Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Stockholm Marathon and me, part 2

At midnight on Sunday they took me to the operating theatre. I was sure that I had asked for the general, but they asked me to lean forward on the operating table so they could give me the local anaesthetic injection in the spine. This would ‘put my legs to sleep’. I still had my doubts as I lay back down, but then I looked up and noticed that they had my leg raised up in the air and were examining it. I had felt nothing! It was a bit disconcerting having no feeling below the waist, and a little fear that the feeling may never return. After a short while of trying to observe what was going on…I fell asleep! I found it hard to believe afterwards, given the amount of metalwork in my leg and the amount of cutting, banging and hammering that must have gone on! But on reflection, I had just run the best part of a marathon, had virtually no sleep for 30 hours and been drugged up to the eyeballs, so maybe I was a little tired, if not exhausted. I’m sorry I missed the interesting parts of the operation though!

When I woke up I was being wheeled into the recovery room. I remember seeing a clock and that it said 2:20, so the operation had taken just under two and a half hours. I was kept under observation for a few hours there and then returned to my little room. I remember that the took scans of my bladder and recorded how much urine I passed afterwards, to check that my organs were working correctly after the operation.

Finally, I got some sleep! After the operation I was confined to my bed throughout Monday. A man from the marathon committee brought me the clothes and valuables that I had left at the marathon start point. He had obviously heard what had happened, and jokingly also gave me a t-shirt. With a big grin he translated the wording on the shirt – it said, ‘I’m training for the 2005 Stockholm Marathon’! We both laughed!

I was extremely well looked after by all the Swedish nurses, doctors and domestic staff. We had fun trying to identify some of the food I was being given as the kitchen staff could not speak English, and my Swedish certainly wasn’t up to the task. I had a frequent visitor too – the young man who had called for the ambulance came and visited me several times during my stay, to check that I was OK and also just to give me some company to help pass the time. It was so kind of him, and endeared me even more to the Swedish people.

By Tuesday I was able to finally stand and walk very slowly on crutches. I finally had a shower, three days after running the best part of a marathon! By this time, I had missed my flight home, so was having to negotiate with the insurance company to arrange a new flight and also transport from the airport to my home. We finally got a flight arranged for the Thursday morning, with a taxi to the airport and another to take me home from Heathrow. The Swedish taxi driver was a very cultured man, in a very smart car (a Mercedes, I think). He was more like a chauffeur than a taxi driver! The staff at the airport were great, and I got particularly close attention from the air stewardesses, which was nice. The only worry was that I was in an aisle seat, and the two passengers sitting to my right decided that, rather than me getting up to let them through, they would climb over me to get to their seats – a very anxious moment, as I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone even touching my leg at that time.

Things became very British when we landed at Heathrow. The ground staff had been expecting me, but had brought the wrong sized wheelchair to take me off the plane, so I had to walk down the aisle. After that though, everything proceeded well. The taxi driver had a large people- carrier, so there was plenty of room for me to sit with my leg stretched out, as I was unable to bend it much at this time. I phoned ahead and a dear friend of mine was there to meet me. She had prepared everything for me, making sure I had plenty to eat and drink, some cheap joggers to sit around in, and a warm quilt to wrap around me as I recovered in front of the television.

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