12 April 2000
AND TODAY'S THE BIG DAY [Hopefully, sort of]

Yes today's GET IT OFF day. I'm actually more scared about losing the frame than I ever was about it being fitted. I'm not worried about it hurting or anything like that, it's just that, after 19 months in the frame, suddenly depending on my leg again is a mite scary.
And of course just to start the day of the wrong way, I was woken at 06:30 by a ring at the door. It was the hospital transport arriving to take me for my 09:15 appointment. I pointed out, rather diplomatically in the circumstances that I considered this was perhaps a touch early to expect me to be ready. As far as he was concerned, as he had another patient to collect about 8 miles away further out from London, who had to be in to hospital at eight, then it was quite reasonable to collect me at this God forsaken time of the day.
I guessed it was more a case of "I'm up, so why isn't the rest of the world!.
I explained that it would take me a good 30 minutes to get ready. This cut no ice with him. He wouldn't wait or come back. I expressed, again rather diplomatically I thought, I desire for him to vacate my premises forthwith and that I would make my own way to hospital.
And thus, taking a cab at 08:15 I arrived at 09:10, right in time for my appointment. However I was 21 lighter in pocket than I should have been!.
And apparently, even after all his early rising, he didn't get his other patient in until 08:30 anyway.
I walked straight into sister Phil on my arrival and then sat talking to a chap whose name I sadly have forgotten who's about to undergo the Ilizarov procedure again to finally sort out his ankle.
Phil then told me that they had decided to take the frame off first and then do some x-rays so would I like to make my self ready in the plaster room.
I actually had a twinge of fear at this point. But, hey, I'm a rufty-tuffty biker ain't I?. I could hack it ! (Gulp!)
Any how in a few minutes, there I am, sat on a table in the plaster room, spanners in hand, ready to attack my frame. I'd set my camcorder up to record the event and off I went.
Several people have stated that I had to be a trifle mad to want to be concious for the removal but who am I to argue with the majority?
Other's didn't believe that I would be loosening the frame myself, hence the camera and camcorder.

It did seem rather strange to be sitting there, removing the very thing that I had depended on for so long to hold me together. But as I loosened and removed each bolt and fixing, I gradually became more excited to see how it had all worked.
Eventually, barring one nut I couldn't get a grip on, I'd undone and removed everything except the rings themselves. These now just hung there looking rather out of place.
And there had been no pain, twinges, clicks, clacks or cracks. So that reassured me somewhat.
Then Sister Phil arrived with her tool kit and the removal of the seven wires began. Three of them slipped out with no trouble. One was a bit difficult, but three were absolute sods!.
My bones had got a vice like grip on them and wasn't about to relinquish them either.
Poor Phil looked like she'd run the London Marathon by the time she'd finished.
I will still say that none of them were terribly painful. The final one did take three real good attempts before it shifted, but as the video recording showed I didn't utter a single swear word! [A first for everything I suppose.]
Phil then applied some dressings to the sites, a couple of which had almost vanished immediately the pins were removed. Then, because I was a brave little soldier (Ahhh how sweet), the staff of the plaster room presented me with a cup of coffee and a cream cake. Who says the NHS don't know how to treat their patients!.
Then it was off to x-ray.
It did feel strange walking as I was still wearing the trousers I had modified to fit over the frame. They were flapping about making me look like an escapee from Starsky and Hutch!. Whilst I was waiting to collect the x-rays, I met Paul, a chap who'd been in Twining when I was there back in 1999. He'd had a massivebike accident where he'd lost most of the back of his leg. He'd had muscle flaps, skin grafts and fixation. And he was doing really well. The leg, whilst no beauty prize winner, was looking good and, best of all, it was functional.

And finally, x-rays clutched in my sweaty hand, I was back off to see Mr Groom. The pictures looked fine and the fibula has also decided to grow a lot more as well.
And so now the next phase begins. Hoping that everything's OK with the new bone and that I have no repeat of my 1998 problems with them slipping apart.
Only time will tell about that and Mr Groom wants me back in clinic next week to check some more x-rays. So just carry on watching this space, fixator wearers of the world.

The frame with all the bolts and adjusters removed
All the adjusters and wire clamping nuts and bolts are removed.
Now it's cut and pull time!
Everything off except the three difficult wires near my ankle
Everything's removed except for the three wires nearest my foot.
And they really didn't want to leave! And that dark stuff everywhere isn't blood, it's Iodine fluid.

