24th May 2000.
Today I had an appointment at the diabetic clinic........
Didn't I?..........
I'm sure I did. And yes I did but, guess what?.....
They forgot to book the transport........So nothing new there then?
I'm now going to see them the next time I'm up at King's for x-rays and the like on the leg in July.

25th May 2000.
I had a medical appointment today to do with the injury insurance case. It was at a private hospital not too far from where I lived. The doctor's name was familiar but I couldn't quite place my finger on why. Anyhow a friend of mine drove me to the hospital which was a collection of old buildings pleasantly situated in a wooded area.
Having announced my presence and taken a seat, I started to glance round at the various pamphlets and booklets that lay on the tables and window ledges. I then noticed the designation boards on some of the rooms off of the reception area.
I was obviously not here for a physical medical I was here for a mental state checkout!
Leaflets such as 'Living with depression', 'Alocohlism', 'How to deal with stress' and doors titled "Stress management group meeting" and the like quickly reassured (?) me that I was in the right place!
And of course, the reason the doctor's name was familiar was that, and try to stick with me here, he was the doctor who was my case manager, who I never met, along with the the other doctors who I also never met, who retired along with most of the rest of the staff who I'd also never met during my [supposedly presently ongoing] care period with my local mental health welfare department.
Hmmmm?
Anyway be that as it was, I was eventually called in for my consultation and of course, it was up a flight of stairs that shook like the Titanic sinking, with carpets that seems designed to slip at every step and thence along a corridor with doors that would have put Schwarzenegger to the test! If it had been a physical medical, I'd have passed with flying colours.
The consultation it self was nothing really........yeah! right!
Basically it was having to recount the last nearly three years from the accident onward, yet again since the records provided by the mental healthcare group to my solicitors were so naff, that we really had to go back to square one. I was there for around 2 hours I guess. The doctor was a nice guy and I have no problems with being 'psyched', but I couldn't help thinking that, if the job had been done right at the off, this extra expense and time would not need to have been expended.
Still by the time I came out from what I had expected to be a short visit but which was over 3 hours in total, my friend had started to think I'd run (limped) off into the distance, never to be seen again

26th May 2000.
I was driven down to see my Father in hospital where he is recovering from his second heart attack. He was having a snooze when I arrived but woke up shortly after I got there. He's looking more healthy that I've seen him in years actually. I guess the loss of my Mother in January, his wish that he'd been able to do more for her in her last years of life, and of course my own problems, had all just piled up on him until his body said, enough!!!!! And then made him rest.
When I left, he walked with me to the lift. I tell you, it looked more like I should have been staying and he be the one who was going home. He had to slow down to walk beside me! And he'd spent the morning on a tread mill having his heart checked. Still he is the first of my family to ever make it through one heart attack let alone two. I guess there's hope for me yet!

June interim report
I had no medical appointments this month and so there's nothing really to report there directly. I was still regularly visiting the local 'Fresh Start' gymnasium and feel that things are definitely continuing on the up.
I've been investigating a different method of building up my shoes since I feel that increasing the thickness along the whole sole/heel area is not working as well as it whould.
I think that this is due to the sole now being too thick to enable it to flex properly. This means that when I am walking, instead of rolling forward onto the ball of the foot as I take a stride, I am trying to take the while transferred weight through the ankle directly since the toes cannot flex at their joints with the rest of the foot.
Further investigation is needed. See later (hopefully) for updates.
For some reason the SKY series 'We can rebuild you' which had featured Andrew, another frame wearer and was due to show yours truly, suddenly didn't exist any more. Episode 6 came and went with a preview of episode 7 at the end and that was that. Enquiries made of SKY's programming department revealed a group of people who probably wouldn't know their arse from their elbow if they're not labelled!.
One person actually argued with me that episode 6 was definitely the last and that there had been no preview on it of an episode 7. He then admitted that he'd never watched the series himself. How then, I asked, could he make his preceeding statement concerning the series finale. Suddenly I was on hold (again!) listening to canned muzak until I got bored waiting and hung up!
I was then informed that the series was on hold whilst the rest of the world got twitchy over the Euro2000 street riots, sorry I mean football competitions. The series would, I was promised 'Be returning when the football was over'. So far it hasn't and since SKY have never bothered to reply to any e-mails or snail-mails I'm not anticipating any answers just yet.

