2nd January 2000
Just before Christmas, my Mother who has been seriously ill for some years following a series of strokes, lapsed into a coma after contracting pneumonia.
Today at 12:50 she passed away quietly in her sleep. My Father was at her side and he said that she simply stopped breathing.
Atleast she's now at peace.
My apologies to all those whose e-mails appeared to go unanswered for so long during this time.
Hopefully, by now, following her funeral on the 12th of January, I have now dealt with them all.

As for my leg, I have noticed a definite increase in the degree of movement of the ankle. There's also an increase in the number of times I hit the damn frame on the wall, stairs, chair, table, dog etc. Obviously I'm becoming too damn blasť about it all.
The muscles in the leg are building up but this means that some of the pin sites are a bit sore as I'm asking the leg to do more and more.
I took my courage in my hands last weekend and went to my motorbike club's Winter rally. This is held on an equestrian centre local to me which has a large series of muddy fields for the catering, camping and bonfire and an indoor arena for traders, disco and bands.
Due to the size of the arena, it was actually colder than standing around in the fields near the bonfire, even with the wind blowing.
By the end of the day my arms and upper body felt like I'd been at the gym for 24 hours solid. This was due to the arena having a sand floor, which was about 12 inches deep and a hastily erected pair of (wobbly) steps directly beneath a large metal beam, less than 5.5 feet above them.
As a humourous aside, someone [Good old Fred!] decided that it would be a good idea to paint the beam with white paint so that people wouldn't bang their heads. This he did, and satisfied of a good job done walked away to the bar. When coming back to the arena he became the first person to walk smack into the freshly painted thing!
The sand floor was tough going. In some areas it was hard whilst in others, soft, and in yet others a mixture of each. I needed the odd beer in the bar after a while on that I can tell you.
Still at least it was a foray into the more 'normal' way of life. There were also a couple of other handicapped bikers up there. One hopping about on crutches minus an entire leg and another confined to a wheel chair with a broken spine. And I thought I had troubles moving around on the sand...........!

Still the 9th of February approaches! I'm trying not to count my poultry before it's natal so to speak, but..........

28th January 2000
I received a fax today from Andrew Demetriou. He's a guy who, like me, came out the worse in a Motorbike V Car tussle. He'd been given a fixator following his accident and had, since this time, become one of the central characters in the ongoing filming of a documentary.
This was covering various example of people's involvement with limb salvage and reconstruction. The programme is presently aimed at airing via the Sky TV satellite service sometime in April 2000.
Any how he was given the address of the website (as it turns out by a friend of the boyfriend of my ex-girlfriend [terribly confusing]!) and when browsing it, came across my fax address. Hence I received the message mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago.
I gave him a call on the phone. During the chat, I learnt about his accident and how things are going. What else do we frame wearers talk about with other frames wearers anyway?. Then he mentioned the documentary and that he felt the film company might be interested in the web site. Would it be alright if he gave them my phone number?
Does a fish swim in water???
Anyway a few days later I received a telephone call from a nice lady called Shelley. And so, at this moment in time, Tuesday February 8th could see the Slim Haines visage being committed to film [video] yet again.
It was giving them a bit of a tight deadline since they wanted to meet me with the frame still attached and of course, the following day I may be losing the thing.
But still, if it happens it'll be a great boost to the lifting of the curtain surrounding the general awareness of limb reconstruction.
I will keep you informed.

February 4th 2000
Quite a busy day today. I had so much to do with the web site updates. There was the whole set of pages to do for Stephanie and Melanie Smith [Their story] and their frames. Then there was the continuing work putting the files of Jock Dunkley's pics [His story] together in a smaller format for a faster download.
Then, when I checked the e-mails there was a great one from Melanie and Stephanie's Mum, Lee. I hope she doesn't mind but I've put it in below.

Hi Slim,
this is S & M's mother.
I've just seen your note and I will pass it on to Stephanie at the weekend. She is staying up at Gosh most of next week I think as she is still locked solid.
They have her in hydro 2 times a day. She is in XXXXXXX Ward, although they sometimes move them at weekends.
The direct line is XXXXXXXXXXXX. The nurses are more than delighted to bring her to the phone.
She would be over the moon if you did give her a quick call as she is quite down in the dumps - Mel is having it much easier which is making it harder for her.
I can't thank you enough for taking an interest and running such a brilliant support group particularly since you have a huge ordeal to go through yourself.
Several times she been screaming in pain and I've found a note from you and it has really helped to calm her down. I wish you lots of luck with your own leg.
With many, many thanks from a very grateful Mum....Lee

