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Against all odds

Self-indulgent it may be, but today I return to the travails of seeking to retain peak fitness in one’s seventh decade – ready at a moment’s notice, should the need arise, to take the field for either England in a major international and/or Team GB in the 2020 Olympics at any sport in which a vacancy occurs (save only perhaps if the position to be filled involves taking inordinate amounts of drugs because – as Meatloaf once warbled “I would do anything for love/But I won’t do that …”).

Regular readers of this organ may recall that for the past two years I have had some growth or another in my left foot which has become extremely tender if acute pressure is applied, either suddenly or alternatively gradually over the course of time when I am walking significant distances or taking strenuous exercise.

At times it has left me hobbling around like an 85 year-old.

I have attempted to alleviate the problem either by having said item ‘ground’ down and then protected by a wad of cotton wool and a plaster and/or by wearing certain (comfortable) shoes which have a low capacity to prompt the discomfort. To some extent both these measures have alleviated the pain problem, but not entirely. In short, the issue has become a permanent accompaniment to my daily living and I have just got on with it.

Then, nearly two months ago [it was actually 1st September 2019] I went for a longish walk in my sports kit one weekend – simply for the hell of it – and on the way home passed some rugby pitches in a park and decided (I now know foolishly) on the spur of the moment to attempt some jog-and-walk shuttles.

The result, on the fourth jog, was a dawning sensation that I had pulled a muscle (or something) in the calf muscle, or possibly Achilles tendon, of my right leg.

Not to put too fine a point on it, that too rendered me reduced to a hobble because – every time I tried to ‘push off’ with my right leg – the effort gave said injury a painful yank.

Thus – over the past several weeks – I have provided friends, family and indeed passing by members of the public with both a sizeable diversion and a source of amusement by proceeding along every pavement or path in the kingdom in a manner previously only adopted (in my experience) by Charles Laughton in the 1939 movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

That is, if Laughton was also in acute pain at the same time.

After a combination of nagging and a growing realisation that finally I must do something about these maladies, I consulted my GP about ten days ago and via that route acquired appointment with firstly, a podiatrist and secondly, initially, a physiotherapy unit.

This was a good move.

I saw the podiatrist earlier this week.

The cause of my chronic pain was in fact a corn. Within  30 seconds of this being diagnosed I was lying on a couch with the lady working away at the offending article with an industrial-sized scalpel, hacking chunks of it onto the floor (that is, unless she had some sort of tin dish positioned below for the purpose of debris collection).

All I have to do now is report again a month hence for a review and possible further maintenance.

Whilst I was there I also asked about the toe on my left foot that is permanently crunched-up and the big toe on my right foot which has somehow decided to ‘grow’ beneath the toe next to it.

After years of minor anxiety that these were early symptoms of perhaps motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s, diabetes or a stroke, I was not a little relieved to learn that none of these was the case. In fact these afflictions were nothing out of the ordinary at all, rather simply signals – and a product – of old age in a body that had spent a good deal of its time pursuing sporting endeavours and/or running.

Well that was quite a weight off my mind.

Yesterday as it happens – after having first been sent a pamphlet with exercise diagrams and told to “get on with it” for up to six weeks before I’d be seen by anyone – I had been summoned (by phone on Tuesday night) out of the blue to the x-ray/scanning unit of a London hospital for an ultrasound appointment on my right Achilles tendon.

As is my wont when attending anything, I had set off early enough to take account of any possible delays, traffic jams, terrorist incidents or plane crashes en route and as a result, even after buying myself a magazine and a coffee to cover any waiting time upon my arrival, managed to report for my appointment 70 minutes ahead of the published time.

Contrary to all expectation – and at the cost of some mild disappointment because in advance I had been vaguely looking forward to experiencing the ‘timeless’ nature of existence in any hospital, coupled with the opportunity to people-watch among a representative sample of the UK electorate –  I was suddenly advised to go to a different unit where it was quite possible I could be seen straight away.

As I arrived in said department, even before I had reported to – and established my bona fides with – the receptionist, I heard my name being called repeatedly from the far end of the corridor beyond. I kid you not, my coming had been communicated ahead of time and I went straight in.

Ten minutes later – armed with a verbal report that all I had wrong with my Achilles was chronic inflammation – I was on my way out.

Having subsequently then walked for fifteen minutes to the local bus stop, within two minutes more the right-numbered one had drawn to a halt … and I was back home [I could scarcely believe this, and my luck!], all done and dusted, eight minutes before my appointment had originally been scheduled!

Suddenly – after months of pain and suffering – a total win!




About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts