Thursday, 26 February 2015

I am grateful

I am indeed grateful for the health insurance provided by my newest employer.

Having had to fight for the last 3 months with a health insurance provider who had me by the short and curlies as I was mid-claim when I left the employer who I was covered under.  I had the choice of paying thousands of pounds for the treatment I was in the middle of, or a few hundred pounds a month in insurance premiums to cover that treatment *and* chasing up every single invoice 4-5 times because my account wasn't transferred properly from the corporate account to a personal account.

Now, all I had to do was call the insurer, answer some questions and make an appointment.  Of we go.  Seen & much more confident in my rehabilitation.

That's the positive bit.

The less than positive bit is that tomorrow is the end of week 12 after surgery and there's no way on god's earth I'm going to be running a single step tomorrow.

Despite the physio saying the power is there in my calf, the movement involved in running simply doesn't work.  I can walk, but I limp like a pirate unless I concentrate.  I can go up and down stairs and up on my toes; both legs at once or battling hard through pain for the lower section of it with one leg (it's easier in the upper range of being on my toes).  And I think that's the main problem with running as I don't strike with my heels; I mid-ish foot strike so that last few mm of the up/down-on-toes range is exactly hit.

The physio noted that my foot collapses inwards and takes my leg with it.  She's given me exercises to help with that and I think I'm progressing with those.  She also noted that my ankle is still swollen and congested in the joint, and my foot is still a different colour to the other one, and she's planning on working on that in our next appointment.  Annoyingly, due to choices I've made with travel for work, that'll be 10 days after the first appointment, rather than only a few days as the physio would have preferred.  Hey ho.   My choice.  Tough poop for me.

But.  I am grateful that I am being looked after properly now and I feel like things are moving better and I'm getting decent feedback from someone who's in tune with my preferences around sport.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Watch out Baymax!

In the first week since having the air boot off for walking and being allowed put weight through the sole of that foot with no interference from any devices, improvements in walking have been pretty rapid.  It was all going nicely and I was getting better at stairs (down is hard) day after day.  I'd fitted in a couple of 20 minute spins on the turbo and it looked pretty good afterwards; no swelling and no pain.  Then something happened.

I flew out, on Wednesday evening, to Dublin for a couple of days for work.  I arrived pretty late so went straight to bed.  As I took my socks off, I realised all was not as it should be.  My ankle was huge!  It was so swollen that when I took my shoe off, there was a right angle in it where the shoe had been.  So I spent the next couple of hours with an ice-pack made from a hotel laundry bag, trying to get the swelling down.   At around 1am I gave up and went to sleep.

The next morning it had gone down again, but by the evening not only was my ankle swollen badly again but the whole of my lower leg too.  I hadn't been walking about any more than earlier in the week, but I was using stairs more (in my usual office it's impossible to get to my floor from the entrance by using stairs, and I've been mostly standing on tube escalators as they're still a bit tricky for me).  I didn't think the walking could be that much of a problem as I'd been walking a comparable amount earlier in the week with no ill-effects.  In the afternoon, as I did notice things were again swelling up, so I got a couple of chemical ice patches from a pharmacy and thought they felt nice I'm not sure they had much impact.  So at bed-time again it was back to the laundry bag full of ice and trying not to freak out that my calf looked like Baymax's.

Friday morning came and again it had all gone down, so I decided to minimise the walking up and down stairs that day but otherwise ignore it until I got home and try not to think what might happen after flying again.  I munched on ibuprofen (which is shockingly expensive in Ireland at €3.30 for 16  tablets instead of 35p or so, as it seems you can't get generic drugs) at regular intervals and that seemed to keep things to a reasonable level of swelling.  Thankfully British Airways were really sweet and changed my carefully selected seat to minimise my discomfort, to a seat in a section of the plane that was less than helpful for me.  By the time I got home, my ankle was swollen, but not as much as previously by a long shot.  I think both taking the anti-inflammatories and getting a taxi home from the airport rather than DLR and tube helped quite a bit.

The experience hasn't been great, to be honest.  I was pleased that everything was going well and then the emotional roller-coaster plummeted downwards.  Things look fine right now and I'm intending to put my feet up for the majority of the weekend, but it'd be good to know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and I should be able to be on my feet more soonish and perhaps not inflate alarmingly after flying.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Freedom! (part II)

I'm out of the boot. (mostly)

The consultant checked for pain - none; push force against her hand - stronger than most healthy ankles.  Yay!

I need to walk without the boot until I'm walking normally again and then I can return to normal activity.  But wear it while going to & from work just to keep it protected.