And so I gave Stephanie a call. The first time she was having the pin sites cleaned [Haven't we all been there!]. So I told the nurse who I was but not to tell Stephanie as I'd call back later.
So I did. She'd finished the pin site cleaning and was brought to the phone. There was this very tentative 'Hello?'
Being the type of sod I am, I didn't tell her who it was straight off. But as soon as I said that where she and her sister had two of the things and I only had one, meaning the frames, she guessed straight away.
We chatted for about 15 minutes. She was pleased to tell me that she can now straighten her knees out but is still having to work hard on the ankles.
I am always humbled by people like Stephanie who accept their misfortunes so well. I had an accident, that's it, cut and dried. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Stephanie, Melanie and so many others are living with their problem from the day they're born.
I actually get really embarassed when people tell me they think I'm brave and how I've gone though so much.
Personally, in comparison to everyone else that I've ever met via the web site, I feel a bit of a fraud!.
Still Stephanie is doing well and is staying in GOSH until the end of next week. I've said I'll try to give her a call before the end of the week to see how she's improving and let her know what happened with me on the 9th.
I'll update everyone soon.

Feb 9th 2000
Well today COULD be the day of removal!!!!
it wasn't!

Ah well, so be it. Got to Kings quite early today. Waited for the x-rays to be done for the last time in the old clinic. King's Hospital is having a major rebuild and the fracture clinic is moving over the road into an old school, would you believe.
Apparently the diabetic foot clinic has moved as well. And where's the best place to move it to for people who have trouble walking?
Obviously as near the entrance as possible
The administrative powers that be have decided to stick it in the bowels of the hospital, miles from the entrance hall and even further from the transport area which is now in another building entirely on the otherside of a road!
Still far be it from me etc etc etc.

Anyway back to the story. The xrays are looking really good and Mr Groom is very pleased. The callus formation is looking very strong at the back of the tibia but a bit less dense at the front.
So it's the frame for a bit longer. Obviously I don't want the thing to come off and the fractures to start slipping apart like they did back in 97/98 when I came out of plaster.
I've been in the frame nearly 18 months so what's a bit longer in the great scheme of things.
I told Mr Groom that I'd tried the treadmill at the gym. He pulled an odd face and I expected to be given a bit of a telling off. Instead he just said.
I admitted that it was a bit tiring and that my ankle tended to ache a bit afterwards but as he said to me, that's the sort of exercise that builds bone. And looking at the change in the most recent xrays, it certainly seems to be the case.
He asked if I'd got any pictures on the site yet and when I said no, he was most insistent that I should do. So part in seriousness and part in jest, I said I'd take the camcorder to the gym next time and send him a copy of the tape.
Well I've done part of it anyway. That is taken the video at least. As soon as time permits I'll stick a couple of pictures on the site. Most of the week's spare time was taken up by me discovering that since my upgrade to Windows 98 a few weeks back, neither of my TV / Video capture cards wanted to work anymore.
Suffice it to say that for most of the last week I've been stripping down three PC's, transferring cards and re-installing software. And, for now atleast everything working again. Perhaps actually better than it used to even.
I went up to the ward as a couple of chaps I know were inpatients. Both of them have had to lose lower legs by amputation.
One chap had opted for this since his other injuries meant that he has only the use of one arm and a prosthetic limb would get him up and about quicker.
The other guy had been in the Ilizarov a few times. Then by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he was attacked and beaten up. The attackers made a mess of his already weakened leg, and although he tried with the frame once more, he eventually decided that he'd go for an amptuation so that, he too could get back on his feet and back into his life.
As I said, I went up to see them and they were both off the ward practicing and doing physiotherapy. They'll both be back home by the time I next visit so best of luck to them both.
Still the next hoped for and proposed date of my frame's removal is March 22nd. As I said before; if it comes off, it comes off. If it doesn't - what's a few more weeks anyway?

12th Feb 2000
I got an email today from Stephanie to let me know that hopefully she'll be on UK daytime TV at some point next week. So I have to remember to set the video everyday.

16th Feb 2000
Because something told me I should, I checked with the psychiatrist's office that they had remembered to arrange travel for me to get there this Friday. They hadn't. Surprise Surprise! - not!
They phoned me back and confirmed that it was now done and they would see me on Friday.

18th Feb 2000
The following high farce would be unbelievable on a TV show. Only the names have been altered to protect me from legal action.

