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Going Forwards or Backwards?

Four weeks today still carrying on the same routine; breakfast in bed, nice and healthy to aid recovery, ease up, shower, potter about, possibly write some blog, do something anything within reason? Factor in exercises for the day, snooze if possible , lunch with wifey, potter some more, take drugs if required but trying to resist them, evening comes, weight and tiredness kicks in along with the burn, try to get settled in bed and repeat! You kinda get the monotonous picture now, Wednesday we thought try just one memory foam pillow again, in my mind it would let the neck fall back further and once asleep be relaxed enough to stretch them muscle groups out, well it didn’t induce snoring, bonus for Anita, I kinda think it helped the neck a bit. Going forwards or backwards!

Thursday 29th August again nothing to write home about but then it crept up on me late afternoon, into the evening a distinctive mood swing, a restless night just couldn’t get comfortable, up at 6.20am feeling shit, blank in mind, everything in my torso aching like fuck, sat alone with my thoughts and tears until 7am made breakfast that was a drag, even lifting a coffee cup seemed to hurt, bumbled into the bedroom, discomfort etched on my face, slumped on the bed in floods or sporadic tears, trying to find the words for Anita as to how I’m feeling instead of her guessing. I guess four weeks of being in pain, swapping to continuous discomfort, not really being able to do much (when normally active as) always reliant on someone mostly wifey to do stuff for you, cart your sorry arse around, not seeing improvement (in my mind/eyes), still possibly suffering from after effects of anesthetic, throw that in one emotionally unstable mind set and you hit your first low point. I couldn’t be arsed to do my exercises, just opted to hide myself away in bed at 8.30 not wanting to communicate just lay there feeling sorry for myself, sleep and awake in the same state of mind as above. Going forwards or backwards!

So offloading to Anita in the morning got it off my mind, albeit still in the shadows, trying to rationalise it. Body wise toes, feet, legs, hips all feel perfect as do my hands, fore arms, upper arms to shoulders 90%, eyes, ears and head all feel pretty normal to me.  My torso, shoulders, upper back and lumber, shoulder blades, neck, rib cage feel absolutely shattered, stiff, ache (if all your teeth had individual tooth aches) on a scale of just bearable to keeping you awake and making you feel like shit then that’s how most of my upper body feels and has done for weeks now, the edge now and then being taken off by painkillers, but the constant discomfort added to all the other bits does take its toll. Going forwards or going backwards!    

August 21st 22nd 23rd 24th 2020… Friday turning out to be a better day like a reboot/re-set button had been flicked, the rains had stopped and the winds died down a wee bit, caught up with writing, looking forward to seeing my mate Scott that evening and then more friends down for the weekend. OK I couldn’t join them on the bikes but I could get out and about in the woods always good for your mental state of mind.  Something did feel different over this weekend, not sure if it was the last lingering bits of anesthetic departing, I felt a lot looser around the neck and shoulders (still ribs and chest being most painful). No exercises over the weekend giving the operation and muscles a break from it, again seemed to have a positive effect, a try on the bike “nope still not feeling in the correct postural position” so that again can wait a bit longer.  The tiredness still comes late evening as the slow pour concrete feeling adds weight to your neck and shoulders, but a tadge bit more comfortable. Great getting out to the woods again on Sunday a longer walk with Tracey and Nathan (on bikes). Tracey testing out the hip fracture recovery on the Frenchman’s line and the sender out of Sleazy Mexican all seemed to be positive, I just immersed in offering advice, guidance, taking pictures catching up with other riders “good medicine for sure”. So here we are Monday and my positive feeling is still very evident, exercises at some point today with wife later I guess, the bike isn’t on the horizon yet but I feel it’s getting closer week by week. Going forwards or going backwards!     

27th August 2020 continuation of the exercise plan seems to be going OK, still have issues with the chest and rib cage, another sneeze yesterday felt like it ripped open again, a called the the GP who got up the CT scan done at MK hospital and advised no fractures or displacement to the sternum, or associated ribs! Hhhhhhhm. We concurred that it can only be soft tissue damage or cartilage at worst and localised anti-inflammatory and pain killers were the only solution as per a broken rib. DO NOT SNEEZE! Note to self.   Had a try in the van only a small journey felt OK but If I’m being honest like the bike not quiet there yet albeit mobility in the neck and shoulders is better day on day depending on my activity levels.  Diet wise we have added far more “aid recovery food types” to my diet, mind you with Anita being vegan as I said before we nearly had them all covered anyhow, so that’s the fuel side of things being taken care of. Waiting on the letter from John Radcliffe as to their up-date, also a local sports injury clinic as to an assessment and possible off site physio sessions, to again aid the recovery process, but more I hope get my neck’s range of movements to their optimum they can be with the surgery and metal structure in place.  Going forwards or going backwards!   

