Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Nine Months Only Begin After the Operation [Part 1]

When I first got the injury someone told me about their knee injury. Actually every single person had a story about 'their' knee injury. When you get a knee injury, everyone you meet is an expert.

"It's the end of your football days"

"Just do some yoga, it'll be fine."

These two cover the two extremes but one friend had had his ACL repaired thirteen years ago. He had lots to say about it, but the only thing I heard was; "It's nine months recovery from when you have the op." When Nemanja Vidic, the Manchester United centre half ruptured his cruciate ligament in early December 2011, the reports suggested he'd be out till late 2012. And this was someone with access to the best medical attention prawn sandwiches can buy.

I gulped and realised very quickly that my first battle would be to get the operation done as soon as possible.

I had my MRI, it clearly, or so I thought, showed a torn ACL and so now I was on the waiting list?  I haven't got private medical insurance so this was not the case but I was pleasantly surprised to get an appointment on the 5th of January with a knee surgeon at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

All over Christmas all I could think of was the appointment. I could enjoy my turkey. Actually I didn't have turkey. My wife doesn't like turkey. Her family don't like turkey. I love turkey and the one time of year you're meant to have it, I didn't. Normally this would put me in a sulk till Easter but I consoled myself with the fact that I had my appointment and 15 crunchie bars.

January the 5th came and I cycled down to the hospital. Yes, I cycled. The annoying thing about not having an ACL is that you can cycle all day long. I could cycle to Paris and back but I can't play 1 minute of football. The thing I love doing more than anything else. More than absolutely anything.

The surgeon came out and rather than ushering me into his little room, looked at me and said: "You need an x-ray." You what? Why have you waited till now to tell me this. I've had since December to get an x-ray.

I said this in my head of course and wandered off to the x-ray department. I was not happy and expected a six hour wait for the x-ray.

Amazingly, 30 minutes later I was back with the surgeon, the x-ray on his computer.

Since the injury, I had told the story about 50 times so when he asked me what had happened it was like telling my favourite tale. All the stuff about how I knew instantly that it was an ACL tear but no one believed me. I felt I was finally at the point where I was going to go onto the waiting list.

"Remove your trousers and shoes."

I did it in the other order, it's easier. I was wondering why he is going to do all the knee manipulation when we have the MRI? He asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was an actor and how this injury was limiting my work. For some reason, I explained, lots of my acting jobs rely on me running and stuff.

If you're interested you can look here: and see me in action. With the injury I would not have got this job.

I lay back as he wiggled my knee. We were talking about football again when he asked:

"What roles do you play?"

I thought he was still talking football. "Centre half, normally..."

"No, what acting roles?"

"Oh. Bits and bobs. Adverts mainly. You may have seen me in the Richmond sausage advert."

He ignored me.

"Put on your shoes and trousers."

Why does he keep saying them in the wrong order? I thought.

I got dressed and joined him at his desk.

"You will need to see the specialist knee surgeon."

"What? I thought that was you." He didn't answer, just kept writing things so I persisted. "I thought you were the specialist. I've waited six weeks for this appointment. What was the point in seeing you. I could have told you on the 27th July 2011, nearly six months ago, that I needed to see a knee surgeon."

He was good at ignoring my rant. I wondered if he was related to my wife.

"You will get a letter in the post with an appointment." and with that, suddenly I was out of his office.

I couldn't understand what had happened and I cycled home in a daze.

"What happened?" Asked my wife.

"He said I need an appointment with the knee specialist."

"I thought he was the knee specialist."

"There's a whole group of people with that misconception. I'll laminate you a member's card."

I sat by the front door waiting for the appointment letter.

A few days later it arrived, I ripped it open, like a Gremlin opening a chicken after midnight.

I saw the date and slumped: 28th February.

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