1st July 2000.
 
Today is my town's Summer Fete. The weather was good, if cloudy but, since my local branch of the Motorcycle Action Group was having a display stand promoting road safety and Motorbike awareness, I made sure that I got up there.
I was intrigued to find that for some reason I was able to walk better on a rough, grass covered field than I am on a flat, carpet covered floor. Very strange. Has aybody got any ideas abot that I wonder?
Whilst there I noticed someone being pushed around in a wheel chair. The way that his left leg was resting along with the way it was dressed, led me to the correct assumption that here was another Ilizarov wearer.
And I was right. He had a similar frame to that which I had worn, except his was all steel including the foot plate. It turned out that he was also one of Mr Groom's patients from King's and consequently knew all the medical staff that I did.
His injury came about from a stack of filing cabinets falling on his leg as they were being moved. It also turned out that he has an appointment on the same day as me (12th July) so I should see him then. I slipped him a web site address card and we went our seperate ways. It was only later that I realised that I had no idea what his name was! Senility had set in and I had forgotten to ask!

6th July 2000 (Brief aside)
Whilst a friend of mine was visiting today, he noticed an unusual looking pigeon wandering around outside my front windows. A bit later when we were outside, we saw the same pigeon walking around whilst my neighbours watched. He was seemingly unconcerned by the proximity of humans. On closer look he was sporting a ring on his leg. He showed no fear when I picked him up and sat quite happily in my arms until we could find a box to put him in.
Cutting a long story short. The bird was a rare breed of Asian Indian pigeon; bred in Birmingham, England and then sold to a gentleman in High Wycombe, also in England. The bird had escaped somehow and flown around 70 miles before landing outside my house.
The owner was overjoyed that his pigeon was OK, and tried to make arrangements to colect him that day. He was unable to do this however so, at present Eric (as I've named the bird) is enjoying the hospitality of my house until monday when he'll be collected.
I'll miss him as he's as tame as a pet dog, follows me round, and is happy to be picked up and stroked.
Chishii, one of my dogs got a little too inquisitive and started sniffing the air holes on the side of the box. The bird, obviously thinking that the dog's large, wet, shiny black nose may just be food, pecked at it!.
Chishii has a new found respect for large cardboard boxes that make strange noises when you approach, and attack you if you get too close!

10th July 2000
Had a brief visit to my GP today, just to sort of fill him in about what has (or has not) been happening with the local mental health support of yours truly. He was not overly happy with things but between us we've set the world to rights for the time being.
That afternoon Eric the Pigeon (see above) was collected. I was quite sad to see him go as he was so much fun. I spent quite a lot of time playing with him over the weekend as he was just like having a feathered puppy around the house. Ah well, serves me right for being so soft I guess. Still, his owner did ring me the next day to thank me for looking after her (as it turned out) so well.
In the evening I had a telephone call . It was Gerdien Folmer (See other peoples stories page) from Holland. She was over here in the UK for a few days. Sadly there wasn't enough time for us to get to meet but it was nice to have a chat. She's frame free now and doing really well, I'm pleased to say.

