I’m scared

Not only that the invasion of Ukraine by Russia could escalate, but yes that scares me.

What also scares me is my health. I do not need another disability.

On 1st January 2022 I went cycling making the most of the low traffic on a morning when many are sleeping off the New Year hangover. It went well. At first.

This is a story about swans.

On the way out I passed a number of swans on the River Calder between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe. I counted over 40 before I vad to stop because there was traffic approaching. There are traffic lights on the bridge at Steanard Lane, and even more swans on the other side. I’d get a picture of the swans later on. I mean 100 swans is a lot on a river where swans are seen, but only a few at a time. 6 or 8 is ordinary, this flotilla was exrtaordinary.

On the way back is where it all went wrong. I’d been mostly on the greenway, but back on the bridge, I was slowing down to stop. Over 100 swans were about to have their picture taken.

Except they weren’t,

The bike went sideways. Fast. My left shoulder hit the bridge wall. Fast. The shoulder hit the ground. Fast. I stayed on the ground as wave of pain came over me. The short story is a kind local man with a cycle rack and a Land Rover got the bike home and me to A&E.

There sas not a scratch on the bike and I never got a picture of the swans.

In A&E was seen by a doctor who looked at my x-rays, saw that nothing was broken, nothing dislocated and after only two exercises of how high could I lift the arm forwards and how high to the side (not very high at all) gave me two paracetamol and a codeine told me to use the arm and if it was not well in six weeks to come back to A&E,

Six weeks later, Wednesday 16th February

A little over six weeks later, having not slept through a single night because of the pain, I was back in A&E as the doctor requested.

Receptionist: Have you seen your GP?
Me: No I was told to come here by the A&E doctor.
Triage nurse: Have you seen your GP?
Me: No I was told to come here by the doctor.
New A&E doctor: Have you seen your GP?
Me: No I was told to come here by the doctor.

This new doctor seems to know what he’s talking about. He is also a cyclist and rides the same make of e-bike as me. He has also torn muscles in both shoulders in different accidents and needed them stitching together. He puts me through several different exercises, far more specific and more painful than the ones six weeks earlier. He says:

I have torn muscle one of the four muscles that move the shoulder joint.
It needs stitching.
If there is not enough muscle, and they’re often isn’t enough in elderly people, it cannot be fixed.
He will ask my doctor to refer me for a CT scan.
With an injury like this, I should have been back in A&E after one week.

This news is worse than I feared, but it is also reassuring because knowing what is wrong is better than the worry of not knowing.

The next day a text arrives from my GP. I have an appointment to see him in one week, Thursday 24th. I call the surgery on the same day that the text arrived and point out that I am in a lot of pain and it needs to be urgent. I get a call from my GP on Monday 21st asking about referring me, saying there is a queue for NHS treatment, do I wish to go private? I opt for NHS.

Saturday 26th a text arrives at8.30pm. My referral has been received but waiting times are long due to the Covid pandemic and they will contact me when there is a vacancy.


So why am I worried?

Because I cannot exercise the shoulder much, I’m doing what I can, but the longer I wait the less muscle there will be to operate on and I could be left with a permanent and painful injury. I already have arthritis in my right ankle, but the pain from that is far less than the shoulder pain even though it is weight-bearing. Also, I use elbow crutches to get around, but using them puts pain through my newly injured shoulder. My mobility has been compromised. I do not think doctors take me seriously enough about pain because nearly 16 years with arthritis has given me the ability to mask pain and still get on with things despite what I’m suffering. I am finding it very difficult to take the mask off. Masking only hides my pain from others, it does not diminish what I feel.

Another disability is not what I need. More chronic pain is not what I need. I’m frightened.

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