Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Whats this? Blue skies and sunshine. Its about time we had some decent weather, just a shame I can't enjoy it with my bike. It has made walking into uni a bit more pleasurable though, and I was actually too hot sitting outside reading yesterday!

I managed to sort out everything yesterday that I needed to thanks to some very helpful people in the chemistry department. The general overview was that they'll do whatever they can to help and make allowances where necessary for appointments and stuff as well which is good to know. Needless to say I was feeling a lot happier having sorted all that out!

I do need to come up with a new story now, there's only so many times one person can explain the same mountain biking accident - I think getting attacked by a bear sounds more exciting! Not that I mind people asking, I much prefer people talking to me about it, and getting their questions out of the way rather than just staring!

My first lecture is an organic one, I've now got a digital voice recorder which will hopefully take some of the pressure off with regards to taking notes and stuff, but we'll have to see how that goes. I can't help but feel that with almost a week until lectures start I should probably do some reading (of actual chemistry as opposed to Lord of the Rings which I'm currently working my way through!), but thus far I've decided the textbooks are all too heavy to even pick up off the shelf!

Despite having made the "decision" to not decide yet I'm still spending an awful lot of my (extensive) free time contemplating whether I want to be doing the 3 or 4 year course and what my view is on having tendon transfer surgery. These are both quite big decisions in the grand scheme of my life and although I think I know the answer to both of them I can't help but question whether I've chosen right. If anyone wants to make the choice for me it would be greatly appreciated (OK...these are things I really need to decide myself!).

I'm hoping to forget all about all the boring things that are going on though as I've signed up for the first Ramsoc walk of the year. With the good weather set to continue over the weekend it should be a really great day for a walk around the Castleton area, hopefully with some good photo opportunities too (I really need to start using my camera more again). More to come on that after the walk no doubt.

I'm also really itching to get back on my bike, I'm trying to avoid the "just get on with it a ride" option because as much as I'd love to I don't want to cause myself any more damage, either directly by riding or by having an accident because I can't ride properly so I'm researching options for small modifications to make riding a bit easier for the time being. Also being having a look at recumbents, need to find one to have a play on!

As I'm probably not doing anything of interest for the rest of the week (except trying to escape the usual student social activities of the evenings!) , I shan't bother boring you with any more posts until at least after Ramsoc-ing; so have a good rest of the week!

Monday, September 26, 2011

26/9/11 - The back to "school" blog

Well, I arrived back in Nottingham on Saturday, and so far so good. Lectures and whatnot don't start until next week (as this is fresher's week), so I've got a reasonably chilled week ahead of me, with just a few things to get done. I'm looking forward to lectures starting (sad I know), but that is what i came to uni for after all! I think our first lecture is an organic one - hopefully it'll be good!

Saturday was spent unpacking and rearranging various things in my room until I was satisfied, I think there'll be a lot more moving of things to come! Yesterday I had a nice slow morning, and then spent a few hours with a friend (and we maybe played with some lego...), she now lives a 40 minute walk from my house, but I avoided the rain so the walk was actually quite enjoyable :)

Today was the dreaded dentist...
Actually, and rather surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. We had the usual arm related conversation, and I think he felt a bit sorry for me - I lost count of the amount of times he asked if I was OK while he was doing a little filling (it really was tiny, no anaesthetic needed!). I think the fact the only thing I was paying attention to while I was in "the chair" was the fact that he really needs a hair cut suggests that having been seeing this dentist for 2 years (after a really rubbish dentist for the year before that), I might have actually gotten over my dentist fear - although if I move back to near home after uni it might be a long way to travel for a dentist appointment! Either way its all (hopefully) over for another 6 months!

My arm isn't causing too many problems just yet (except I can't open my bedroom door with a cup of tea now as both the door and the tea are too heavy!), although I haven't properly cooked anything yet, and I will have to at some point! I'm having to use it a bit more which I expect is a good thing in the long run but it does mean its getting a bit sore, and I suspect its related that I want to spend far more time than I should asleep during the day... (I feel I'm ageing prematurely!)

