Thursday, 16 August 2012

6 Month Review with Clodagh

"I can hardly believe it." Said Clodagh. "Six months already."

She didn't know that I have been ticking off the days and monitoring my progress so closely that I spend more time on my spread sheet than at work. (If my boss is reading this, that is an exaggeration for very mild comic effect.)

I hadn't seen the lovely Clodagh for two months. If you recall she had sent me off into the wilderness alone to endure the toughest two months of the recovery. No real progress, she had warned, just hard graft. Well if hard graft is good enough for Mo Farah, it's good enough for me.

Since I had last seen Clodagh we'd had Euro2012, footballing bliss, Wimbledon, tennis joy, The Tour de France, wonderful Wiggins, and the Olympics, sheer sporting brilliance. On the Monday after the closing ceremony I felt so depressed I thought my whole family had died in a tragic car crash. Empty does not describe it. Bereft is nowhere near. There isn't a word to describe just how empty I felt. In the same way that I have not found a word which explains the change in someone's face when they realise they are on the big screen at a major sporting event. Someone cleverer than me will, I am sure, come up with one.

So I felt blue, let's call it a deep blue. And folk who said to me "don't worry it's the Paralympics soon" have no understanding of sport or life. I have a major respect for the efforts of Paralympians, they are inspirational in a way that I can only ever dream about but I have absolutely no desire to watch them compete. In a pure sporting sense to compare the Paralympics to the Olympics is like comparing a meal at a Michelin starred restaurant with something I have cooked. Good luck to them, I hope they have a brilliant time and lots of people go and see them but I won't be one of them.

And while I am alienating every person who reads this I have to say a quick word about Oscar Pistorius competing in the Olympics. Again, let me say I have unlimited admiration for what he has achieved without legs. It's amazing. But the arguments about whether he should run in the Olympics have missed the point totally. It is nothing to do with whether his springs give him an advantage or not, I don't care (even though they actually do). The basic fact is, that it is a running race and sadly, he can't run because to run you need legs.

Anyway, if anyone is still reading I shall return to my struggle to regain the use in both my legs. There is a link of sorts.

Clodagh hadn't warned me that it would be an evaluation day. A day to test the progress I had made on my own. She'd said I would plateau. I told her all the figures from the spreadsheet, she was impressed. Then she made me do some squats. Oooh, that hurt. Then we went into the gym and long ruler stuck on the floor.

"Do you remember the hop test?"

"I do." So I repeated the hop test. Right leg managed to go a little further than left but not much. Clo comforted me saying that even in 'normal people' (not very PC there Clo, what would Oscar say?) there is an allowance of a difference of up to 15% between legs. Mine were actually closer than that. It is not just about hopping as far as you can, you have to nail the landing. I used all the knowledge I had gleaned from watching the gymnastics and nailed some landings that the British bloke who got a silver on the horse thing would have been proud of. I thought that would be it but I was wrong.

"Now the zig-zag hop test." This involves three consecutive hops along the ruler, each time going over to the other side of the ruler. Like the triple jump but all hop, and not in a straight line. I did it with both legs, twice, starting off on a different side of the ruler each time. The knee felt solid, I had not expected it to. The landings were good, the distance was good too.

We then moved on to new exercises. Hopping off the stairs, landing on operated leg, absorbing the weight and then, wait for it, holding the squat and swiveling my head to look left right, left right. This last bit seems pointless until you actually do it. The first time I fell over as I had not expected it to be difficult. Second time I had to hold on to something. Try it, it's tough.

We finished up with lunges, big lunges, a four course lunge you might say. At the deepest part of the lunge, holding weights at arms length in front, pivoting on the knee around my trunk. This gets the body used to the same sort of stress that you put on the knee joint when you are kicking the ball.

Clodagh is doing an MA and I hope she passes. Maybe we'll both pass at the same time. As I cycled away I felt better about my knee, better about my chances of playing football again. The deep blue of post-Olympic life had become a sky blue.

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