Saturday, 18 November 2017

The long road back...

It's looks like I won't be fit for work for 6-8 weeks. At least. My GP signed me off for 2 weeks to start with... So now I have plenty of time on my hands, but can't do many of the things I like to do in my spare time. I can't ride my motorcycle - at first I'm not even sure if I still have a motorcycle, or where it is, or what state it's in. Is it still at the side of the road by the scene of the crash? Have the police arranged for it to be collected and stored somewhere? Or has it been stolen? As usual ringing 101 for the police is fucking useless as it's impossible to speak to a human being and ask anything. I've informed my insurance people, but they don't know anything about my bile's whereabouts. After a couple of days I manage to track it down to a storage compound in South Mimms where the police had arranged for it to be taken and stored. Probably at an extortionate daily rate. I'm in no state to go out there and deal with it, but I arrange for the insurance company to pick it up. I still have no idea what state it's in, but I suspect it will be written off. In the meantime I am offered the use of a 'Courtesy bike' - there is a slight problem in that I'm physically unable to ride a motorcycle at the moment and won't be fit enough for quite some time! And I certainly won't be needing one to get to work for a while either... In due course my bike is written off as I expected, but I'm not told what the damage was. I realise that I will never see it again. This makes me very sad.

I've had to get used to losing things over the last few years, but this is harder than most things for me. I loved that bike and the freedom and excitement it gave me - it was by far the best bike I'd ever had.

A couple of weeks later I'm on eBay looking to buy a new electric toothbrush. I casually look to see what sort of motorcycle I could buy with the meagre payout I've just had from the insurance company - fully realising there is no way I could ever come close to replacing it 'like-for-like'. I see a few similar models to mine but older. Then I see something that at a glance looks similar to mine but very cheap. Closer inspection of the photos reveals a machine very similar to mine - with a smashed up front end. It's my actual bike! This doesn't do a lot to cheer me up - quite the opposite. But at least I can see how badly damaged it really was. Actually, it looked quite repairable - assuming the frame wasn't damaged, but would need a fair amount of money spending on it even though only the front end was damaged. Apart from the front it still looked nearly new (although it wasn't) and the mirrors weren't even broken - usually one of the first things to get smashed in any motorcycle accident. I'd only recently spent a load on having it serviced and MOT'd as well - it was in pretty good shape overall before the prang so it was really sad to see it in this state. At least the petrol tank was nearly empty - I was going to fill it up on the way home so at least I saved about twenty quid on that! I received a Road Tax reminder about two weeks after the DVLC had written to me to say I was officially no longer the registered keeper. WTF?

Another of the things I like to do in my spare time that I now can't is to play my guitar. It will be some time before I can do that again - I really don't know how long. I've been told the usual recovery time from a broken wrist is 6-8 weeks, but I assume that's just the time before you are able to do basic everyday things again. In the meantime I have to put up with my guitar sitting on a stand next to my desk - taunting me! Eventually I can't take any more and I have to put it away in it's case out of sight. Playing guitar is going to take a lot of reach and flexibility in my fingers and flexibility in my wrist too - I suspect this will take quite a bit longer to fully recover from. I've managed to fuck myself up pretty badly in various different ways apart from the obvious things like the pain and discomfort, inconvenience, and  not being able to go to work. I've lost my bike and probably ended my days as a biker. Not because I won't physically be able to ride, or because I don't want to ride again after this - I'd get back on a bike tomorrow if I was physically able to. I just don't think I'll ever be able to afford to buy and run another bike. Actually, even if I had the money available now I wouldn't buy another bike straight away as winter isn't far away now. Unfortunately my timing was bad as far as the accident was concerned - if only I could have pranged it a month or so later I could at least have enjoyed the last few weeks of warm(ish) dry weather before winter sets in. As it is now I have to sit at home for weeks looking out the window thinking 'It would be nice to be out on the bike today'.... This all makes me very sad indeed - I feel like an important part of my life and also who I am may be over.

Going back to my guitar (or not) there is another way I have fucked myself up pretty badly - also because of my bad timing. Like with the bike - if only I had pranged it a month or so later. I came to grief towards the end of September. At the end of October I was supposed to be playing a gig with my band that was of particular importance to me personally. Not only was it the first gig the band had played in quite a while, but it was also the first at a venue I'd been trying to get into for a couple of years - hopefully the first of many gigs there. Half the usual lineup of the band were going to be either out of the country or otherwise unavailable, but I'd managed to arrange deps with two excellent local musos who are also friends and were really keen to play together - it might have crashed & burned, or it might have been a unique and really fun and exciting show. We were all really looking forward to it. I was hoping to be able to pull something special out of the bag and really give everyone a night to remember - and get us booked there on a regular basis. I was gutted to have to pull the gig - and also possibly lose my chance of finally getting a foot in the door at that venue after all this time. I was in the middle of learning several new songs to really rock the joint as well. Not only did I lose that much anticipated gig with my own band, but I was also due to play bass in a punk band for a couple of gigs in October as well - one at a festival in Guildford, and another at one of my favourite venues in Camden. That band has a gig in December that I'm hoping to be fit enough to play, but playing bass is going to be harder on my fingers and wrist than 6 string guitar so I really can't tell at this stage if I'm likely to be fit enough to play in time. If only I'd smashed myself and the bike up at the end of October instead then the consequences would have been far less severe in so many ways!