12th July 2000
Today was, for me, the most important day for quite sometime. It was a hospital appointment and was now 3 months since the frame was removed. Following the original accident, it was 3 months after the plaster cast came off that they realised that things weren't as good as they'd hoped and the Ilizarov saga was then about to being.
So what would the x-rays show this time? Were the bones holding together OK? You can't help but worry.
But infact the results were excellent. The consolidation of the tibia is almost uniformly solid around the whole bone. Even to a layman like me, it looks good. The unexpected union of the fibula also continues to look excellent.
Mr Groom is more than happy with how things are going. So much so that he doesn't want to see me for 3 months. Strangely most people I've told this to have laughed and said that they know how he feels. What it is to have friends!!
Mr Groom and I had a chat about the possibility of a future fixator attempt at growing back the inch or so I'm still short. Right now, considering the problems that I had with the slow bone growth and the strep B infection weighed against the limp that I've got, assuming nothing else goes wrong, I expect that I'll stick where I am. I can live with a bit of a limp. I've learned to adapt my shoes in a manner that is comfortable and useable. Hopefully as the building up of the muscles continues and the mobility of the joints increases with the exercises I do, then things will get even easier. But as they say, watch this space.
Steve, the biker with the forearm fixator (See the gallery 4 pictures) was also up at the hospital. If his arm looked good in the photos, in the flesh it looks STUPENDOUS!!!! It really looks wonderful. He's got full movement back on the fingers and, while I was there, they told him that he's due very soon to have the frame removed. Nice one!
I also had an appointment at the diabetic clinic. I feel a bit of a fraud when I'm there, not actually having the complaint. However they still want to keep tabs on me. I guess I'm a bit of a clinical oddity.
That evening I got a telephone call from a man with an Australian accent. I knew immediately who it was. It was Jock Dunkley, frame wearer from OZ [See other peoples tales pages JOCK DUNKLEY]
He was going to be on a truly 'shoot through' visit back to the UK the next day. Arrival 13:00 departure 21:00. He was going to visit me and then get over to East London. These Australians sure know how to push themselves.

13th July 2000
Well having really knackered myself out at the gym this morning, I went home to await the arrival of Jock. Sure enough, early afternoon comes and I get a call from him in the cab. He's just up the road.
When he arrives I was confronted by what must be the world's healthiest Ilizarov wearer!
Not only does he radiate the [sickeningly] healthy lust for life that most Australians seem to have, but his injured leg has to be seen to be believed.
If you've not read Jock's story or downloaded and viewed the pictures of his leg then do it soon. I really should have got some shots but we were a bit too busy chatting and consuming a few beers.
His left leg, the frame encased one which has been seriously rebuilt, just looks so good that it's hard to describe. Jock had 1.5 Kgs of mucle grafted into his leg along with many skin grafts from the other thigh. Believe me when I say you'd hardly know!
The muscle and skin grafts have been so good that he has got a sun tan and has grown back the hairs on his leg. Even on his thigh where the skin grafts were taken from, there is hardly any sign at all of what has been done as this too has a healthy tan and fully growth of normal body hair.
Even with the frame on, Jock cycles around 20Km a day, goes surfing, drives, you name it.
He has been into the UK then off to Spain then back to the UK before flying back home to OZ. All this wearing the frame and carrying a small department store around which he laughingly refers to as a bag!
I had been reading a book by Bill Bryson, a favourite author of mine. It's called 'Down Under' in which he travels around Australia. He is constantly amazed by the Australian's laid back 'she'll be right' attitude especially when talking about the myriad fish, snakes, spiders, insects and other animals which like to sting, bite, infect and generally cause severe pain and possibly terminal agony to any human who gets in the way.
When talking to someone about the box jellyfish, the most lethal poisonous thing in the sea anywhere, he was informed that 'Yes, it might hurt a bit' A classic understatement!
Sitting talking to Jock I was pleased to realise that Bill Bryson's assessment of the Australian persona was spot on. Jock related how he'd been stung by a box jellyfish and 'Yeah, it hurt a bit' but he rubbed vinegar on it like he'd been told. He also used another treatment which I don't feel is quite right for relating here. Let me just say that it requires you to really know who your friends are (or maybe an enemy would be better - I'll say no more!)
For some reason, then being told about a spider which can bite you and make you 'a bit crook' for a couple of DAYS!, made me want to visit this country even more. Perhaps I need to lie down in a dark room for a while.
Sadly there just wasn't enough time for Jock and I to consume the amount of beer that we should have before he had to get off to his next port of call in East London. So my friend and I got him to the nearest station where (and I promised I'd not tell this story but what the heck) Jock found that his tickets had become glued to eachother by a stick of chewing gum!
Luckily most of it came off and his ticket was accepted readily by the ticket inspector who, if truth were told, was more interested in Jock's frame than any gum smeared piece of paper.
I'm now convinced that, when finances permit, I have to get to OZ, not least to see Jock again but to see if Aussie beer really is served cold enough to freeze the fillings out of your teeth.
Thanks for the visit Jock and all the best for your continued healing