Tomorrow is my busiest day of the week with 3 meetings spread across the day (I shall let you know how they go in due course), so the plan is to take some sort of packed lunch and a book with me onto campus to save trekking between here and there more times than necessary, as much as I enjoy the walk (especially while the sun is shining) it just takes so much longer than riding in!

So any way, I'm doing OK. Think I'll get back to lounging on my bed listening to the radio (see, prematurely ageing!). More updates when I have something to talk about!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

21/9/11 - 68 hours to go!

The start of the uni term is getting closer and closer (although thankfully so is the arrival of the student loan!), in 68 hours time I'll be back in Nottingham!

Still have mixed feelings about my return; I know it sounds strange but I'm actually looking forward to lectures (and tutorials) starting again, although less so to labs! I expect this year is going to be quite difficult (because its 3rd year and because of my arm), but having done well up to this point I'm determined to work hard and get some good grades! With the exception of labs I see no reason why I shouldn't do OK; it might take me longer to write things but hey, I don't really do going out so I usually have a lot of time for working!

I'm also really looking forward to getting out on some walks with ramsoc again, having not been cycling nearly all summer I've missed spending long periods outside, not to mention the fact that most of the members are awesome! The "bionic" hand might slow down the addition/removal of layers though so I hope they're all feeling patient :P Hopefully the walks should make for some exciting blog posts and some nice photos too.

Its the actual being away from home that worries me; I've relied on my family a lot over the past couple of months They've helped me do things that I struggle to do now, and have kept me (reasonably) cheerful, not to mention its nice having people around that I can talk through my options with. I'm sure I'll be fine once I get there, and if not there's always skype!

My 2 hospital visits of the week are over, the first one was to see my consultant - a very quick appointment but there wasn't much new to say, other than I have to decide my our next appointment if I want to go ahead with surgery or not (I have no idea yet!). I got another splint made for me in hand therapy - tested it out last night and I was quite impressed; it did wonders to stop my arm hurting over night (although sadly thats not a long lasting effect), but at least I ought to be getting a bit more sleep! No more trips to the hospital (barring an emergency) for 4 whole weeks; very good news as far as I'm concerned because even seeing the place makes me feel ill now :(

Went shopping with the grandparents today, got some more food to take to uni with me, and helped them with some big/heavy items (they don't drive). Really enjoyed the drive there and back - singing very loudly in the car, and shouting in between songs (may as well when no one can hear you!), did wonders to "cleanse the soul", either that or it means I've gone barking mad...

Despite my very strong dislike of banana I'm in the middle of making a banoffee pie (the things I do for my family!)so I ought to get back to that!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


6 days to go until I move back to Nottingham! (although by move I mean vaguely live there but with frequent home visits!). With that comes the start of lectures and labs for what is maybe my final year (everyone says I should do 4 years but I'm still not convinced!), not to mention a dentist appointment on the first day back - grumble grumble. Despite how long I've had off I really can't believe that the holidays are over!

I have to say, it has most definitely not been the summer I had in mind - a bit more fun, and a lot less arm issues would have been good for a start, but hey - these things happen and you have to go with the cards you're dealt right? Despite being injured and therefore not being able to do a lot of the things I've had planned its still been a pretty good summer...

2 weeks in France with the family was good, especially having not had a holiday last year, and I don't suppose I will next year either. And it may sound odd but I've really enjoyed working this summer too (sad I know...), but I suppose working in a bike shop is bound to be good fun at least some of the time!

My last week at home is going to be spent packing amongst other things. I'm determined to crack it this year - remember everything important but without taking lots of stuff that I won't touch all year! I also get a grandparent shopping trip where hopefully I'll get a few supplies to keep me going for a little while.

I've got 2 hospital appointments too (yay?), I spent an awfully long time on the phone earlier in the week trying to sort one of them out as someone rang and told me to cancel (I didn't want to!), but eventually was told that my consultant does want to see me! Hopefully they'll be useful trips - I'm hoping my consultant can tell me why my arm still hurts so much, and then the hand therapists are sorting me out with a night splint to accompany the "bionic" hand which now gets worn in the daytime.

