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Never give up!

A breakthrough at last!  Just when I (and my Physio) was thinking that after three major surgeries, extensive gluteal nerve and muscle damage in four years my abductor and gluts were as strong as they were ever likely to get, the last two days have proved me quite wrong.

August 4th this year I underwent surgery.  The last I hope, to replace the failed ceramic implants of my 2013 left hip replacement.  My bionic hip had always made a clonking, popping sound with every step I took feeling like it was shifting inside. Nothing had showed up on yearly x-rays in the 2 + years since and quite frankly to walk unaided virtually pain and limp free at last who was I to make a fuss!

Imagine my distress when on our holiday in mid June to Crete, walking became increasingly difficult again after dancing in the sand at a beach party.  At first we – my long suffering husband and I, presumed a less serious pulled muscle was to blame, especially as I still managed to climb to the top of Gramvousa, a 16th century Venetian fort built 137 meters above sea level.  The terrain was extremely difficult lots of deep steps and slopes baked hard  by the searing heat, the top surface loose and unstable beneath our feet making the ascent and more importantly the descent treacherous.

Back in England we kept reassuring each other ‘with rest the muscle would ease’.  We were kidding ourselves.  The discomfort became grinding pain and the noise was now audible enough to be embarrassing!  I was back to limping and lurching around and struggling to hide it while working.

An emergency meeting with my surgeon and subsequent X-ray revealed the devastating news my ceramic liner had catastrophically failed.  He assured me the dancing would not have caused this, rather that would have been the catalyst to tip an already failing implant over the edge I was just ‘unlucky’.  Nevertheless facing another major surgery all I could do was to blame myself.

Due to ceramic fragments floating about and causing more damage  I was within weeks back on the operating table.  The operation went well, in fact so well that my first walk with crutches the next day was a revelation.  The clonking and popping was miraculously gone.  Already my hip felt more stable than at any time over the last four years.

On my return home our lovely new abode resembled a care facility with mobility aids in almost every room.  I was back to square one with crutches, weak muscles, restricted movement, aids to dress with and basic exercises for six weeks.

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Six weeks later to my apprehensive question ‘Where do I go from here?’ My trusty surgeon replied and I quote ‘You must go and live your life’.

Fast forward fifteen weeks post op my gluts and abductors have finally started to wake up……..

 

After four years of intense targeted exercises, when I had almost felt like giving up, this morning in a side lying straight leg lift position – I attempt these morning noon and night,  my normally unresponsive leg raised up an inch!  Such a small thing but for me HUGE in terms of my continued recovery.  I will be driving to the gym and the pool with a increased sense of purpose this morning.  Walk on all you hipsters out there and NEVER GIVE UP!

 

 

The Main Event

This time of year much of the work in the garden involves preparing for the next years display whether that be planting spring bulbs, moving, dividing plants or as I have been doing today preparing the soil ready for late autumn planting of 3 bare root fruit trees.

The trees I am planting will never become full size orchard specimens, instead they will be trained on wires attached to short stout posts as stepovers to edge a border. The yields are not as high, however in a small space more varieties can be grown in this way. Preparation of the soil for all trees is the same no matter the size. The better the ground work before planting will give them the best chance to grow away with good strong root systems.

My trauma surgeon followed the same principle when he planned the surgery to put my pelvis back together. This meant that for the week following the accident my left leg was attached to a heavy weight hanging off the end of the bed, gradually pulling my leg out by degrees from within the shattered hip socket In preparation for the repair work to come.

The strength and fitness I had built up over the years- labouring in mine and other people’s gardens as well as swimming, cycling, keep-fit classes and Salsa dancing was about to stand me in good stead for the immediate future and beyond. Although the flip side of this in the months/years to come would be frustration at my forced inactivity.

In my hospital bed with my lower half rendered immobile, my upper body bore the brunt of any attempts at movement using the cold metal triangular hoist above my head. The heavy lead weight was forever dragging me down the bed, my arms were forever heaving me slowly-on account of the eight broken ribs back up. This scenario and others-think balancing on unstable cardboard bed pans, went on many times during that long painful week until this date back in 2012.

I was informed by a nurse the day before that I was ‘The Main Event’and would be going down for surgery at 9am. I had briefly met the lead surgeon earlier in the week to outline his plan of action. My short list of questions were at the ready, in the event my mind a jumble with all the strong medication and information I could only ask one ‘will I be able to dance again?’ He chose to evade giving an answer. A removable filter was to be inserted in my neck the day before surgery, this would catch/break up any clots to reduce the chances of me suffering a possible fatal embolism on the table! At this point as I signed the consent form I found myself wondering with the seriousness of the upcoming surgery, would the night before be the last time I ever saw my family again. My morbid thoughts were threatening to overwhelm me……….

