Saturday, 29 March 2014

Progress, persistence, plaster

I'm still in plaster.  I should have been in Mallorca by now today, meeting other swimmers on my camp and looking forward to a swimming packed holiday.  But I'm not.  I'm home on the sofa.  I'm obviously very disappointed not to be going...but a bit of me is relieved as well.  Not to have to cope with a strange environment.  Not to have to cope with meeting new people and being sociable.  Not to have to push myself with my swimming.

My next appointment at fracture clinic is Tuesday, and I'm hoping for good news.  I recognise that that might be pushing it slightly as it'll be a day short of 5 weeks from the accident at that stage.  But I would desperately love to be out of plaster, and especially in time for the start of my next decade on Thursday.

I think the upcoming significant birthday is part of the reason why I feel so all over the place at the moment.  The last 5 months have been pretty difficult, and the broken wrist has just made it all much harder.  A few nice things happened in the past week, but mostly my mood has been low and gloomy.  I find it hard reading back over my previous blog when I was training for the half ironman and seeing how consistently I was achieving my training and improving; I think I am sorely feeling the lack of a goal in 2014.  Of course I have my plans to swim Windermere, but I am doubting my abilities given the time out of the water.  And I am basically doubting all of my swimming plans for this year and next year.

I just don't know what to expect when I finally get back into the pool.  I've been fortunate to never have a broken bone before, but this means I don't know how quickly things will come back.  I played the piano for the first time today which was doable (I'm encouraged that every day new things come back to me and it seems that the biggest limiting factor is the positioning of the cast which prevents me holding a writing implement), but felt very stiff.  I think it will be the wrist joint that will struggle the most.  But as soon as the cast is off I can be in the pool and kicking or doing one arm drills.

In terms of fitness, I will have lost quite a bit, but I have at least managed to exercise for at least an hour on every day since the day after the accident, either walking into work (5 miles/1 hour 20) or an hour on the recumbent stationery bike and some pilates/planking.  I'm pretty impressed with my elbow plank progress, from struggling to manage one minute 3 weeks ago, I determined that I would be up to five by the time my cast came off.  Yesterday I hit a 4 minute pb; Mr Just Keep Swimming said that it would be much harder to do five, so I was determined to prove him wrong and got to 5 today.  (I was pretty wobbly for the last 20 seconds as my muscles were shaking so much!).

I've also booked myself onto a Swim for Tri workshop over the Easter weekend.  I will be newly out of plaster by then, and having not been in the water for so long, I think it will be really beneficial to spend a weekend doing drills supervised.  I also have a great deal of respect for Dan and if there is anyone I want to help me get swimming well again, it is him, so hopefully I will be in a good state to go and spend the weekend swimming.  It'll also be a chance for a catch up with swimming twin Vicky (who has firmly said that she loves being twins but didn't want a cast to match mine thank you very much, even if it was pink...).

I suppose the best thing about this is that the injury is time limited and should hopefully fix fairly easily, even if the last 5 weeks have been a bit grim.  The cast also elicits sympathy and understanding.  The trouble with mental health conditions is that the prognosis is less certain.  It's less visible, and consequently people around me find it a lot more difficult to deal with. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

A post I couldn't have imagined writing

I last blogged in Tenerife, where I had been on an excellent swimming camp, caught the sun, spent time with friends and although I felt anxious about some things coming up back at home, felt positive about my swimming.  I made it to the pool on the Sunday after getting back for a gentle dip and was getting back into the swing of things on Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning at 6.50am, everything changed, as, en route to the pool, wearing my cozzie under my clothes, I was knocked off my bike at one of the two roundabouts that I cross.  I broke my wrist in two places and given a set of circumstances that are amongst the most challenging I have had to deal with.  The emergency services were fantastic, as were the two very kind people who jumped out of their cars and got me and my bike from the middle of the roundabout to the verge, and called Mr Just Keep Swimming, and by 8.20am I had been admitted to A and E and Xrayed.  (Should you ever need to visit A and E, I can recommend first thing...).  I refused to look at my wrist at all, and the radiologist was the person to tell me, without looking at the Xray, that it was broken.  Although I knew that things could have been far worse - I bumped my hip which came up in a nice bruise, but that was literally the only injury that I had - I was devastated.  There were 5 weeks until I was due to be off on my Long Distance Swimming Camp to Mallorca, not to mention the fact that it is many years since I have been for more than a week without swimming (approx 9?).

The next thing to happen in A and E was the arrival of the doctors, and to my amazement, one of them came in saying how sorry she was because of my swimming; she is a member of my triathlon club and has seen me post in our facebook group.  That was about the best thing that could have happpened as she understood how I was feeling, and she also held my hand whilst local anaesthetic was administered (Mr Just Keep Swimming was outside calling my parents), and she managed to get me some diazepam, which I'd been asking for since I got into the ambulance.  After a little wait for the anaesthetic and diazepam to work, it was time to traction the wrist to try to get in back into shape, although at that stage an operation looked pretty likely.  This is one of the most painful things I have ever experienced and to my shame I was screaming in pain.  I was put in plaster and xrayed again, and things looked good enough for me to be sent home with an appointment for fracture clinic the next day.

To cut the last 18 days down, I've been back to fracture clinic 3 times, had some very long waits, but I seem to have avoided the op so far.  I just hope that the bone is healing nicely and will be ok when they take the cast off which is projected for the 1st April.  I'm under no illusions now as to what things will be like when they take it off, I will need physio, and it will still be a while before I can drive, and longer before I can get on the bike, but at least at that point I'll be allowed back in the pool, assuming I can get there.  I had 8 days off work in total, and am on the second week of a phased return, where I will attempt 75% of my hours.

The last 18 days have mostly been very difficult.  I was initially unremittingly cheerful, almost as if the depression had taken a hit at the accident scene, but it resurfaced soon enough.  Having a physical injury that has limited coping strategies has made things far, far worse.  It is my writing hand, so no colouring in, and swimming has long been my biggest mood booster, and kept my eating healthy and stable.  It is very difficult to be reliant so much on other people, and being helpless has not been pleasant, although I have been very lucky that a number of people have been very kind, visiting me and helping me out, and sending cards and presents and taking the time to send tweets and texts.  I have also been lent a recumbent bike and have started doing pilates and walking the 5 miles to work, so I am trying to keep active and do what I can to maintain my fitness.  But it has been extremely tough. not least for Mr Just Keep Swimming, putting up with me.  There isn't really anything else I can do but to go through with it and hope that the remaining time passes as easily as it can.  Of course I am worrying about my swim season, not least because the day before the accident I had managed to secure a place on the Brownsea Island swim, and I have several other exciting swims line up.