As I’ve mentioned before I have what I thought was a Brompton-induced hernia, although my mother now informs me that she and both her siblings had exactly the same thing, so the Brompton may be innocent after all. After a bit of a nonsultation with the surgeon (‘I’ll have to fix this,’ he says looking at my notes while I sit at the other side of his desk wondering if I have any say in the matter) I have now been fed into the NHS’s slow-but-inexorable (there are targets to be met) conveyor belt towards surgery. Today I had my pre-operative assessment, conducted over the phone with a nurse, which consisted mostly of me saying ‘no’ to a long list of conditions I might possibly or impossibly be subject to, from Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome downwards. Having established that I was the healthiest person ever to require the attentions of Bigtown Infirmary, I was then asked if I had any questions.

‘How soon will I be able to ride my bike again?’

Another set of questions followed – how often did I ride my bike, what sort of bike was it, how far, what kind of cycling was it – and I tried to convey the utterly innocuous and pootly nature of my bicycle riding, but to no avail. Nurse goes away to consult with her colleague and comes back with my sentence:

‘All patients are different, but it will be at least six weeks and then it will depend.’

Six weeks! Six whole weeks! This is a nightmare. Quite apart from my mental health and the maintenance of my cake-based lifestyle, that’s my means of transport gone. I am a mile and a half from the nearest bus stop, five miles from the nearest shop and eight miles from town. We do have a car and I can technically drive it, but the other half will likely need it. So I’m going to be monumentally stuck. Not only that, but I’ve got a vegetable plot to look after and that means a ton of muck to shovel (I didn’t even dare ask how long before that was going to be an option). Suddenly this whole rural idyll thing we’ve got going on is looking a bit fragile and dependent upon robust good health, which I’ve tended to take for granted. Maybe living in London with its plentiful public transport wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Turning to twitter for reassurance wasn’t much help. I was hoping everyone would say ‘nah, it’s nothing, you’ll be back on your feet in a week,’ but it seems the best case scenario might be four weeks (the worst-case was ‘borderline suicidal’) (that was from the cyclists; my unsympathetic writer friends just suggested I might want to take the opportunity to finish my book). I’m holding out for a busy autumn for the health service delaying my surgery as long as possible. According to the aforementioned targets, I will be scheduled to have the op by early November at the latest ‘but possibly sooner’. Six weeks off the bike in November and January doesn’t sound anything like as bad as six weeks in September and October. I wonder if it’s at all possible to ‘unjump’ the queue in the NHS?

Meanwhile, if you want me, I’ll be up in the vegetable garden shovelling manure. Or out on my bike while stocks last.

14 Responses to Ouch

  1. Sue Greig says:

    My sympathies. Don’t even have a boxed set of Danish drama series to lend you. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help. xx

  2. Alison Boyes says:

    When they offered me an op on my foot, they said I would have to lie flat for 10 days and not cycle or drive for six weeks. I cancelled the op and my foot got better on its own. If you really need surgery (doctors and hospitals are best avoided in my opinion :-)) you can always phone me if you need urgent transport. And the NHS must offer you surgery within 3 months. It’s the law.

  3. Rangjan says:

    Why don’t you invite us all round for a dig?

  4. disgruntled says:

    Sue – fortunately we do have series one of the Bridge which should help kill some of the time
    Alison – thanks for the offer! My understanding is that hernias will not repair themselves, and I think it’s probably better to get it sorted now while I’m healthy and will hopefully heal quicker. And at least I don’t have to lie flat! That would be grim
    @Rangjan – now there’s an idea

  5. Denise says:

    Oh, you have my sympathy! NHS recommend women stop cycling after a certain point in their pregnancy, which I am quickly approaching, due to the risks in the event of a fall from the bike. I tried walking the sum 2.5 miles each way to work for a week but my bones and joints just aren’t accustomed to the relatively high-impact exercise! And no cycling for 6 months?! Eh?!

    I was seriously considering an electric scooter like this http://www.argos.co.uk/m/static/Product/partNumber/1461019.htm which would allow me to terrorise pedestrians but concluded I’d be even more likely to fall, given the state of pavements here.

    Best of luck to you, hopefully we’ll both work or it somehow!

  6. Charles Lock says:

    i had a hernia repaired in the dark ages, 1980s, and was told to do no phyical exercise for 6 months. It was a bit sore for 2 weeks but once stiches were out it fixed itself very quickly. I was working on a mine withing 2 months with no ill affects. I cannot believe cycling would be a problem, but probably best not to lift the guilty Brompton into an overhead luggage compartment. Twisting and lifting are a no-no.

  7. Bob says:

    Um yes, “six weeks” was the mantra when I had my hernia fixed a couple decades ago. I did get fidgety after a couple weeks, and had no problems being ambulatory, but lifting *anything* was out of the question. Best of luck.

  8. disgruntled says:

    Well, I think I can manage to not lift things – far easier than not cycling, anyway

  9. […] Muck Spreader commenced today (while I can still wield a shovel) but first I had to re-dig the early potato beds because no matter how thoroughly you dug them […]

  10. Andy in Germany says:

    Having had three hernias it seems to depend: the first took weeks and the third took a few days to feel fine, which was handy as I lived at the top of 94 steps at the time. I expect they will be deliberately cautious but even so, take it steady.

    Perhaps you could get a workbike type thing and Other Half could be your chauffeur?

  11. wisob says:

    I remember the look on the nurse’s face when I said “…but I commute by bike” after she’d just told me not to ride one for however long it was (after a proceedure for “women’s issues”). People just don’t expect that one might actually use a bike for transport rather than leisure.
    (Oh and Denise upthread could have a Google on the subject of cycling during pregnancy, there’s a lot of stuff out there including accounts of women cycling to the hospital to given birth…)

    • Denise says:

      Yeah, I know some women cycle right up until the birth — but I’ve been nearly hit so many times on the suburban streets, and the potholes can be so bad, that I spend a lot of my time on my bike dodging around things. If balance does get to be even a minor problem, it will make my usual journey very difficult and I would start to worry about falling from my bike. It would be very different if my entire journey were on cycle paths or even just quiet streets.

      So I’m walking half the time, so that if I *need* to walk, I can do it without hurting myself.

  12. disgruntled says:

    @Andy – I suspect if the other half does any chauffeuring it will be in the car
    @Wisob – especially not around here, if you live in a rural area.

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