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Getting used to it

Well, that’s my hip operation and hospital-stay recovery over, and now I’m back at home feeling tired, battered but also happy to be less institutionalised than I was over the weekend.

My days currently consist of four bouts of taking between 3 and 6 pills at a time during my waking hours (a mix of pain-killers, blood-thinners and mild laxatives) and a self-administered jab in the stomach (with a blood-clotting preventative) just before bedtime – this to continue for the next six weeks.

In between, apart from meals and TV-watching, I have to do three sessions of exercises per day and then practice getting about with the aid of two sticks – rather than the zimmer-frame contraption that I was given to begin with when in hospital.

hip2The biggest issue with the sticks is that of navigating steps.

It sounds easy – the sequence is straightforward. When you’re going upstairs it is a case of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, i.e. you must begin by shifting your good leg up a step … then bring the bad (operated upon) one up to the same level … and then lastly the outside stick.

Then, when you’re going down steps, it’s the reverse: “The Ugly, The Bad and The Good”. First you move your outside stick down a step. Then you move your bad leg down – and then, lastly, the good leg.

At least, I think that’s the correct sequence for each. I keep getting told by my minders that – whether I’m going up or down a step – I keep using the wrong one!

It’s all about avoiding falls when you’ve faced with trying to cope with the handicap of an operated-upon leg. On one occasion over the weekend, when I was negotiating a ward corridor, a lady fellow-patient motioned to my right wrist and said “I see that you’re a designated ‘FALL RISK’ …”

I looked down. It was true that, above the tag giving my hospital identification details, I was sporting another – flourescent yellow-coloured one – displaying the world ‘FALL RISK’ that I hadn’t previously noticed. I brushed the fact aside: “That will have been my daughter winding people up. Just because I keep forgetting where my walking aids are and trying to move about on my own, and thereby unbalance occasionally, she’s registered me as being ‘at risk’ in order to annoy me …”

BaderLegend has it that legless WW2 flying ace Douglas Bader absolutely refused to learn to walk again with the aid of crutches (“You can put those away, I’m never going to use a stick!”) and yet I guess his example stands as only an averagely-useful piece of advice.

On the one hand, his guts, positivity and sheer cussedness cannot fail to act as a source of inspiration to those who, temporarily or otherwise, find themselves struggling to cope with a disability.

On the other, when you lay his achievements out – the long fight to be allowed to fly again at all, then back into the RAF, then to take over and energise a Canadian squadron suffering from low morale, gain rapid promotion, and thence rise to legendary status. He’d done all that by the age of thirty-four. I’ve personally had an additional thirty years more than that of wholly full-bodied activity and in comparison achieved practically nothing in my life. In that sense, Bader’s example doesn’t inspire me – it just makes me feel ashamed of being such a wuss.

Be that as it may, I’m relatively pleased at my progress. I’m getting about with some difficulty but increasing ease.

At the rate I’m going I hope, that within another week, I’ll be able to walk not only with just one stick, but possibly for some distances, without one at all.

I shall be googling my nearest RAF recruiting office this morning …






















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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