Saturday, 25 February 2012

Second Full Week

To cheer myself up I ordered a couple of CDs and a book on Amazon. The book, I listen to the wind that obliterates my traces, has still not arrived but the two CDs have. Ke$ha and Avril Lavigne's latest offerings. I know I should have outgrown this type of music but for some reason I haven't. As soon as they arrive I put them on and instantly feel better about the world. The nine months ahead does not seem that long. The peculiar thing about songs like theirs is that they make me want to have a really short haircut.

I can't explain it, but while I am listening to them I imagine myself going down to the barbers and getting a number 1 all over.

The same day that I went to see Mr Knee was pancake day. Katie brought home the ingredients, it is her second favourite day of the year. Her first is bonfire night. When that comes round I will almost be back to full fitness, if all goes well.

I always make the pancakes, she always produces the fillings. She's a traditional two savoury followed by two sweet type of person. So we have ham and cheese first, times two. Then she has sugar and lemon juice. I like sugar and cinnamon. Hmmm. Always on this day, I say to her as we finish the last one; "We should have pancakes everyday." She smiles and starts washing up.

The week is building up to my trip to the physio hydro pool. Jimmy has done his duty already this week so I ask another friend Paul. As he arrives and I fall into the front seat I think about the fact that both he and Jimmy are only friends because of playing football together. I then do a mental check of all my closest friends and without football and the playing of it, none of them would have survived. It saddens me a little that my life is so blinkered but gives me a further incentive to get playing again.

Paul has to be back early so has to drop me at the hospital about an hour before my appointment. I'm not too bothered and I sit at the front of the hospital watching people come and go. After about thirty minutes I realised that everyone I have seen would fall into what you might call 'character actor' territory. Not a single really good looking person. I become obsessed with this and try to search out, unsuccessfully, some lookers. I myself fall into the norm, I'm no looker and I formulate a theory that the genes of good looking people must just make them less likely to get ill. They have symmetrical faces, and all is good for them.

Time passes quickly and I have to hurry along to the pool.

The pool is about 20 foot, by 20 foot, the water comes up to just above my waist, and is warm like a bath. There is something slightly weird about standing there with two other patients as we listen to the physio. It's like we are old mates having a bath together.

One of the others had a knee op a few months ago and this is his last pool session. I'd seen him walking in earlier and he was still limping heavily. The other broke his ankle in January.

Jake, the physio, standing in for Helen who is ill, takes us through a very mild warm up. Some bending and lifting of legs. Standing on toes etc.

Then he gives us each an exercise to do for two minutes. I start with a buoyancy aid on my left ankle. The aim is to bend my leg backwards from the knee and let the aid lift it up and for me to push it down. This is followed by using a buoyancy noodle under my left foot which lifts the leg forwards, bending again at the knee, and then me pushing down. The third exercise is squats, and this if followed by going up and down the stairs into and out of the pool. I can't do this last one coming down, the knee feels weak and insecure.

When we're done we come back into a group for what I refer to as the ministry of funny walks. No one laughs.

Jake gives us various exaggerated walking styles to do back and forth across the pool. The final one is walking backwards "carefully. I'll tell you when you're at the side." Knee injury bloke is the quickest and bangs into the stairs. Jake apologises "Sorry, I was thinking about something else." We all walk backwards a lot slower after that. The patient physio trust has gone.

After the walks, Jake calls time and as we are getting out he issues a warning. "It goes without saying that you should not try any of these exercises at home, unless you have your own pool as it would be dangerous."

"As dangerous as walking backwards into the stairs?" Asks knee op. We all chuckle, Jake goes red.

 I am knackered. I feel more tired after that half an hour than I normally would after a full footy match. It takes me fully twenty minutes to get dressed. I'm drained and my knee is killing me. I've stopped taking the painkillers and right now I am regretting it.

As I wait in reception for Katie to pick me I get surrounded by sick people. One poor old chap is in a wheelchair, with his wife and son. They're walking, not in the wheelchair. He looks like death as his wife tries to feed him a sandwich. Every now and then his left leg starts shaking with pain. She rubs it, which makes it worse and debris falls out his mouth. On the other side an even older Indian lady is left in a chair whilst her son goes to get his car. She is mumbling to herself. I feel depressed for myself, sorry for them, and ready to give up as I see what awaits us all.

The old chap holds out his hand, and his son holds it for a moment. It seems to calm everyone down. Just that small touch, bringing them together.

And then they're gone and Katie's here. I'm glad to get out of there. I don't speak on the journey. I just think about death. It's been a daily obsession for a few years now, but to confront it at such close quarters was too much.

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