Agony does funny things to a person. I was lying on the floor of the squash court with a spectacular degree of pain coming from my ankle, and an odd notion in my mind that if I scratched my fingernails over the boards I might feel better. Sadly it didn’t work. I didn’t know it at the time but my Achilles tendon had ruptured, leaving a 2cm gap between the ends. I also didn’t know it meant nine weeks off work and a very long healing process. My playing partner, trying to lighten the moment, asked if I wanted to play on.
I declined the offer and drove to the nearest A & E where I went into a series of casts, starting in the “ballerina” position with the toes pointing down. Then I was introduced to the joys of crutches. Sometimes I wonder if these things cause more injuries than they treat. In effect I had three limbs incapacitated and it’s incredibly hard to carry a cup of tea or negotiate stairs. I also tended to drop into chairs instead of reclining gracefully and the toilet seat cracked under the pressure of my rapidly descending body weight.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. My wife would set me up in the morning with the TV remotes. I entertained friends and had the long, unhurried conversations that only an invalid can. I even developed an affection for daytime television, and felt I made a real friend in Judge Judy. And when I got bored, I caught a bus to my son’s place and helped him waterblast his house. As a consequence I ended up with a pretty damp cast, and after a few days it got really whiffy. This ensured I had a seat to myself on the trip home. ACC cut in, so it wasn’t a financial disaster and they even gave me an exercycle to aid my rehab. Don’t judge me, but I looked at it for several weeks and then used it to dry the washing on.
Despite such self-neglect, and without surgery, the ends of the tendon found each other and healed up with full functionality. I couldn’t go back to any jumping or running sports, but I guess the ultimate test was the Everest trek, which my legs completed successfully, though my boots fell apart.
And since this article has no medical advice at all, I feel I should compensate by offering a little competition. If you are the first person to spot the misplaced apostrophe close to my surgery and email me, the prize is a couple of movie tickets. Good luck!