I am due at the mental health clinic at 10:30 AM. At 09:40 I am telephoned by Mr ZZZZZ's secretary to be told that they are going to change my appointment time until later. Note that I am TOLD, not asked if it would be convienient or whatever. I point out that I have no problem with this but ask what the situation is regarding their re-allocation of the patient transport.
There is a pause followed by "What patient transport?".
I point out that I had been called two days previous by another person who also identified themselves as Mr ZZZZZ's secratary but who was patently not the person to whom I was presently speaking, who confirmed that transport was indeed arranged.
The present Mr ZZZZZ's secretary said "Oh, I'll phone you back". This she did and said that everything stood as it was.
And so, when the transport arrived (A nifty London Black cab but now in Ambulance service white) off I went.
On arrival things started to become more, shall we say, confused.
At first the receptionist cannot find me on the list. I give the name of the Doctor I'm booked to see and rather than clarify matters it seems to make them even murkier.
Previously I had seen Dr AAAAA who was part of Mr ZZZZZ's team
Dr AAAAA has now left and I'm now under Dr BBBBB also part of Mr ZZZZZ's team.
I take a seat and wait to be called and eventually a man I assume to be Dr BBBBB calls me into his office, a depressingly bare, empty shelved and uninhabited edifice, which it latterly transpired was exactly what it was.
He picks out the right case notes and proceeds to read them. He then says " So you are under Mr ZZZZZ?"
I reply that I believe so although I have never seen him, having been referred to Dr AAAAA and thence to himself, Dr BBBBB.
"Oh no" he replies, "I'm Dr CCCCC, Dr BBBBB is ill today and is leaving anyway in a couple of weeks. I'm retired but they've called me in to try to help out for a while."
He continued to relate a story which I've included briefly below.
Apparently Mr ZZZZZ had Dr AAAAA on his team. There was also a Mr XXXXX who had Dr BBBBB on his team and there was Dr CCCCC. [The retired gentleman before me]
Dr AAAAA has left as has Mr XXXXX.
Mr ZZZZZ is also apparently leaving shortly. Mr CCCCC didn't really see that there was much point in delving too deeply into my case right now as he'd not see me again and neither would Dr BBBBB.
I then pointed out that I would have imagined that, in many cases of psychological and mental health problems, a continuity of medical careperson would be of paramount importance. Dr CCCCC agreed. He then asked me what my solictor desired in a report that they had requested. I replied that as the client I had no idea.
He then telephoned my solicitor and left a message asking for a return call.
He wished me well and advised me that when the new practitioners were in situ, I would be given an appointment with one of them.
This of course means starting at square one and left me thinking how lucky I was that I wasn't suffering totally debillitating depression.
Indeed during the brief consultation the only question levelled at me of a medical nature was "How is the leg?"
God alone knows how much this has cost the NHS in wasted time, for that is surely what it is.
Praise be to King's College and my local Doctor!

19th Feb 2000
Whilst 'fixing' my computers I latterly discover that I've unplugged the telephone. Hence, being as deaf as the proverbial post, I missed a few calls. Luckily the caller display held the details. One of the numbers was one I didn't recognise, and having an undying level of inquisitiveness (outright nosey) I rang it.
I was most pleased to discover that it was Stephanie Smith(see the Twins story for details).
She was now back home out of Great Ormond Street and doing really well. Infact she'd made a bet with the physio that involved her walking in the gymnasium. If she did she'd get a shopping trip to Covent Garden Market.
Apparently she won her bet with more than flying colours, walking much further and better than she'd bet she could.
Congratulations all round say I !!!
Stephanie's really pleased with her progress and well she may be, I reckon. She's promised her physio that she'll do her exercises at home and I'm rooting for her and her sister Melanie to carry on their improvement.
The hoped-for TV appearance didn't happen, at least not yet a while but Stephanie's still hoping it will and had promised to let me know as and when she's got a date for the event.
And when she does I'll post it on the front page of the site so all UK visitors can check when and where to see it.
My next hospital visit is in a couple of weeks to the diabetic foot clinic so we'll see what happens then.

28th Feb 2000
Up to the gym today. Had a bash on a new machine. Tried things out on the stair stepper. Cor!!!!!
There's still a (long) way to go on the ankle flexibility, but it's getting there.

29th Feb 2000
A bit of precognition came into play today. I was supposed to be going to the diabetic foot clinic tomorrow but, something prompted me to call, just to make sure.....
That proved to be a good move as somehow my arranged transport wasn't. It was too late to get it sorted for the next day so I've now got an appointment for March 15th instead. Ah well, life goes on.

