After RAAM nick puts his feet (foot) up

Well the deed has been done.  I spend six and a bit days with a team cycling across America and then come home and within a few days have an operation on my leg which leaves me helpless and reliant upon Leigh to help me out with just about every task.

The operation was planned after I went to see the specialist in January to see what exactly was causing the pain in my right heel.  The pain was only apparent in the mornings but was particularly apparent after I had run the previous day.  The result of all of the X-rays and MRI scans was that I had two bone growths on the rear of my right heel, one being a bone spur and the other a ‘Haglunds’ (a growth of additional bone on my heel).  The spur in particular was causing the discomfort as it was interrupting the smooth surface of my heel on which the Achilles tendon would slide and was slowly damaging the Achilles.  This damage was more apparent after a nights sleep when the Achilles became inflamed and resulted in the tightness of the tendon and the need to hop around for quite some time until I had managed to stretch it out and get back to a near normal gate.
The only course of action was to grind off the spur and Haglunds to recreate a smooth running surface for the Achilles.  Unfortunately, the only way to access the bone growths is to cut through the Achilles vertically and spread it apart.  Once the bone was ground off the Achilles could be repositioned and my heel stitched up.  To ensure recovery is swift and no lasting damage is done, my leg requires two weeks in a cast and then a further four weeks in a specialist ‘ski boot’ removable cast, after which a course of physiotherapy will be required.

So, I now find myself on the settee with my right leg propped up on pillows, taking pain killers.  Despite the pain killers my heel still feels like it has been beaten severely with a cricket bat!  Still, hopefully the pain will subside quite quickly and I will just have to deal with not being able to carry anything around as my hands are filled with crutch handles.

Nick with his feet up

Nick with his feet up

The other thing that surprised me is that when I first awoke after the operation I couldn’t feel my leg due to pain killing injections but my throat was very sore.  It seems this is from the tube that would have been inserted whilst in theatre, nothing drastic but something I wasn’t prepared for.  It’s still a bit sore now but only when I eat, which is often at the moment and something I need to watch.  I can’t eat the same amount as I usually do and not exercise whilst staying the same weight.  I really don’t want to put on weight whilst I’m laid up.  Starting exercising after such a long break will be hard enough as it is, let alone whilst carrying more weight.

The trip to the hospital and operation were actually very pleasant.  I had my own room and there were lots of nurses and assistants looking after me.  I was only in overnight but was thoroughly spoilt by all concerned.  I hadn’t experienced a general anaesthetic before and was amazed at the complete loss of the time whilst I was in the operating theatre. Once awake I was constantly monitored until after I had eaten and peed (peeing seemed particularly important) had my leg plastered and was ‘checked out’.  I say checked out, as the hospital was more like a hotel than a hospital, not that I’d want to go back regularly but the experience overall was pretty good.

Leigh is now having to help me big time as although my manoeuvrability on crutches is good I can’t carry or move anything so Leigh (what an absolute star) is pandering to my every need.

I have been ‘signed off’ for 6 weeks but have no chance of getting bored.  I have plenty to do including catch up on some reading, do a few blog entries and try to write about my RAAM experiences as well as a list of things Leigh would like me to try to get round to.  Clearly, all of these jobs are non physical jobs but jobs which I normally struggle to find time to do.  It will be nice to be able to ‘blog’ a bit more and also take a well earned rest from work.
It’s already two days after my operation and I am sure the 6 weeks will whiz by and I won’t get anywhere near the amount of things I would like to do, done.  But I will hopefully fully recover from my operation and at the same time recharge my batteries.

I’ll update you again soon, in the meantime there’s a TV programme on ITV 4 on Saturday 5 July at 20.15 about RAAM.  I don’t think it is about this years race as it too soon after the event but I think it will give you an insight into RAAM and what Leigh, me and the team went through.

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2 responses to “After RAAM nick puts his feet (foot) up

  1. Hi Nick,

    I was just diagnosed with the same condition as you and need the same surgery. How has your healing progressed and do you have any recommendations about the surgery?
    Thanks.

  2. Hi Glen

    I am sorry to hear that you need surgery but at least it can be planned and isn’t an emergency. That would be one of my tips, if you can plan it plan it at the end of your race season or at a time where it will least interfere with your life. Sure, it will affect it whenever you have the procedure carried out but you can try to minimise the inconvenience.

    If your operation and recovery takes the same course as mine, you will have to plan to have someone in the house with you for the first two weeks as you will have to use crutches and won’t be able to carry anything so unfirtunately need someone to wait on you. It’s a real hassle but there’s no other way. After two weeks I came out of a cast and in to a boot and was allowed to put weight on it. I clearly couldn’t walk any gear distance but I could get around without crutches an so relieve the burden of my wife as I could make myself a coffee and carry my laptop etc. The first couple of days mobility is limited but it improves quite quickly.

    With regards to the surgery, I had it under general rather than a local as they advised this due to the smell of your own bone being ground is not pleasant. Apparently they could do it under a local but as I don’t have any bad affects from a general I opted to be asleep at the time of the procedure. You may decide on a local though. They also used pain killing injections so I couldn’t feel my foot for about 9 hours. It was horrible when I first awoke as I could neither feel of move my toes but I guess that’s better than being able to feel the pain.

    I’m not sure if you have had an operation but your throat is also likely to hurt due to the tubes they insetr. This was sore for about 4 days.

    I have my first pyhsio today and hope to see a speeding up of the recovery. That’s an advantage of the ski boot over a cast, they can start physio long before they would be able to if a cast were used and so speed the overall recovery.

    I guess my main advice would be to expect recovery to take longer than you think and get in plenty of books and access to a laptop for internet and other work and a TV to break your day up.

    All the best and let me know if you have any specific questions and let me know how it goes.

    Kind regards

    Nick

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