Not only did I break the 'wrong' wrist for guitar playing, but I also broke the one I write with! Huh? Yes - although I am left handed I play guitar right handed. I made a point of deliberately teaching myself to play guitar right handed from the very start - to avoid the future difficulty and expense of a lifetime trying to find left-handed guitars or play right handed ones awkwardly 'upside-down'.  I also shoot a pistol right handed, but use a rifle left handed! Yes, I know it doesn't make any sense - but I don't make much sense much of the time anyway.

At home for ages with loads of time on my hands - or one of them anyway. Plenty of time to waste on social media? It's not so easy when you have difficulty typing... Although I can't hold a pen in my hand I can type a little to let people know of my situation, but I am very slow and it's hard work mostly with one finger - so I do very little communicating online. The trouble with social media is that the more you post, the more replies and notifications you get - which you also then feel obliged to reply to. I get fed up of this at the best of times, so I decided to keep a low profile to avoid making more work for myself. 'But you are writing loads on here!' I hear you say? Well I'm writing all this weeks after the accident when I am finally feeling more able and getting more use from my left hand.

Progress with my recovery has been slow but steady. After getting out of hospital I had my wrist in plaster for two weeks before my first appointment at the Fracture Clinic. Then I had more X-Rays before the doctor pronounced himself happy with my progress so far - but decided I had to spend at least another couple of weeks with my wrist in plaster! The first plaster cast I had became looser and more comfortable after a few days when the swelling in my wrist started to go down. The second one stayed tighter and was less comfortable.

The doctor at the Fracture Clinic said I didn't need to see my GP to get signed off sick again as he could sign me off there and then - which he did. For another six weeks, which was a lot more than I was expecting! Still, it saves all the hassle of trying to get GP appointments. In the meantime, I still had to make regular visits to my GP surgery to have the dressings on my legs changed by the practice nurse. I got my flu jab on one of these visits so at least that killed two birds with one stone.

A further two weeks passes before my next hospital appointment. The doctor finally decides I can be free of plaster casts and the sling - but I will have to wear a splint instead. This is a great improvement as it it more comfortable - and most importantly, I can take it off at night and for washing myself. In the following week I definitely start to make faster progress with getting my wrist and fingers working again, but there is still a long way to go.

I'm supposed to be getting physiotherapy at the hospital too, but I somehow seem to have slipped through the NHS net (not for the first time) and haven't received the expected letter with an appointment. I suspect they sent the letter to my old address - which the hospital somehow had even though I moved seven years ago and told my GP and everything else connected with the NHS my new address. I even corrected this at the hospital but I think they still  sent the appointment letter to the wrong place even though I had already confirmed the hospital now had my current address! I was instructed to ring the physiotherapy dept if no appointment letter was forthcoming - so I rang the two numbers I'd been given, but no one answered the phone even though I was ringing during the hours mentioned in my previous letter! Once again, my faith in NHS administration is failing even though the care I have received on my visits to the hospital has been excellent. The doctor at the Fracture Clinic on my visit said to just go round to the physiotherapy department in person while I was in the hospital if I couldn't get through on the phone. So I did, and eventually got an appointment - in three weeks time - over seven weeks after being discharged from the hospital.  In the meantime I've been doing a little physiotherapy of my own invention - bending and stretching my fingers regularly. After getting the cast off my wrist I am finally able to at least attempt to play the guitar again - it's very difficult but I think also good physiotherapy.

Nearly eight weeks after my prang I finally get to attend my first physiotherapy appointment. Instead of the expected torture it's actually OK and the physiotherapist chap is very nice and helpful. I learn some interesting and useful things to aid my recovery along with being given a list of exercises to do. After eight weeks my feeble attempts to play guitar are getting better too: I can just manage a few chords, but not bar chords. I can play a little lead guitar, but only on four out of six strings. My thumb is still too stiff and restrictive - I haven't got full movement in it, and my fingers don't yet stretch as far as they used to. However, I make sure I try to play guitar every day - and every day there is a slight improvement. Slowly but surely I am making progress....

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