Because of the length of time taken to download the original moving photo album, I have changed it to one where;

  1. Each picture is seperately viewable (And can also be downloaded by 'right clicking' as normal)
  2. Each image is a smaller file size and should be quicker.
  3. All though smaller in file size they are now .JPG files and are better quality than the ani.GIF file
The moving image version can be downloaded if wished as a stand alone animated .GIF file from the downloads page. However it should be noted that it is not possible to break this file into it's independant frames.

The frame is removed!

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My photo album!

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19th April 2000
Well at least today I wasn't dragged out of bed at the crack of doom/dawn to get to the hospital. There were a few of the regular faces already there, in fact the place was brimming over with people. It was standing room only (seriously!) in the x-ray dept. Peter was there trying to keep his orthofix frame out of everybody's way. I suppose thats one of the drawback of being very tall and having legs that seem to go on forever.
It had to happen eventually though I suppose. One of the waiting patients, who'd been sitting directly opposite him staring at his leg, got up when she was called and walked right into him.
She did apologise though and I thought Peter was extremely reserved in his reply considering!
Eventually the crowd thinned out a bit and I got my turn to be bombarded with more x-rays.
By this time Peter has been told that they're going to take the top row of his fixator off. He wasn't mollified by my tales of no real pain.
There was also another lady who was going to have her frame (ilizarov) removed that day and the plaster room looked more like a motor mechanic's workshop than a medical centre.
Eventually I got into see Mr Groom and he was very pleased with the x-rays. From a personal point the leg was already feeling really good (Finger's crossed) and he told me that, after all this time I could finally fully immerse myself in a lovely steaming bath!
BLISS!!!
He also gave me permission to start a few more slightly energetic exercises. I have got a lot of muscle wastage and tendon shortening after 31 months and it's going to be a long hard haul to get any of that back.
After Peter had been seen and had his frame partially removed, I blagged a lift home with him. Doing my bit to cut down on the hospital costs! And tomorrow it'll be bath time........

20th April 2000
Well the boiler had been running and the bath was steaming and I had a long soak. And did I enjoy it?
No, not much really.
Even covering myself with E45 cream afterwards, most of my body felt like I'd been rubbed down with a cheese grater. And in places it looked quite like that as well!
Ah well things are never quite how you remember them I guess!
Anyway it did loosen some of the more resistant patches of hard skin on the injured leg. In places it looked like the tiles that they stick on the front of the space shuttle to deal with re-entry heating problems!
Still Easter approaches and I now have my house completely to myself again, not forgetting the dogs, so I'm looking forward to the peace...
The leg's feeling good and I'm aiming to build another one of my home-height-increased shoes this weekend. I'll get the info about that on the site as soon as I can. I'm running so far behind with everything these days. It must be old age!

9 May 2000 [Update]
I thought I'd add a round up of how things have been going since the frame came off.
The leg continues to feel better and better, but I'm still not counting my chickens quite yet!.
I have found that the (apparently) most useful machine that I've started using at the gym is one called a Cross trainer.
This synthesises proper foot steps more realistically than a stair stepper and with a higher 'security' factor than a tread mill.
This is because the crosstrainer (at least the one I use) is not powered by anything other than me!
The treadmill is motor driven and means that I have to be more careful about what I do. It also can't stop instantly if, and I emphasise if anything was to go wrong. If I get a twinge on the crosstrainer, I just stop .
Seems a great machine.
The last weekend here was absolutely wonderful so as well as enjoying the odd beer on the front patio, I took myself off into the local woods for the first time in nearly three years!
These really are local, about 50 meters from my front door to be precise, but the access up the steps and along the path has proved too daunting previously. But last Sunday, with the sun shining, I complete with crutches, set off for a short walk.
I'd forgotten how nice it was to sit in the shade, resting on an old fallen log, listen to the animal life and watch the sun filtering through the canopy of leaves.
I reckon it made me feel better about things than I have in a long, long time.
Generally speaking, all things considered, I guess I'm feeling better now than I have since the accident itself, all those months and years back. However, and here's a good one for you psychologists out there, can any body explain this?
Since having had the entire frame removed, I'm sleeping about as poorly as I used to before the accident. Let me clarify that.
Back in the days when I was a member of the masses struggling into work, I could never sleep past 05:30. After the accident, my sleep improved noticeably, even though I was in discomfort with the full leg plaster. When this came off I started to revert to my poorer sleeping habits.
Then I had the Ilizarov fitted. Once I had got used to the thing, I could, quite literally sleep like a log. For the first time in my life, quite honestly I could sleep from 22:30 round to 09:00 with no problems. And I woke feeling refreshed as well.
Now the frame is off, I can move about in bed the same as anyone else but, surprise - surprise, my old sleep patterns have returned. I regularly wake at about 05:30 and then just manage to doze, off and on until I finally get up; normally now at around 07:30 to 08:00. And I tend to feel dozy for ages as well.
I'm not in any pain, at least not from the leg [my old back problem shows up now and again though] and the bed is as comfortable as ever, but the pleasure of enjoying a lie-in, something I had started to accept as normal for the first time in my life, has now dissappeared.
Very strange, thinks I!

