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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Update on the leg

After falling off my bike on Tuesday, by the time I got back to the hotel, I could barely move. Just getting across the room to the bathroom was a major effort, because I couldn't push my right leg forward, the pain was too great.

On Wednesday, we were going home. In the morning, I was, just, able to move, so I shuffled about the room and got packed, loaded up my suitcase, shoulder bag and computer festooned about my person, and slowly hobbled downstairs, knowing that I would be able to make only one trip down. With ladysolly in the car beside me, I drove back to the caravan site, where I was fed cake and biscuits while the girls played some more bridge, and I tried not to listen to their bidding and play.

The drive home wasn't too bad; we stopped off at a services, and I hobbled inside while ladysolly roamed over to the other side to get pizzas for us. Then on home.

I put a rubber foot onto a walking pole, and used that to help me get about, but I spent the rest of Wednesday and all of Thursday sitting down, reading my way through the Sharpe ouvre (I now have a complete collection, and I've been working my way through them in historical order).

On Friday, I was feeling a bit better, and decided that maybe some proper medical advice was in order. I tried to make an appointment with my doctor via the web, but the next two weeks were fully booked, and so were the two weeks after that, and you can't book any further than that. Besides, I wanted advice now, not a month from now. So I tried NHS-Direct.

I went to the web site and filled in the self-diagnosis form, but that wound up telling me to go to A&E. So I phoned 111, and spoke to a nice lady, who took me through much the same questions, plus a few others (did I bang my head? No) and wound up recommending me to go to A&E.

I think I've discovered one of the reasons why A&E is so jammed with cases that aren't emergencies.

After a chat with ladysolly, we decided to go to Stoke Mandeville A&E. So I packed five books and my Kindle for reading while we waited, because I reckoned that *anyone* else who turns up there will be more urgent than me, and they don't see people in order of who turns up - if you're bleeding out you jump the queue, of course. And we went to the Minor Injuries Unit at Mount Vernon, near Rickmansworth, with the thought that maybe they'd be up to the job, or maybe they'd decide that my bruised thigh was so awful that I'd need to visit a proper A&E, but at least we had enough books to last several hours of waiting.

I've been to that MIU before, and it's a jewel. I went once for a splinter, but not any old splinter that I'd be able to get out muself, this was a splinter lodged under a fingernail, and I just could not handle it. And I went there when a dog bit me on a bridleway, to get properly disinfected and to get antibiotics because who knows what you can get from a dog bite. Both times, I was seen very quickly, and dealt with easily.

The same was true on Friday. Ladysolly drove me there and dropped me at the entrance, so I didn't have a long walk from the car park, and by the time she got back from parking the car, I'd been dealt with. The nurse I saw had a look, had a bit of a prod, got me to stand on the affected leg (the fact that I can stand on it pretty much proves that there's no fracture), and told me to take paracetamol to reduce the pain, because even though I didn't need painkillers (when I'm sitting down, there's no pain) she explained that the pain would affect my gait when I did move around, and that that could cause other problems later. So, on the way home, we splashed out 94p on a packet of Paracetamol (I can't take Aspirin or Ibuprofen because I'm on Warfarin) and I took a couple of those. Then I phoned the doctor's surgery, because the nurse had told me to.

I got an "emergency appointment", meaning that if they didn't see me in the next four weeks as per a "non-emergency", any additional damage would have been done by then. And the same day, I saw a doctor. The big question I had, and which was my main reason for wanting proper medical advice all along, was, should I use ice compresses or hot water bottles? He explained that in the first several hours after such a bump, ice is best, because it reduces inflammation and swelling. But after that, hot water bottles are best because the heat promotes blood flow, which helps healing. We also talked about physiotherapy (which the nurse at MIU had mentioned), but he had a photocopied piece of paper that showed me what to do, and I knew, from previous experience, that seeing a proper physiothrapist probably wouldn't happen for several weeks.

Today, my leg feels a lot better. I can walk up and (more difficult) down stairs, for example. And I've stopped using the stick, except as a prop to impress ladysolly.  And I got a good nights sleep last night (for the last two days, I had trouble getting into or out of bed, trouble lying on my side, and sleep wasn't as good as it is normally for me).  I'm using the hot water bottle, and that's quite comforting to my thigh. And I probably won't be up to dancing for a few days, but for the first time since I came off the bike, I can move about freely.

But.

It's September, and my local medical practice is jammed solid. A&E is being sent people who fell off their bike and just want a bit of advice as to whether to use heat or cold to treat the minor injury. Winter is coming, more people will get ill, more people will get flu, more people will slip on the ice and fall, and I really don't know how the NHS in my area is going to cope.

Well, actually, I do know. They won't.

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