3rd March 2000
Another visit to the gym yesterday and then a bash at some shopping left me feeling somewhat exhausted and a bit achey by the time I got home. Just as I've got indoors, looking forward to a cup of tea, two of my dogs, overjoyed to see the hand that feeds them, chose to jump up at exactly the same time and plant a combined weight of about 8 stone into me.
I was propelled, face first into an office-style chair and thence onto my writing desk, bending both arms the wrong way against the crutches, twisting the good leg against the chair and kicking the desk with the framed leg.
Unsurprisingly it hurt!
I took to my bed armed with pain killers, just in case.
And I needed them. Today both my shoulders, elbows and wrists feel like I've gone a few rounds with a tag team from the W.W.F!
My back feels like I've been bench pressing Jumbo jets, and my left knee feels like it belongs to someone else.
And the leg in the frame....?
That one's never been better!
All of which goes to show how the body definitely goes out of it's (subconcious) way to avoid further injury to it's already damaged bits.
And the dogs still haven't apologised!

8th March 2000
I had an appointment today with the Disability Employment advisor at the local employment office. This is to give me a chance to find out how the system can be made to help me when I am considered fit enough to return to some form of work.
The lady I had to see was most helpful. She took a great deal of interst in the frame, other than television, mine being the first one she had seen actually 'in the flesh'.
I gleaned a lot of useful info. Not the least of which is that, should I even decide to become self employed, there is quite a degree of assistance that can be made available for me. This includes financial and physical in the way of orthopaedic seating and the like.
I was there for about two hours in all and came away with a fair amount of useful literature to peruse.

As a side note to this, the disabled access to the building I had to visit was, shall we say, somewhat awkward!
The main door itself had a sign on it advising callers with pushchairs or wheel chairs to continue past this entrance, beyond that of the building next door, a building society, to the far wall where an intercom could be found by which assistance could be summoned.
There was indeed an intercom, and it was indeed on a wall but;

  1. It was about five foot above the ground.
  2. It had two illuminated push buttons neither of which were marked.
  3. It was located tightly jammed into an angled junction between the walls, where the closest you could get in a wheel chair was about six foot from it. Sadly my arms are of normal length.
  4. The local council have allocated the area immediately infront of the intercom to a flower seller who piles her boxes in the convenient storage niche.

Luckily the flower seller was in residence and was prevailed upon to call someone down to help me in.
This was also an experience to remember.
Once through the door, there was a tight right hand turn, trying to avoid a pillar, onto the steepest wheelchair access ramp way I've ever seen. It was the only time I ever thought that the chair was going to tip onto it's stability wheels at the back.
As well as being steep, the 180 degree turn that it undertook in about an 8 foot sweep was such that the twisting of the chair frame resulted, even with my bulk, in one rear wheel being lifted clear of the ground.
There was then a door to neogtiate, fitted with a return spring that could have assisted a shuttle launch.
This led to the lift, a construction of such diminutive size that there was scarcely room for me alone, let alone the poor guy who'd been stitched up with the chore of coming down to get me.
I noted later that he was conspicuously absent when I came to leave.

Please, Please, PLEASE, PLEASE!!

Let's not play at disability access facilities just to be P.C. these days.
This is expecially true of government and local government buildings who seem to delight in making it some sort of steeplechase for the disabled.
Ah well, maybe it's time for me to take my pills again!!!

15th March 2000
I had an appointment today at the diabetic foot clinic at Kings. I was expecting this to be interesting since I knew that the clinic had been moved down into the bowels of the hospital.[Anyone who's ever been into Kings on the ground floor, old building will know that 'Bowels' is a more than adaquate description.]
I thought that this was an odd move considering that a large number of people who come to this clinic have more than a little difficulty in walking. Added to that, the floor surface in the corridors about this area looks like a beach where the tide had recently receded, leaving the shore rippled. The difference here is that it isn't sand, and it isn't pleasant to walk on.
However I was pleasantly surprised to find that, long walk not withstanding, the new waiting and consulting area is as clean and new as one could really hope for under present NHS budgetary constraints.
In fact I was whisked straight in and was soon being looked over by a young chap I'd not seen before (And who's name I have been most lax in forgetting).
It was merely a check over but I was pleased to say that he noticed I had an ingrowing toenail, something I've suffered off and on for years. He set about cutting back skin and nail and, after a while, whilst deep inside the edge of my big toe asked;
"So the accident caused you to lose all feeling in your foot then?"
"No", I replied "I've got full feeling".
He stopped probing my toe.
"What?, even here?" He asked, concernedly.
"Yes." I said, "I can feel what you're doing OK".
He looked even more concerned. "It's OK, I reassured him "Apparently I have a high threshold of pain".
For some reason he raised his eyebrows and smiled.
Maybe I'm not quite the wimp I thought I was.

After he'd finished and I'd booked the next appointment, I went across to the old school building which now houses the orthopaedic outpatients department and x-ray departments, the place I am due to go to next week, to ensure I knew where I was going.
During the major rebuilding project at King's College Hospital, these services have been moved across the road into what was, quite literally an old school.