Thanks to good pre op preparations – many painful X-rays, traction, blood transfusions and more my surgeon gave himself during the 7 1/2 hour operation the best chance to fix my shattered bones and in turn gave me the best chance to grow strong once again. I was hopeful my damaged nerves would slowly like the fine roots beneath the trees grow out and in time along with my damaged bones and muscles stabilise my body to walk and eventually stand tall once again.

 

 

 

 

Leaves glorious Leaves

My new watch arrived yesterday a week early, not only does it tell the time but tracks and records my activity levels amongst other things.  Waterproof to 50m – an added bonus for me a regular swimmer all my life. The last four years especially, the water has been my lifeline helping me to walk again. In water there was freedom my limbs could move freely – albeit not always in the right direction. I felt like me before…and then I would have to get out. Back on poolside I was Quasimodo again, limping on my uneven legs, trying to control the sticks from slipping on the wet floors, fear and pain with every step. The challenges of the changing room another story…..

This morning I decided to put my watch to the test.  After a night of heavy rain and strong winds I left home early to drive to my local pool. There is something about being up and out at the crack of dawn, you get to see magical sights that later on completely disappear as the world wakes up. This morning the headlights of my 4×4 revealed the beauty of untouched fallen leaves. They lay on the road in a thick layer covering every inch of the tarmac like a never ending soft eiderdown illuminated in shades of burnt orange, brown, red and gold. The roads became like tracks through fairy tale woods enclosed for miles by the tall hedges and trees on either side of me as I left my village in rural Dorset.

At the centre, my watch set to 25m pool swim I plunged into the cool water. At the end of the session a quick check of my watch revealed it was still watertight. All I had to do was stop the activity counter. Sounds simple!

The first problem was flashing instructions on the watch face, without my reading glasses I could not read the small print. There followed much pressing, swiping and tapping to no avail except to cause reboot!

Back in the car, watch rebooted, in the natural daylight I could just about make out the message on screen. Turn dial to expel water – ok I thought it was watertight! Water expelled and looks like my activity counter has stopped itself.

This time of year out of doors there is no getting away from the leaves, I love nothing better than spending a couple of hours raking them up into neat piles or spreading them as a mulch under the hedges. This was my first job today for a client. The worms had already started working them down into the lawn to decompose and feed the many organisms below. Above ground a robin foraged amongst them looking for his next meal.

After an hour or so of brisk raking I checked my watch to see how much energy I had used only to see it was still on swimming mode, I had now swum 148 lengths and counting! Obviously a lot to learn on the watch front but for now I didn’t need technology the sun was shining, the cold wind was chilling I was doing a job I love in the great outdoors surrounded by Leaves glorious Leaves.

 

 

 

 

Four Years Today

My title for this my first post, originally included the word Anniversary however, that word seems to  convey something to celebrate of which a head on car collision is definitely not!  As I write this post memories of that late afternoon come flooding back all too clearly…………

The car suddenly swerving onto my side of the carriageway, the realization impact WILL happen, brace myself, oh my god the bang, scraping, explosion of frosted stars in front of my eyes, I cant see and then silence.

Sirens getting louder, a stranger is talking to me, stroking my hand, comforting.  He knows my name? I want/need to get out in case my van explodes, can’t seem to move my legs, numbness.

Fire brigades, paramedics, police I am surrounded in the confines of the cab, red liquid is everywhere, is that coming from me? I am trapped in the seat, fireman cut away rigid panels, paramedics cut away clothing am I going to die I feel strange? My head and neck are immobile, laying on a hard board, tight straps, I can’t move but somehow I’m sliding out the rear of my van. Bump onto a trolley, two more and I am in the ambulance.

Questions from the policeman, my Husband on the phone from London, “Its okay” I hear myself say, “I am fine, just cuts and bruises, go to your football match, nothing to worry about”. Little did we know that was the biggest understatement the policeman and I ever made!

Today much like then I have worked outside in my clients gardens. I consider myself very lucky to be back working in a profession I am passionate about. My business provides Garden Design, Consultations and maintenance services. Without the love and support of my family as well as my love for all things horticultural I would still be in the dark place I sank into as the aftermath of that day slowly revealed itself.

Earlier this year we moved house there have been some wonderful surprises in our new garden, one it has to be said I could happily do without. For the past two weeks every morning facing my kitchen window directly below a north facing wall a row of Nerine bowdenii stand to attention. Personally these Pink confections do nothing for me but I have not the heart to dig them out. Nerines like their feet in the sun, baked throughout the summer ready to throw up their flowering shoots come early Autumn.

I admire them, their pink fluffy heads defying the odds of being planted in the ‘wrong place’. I have over the last week come to have a love/hate relationship with them, they make me smile, maybe because they remind me that even when you are up against it anything is possible!