Week 6: post-crash and surgery and time seems to fly by when your not having much fun, storms have come and gone as has the last Bank Holiday which was meant to be a staycation pick me up with wifey, turned out not to be the case. A wet pre bank holiday start we’d booked a hotel in the Forest of Dean as Anita was joining the gang to go explore Mallards Pike on the Saturday. Traffic was bonkers on the A40 thought we’d stop for lunch in Burford but not a chance due to the torrential rain everyone makes b-line for shelter, cafes etc and we had a gin tour booked so time was ticking more so due to the traffic. This was the biggest journey I’d been on in the van felt OK apart from having to brace over any wallows in the road or sharp impacts. Local gin tour was good at Silver Circle Wye Valley gin, worth a visit if you’re in the area.  Found the Royal Lodge at Symonds Yat better be good for £150 a night, transpires NOT, no breakfast included and a £7 parking fee! What is it with accommodation in FoD it all seems stuck in some historical 70’s/80’s bubble or worse whether that be hotel, Air B&B, B&B it’s never been a great experience…..only one springs to mind the Forest Lodge self-catering chalets then I guess no outside influence.  Saturday was a sunny day at Mallards the gang duly arriving in time for the café to open. Looking on Trial Forks all the lines mostly come off the same hill so I thought at least I could walk up and take some snaps. Seemed a good idea at the time but only catching the gang once on Wookies middle I kinda started to sink into a low mind-set; want to ride but can’t ride and the whole thing starts on it’s downwards spiral add that into the mix of a constant ache all over your torso, your own self pity and bingo you have a “miserable git” I hate myself as this has a negative effect on Anita who try as she might can’t pull the dive bombing me up out of the dive of self pity which all took it’s toll on us both. Going forwards or going backwards!   

The following days were better. The weather cheered up, I joined the Sunday ride group and did some trail maintenance on Hogan’s felt good just to be in the woods, a mental mindset re-boot, standard coffee’s after to some kind of normality, it was good to see the gang. I’ve mentioned I seem to have reached a plateau or so I feel with exercises I’m currently doing, don’t get me wrong there is a marked improvement, no struggling like a novice escapologist in a sack getting my t-shirt off, bonus!  My side to side neck movements seem to be getting there too, but lifting my head back my front neck muscles and tendons seem to be in constant battle with my back neck muscles, small noticeable things like taking the last sips of a drink from a cup/can I’m having to lean back with my upper torso to achieve that, the same with shaving under your chin a real struggle crazy small little bench marks, but at the same time little goals to try and achieve in the big scheme of  recovery.  Going forwards or going backwards!   

6-8 week benchmarks seem the norm over medical advice on most things for your average person, but I guess that all depends on the severity of what’s happened and what’s been done to patch you up, I feel less foggy in my head currently and feel/think I can do more than I really should be!  We have been trying gravity assisted neck exercises laying over an edge with Anita supporting my head and chin and just gently trying to let the neck muscles ease back. Without a % gauge in my head it feels massive, reality is it’s small but it seems to help. Little fears creep in my mind as to will my neck ever be fully functional? We looked at mine currently against Anita’s and I’m miles off. Being realistic I guess the two titanium bars will restrict some movement backwards but as to how much I do not know, I sat on the bike this morning on the turbo and my head position is in a better position than a week ago, not as forced, but I’m not kidding myself it’s anywhere near being right as are the muscle groups in between my shoulder blade, still as taught as can be, but I’m going to take this little gain. With more aggressive sports physio due to start with Body Limits on the 15th September I hope we can see better improvements, yes it’ll hurt but my torso is hurting constantly every day in annoying tooth ache kinda way, so a little pain to gain and perhaps some tears will be a good thing .  Going forwards or going backwards!   