11 May 2000 [Update]
Life is so unfair to many. I had a phone call today to tell me that a guy I was in hospital with back in 1998, who has gone through the whole frame & fixation thing and was completely recovered, happened to be in a van which was involved in a road accident.
Yes you've guessed it.
He got a broken leg and it's the same one as before but in a different position!
Apparently he's going down to theatre today for assessment but it looks like he's going to be back in fixation all over again.
Life really can be a bitch!
17 May 2000
Well back to hospital today for the biggy! - the x-rays to show how the reunited fractures have held up following their firat 5 weeks without the frame holding them together.
And I'm UNBELIEVABLY pleased to say that they look GREAT!
The callus formation looks really good at both ends of the tibia. The unexpected reuniting of the fibula also continues to look good.
Even more pleasing was that Mr Groom was satisfied enough with the continuing progress to decide that he doesn't need to see me for a further 8 weeks. Mind you a lot of people feel that way about me for some reason!
This is the longest period without any sort of orthopaedic clinic appointment in the last 33 months!
During the visit to King's I met another guy (Hi Steve) who was about to go into theatre that afternoon to have a frame fitted on his right arm. He had a bike accident 8 days after mine, back in 1997. Sadly his leg was beyond saving but his carbon fibre limb was so efficient as he walked that I didn't even know he'd lost a leg at all.
Steve's the second guy I've met with these new prosthetics and they really seem to be getting there with something that, whilst not looking like a leg, work really, really well.
His arm really was most bizarre however. His hand is effectively an inch or more below his wrist. How the hell it still worked at all amazed me!
Anyway Mr Groom was attempting a reconstructing job on it that very afternoon. Steve, who is (was) still a smoker got a lecture from me and then one from Sister Phil about how he was really affecting his healing if he carried on. He said he was going to pack it in. I'm hoping to see him next week when I go up for my diabetic clinic appointment so I'll try to keep him a smoke-free zone.
I also saw Lindsey, the guy mentioned above who was going into fixation again. He's now sporting an orthofix but the leg continues to look really good. He was actually back off home to Brighton on the South Coast of England that afternoon.
Anyway I went home feeling like the edge of the woods were now in sight so to speak.

20 May 2000 [Update]
A few people have asked me about the number of steps that I've been going up and down anytime I needed to leave my house. It is eighteen in total. And just to prove it, the photograph below is a view up around fourteen of them!
As can be seen they're a touch rough and ready and rather diabolical in snow or ice or when covered in wet leaves. Great fun.

The steps up the north face of the Eiger to my front door

22 May 2000 [Update]
As if my family hasn't had enough grief, I received a telephone call yesterday to say that my Father had been admitted into the Conquest hospital in Hastings with chest pains. As he'd already suffered one heart attack, and heart attacks have claimed every single one of his brothers and his father as well, the hospital got him straight into the cardiac care unit.
Luckily I was able to get someone to get me down to Hastings today so I could see him. Obviously he's not looking too great, sadly even more so since it is now known that he had actually suffered another heart attack.
As he's like me (I guess) he wants to get home A.S.A.P but needless to say I reckon he's got a while to go yet.
Good luck Dad!.

23 May 2000 [Announcement]
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
48 years old - oh how time flies as you get older!


My story continued (May 24th 2000 onwards)

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