Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Stockholm Marathon and me, part 3

One of the first problems I had to overcome was that fact that my bedroom and bathroom were upstairs. I could barely walk across the room on the crutches, so tackling 15 steep stairs was quite a challenge. I managed to work out a method that involved two set of crutches – one pair downstairs and one up. I could then climb the stairs with one crutch and holding onto the banister. At the top of the stairs I collected another crutch that allowed me to walk to the bathroom. – I would then reverse the procedure on the way back down. Another problem I had was getting my meals from the kitchen to the front room where I could sit and watch television whilst I ate. Initially, I solved this by putting the plate on a tray which I then pushed along the floor with the crutches as I walked. I upgraded this concept later when I found a little wheeled platform, ostensibly for moving heavy plant pots around in the garden, but ideal for moving along the floor across the room and with less effort and spillage than the tray!

One thing I did have a problem with was the blood-thinning injections I had been told to administer by the Swedish hospital. In some countries it is normal practice after an operation like mine to take such a substance to avoid a potentially fatal blood clot from developing. The drug needed to be injected into the tummy, subcutaneously. However, I found that I developed a very sore area with the injections and they became painful to administer. I asked my doctor if I needed to continue with them and he said I could stop, so that was a relief. Funny to think that, now I have diabetes, I inject myself four times a day, and often in the very same place as those blood-thinning injections! However, insulin pens have much shorter needles, and rarely hurt.

About two weeks after returning I had the staples removed from my leg. The nurses commented on how neat the surgeons had been, and it is true because now the scar is barely discernible. I was off work for three months. During that time I gradually moved back into the ‘real world’, but it wasn’t until three months that my consultant allowed me to put weight on my ‘bad’ leg. I had become quite adept at caring for myself, although the support of my friends was always there when I needed it. I developed a technique of shopping at the local co-op which involved putting the basket on the floor and pushing it around the store with my crutches. Many times I was asked if I needed help, but I always declined. What people didn’t realise was, that this was an adventure for me – the chance to see a little bit of the world, to browse the shelves and select whatever caught my eye – so I didn’t really want people to just fill my basket and speed my purchases.

Something that I found quite remarkable during my recovery was the amount of food I consumed! As a person who now has diabetes, I think back on that time with horror, amazement and envy. Horror at the thought of what all that food would do to me now, amazement at the fact that, even though I was consuming probably 6,000 calories a day with barely any activity at all, I actually lost weight – and envy at the thought of the loss of freedom I now face to consume whole battenburgs or boxes of jaffa cakes without penalty.

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