21st July 2000
Well this was the start of the South London Motorcycle Action Groups Summer Rally, the SLAM'R 2 and I was actually going to do the whole thing and under canvas too, even though it was less than 3 miles from my own front door.
It ran from the 21st to the 23rd and was my first fully attended rally in over three years. I reckoned that it should give the leg a bit of a trial. And I was right.
Erecting a tent is great fun when
  1. You can't kneel down properly.
  2. The ground's as hard as concrete.
  3. The wind keeps trying to blow the tent away.
  4. Your mates all think it's the best free show they've had in a long time!
Still eventually it was done, the airbed inflated and the sleeping bags laid out ready.
There were several other stick and crutch mounted bikers wandering about as well as a few more with various other disabilities, generally having a laugh and enjoying being the same as everybody else.
The weather could have been better, varying from blazing hot to freezing cold, totally calm to howling gale and bone dry to monsoon downpour. All of which tended to make walking around the field the rally was in, somewhat of an ordeal.
I must admit that come Saturday afternoon, I felt that I'd been dragged round several times by rampaging horses. I have been suffering from an ingrowing toenail on the injured leg for quite a while and by now had a bit more of a limp than usual. At my last visit to the diabetic clinic at the hospital, they had offered to set up an appointment to get the nail removed and I said I'd give them a call if it got no better. So, even though the leg seemed to be holding up fine, the toe was a bit sore. Then a 'friend', and I use that term advisedly, decided that it would be really amusing to tread on that very toe, just to see how sore it really was. I kid you not!
Needless to say she was met with such a stream of abuse from myself and my guest that she actually kept out of my way for the entire rest of the weekend. However I ended up with a sock full of blood and a hell of a lot more pain. Needless to say I have had to take up the hospital's offer of treatment and am now waiting for a further appointment.
Still apart from getting filthy, cold, wet, sunburnt and wind blown, I had a good time. Someone made a mistake and let a secret drop. So I managed to duck out of the main arena where the bands were playing just before they made a special award to me for endurance. I managed to keep out of the way of everyone until I was finally cornered and presented with it in a small gathering over a cold beer and a jacket potato at midnight outside of one of the catering vans. I'm not good at receiving things when I've done no more than so many others have before me.
Anyway, come Sunday afternoon, everything was finally packed away and I went home, prepared to sleep the sleep of the dead. No chance as the toe was throbbing too much for that. Friends! - I ask you!

29th July 2000
Having done the rally last weekend and found that wandering round a field (barring idiots stamping on your foot) wasn't too bad, I decided to attend my first Pow Wow of the year this weekend. The UK has a very active Native American Interest group. These are not, I hasten to add, the New Age 'Monsters' as they're referred to over here but people who have a true historical and spiritual involvement as far as being a European can allow.
The Pow Wow is run on traditional lines and we there are often several Native Americans there which is an honour. Most interest revolves round the Oglala Lakota people as well as Cree and Blackfoot. My personal interest has been with the Californian peoples of the Karuk, Yurok, Hupa, Pomo and other surrounding peoples.
This is why two of my dogs are called Sunka (pronounced Shunka) and Chishii (short for Ararachishii). Both of which mean dog in the Lakota and Karuk languages.
Anyway, this time the weather was wonderful and, unusually for English Pow Wows, it could actually be held outside. This time however I didn't get the chance to slip away and was called to the arbour to be honoured by a song from the drum and Centerland singing team.
I was honoured with a song for a wounded soldier and escorted around so that people could shake my hand and those of my escorts and then join the group as we walked and danced round the arena. I think that was definitely more than enough physiotherapy for the day and was more than happy to sit down and watch for the rest of the afternoon.
I still don't feel that I've done anything much but others seem to disagree. Ah well.


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