It’s been a tough week…no, it’s been an earth-shattering week.
Let’s start way back
Around the beginning of December last year, I hurt my ankle badly, so badly that I had to pull out of a marathon and drop down to a half. For about two to three weeks after, it was painful, swollen and difficult to walk let alone run on. I cooled off on the physical activity and switched to cycling instead.
First step – go to someone you trust
It’s always difficult to know what to do for the best in these situations but after years of running, I always turn to my physio first for his advice. Gareth at A2Z Elite Health has known me for a few years now and helped me through Marathon des Sables training alongside many other events. He has a wide knowledge of all sports and is keen to share his enthusiasm and advice with you. Honestly, I always learn something new after my sessions with him and I can hand-on-heart say, I trust him completely.
Having examined my ankle he said I should go and get an X-ray done and an MRI scan done for there was still swelling (we were in week 3) and he couldn’t be certain what was going on.
Take their advice on board
With no hesitation, I headed to A&E the next day for an X-ray and tried to get an MRI scan on the NHS. The X-ray came back with no bones broken and the advisor said it was just a sprained ankle which I would need to rest. If I wanted an MRI scan, I would have to get a referral from my doctor. Right, so I made an appointment with my doctor and explained explicitly that I wanted an MRI scan done. He put my referral in to a local hospital.
Don’t be too keen to get back on the road
Weeks past, the swelling went down and I no longer felt pain in my ankle. Things felt OK and I started to run slowly and work on the strength around my ankle by attending various barre and Pilates classes. After breaking my arm last year, I was intent on recovering properly.
As well as working on my strength, I also chased this MRI scan. I called the doctor, hospital, doctor again, hospital again to get answers as to when I could have an appointment. It was always a vague answer – when there’s an appointment available with the physio (yes, you have to go see a physio first before they refer you for an MRI), in six week’s time, there’s a waiting list.
Pursue your goals
Frustrated at the lack of action, I took it my own hands and was lucky because my dad had added me to his health insurance with Benenden. They referred me to a call with a physio, then I saw an actual physio who after discussing my concerns referred me for an MRI scan. Benenden then contacted me and helped me locate private hospitals nearby and within a week, I had my scan including a rather fancy DVD that you need a disc drive to take a look at.
All this happened within around 10 days.
This isn’t meant to be a dig at the NHS, I’m just writing to highlight how valuable having private health insurance can be, especially with sports injuries. And the following illustrates why:
On Monday, my doctor’s surgery called to tell me the MRI scan showed I had a fracture of the calcaneus (that’s heel bone to you and me). I avoided Google, dropped into the surgery on my way home from work to collect the letter and went straight to A&E the next day.
An hour passed and I saw someone in A&E who told me to start wearing an air boot to offload the weight. They then said I could have an appointment with the fracture clinic a week later. It was at this point that I broke down. Another week for answers was the limit.
I’d been chasing, trying to sort myself out, ensure I’d recover safely, do all the right things and I’d have to wait another seven days for advice.
So I cried and refused to leave until they gave me an earlier appointment. Am I proud of myself? No. But it was my last resort. I was not going to budge as I’d already wasted enough time and I was angry about the whole situation. If I hadn’t have pushed for a MRI and done it privately who knows what damage I could have done. If I had the MRI back in December, I could have been further ahead in the healing process.
My point is when you’re frustrated, you just want someone to help find a solution and emotions can get the better of you. It’s just a shame that they took over in that chilly A&E reception at the Royal Free Hospital. It worked though. They gave me an appointment for the next day where the specialist told me to wear an air boot, stop most physical activity (including swimming) and return in two weeks.
I’m honestly not sure. Gareth called me from Rio to offer some advice on what to do and I’m trying to work those crutches. It’s a mission though and disheartening. My ankle doesn’t hurt, I’m not in pain but I still have to hobble around London on metal sticks trying to stay mobile and get on with my day-to-day life.
As I found out last night, tube stations are a nightmare on crutches. You also can’t shop when on crutches or even walk fast from the bus stop to work. All I want to do is run in the sunshine and get involved in EVERYTHING happening at the moment but instead, I am where I am. At home, sitting at the dining table with my leg in this heavy air boot thing ordering my poor long-suffering partner to make dinner, buy me lunch and basically do everything I can’t as a non-able-bodied person.
The only way I can see to prevent me from going mad and moping (which I have a tendency to do) is to have a plan. I’m going to take up knitting and finally get into baking. JOKE (there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me).
No, my plan will consist of daily non-weight bearing exercises to do at home. Followed by a bit of cheeriness from my friends (sorry if I can’t get out much at the moment). And then when I am able to run again, a schedule to work to. It is a major setback and everything is up in the air but it will not stop me from racing and enjoying being fit and healthy in the long run.
If you have anything you think would help me keep fit that doesn’t involve putting weight on my leg, please let me know below. I may even post pictures at my feeble attempts to do it and include my rather fetching air cast boot. You never know, it could be a new look at London Fashion Week next season.