alas, ATR, no exercise and working at Starbucks has now added a few pounds to the waistline. Even the  2 pack is hidden.

I digress from the story. So I’m in the sea enjoying the water. I look down and my feet begin to sink. And sink. And sink. I can get my good leg out but I simply cannot move ATR leg. I look around the beach for help. I’m too far away to shout. Along came along a friendly chap who thought I was joking. I showed him by shark bite and tried to explain in Arabic I was stuck!

I put my arm around him as he yanked me out of the sand and half carried me back to my sun bed. The embarrassment!

Message to brain. You’ve had a serious injury son. Who do you think you are pretending to be James Bond with one leg….?!

The Dutch physio..

6 weeks ‘post op’ - I love that saying strangely and I’m sat in front of my new best friend. The physio. Dutch, male, young, studying for his full qualifications. I must admit, I have only ever had one physio in my 35 years of needing one, alas a move to the Middle East and previous physio retirement to Ireland and I find myself with the new kid on the block..

Its a bit disjointed . ‘What did the doctor advise?’.  ’Er, don’t drink alcohol’ I replied. He shook his head. You really shouldn’t wind up physiotherapists. He wasn’t happy . He pulled, stretched, tweaked and forced the bad leg up, down and sideways. Zero pain. Grabbed the ankle with both hands and yanked. No pain. He looked puzzled. ‘ you are presenting ( weird terminology) as though you are at week 10 post op not week 6..’ ‘Sorry’ I replied. ‘I didn’t wish to be any trouble!’

And so the hour past with the statutory ultrasound with gel. Does this really work? I was despatched with a couple of exercises, told to keep the boot and crutches and report again in a week. I walked out carrying the crutches, got to my car and threw them in the boot. They are still there.

The recovery is on…..!

I should have taken the golf buggy…!

Oman is beautiful. It’s people very friendly. In a world full of madness a country of peace and tranquility. A 4 day break was just what the doctor ordered. ‘Do not remove boot,no alcohol and no weight bearing’ was his parting words as I left the surgery…

Living with crutches and a Medi boot affords many luxuries. I hopped through every security check at the airport. The airline crew offered the best seats in the house - apart from first class that is!

i settled down for the 2 hour flight and took the boot off and placed it across the spare seat kindly afforded to me. Within 15 minutes a glass of wine was delivered. The doc wouldn’t mind surely? It tasted like nectar! Another followed. This could be dangerous!

Arriving at the beautiful Omani hotel I was in awe. Marble everywhere. Steps. Steps. And yet more steps!

The pool was beautiful. A swim up bar. I hopped to the pool daily. Took off the boot and swam like a synchronised swimmer. I didn’t move far but smiled a lot when I reached the bar!

One evening we went to a beautiful beachside restaurant. The hotel was full of infinity pools. In the pitch black the water glistened against the marble. ‘I get you golf buggy sir to restaurant?’ said the attentive waiter. After 2 gin and tonics - it was dark and the doc wouldn’t know, I was full of bravado. ‘ No need I said’ as I hopped off thru the fountains. And then, without notice, the right crutch disappeared into a gap in the marble walkway. Down I went, dragging my wife and waiter with me . The boot took the fall as water splashed me from head to toe.For approx 10,seconds I thought I’d blown it. I was sure I’d re ruptured. The pain. My wife looked at me. After 30 years together she knows when I lie. I lied. ‘Im fine. Let’s eat’. I sat down and drank 2 glasses of wine ( sorry doc) in quick succession. The pain subsided ,that was, until the bill arrived!

Next morning I apologised to my bent crutch and vowed never to drink again. I went to the pool and vowed not to visit the pool bar. An hour passed and my friendly barman appeared with a beautiful glass of cold beer. ‘No need to swim sir, I bring to you today’!

And her I am, sat with my doctor at my update appointment. His opening question? ‘Did you obey my orders….’?! Er……