Saturday, 15 February 2014

What I learnt when I broke my foot

When you break a bone in your foot the hospital tends to put you in a cast and let you get on with it so I thought I'd list the things I learnt from the experience.

1     If you turn your ankle over it is possible to put all your weight on one point on the side of your foot.  If you are carrying something heavy, such as a grandson in a car seat, this may be enough to break the bone. As my bone density had recently been checked, because of my steroid intake, and found to be OK this could happen to anyone.

2     It is possible to move around for a couple of weeks with a broken foot before you go to hospital to have it checked.

3    You can learn a lot from books.  There's a passage in the book Touching the Void where one of the climbers tells the other he has probably broken his ankle (as well as his leg) as there were red streaks coming out from round the bruise; when I saw that on my foot that may have been the time to get it checked out.

4     When your foot and ankle are held rigid in plaster cramp in the calf muscle is agony.  You can't stretch the cramp away so just have to keep massaging the muscle until it returns to the right shape.

5    When you have a cast you can walk on you may not be able to use it outside as well as indoors without serious damage to your health.  My wife would have killed me if I'd trodden dirt into the new carpets.

6     When you walk with one foot in a cast it means you have one leg about 2" longer than the other. This twists your pelvis into a different position which can give you pain in both hips and your lower back for a couple of weeks.

7     How far you can 'walk' on crutches may be limited by pain in the hip of your good leg.

8     When you are finally free of the cast your pelvis will twist back to its normal position causing more aches and pains.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Am I an Alcoholic?

I recently read a good article on the BBC News site which asked whether the word 'alcoholic' was so contaminated by association with down and outs that perhaps we needed another word for those who still have some control over their life but have a drink problem. (full article here:

This made me think of my late step-mother who died from alcoholism but who felt so out of place at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that she only went once.  If she had fitted in it might have saved her life but she felt excluded for not depending on crime to feed her habit.

I also remembered a psychologist friend telling me that the person who drank a sherry 5 nights a week when they got home from work was more likely to be an alcoholic than someone who went out and got drunk 2 nights a week.  This is where the problem really starts because the person who is medically an alcoholic may not have a drink problem whilst the one who isn't addicted may have the problem.

This is personal for me as for the last few years I have been trying to work out if I was an alcoholic or not.  I had got as far as saying I couldn't say I wasn't but, at the same time, I didn't feel comfortable saying I was an alcoholic.  That I had a serious drink problem was beyond doubt but was I an alcoholic in the way the word is defined medically?  In a way the answer is irrelevant as I have to live as if I am an alcoholic but life is always easier if we can put a label on things.

The two occasions I have allowed myself a little alcohol are Communion services and family meals, particularly over Christmas.  This Christmas I allowed myself to have more that a small glass of red to see how I managed; with mixed results.  Outwardly it was successful as I didn't over drink and I really enjoyed the wines but inwardly it wasn't so straight forward.  I didn't serve the wine so I don't know if I'd be OK pouring it myself and I could feel myself getting tense inside - one of the feelings that made want to drink too much.

So I still don't know whether I fit either the medical or common usage definitions of an alcoholic but I have to assume I am or the alternative is just too bad.