Sunday, 21 March 2010

My Achlles tendon - luck played a part last Summer

Did I ever tell you about my troublesome Achilles tendon? Perhaps not, but, as it had a lucky outcome that is relevant to this General Election, here goes.

A few years ago, I was doing some work at the back of 'The Little Chapel in The Fen.' The work involved doing something that doesn't appeal a lot: cutting down a tree. The tree was becoming a threat to the roof of the Chapel and it had to be dealt with. (Actually, during last Spring, we completely re-roofed the Chapel - see picture above - having raised over £8,000 to do it and the Trustees are very grateful indeed to all who made contributions). Anyway, I was dealing with this tree and had nearly got it down. It lodged against another and so I decided to give it a push from the ground. I pushed and I pushed. It wouldn't move. I pushed again and I then heard a 'click' and felt a sharp pain in my left foot. I knew I had done something and hobbled back to the house. Sue said that I should go to hospital. Well, stubborn old fool that I am, I took no notice and had a hot bath instead. (I'm a great believer in hot baths: none of those sissy showers for me). I put the offending foot up for the rest of the day. The next day, it was no worse and, having 'diagnosed' my problem as just a sprained ankle, I carried on as if nothing had happened. Walking was awkward, running was out of the question and driving, whilst OK in our then automatic car as I didn't 'need' a left foot at all, taking the dogs out in my old (1989) Land Rover Discovery - our 'dogmobile' - was difficult, for it had a clutch and a pretty stiff one at that.

(Incidentally, the Discovery has served me well in its 21 years, taking me on many a London trip to such as Conservative Central Office and meetings of the Association of County Councils. The rear of the vehicle is pictured below. The rest of it is even more scruffy but it is kept going by the tender and loving care of my friends at Wicken 4-Wheel Drive, to whom many thanks. The distinctive registration - JFL4W - belonged to our son, James, who now lives in the United States and has no use for it).

Back to the Achilles tendon. Sue persuaded me that I really ought to get it checked out. Several weeks had passed and, whilst it was improving, it was only doing so slowly.

I made an appointment at dear old Addenbrooke's Hospital and was eventually seen and examined by a Miss Thorisdottir, a very beautiful Icelandic-born consultant orthopaedic surgeon. Miss Thorisdottir was obviously of the opinion that she or someone should have seen me sooner, but she was very gentle with me and understanding of my stubbornness. After X-rays, etc., she diagnosed not a sprained ankle but a ruptured Achilles tendon and said that it might improve without surgery. She asked me to come back again - and again, and again. 'The thing' did improve and Miss Thorisdottir seemed pleased which, of course, pleased me. She asked me to come back one more time for consideration of possible discharge. My foot wasn't right by any means, but I wasn't keen on surgery and it was still improving, but slowly. I went in to Addenbrookes to the same department and what did I find? No Miss Thorisdottir. Instead there was a gentleman consultant of obvious Eastern extraction. He, too, was very gentle and understanding and we agreed that there was nothing more that the NHS could do for me and that 'the thing' would eventually heal itself. I was officially discharged.

I thanked the Eastern gentleman and then said a tactless and thoughtless thing. I asked what had happened to Miss Thorisdottir. He said that she had 'moved on.' He then looked me in the eye and said, 'I'm not as beautiful as Miss Thorisdottir, am I?' I said, in the most tactful and thoughtful manner that I could summon up, 'No.' We both laughed and parted on excellent terms.

A year or so passed and still 'the thing' wasn't completely cured. I could walk OK, but still couldn't run. However, I was using my ride-on mower during last Summer and got it stuck up on the Fen Rivers Way, a wonderful public walk that goes from Cambridge to Ely and is close by our house on the River Cam floodbank and of which I keep a stretch mown. I had to push the mower back on to the track. I pushed and I pushed and I pushed and, suddenly, I heard a 'click' and felt a sharp pain in my left foot. It's good that nobody aside from Sue was nearby for the air was blue for a few minutes. I thought that at the least I was back to square one and would have to undergo surgery on the offending tendon. I came off the track driving my mower and then realised that, far from 'the thing' being worse, the 'click' had done something that had made it improve dramatically. I can now walk ten times better than hitherto and, whilst I still can't run fast, I can nip about sufficiently rapidly to satisfy a 71-year old's needs.

So, if 'the thing' had not 'clicked' a second time, there would have been little possibility of my 'running' for election this year. One has to be fit for this and I am now very fit. Luck played a part last Summer and the candidates standing as representaives of the Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP parties in South East Cambridgeshire have a very active independent to oppose them. I am aiming to win and, in my opinion, the election, both nationally and locally, is wide open. I like that sort of 'click.'

P.S. The sticker on my Discovery that says 'I Love Belgians' does not mean that I love Belgian people. It means that I love Belgian horses. Sue and I owned three beautiful American Belgian mares. Sadly, they are no longer with us but, gosh, they were lovely animals.

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