Nearly seven months ago, I injured my right hip/thigh playing golf. My partner and I were leading the competition – geographically, I should add, not on the scoreboard – and decided to stride out and ‘yomp’ the last nine holes because we were taking so long looking for our lost balls that those behind were catching up.
As a result, as is inevitable at our age, we both suffered a degree of ‘stiffening up’ afterwards in the clubhouse.
In my case, unusually, the next morning all the aches and pains had not departed. I was left with a feeling akin to that of a pulled muscle in my hip/thigh. The occasional acute pain and near-constant discomfort has affected my mobility ever since. I now walk with a slight limp and sometimes have to ‘dot and carry’ going upstairs.
Hitherto, despite various x-ray, ultrasound and MRI scans behind me, a firm diagnosis of my problem had not been reached. Yesterday, however, I saw a consultant at the West Middlesex Hospital and received the news that it was arthritis.
I was told that the sudden arrival of discomfort had probably resulted from a known condition whereby – rather like when two continental plates ‘slipping by’ each other cause an earthquake – my yomping attempt had prompted two bones to crumble a degree in single incident, rather than gradually over time. My future will involve a steroid jab to alleviate the immediate symptoms and then, at some point – put off as long as possible because you can only do this once – a hip replacement operation.
I was fascinated by my reaction to the news.
Naturally, short term, I was disappointed at the implications for my attempt to represent Great Britain in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The condition of my hip will undoubtedly affect my training, never mind the issues associated with any fully-justified campaign of the authorities to identify usuages of performance-enhancing drugs that might follow me having one or more steroid jabs.
However, at the same time, I was glad to have a firm diagnosis at last. There’s nothing worse than having an ‘unknown’ problem because without one (as yet) you’ve got nothing to fight against.
In my mind’s eye – although, of course, it’s possible to develop the condition at a young age – most often arthritis tends to be a condition suffered by senior citizens, as ‘wear and tear’ of bones and joints eventually takes its toll.
Do I mind being old – or rather, having that fact confirmed by evidence provided by my deteriorating body? Not really …
Much earlier, when I arrived at the department in which my blood test was to occur, I pulled ‘53’ from the machine as my numbered tag telling me when my turn would come and joined the crowded throng sitting in the rows of plastic chairs. The first number then called was ‘37’, so I knew my wait would not be short.
After a while I fell into an amusing whispered chat with the Afro-Caribbean gentleman to my left. To my right, on a seat under the window overlooking the car park, a man was conversing with those around him in a loud voice, as if addressing a public meeting. I love the ‘know it all’ attitude of such characters. At one point discussing his morning’s history, having mentioned that he’d been sitting there since 9.00am – it was now nearly 10.20am – he sat back, arms akimbo, and said airily of the hospital authorities “Well, I suppose they know what they’re doing …” which nearly creased me up – it seemed straight out of a scene from an episode of (Tony) Hancock’s Half Hour.
The other development of note was the arrival of a caring man who helped his blind wife find and take a seat.
Hair style-wise, he didn’t just have a comb-over, with a ‘parting’ just above the left ear and his heavily-gelled hair scraped across the top of his bonce. His ‘parting’ didn’t go just along the side of his head, it went right around the back as well. I have never seen anything like it and spent most of my forty minute-wait for a blood test in fascinated contemplation of this extraordinary tonsorial arrangement.
Eventually my number was called and I stepped behind the curtain to cubicle 2, as I did so passing a large sign saying ‘Please do not disrupt patients while they are being bled’.