As many of our regular 'visitors' will know I am a keen participant in various sports - distance running, triathlons, sailing, mountaineering and skiing. Over the past twenty years the appeal of the remoter Alpine valleys has lured me ever more to the slightly masochistic sport of ski touring or ski mountaineering as it is also called. You go up hill on skis as well as down - skins on the underside of the ski provide grip. There are no lifts to sully the tranquility, nature is experienced first hand and remote refuges provide welcome meals and accommodation.
It was on one of these tours recently that, after 32 years of uneventful skiing, it happened! An innocuous slow turn on the flat in heavy snow and the wrenching and tearing sensation , not to mention pain, in my ankle lit up my life in a most unpleasant manner!! Doing what I do I guessed immediately what I had done. The X-ray that followed my helicopter ride to civilisation confirmed the fractured fibula and associated damage.
Now back in the UK I have had plenty of time to appreciate life from a patient's perspective - surely something every health care worker should experience. Whilst many previous - and existing patients - have muttered somewhat joyfully that now it is my turn to do exercises, the whole experience has reinforced, for me, exactly how important it is to keep maintaining strength and mobility in all the bits that are not incarcerated. When I return to work I shall be more insistant on this, not less - you have been warned! I have seen my quads ( thigh muscle) melt away before my eyes just because I cannot do the regular activities that I normally do ( eg weight bear and run three times a week 4-9 miles each time). This has happened even though I am doing about 60 contractions hourly. Even though there is nothing wrong with my knee and I am bending it fully several times a day- it remains slightly stiff.
The reason I write this personal tale of woe is not for sympathy but to highlight that everyone who, for whatever reason, has some enforced immobility of a joint, should ensure they understand the importance of moving everything else. If noone has explained that to you then ask to see a physiotherapist. Unfortunately in the current economic climate this is not always readily available on the NHS - You need to see someone at the time not 2 weeks or 2 months later. If that is the case then it will be money well spent to see someone privately. A single visit, initially, will give you the information needed to get to grips with your own rehabilitation.
It is often thought that 'rehab' is something that begins after the bone/ tendon etc has healed. WRONG. By ensuring the muscles and joints adjacent to the affected area are maintaining strength and mobility a head start is provided for when the cast is removed. Be warned however that it is hard work to keep these muscles going - tightening them ten times two or three times a day is hopelessly insufficient. 50-100 contractions, six times a day is closer to the mark. It would be difficult to to do too much.
And with that ... I will hobble off and dream of when I can run again