Obviously no expense has been spared on making this old building a flagship of modern clinical services.

Sorry I got that wrong, what I meant to say was

Obviously no expense has allowed in making this old building bear any resemblance to a hospital but to ensure it stays looking like a battered, old pre-WW11 school of the ILEA era.

It really is exactly as I remember schools from my childhood. The only things missing were screaming kids, obnoxious teachers and that disgusting, all pervading smell of boiled cabbage that somehow contrived to be ever present.
And as for patient comfort, well
Gone was the large, friendly waiting area with the Friends of King's tea bar. Replacing it was the converted school hall, a myriad plastic, uncomfortable chairs and in the far corner, what appeared to be a small closet, pressed grudgingly into service, holding a dozen or so sandwiches, a few biscuits and cans of drink and an old kettle.
And worse was to come.
Previously the patient transport waiting area had been a single unified room with around forty chairs, some tables and waiting areas for some stretcher cases. Now it has been relegated to the old school caretakers house (Honestly!). The waiting room is smaller than my bedroom, ill-equipped with 12 chairs. This means that most patients now have to wait at their respective clinics until collected for transport, requiring a massive increase in internal telephone conversations trying to track down patients, drivers and wheelchairs. The only addition to the bare walls being two gross prints of the ' Furniture Superstore' variety, a small notice about transport facilities and a hastily corrected A4 poster concerning the new location of the Friends of King's Tea rooms (see above)
And if you want a toilet, tough!. You've got to leave the building walk down the street back to the outpatients and find one there.
This is going on for some four years I gather! And the doctors and nurses have to try to work in this environment as well.
Boy was I glad to get home?

22nd March 2000
This could have been THE day!
But, yet again, it wasn't. There wasn't a problem, however. My consultant, being the very excellent caring professional he is, and being due to go on leave, didn't want to take the frame off just before he went away for a couple of weeks. In case anything went wrong, he wants to be on hand, and I, for one, am more than happy to comply with his wishes.

Of course my body decided to throw yet another curve ball into the game.
When the x-rays were reviewed, the unions of the tibia looked even better than last time. However, the fibula, basically having been out of the game since 1997, and having had nearly two inches completely removed from the ankle end, has decided it wants to play again.
Out of the blue and in an almost unfeasably short period, my fibula has decided to regrow. Indeed the amount of growth in six weeks since the last x-rays were taken, is, to me at least, quite amazing.
There was nothing between the bone ends, there never having been any intention to get them to regrow. But suddenly, the xrays clearly show a full two inches of infilling bone growth. Out of no where this has happened. It MUST be the extra exercise and pressure that I have been placing down the leg. The bone has been kickstarted somehow.
This bodes well should I have another go at regrowing the tibia in the future. It would seem that I really need to apply as much pressure as possible down the leg, and then the bone will grow.
Any way as of right now, I am due to go back to see Mr Groom on April the 12th when I have opted to have the frame removed in the clinic. I had taken assorted cameras with me this time to record the removal. On mentioning this I was told to bring a tripod next time to get the best shot. So I will.
I ask you, could I have a more helpful and enthusiastic medical consultant? - I think not!

23rd March 2000
Not really anything to do with the frame actually.
Today was another hospital appointment. This time at Bromley Hospital for my annual hearing test and, as I expected, my annual discussion with the audiometry department mainly on things Ilizarov as opposed to things hearing related.
Apparently there's no real change in my hearing. I'm still deaf but not getting any more so. I can live with that. It would be nice to get another hearing aid to balance me up so to speak, but NHS funding just doesn't run that far these days.
I took the chance to visit my old in-patient ward, H.G.Wells, where I'd spent a fair amount of time after the accident. There were still three of the nurses I knew working there so Hello to Emma, Liz and Diane.
Sadly earlier this year there had been a terrible incident on the ward between two other healthcare members. I discovered that Emma had been on duty when it happened. Not surprisingly it had deeply affected her and the other nursing staff and patients. But all the staff were basically expected to go on as usual. I really do wonder some times.
After leaving the hospital, I took the opportunity to be driven into the local shopping mall. I spent a good three hours trundling myself about in the wheel chair. spending far too much money on books (Microsoft Office 97 Developers kit and Microsoft Visual Basic training edition) but it's all part of keeping the brain working.
As the shopping mall has a floor that slopes upward in every conceivable direction, by the time I returned to the car, I had biceps and pectorals that were pumped like Schwarzenegger's. And I was knackered. It's nice to be chauffered about sometimes!

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