Posted by: timbertopper | May 17, 2010

A little bit of pre-history

For my own record this is the abbreviated run up to my ATR. To save reading the rest, probably with the lesson is get your self checked before you do more serious damage.

Feb 5th 2010 and I was teaching athletics on the ATP.  I was not super fit but was able to do a sub 7min 2000m row so  my power levels were good.    The ground was damp after an early rain shower, but we were able to explore running and moved onto relays.  I had been careful to warm up and gradually increase the intensity but nothing was being done at pace.  I set off on a run to demonstrate a relay changeover, my right leg reached full extension and then the slip on the wet surface happened. 

The result was me ending up on the floor in pain and the students also on the floor, though the cause for them was rolling around laughing.  However they quickly realised something wasn’t right and they did some good first aid: got me a seat, lots of ice, leg elevation etc.  I carried on teaching the session and when we had finished the students actually carried me off!  A brief check suggested a tear in my right medial calf muscle.  My staff colleagues sent me home and I spent the weekend extensively doing RICE, and looking up about calf injuries.  The general trend was that I was a “Weekend Warrior” - a sporty middle age guy with lots of residual strength in my muscles but also with reduced flexibility so that under extreme stresses (such as being at full extension) damage is caused to the lower leg.  My immediate contacts thought the nomenclature was funny - I started to realise I was vulnerable to non-contact injury.

However I went back into work the next week with a very bad limp, using a stick and staying off any physical activity.  A strong protestant work ethic overcame the idea of giving it more complete rest, and I thought some careful planning on what I was doing would minimise any stress and strain.  Probably a mistake though.

A long planned family holiday in Morocco was later in the month, which we went on as my limp was nearly gone and my recovery seemed to be working.  What should have been a simple visit to an ancient mosque (a fabulous place) ended up being a long hike there, and even worse back as the guide didn’t find the bridge he thought existed over a river as a short-cut.  2 hours cross country later and my leg was exhausted and calf muscle felt wrecked. Definitely a mistake.

Back to work after the holiday and I was now having to be very careful in how I moved, especially on stairs where I couldn’t walk up on my toes without lots of discomfort.  For a fortnight I was fine if I moved in straight lines.  However, the right-hand spiral staircase to my office eventually got me in March as I passed people going up the stairs, and by not planting my whole foot on the narrow tread I ended collapsed and in lots of pain.  By the time I got home I had a lump on my achilles but the pain had generally gone.   A lucky escape I thought - actually another mistake!

The denouement was when giving a career talk at a college.  Having completed two good talks I went back to the main reception to hand the attendance registers in.  It was a busy public area so I kept scanning the room to avoid any one bumping into me.  I was still limping and my balance was not good enough to change direction without pain, so I was being cautious.  However, I missed that there was a low (4 inch high) platform near the edge of the room, I assume for small presentations.  I tripped over it by catching my damaged right leg and stumbled forward.  Final mistake!

Fortunately there were lots of chairs so I fell into one of them, and sat in a lot of pain reminiscent of the spiral stairs incident a fortnight or so beforehand.  A few people checked I was okay, and some minutes later I thought I could set off again.  I was wearing ankle height  shoes which probably provided enough support for me to walk  / limp slowly to my car and drive the 50 miles back to work.  Once there and back up the staircase to my office I finally realised it was far more painful than before, and my workmates carted me off to the local hospital.  Under two hours later and I found out how bad the damage was: a tear to my achilles.

So my ATR is the start of what I understand is a long process, but I have already been slowed down and compromising my normal life for  almost two months.  Now though I have a proper diagnosis and a cast so it looks ‘official’.

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