An anniversary of sorts

IMG_1720I arrive at the hospital for my 12 month check up – a few weeks early as the physio has suggested. I sat in the waiting room to be greeted by this advert on the table.

The irony is not lost on me, I have spent the last few weeks watching so many people go off skiing, all coming back with stories of how it is the best snow they have seen for years. I still find it really hard to believe that we set off as a family on that beautiful March morning for a days skiing and I ended up in Moutiers hospital by the evening. Max and Lucy have really missed the skiing, they keep showing me photos their friends post on snapchat of how lovely it is. I miss it too.

Adam comes to get me and takes me for an x-ray ‘ That’s a nice lot of metal you’ve got there!’ he comments, as he takes the shot.

‘That’s what everyone says’, I reply.

It’s the first time I have seen Mr F for 6 months so we have a lot of catching up to do. When he asks me if I have been skiing, I look away, when I reply no, a bit embarrassed that I have not been ‘gung ho’ enough to go.

‘I don’t blame you’, he said. ‘ I have just got back from skiing and the week before I went I saw five fractured shoulders – all from skiing holidays. It put me off going completely and I was just glad to get back in one piece’.

Five!! I can’t believe it! Five in a week! How many fractured shoulders must there be in a year from skiing?

The lovely Mr F reviews my x-rays – ‘You have got a significant amount of metal in your arm which makes it very difficult to see the bone, it does look like you have a shadow there so I am going to send you for an MRI to check the bone is fully healed. Your arm is still so very stiff, so we will discuss surgery with the results next week’.

He looks at the original x -rays, following the accident to see how the bone has progressed.

‘I remember when I first saw these, my heart sank’ he said, ‘not because it was bad for you, which I am sure it was, but I had no idea how I was going to put you back together again.’

I have the MRI and the following week we review the results. The good news is that the angle of the head of humerus is good now, it is in a good position.

‘The radiographer has commented that it is difficult to see because of all the metal but the bone appears to have healed well – so we will take the metal out. Hopefully you will have better mobility and less pain’.

It is a bit weird getting ready for the surgery. Last year I had no idea when I set off that I would not be able to use my arm for three months. This time I am fully prepared so have filled the freezer with food, changed all the beds and generally got organised for not being able to drive for a couple of weeks.

The surgery is later today – the 30th March. One year and one day since the original accident. Perhaps next year I too will be able to get back to what I love.

The trouble with insurance.

Last March, when we went on holiday, George started looking at holiday insurance. Now, George and I have very different approaches to this sort of thing. I would just buy bog standard cover, cheap and cheerful, hopefully you will never have to use it. George, meanwhile, likes to research and get a good value but solid travel insurance because who knows. Consequently, George spent a little bit more and got a ‘Gold’ standard travel insurance.

Before we go on holiday George always insists on printing off itineraries, tickets, policies, etc and putting in folders. I confess, I have been merciless in teasing him over  this level of fastiduosness.

When the accident happened we made it back to the apartment. I remember vividly trying to take off my jacket only to discover that my arm was so swollen that it was virtually impossible. I was desperate to get to a doctor to put me out of the pain of what I thought was a dislocated shoulder. George insisted that I wait while he located the insurance documents to take with us. I was so  irritated.

When we got to the doctor and had the x – rays, transfer to hospital,  and so on, George was insistent that we call the insurance company every step of the way.

The trouble started when I was in hospital in Moutiers. The insurance company refused to let me go home without medical supervision which they said would take five days. I actually took to tweeting them in the hope of getting some action ‘ @XXX healthcare – why are you keeping me from the treatment that I need? not goldstar service’.

Eventually I discharged myself and flew home on Easy jet. George, albeit under extreme duress, got agreement that the insurance company would pay for this flight although not be liable for my safety.

After the operation, when I was housebound I started filling in the insurance form. I claimed for accommodation, ski hire, lift pass unused because of the accident, all the medical care that I had received and travel home. I won’t go into the detail here but it took 7 months to settle the claim during which time I was repeatedly asked for information that I had already sent. To give you a flavour of the whole saga here is an extract from an e mail to them.

Please do feel free to ask for any information again – I am getting quite used to repeatedly sending the same information to you on numerous occasions. I was also asked three times for the name and address of the party that hit me – which again I supplied three times. This is the second time that I have sent the information that you have asked for above but hey ho – it’s only been six months since I started the claim with you 🙂

Finally, just before Christmas I had a letter of apology, the settlement and £50 to compensate me for my poor service. I was very pleased that George had been so fussy, without it I would not have had a leg to stand on.

Just when you think it is all over, this week I have had two separate letters from them. The first is to inform me, via a solicitor, that they intend to reclaim all their costs through my personal injury claim.

The second, somewhat staggeringly was to ask for my NI number. I supplied it to them. For the third time.


Some unexpected physio….

It is coming up to a year since I had the accident and there are still some things which I find really difficult. Getting the ticket out of the multi- storey carpark is one , getting my hand high and at that angle is a challenge. That’s OK though because I don’t go to carparks that often. Reaching cups, plates and so on is still a bit hard but I mostly do that with my left arm now. The one daily task that is quite difficult still is getting dressed. Anything which has to go over my head, dresses, jumpers, vest tops, T-Shirts are all really, really tricky. Getting in and out of jackets and coats is also quite an effort and I have some jackets which I still can’t wear. Then there are shirts and dresses with little buttons at the back of my neck – virtually impossible but I swear and struggle and generally I get there.

It’s been really cold lately and as I have been up to the stables and out with the dog a lot I have been reliant on layers. A couple of thin tops and then a sweatshirt normally keeps me  roasty toasty. But my word, it is a pain in the arse putting them on. Not only that, but because I don’t want to stay in horse stuff all day I change when I get home. Then I go swimming as well which is another change in and out of a swimming costume – with clothes on and off when I get there. Sometimes I can change in and out of clothes 6 or 7 times a day. When you think each time is an effort ( and it really is an effort) it can be quite dispiriting, frustrating  and painful. Getting dressed should be easy! Toddlers can do it!

Then there is the getting stuck. This is quite claustrophobic and painful. Before I broke my shoulder I think the last time I got stuck in my clothes I was about six, now it happens relatively frequently. When I get stuck I find the best thing to do is go backwards, put the offending item back on and then try another system to take it off. That usually works.

This weekend, I went up to the yard completely layered up. When I came back and walked in the house I very quickly got too hot and wanted to take a relatively tight sweatshirt off. Unfortunately I got stuck but as I was in the kitchen decided that the quickest and least frustrating route would be to ask George to help me out.

‘Do you think you can help me out of this?’ I said. George came over to me, and laughed as I was headless.

‘No problem’, he said and started pulling, tugging and manoeuvring. Poor George, there was a time when getting me undressed was far more exciting. After a few minutes he realised that he wasn’t getting anywhere and called Max over to help.

Max was all gung ho about it and determined to show his Dad how easy it was to get a jumper off. So, he grabbed the bottom of the jumper and just yanked it over my head, pulling my arms up as he went as you would any kid who was tying to get a top off. Max is over 6 foot and I am 5 foot 5 inches so very easy for him to pull the top up quick and hard. Unfortunately, what he forgot is that my arm still doesn’t go above about 100 degrees – but it does go a lot further when it is yanked by an enthusiastic strong 16 year old determined to show his dad how easy the task is.

‘AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!’ I yelled, as the top flew over my head. ‘Flipping heck ( or words to that effect) that hurt!’ I cried!!

‘Max, you need to be careful – that’s why I was going slowly,’ said George.

‘I’m so sorry,’ said Max, ashen.

But guess what – I can move my arm a little bit more.