Cycling (static bike/turbo) and swimming are positively encouraged.  Cycling for 20 mins a day every other day at first to get back into it gently and keep an eye on how it does.

Left leg, meet Lycra.  You remember each other?

On track to start running again at the 12 weeks mark; 4 weeks from now.  But if I'm walking normally before then, then I can do that gently.  Though I am to wear a support for the first few months of running too.

In short, I'm happy.  Despite the set-back of delayed appointments, I'm still on track in the overall timescale expectation set up front.

Look! I'm onna turbo!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Frustrated and powerless

I'm in no man's land.

After getting the plaster cast off a week early, I was feeling positive about recovery from the ATFL surgery.  I ditched the crutches on day two and then got quicker at walking after a few days of determined stomping about.  At the end of week 1 I was supposed to have a supervised physio session with the consultant and physio together, but when I got to the clinic I was told I was seeing the physio only.

The physio didn't know whether I was allowed to stand barefoot or not and a whole host of other things, so all I got from her was a progression from the range of motion exercises the consultant gave me.  She also commented that we couldn't do much until my calves were evened up again - like that's even vaguely possible with zero weight bearing without the boot; it took months of dedicated gym work to get my calves both to a very strong state and no amount of limited to zero resistance will get that left calf anywhere near the right!

Then no follow up.  From anyone.  The receptionist said she'd check and email me.  But after a week... nothing.  I emailed the consultant after a few days to ask the questions I have about things like "can I go swimming now?", "can I use a static bike now?" but I've had nothing back.  And the times I ask the receptionist to find out or get the consultant to call me I get nothing back.  I have no idea when I next see anyone, no idea if I can do anything to get the calf muscle on the road to recovery, no idea if I can swim or use a turbo/gym bike, no idea when I transition out of the air boot.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

So, I'm now 7 weeks post-operative and zero exercise done.  In fact, it's been 8 weeks without any swim, bike or run as I lost the drive in the week of the surgery.  I'm getting further and further back towards it being as if I'd never done any endurance work at all.  I'm getting closer to having to start from absolutely zero again.  And that is really upsetting for me.  And I'm getting more and more worried about the longer it being before I get started getting fit again, the longer it will take to get fit again and the relationship isn't linear.

(All of this is also on top of the medical insurer making a total pig's ear of things which adds to the overall stress about it.)

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

This Girl Can

"We just come as we are. We don't *look* at each other. We might have our rough days. We don't mind that. We don't see that." [Netball lady in Behind The Scenes]

This has to be one of the most powerful and appropriate campaigns to get more women into sport.  It hits on the head one of the main contributors preventing women getting into sport: the fear of judgement/what other people think.

I'd say almost all women have thought or still do think a combination of the following when they consider doing sport either at all, or if they already do sport, when they get their kit on to do it (there's only one on the list I *haven't* thought myself):-
  • I look lumpy/like a bag of sausages
  • My boobs are uneven
  • My belly is huge
  • My back spills out around my bra straps/my belly/sides spills out of the top of my shorts/tights
  • My arms/thighs/boobs/belly will wobble
  • My knees are fat
  • Someone will see my stretch marks
  • I can't do $particular_movement elegantly
  • I'll go red and blotchy/get sweaty patches in embarrassing places
  • My makeup will run
  • I might fall over/off (my bike/scooter/horse/treadmill/stepper...)
  • I'll come last
And it either results in putting women off starting to do sport (or sometimes starving themselves if they already do do sport).  The thing is... none of that list matters, nobody will actually care and nobody will point and laugh at you.  Most people are in their own little world, most people are thinking those things themselves and focusing on their own difficulties and the rest are enjoying themselves.

This campaign focuses on the fact that most of us aren't perfect, most of us do have blemishes and jiggly bits (even elite and professional athletes, trust me) and that's OK 'cause you can enjoy yourself, push yourself physically, have your own "you" time when you're not just a label (wife, mother, carer etc.) and how you look doing it, compared with a fantasy ideal, doesn't matter.

This is me (below) after a triathlon last year.  I would usually pick a photo where I look muscular, slim and have no visible bulges and lumps, but this is how I looked on the day.  I wasn't quick, I didn't look slinky, I had lumps, jiggly bits and dimply legs, my boobs were wonky and spilled out under my arm-pits.  But I had fun!  I enjoyed it!  And nobody at all laughed or pointed at me.

So, watch the film and pass it on.  (Cry a bit, like I did.  It's OK.)  And watch the behind the scenes clip too... I love the first quote, "We just come as we are. We don't *look* at each other. We might have our rough days. We don't mind that. We don't see that."

And go do some sport!