I also need to come up with a solution for my bikes! Looks like I won't be riding properly for a good while to come, and I expect when I do it won't be quite the same as before but in the mean time my parents are keen for me to give it up (apart from transport obviously) and want me to cut down my flock of bikes (although there are only 3!). I'm hoping that when I come back from uni they'll all still be waiting for me, in principle I'd sell one (could do with the cash at the moment anyway!), but having spent the time choosing the bits to go on them I know I'd never get one the same again, and I don't know which one I'd rather do without once I'm back riding again!

That's probably enough brackets and exclamation marks for one blog (or possibly enough for 2 posts!) so I shall stop rambling on now. I expect there'll be at least one more pre-uni post before the end of next week so ciao for now!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

14/9/11 - not a real blog post!

I feel the need to clear my head of its whizzing thoughts, in a vague attempt that I might get a good nights sleep and it means I can get in some typing practice with this darned contraption that its now helping my fingers move.

It wasn’t going to be for anything other than for me to re-read but having written so much I decided that it ought to be a blog post; so I’ll start at the beginning...

I was having an pretty enjoyable summer until I had a crash in a mountain bike race (and my only shot at a podium all season!). The experience of this is something I can’t help but think about. The crash itself happened pretty quickly and I can’t say as I remember it but what I do remember is the poor boy (who’s brake lever had impaled me!) asking me if I was OK as I sat up and realised I had a gaping (and rather gross looking) hole in my arm and a very helpful man who put his hand over it and laid me down.

The laying down for ages waiting wasn’t very exciting, my arm was hurting and it was rather cold (despite the blanket that someone nice had found for me!). I became aware pretty quickly that I couldn’t move my fingers properly and I worried that I’d done some damage to my wrist as it was hurting. It was starting to feel pretty odd, I thought at the time it was just the man holding my arm too tight but it turned out to be the swelling!

A rather disorganised paramedic turned up in a rapid response car so she took me to A&E in that, complete with sirens; she had offered me oxygen too, seen as I nearly fainted when I stood up, but I assured her I was ok, as she seemed to being having difficulty finding anything in her car! There was a bit of a panic when we arrived at the hospital as the assessment people thought I’d broken my arm, and quite badly at that (and from the swelling I could see why!), so I was rushed through to x-ray (well, once they’d given me morphine!). Thankfully nothing broken so they cleaned me up and I had 7 stitches!

Definitely having issues with finger movement but after they got one of the consultants to come and have a look at me it was put down to swelling and I was sent on my way home, with an appointment the following week to see the consultant again.

That night proved to be one of the most painful nights I’ve ever had (once to morphine wore off!) but thankfully after that the pain was ok. I had 2 appointments with the consultant who I didn’t really like. He wasn’t very nice and felt the need to basically ask me multiple times if I was making it up! He referred me to Leicester (25 miles in the wrong direction from where I wanted to go!), where that day I saw 3 consultants, all of whom were baffled and decided that surgical exploration was the way to go. At my request I was referred to my local hospital for this.

This turned out to be a very good thing as the consultant I now have is really nice, and seems to vaguely know what he’s doing. So just over 3 weeks after the crash I had nerve tests (which were rather unpleasant) and then surgery to see what the problem was (after spending all day in hospital the previous week waiting for an operation only to be cancelled!). By this point I was managing pretty well (only had 2 fingers that wouldn’t straighten), and it didn’t really hurt, but I was optimistic they could fix me!

