The picture above tells it all. I’m not racing Taupo. This is me post surgery Friday evening. Things have moved very quickly these past few days and I don’t really think I can comprehend what a stressful, manic and tiring 36 hours Jo has gone through. This will probably come across best if I just tell it chronologically following on from the last entry.
Thursday morning I got up and ran to swimming. The foot was uncomfortable and I thought to myself that I’d better do an hours run that afternoon to get an idea of what running the marathon at Taupo would be like.
Following swimming I see the podiatrist. He looks at me running, tries various shoes and strapping but my gait has changed substantially. He says I should be considering just doing swim and bike. He asks me to hang around as he wants to speak to the sports doctor. I hang around for an hour and he tells me there’s no way I’ll be racing the Ironman and that Liesel, the sports doctor, has made time to see me in about 90 minutes. Pretty upset I head off for coffee. The sports doctor makes no bones about it. This tendon is critical and it has to be fixed, the sooner the better. She will speak to a foot surgeon and get back to me that afternoon.
I stay in all afternoon … pretty little to do other than mull it all over. I hear nothing, I call the clinic they’ve heard nothing. It’s 5pm I head out for a walk. Sods law whilst I’m out Leisel calls, luckily Jo is in and takes a message. I’m not to eat anything after dinner and have to head in to Mr Rhett Mason’s clinic at 9:30am the next morning. I will then wait there to be fit in for surgery. Provided no emergencies come in the surgery will happen that day (Friday, yesterday) otherwise it will happen on Saturday.
Jo and I have our flights booked out to Taupo for Saturday afternoon ! So I get my bike packed. up. At this point we’re under the impression I would be in and out of surgery in the day so I thought I’d be able to pack my bag saturday morning. I fire off emails to various friends in Christchurch to work out options for getting my bike to Taupo / the UK as there’s a chance I won’t be allowed to fly on Saturday.
Next morning in I go. I see Rhett – this surgery needs to happen as soon as possible. I’m admitted to a ward and wait. Surprisingly my surgery happens very early – I’m taken down at about 1:30am so i’m feeling really positive about getting out for the flight. The anaesthetist was a brit and after some discussion we discovered that he’d raced the LAMM in Loch Carron. That year Alan and I came 7th in the A Class and he’d come 2nd in Elite. We agreed it was a shame he had to put me to sleep and end our conversation.
When I came round in recovery there was none of the euphoria I remember from my knee surgeries because my foot bloody well hurt ! I think I was in there for a while because it was after 7pm when I got to the ward. The nurses were brilliant and really tried to help ensure I would be able to get my flight. The started the antibiotics early enough that they’d be finished in time. They also told me that I’d be unlikely to be allowed to go if I’d taken morphine in the past 12 hours
Jo came in and saw me. Her training had been rather distracted. The nurse told us we wouldn’t know for sure whether I’d be allowed out till about 10am the following morning when the doctor did his rounds. At that point we’d know whether I needed a different flight and / or to get my bike shipped. Jo now had the prospect of packing her bags and mine together with sorting out picking me up, getting to the airport and all without knowing what time I’d be getting out. Poor thing… reckon I had it easy.
For me I felt I’d be so much better recuperating in Taupo. We’re in nice hotel, it’s a lovely town to chill out in. Also it would be easier traveling with Jo. I was attached to a drip and had a button to administer morphine. After about 10pm I stopped taking any of the Morphine – aiming for 12 hours off it before the doctor came round. It was quite a nights sleep. I was pretty dozy but the pain in my foot came in waves and I had some zen like moments where my mind was purely focussed on it. At some point in the night the nurse came in and commented about me not using the morphine and I thought she said she’d remove it. Later on I rather regretted this and then next morning when another nurse expressed surprise I’d not taken any. I told her I thought it had gone ! It hadn’t. I got some tablets then which rather helped. Good for the mental toughness I guess.
Rhett came round at about 9:30am and gave the AOK to fly but I’d need to self inject some blood thinning stuff. He told me the tendon had retracted further than the 2cm shown on the ultrasound scan so he’d had to cut much further back up my foot to pull it back. This shows the urgency of getting this done since over time it could retract to the ankle. The nurse showed me how to do the injection but I’m not looking forward to self administering it after breakfast this morning. The staff were excellent – calling Air New Zealand, giving me a letter about needing a good seat and that I’m carrying these drugs. Called Jo, she got on to getting in to get me. They even called our Hotel in Taupo to let them know they’d be couriering all my papers up there. Back in the UK my sister was finding a foot specialist in London for me to see. My mum even offered to come out and get me and my bike (that made me cry).
Now to get me mobile. This was a real shock. I’d used crutches before but never when I couldn’t bear weight on the leg. This was hard and made worse by how uncomfortable the leg was as soon as it was hanging down. Thoughts of just chilling out in Taupo soon left and the reality of being stuck at the hotel for a week sunk in.
The journey to Taupo proved as interesting as I thought. Without time for more than a few steps on the crutches ahead of leaving all maneuvers would be tricky but at least for most of it I would be in a wheel chair. In and out of Sally’s van required a kind of shuffle on my arse. Getting on to the plane to Wellington involved some little forklift. The guy was real nice but seeing a young fit bloke I think he assumed I was pretty stable so I didn’t get to sit as the forklift moved up and across,… a slightly hairy moment. Then for the plane from Taupo to Wellington I decided I’d try to get up the steps on my own (I may as well learn) but I hadn’t realised that small plans like that have small steep steps without a solid hand rail. Another resort to bum shuffle was required. This was a journey I wouldn’t want to do again, the pain was not pleasant each time we flew … I think the reduction in pressure probably made the swelling worse.
At the hotel I soon found that using crutches from our room to the restaurant / bar is not only tiring but makes my foot throb. I’m going to spend today doing very little and keep the foot elevated to help relieve the swelling. I’m hoping that once thats gone down the foot will be more comfortable when I’m upright and I can then work on my stamina on crutches. The aim is to be able to get in to town to watch the race on Saturday.
There’s all the facts. How do I feel ? Completely and utterly gutted. I so wanted to race Taupo and definitely the 25th anniversary race. I felt in such great shape though the fact is I wasn’t – fitness isn’t just cardiovascular fitness it’s also a fit and healthy body. Mine clearly wasn’t. I was excited to find out just how fast I could go in this race but now I’ll never know what reward the incredible consistent training I’ve done in Christchurch would have reaped.
The prognosis from the doc is better than originally thought. The cast should come off in 2 weeks and will be replaced by something lighter. Will start on rehab then. He thinks about 6 weeks or so before I’m fully mobile again. There’s an outside chance I’ll be able to race Lanzarote.