I have done some small jobs locally just simple tasks to keep me from going stir crazy, this is kind of exercise in a different way,  had another test drive locally again wasn’t too bad either but again as another gauge, my mobility wise is not too bad, things considering, but I am my own worst enemy constantly battling with my perceived what I can think I can do to what I can actually do, coupled with the constant ache come evening time I’m shattered. It was great  hooking up with James Fagan who again is a local lad who broke his back in the bike park the weekend before my crash and was in John Radcliffe the same time as me. Both on our own roads to recovery so I hope we can spur each other on somewhat, but I think between us we have pretty much broken a whole spine give or take a few vertebrae. So everything is kind of in place going forwards, the diet also helps aid recovery feeding those internal ambulance crews still working overtime fixing my body, loads of fruit and berries, nuts, eggs, chicken, fish coupled with healthy veg – don’t get me wrong there is still room for a few naughty snacks n sweeties. First outpatients at spinal injury is Friday 11th over at the Nuffield in Oxford fingers crossed they are happy with my progress.  Going forwards or going backwards! 

EGGS: It’s what’s on the inside that counts! Crack open some eggs to give your body a boost. Just one egg gives you a dose of protein, vitamins A and E, B-complex vitamins (including B12), riboflavin, folic acid, calcium, zinc, and iron. There’s a reason why eggs are among the first things served to recovering patients.

FATS: This one may come as a surprise to some people, but not all fat is bad fat! Following surgery, healthy fats help your body absorb vitamins from the other foods in your diet. It strengthens the immune system and can decrease your chance of infection. Other benefits of fats include providing energy and vitamin E, and they can also reduce the appearance of scars. Some healthy fats to add to your diet include: Avocados, Coconut Oil, Nuts, Olive Oil, Seeds,

FRUITS: Before and after surgery, you’ll want to get yourself a fruit bowl and fill it with all your favorites (simplify things and ask friends or family to send a fruit basket!). Fruits offer a good dose of vitamin A, C, carbohydrates, fiber, and antioxidants. One of the best fruits are berries; they may be small, but berries pack a punch! They’re also a great source of vitamin C, which has been shown to rebuild collagen and soft tissue, healing your incision site faster. Not a big fruit eater? Get out the blender and make delicious smoothies. There are countless recipes online! Some of the best fruits to consider in your diet include: Apples,Apricots,Berries,Grapefruit,Mangos,Melons,Oranges,Peaches,Tomatoes

LEAFY GREENS: Greens are like nature’s multivitamin, providing a wealth of nutrients a healing body needs. Eating greens will give you a healthy dose of vitamin A, C, and E. Not familiar with vitamin K? It’s produced by plants and is well-known for its role in blood clotting, which aids in healing. Need more proof that greens are good? They also give your body a hearty amount of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Go green with these leafy greens: Bok Choy,Collard Greens,Kale,Romaine Lettuce,Spinach,Turnip Greens

MEATS OR ALTERNATIVES: It’s surf and turf time! The protein and iron provided by meats are important to repair damaged muscles following your procedure. The amino acids in meat help regenerate tissue and aid in the production of collagen, which protects the skin and ensures effective healing. If you’re one of the 7.2 million Americans who abstain from meat, there are numerous other sources of protein. Vegetarians (and even vegans) can get their proteins from soy (it’s even better in the form of tofu), buckwheat, oatmeal, rice, quinoa, beans, hummus—even that old favorite, PB&J sandwich!

VEGETABLES: Vegetables provide some of the most important vitamins and nutrients to help your healing body. Vegetables also provide a source of carbohydrates, which give you energy and help stop muscles from breaking down. A healthy amount of carbohydrates will help you fight some of the fatigue you may feel following surgery. These vegetables are great sources of vitamin A and C, and add fiber to your diet, which can reduce constipation, a common side effect of pain medication and lowered mobility. You want to keep yourself from becoming constipated as putting strain on your body can compromise your wound closure, even resulting in wound dehiscence. Vegetables to consider include:Cabbage,Cauliflower,Carrots,Bell Peppers,Broccoli,Brussel Sprouts,Potatoes

WHOLE GRAINS: Most of us know the importance of fruit and vegetables, but often overlook whole grains, which is a mistake we must not make. This essential food group contains an extensive list of vitamins and nutrients, many of which are necessary for wound healing: protein and zinc to help repair tissue, iron to deliver oxygen to the wound bed, and magnesium to up the body’s defense mechanisms. Some foods to consider introducing to your diet include:Barley,Millet,Pilaf,Quinoa,Risotto,Whole wheat or rye sourdough breads,Wild Rice