Glad it was postponed as it was done in a slightly different (and much nicer) part of the hospital. Very surreal laying on the bed being knocked out, having been put under before I wasn’t worried about that bit, but was still odd as one minute I was having a nice bike related conversation with my anaesthetist and what felt like the next I woke up feeling terrible (I assume in recovery); I fell straight back asleep and woke up again on the ward, it was already getting late and I was the only one there - they tried to keep me in overnight as I couldn’t eat (well I could eat but it didn’t stay inside me for very long!) and I wasn’t waking up very well, but I convinced them I was ok enough for them to let me go home as I didn’t fancy a hospital stay! At this point all I knew was my operation had been 3 and a half hours, rather than the expected one and that it hurt a lot. I assumed from the extended time that they’d found the problem and fixed it. 2 days later my hand was still numb from the surgery and swelling so I didn’t know whether it was fixed or not but I went to see the consultant - he said it was a mess inside, and that they’d followed the path that the brake lever had taken all the way through (apparently it was close to coming out the other side!) , and they found the main nerve was in tact but there was a lot of scarring so they had no chance of looking at the small branches.

After frequent visits to the consultant, with my final one before uni being scheduled for next week it has become apparent that, now, just over 6 weeks since the op I am definitely worse off than I was before - having lost the majority of the use of my hand and wrist, and am still in quite a lot of pain. I think my consultant was genuinely upset when I told him that it was worse, especially because he doesn’t really know why. It may have been their fault but I don’t regret having the op done. It does mean that more surgery is looking likely, a tendon transfer, probably around New Year, although it may get delayed until the summer (depends how I get on at uni). This will at least give me some movement in my thumb. Wish I didn’t have it hanging over me though because I’m already worried about it so I hate to think what I’ll be like when the time comes to actually get it done!

The hand therapists have made me a rather cumbersome splint which holds my fingers straight (but still lets me bend them), very useful in principle, but I’m a bit disappointed as it is holding my wrist in such a way that makes some things more difficult than before. It needs a few adjustments though, to make it more comfortable, and more effective (only got it yesterday) so will persevere with it for a while at least, especially as they put a lot of effort into making it!

I am now also rather worried about uni and beyond. If my hand isn’t working, what chance do I stand of getting a job in a lab? I’ve got until late october/ early november to decide what to do but at the moment I’m pretty sure I’ll switch onto the 3 year course, and therefore (hopefully) graduate in the summer; rather than doing 4 years and getting a masters out of it. No huge rush to get a proper job straight away.

In the mean time I’ve got to continue with uni - taking notes and doing lab work (although hopefully getting some help from disability support for this) and somehow manage to do my own cooking, cleaning, washing etc. No idea how I’ll cope as how much I can actually do depends on how tired/sore my arm is. Attempted to make dinner for the family the other night but had to get help to chop and stir as I just couldn’t do it! Might be having a few more take aways and ready meals this year...

On top of that I’ve got my usual silly worries about getting things sorted in my appointments. I’m not good at actually speaking to people a lot of the time, and I know monday is my last chance to sort out any problems I have with my consultant before I go back to uni (I have tried and failed on 2 occasions to tell him that I’m still in enough pain that I haven’t been sleeping properly!). Not to mention the fact that because I can’t write I’ve barely done any work for uni over the summer. Oh heck!

Oh, and there’s money to think about, somewhere down the line my calculations went a bit wobbly because I thought I’d be ok if I bought myself a laptop for uni (seen as I can’t write...) but it turns out that if I deduct my rent and phone bill from my student loan, I’ve got an awful lot less to live on that I thought so I think it’ll be hello overdraft again!

All of this, along with the fact that I’m one of those people that really doesn’t like change and unknown situations and whatnot, has led to me having a generally grumpy demeanour, and the fact that this hand business is looking like it might be permanent is starting to sink in. I know it could have been a lot worse, and I’m very glad that it wasn’t, but for me, this is still something pretty big and scary and its difficult to be happy when I think about it!

On the plus side, I did pluck up the courage to ask my land lord about bringing Ned the hamster back to the uni house with me. I’d been planning what I was going to say for the last 2 months and still struggled to say anything at all but thankfully he said yes, so at least thats something to be happy about. Having the hamster around beats actually being sociable with most other people!

Oh, and I’ve now managed to get back on the bike! Can only ride one handed, and not very far, singlespeeding up hills with only one hand holding on is difficult! But its something! :)

OK, well a lot of that seems a bit insignificant but I’m a worrier by nature, and its enough to keep me awake at night!