Well this is disappointing. Way back in 2010 when I was writing my first ever novel, The War Wolf, I had to undergo major reconstructive surgery on my left foot. It was a very uncomfortable period. The hope was that this surgery would put right many years of problems caused by the slow but persistent deforming of my feet that is the result of having untreated Spina Bifida. Unfortunately, it has failed and I will have to undergo the treatment again.
When I saw my surgeon last year I was more optimistic. Although it was accepted that my foot was still being deformed the damage did not seem that bad and the surgeon suggested that a relatively simple procedure would suffice. That was not the case when I saw him earlier this week. Now it seems that the damage is much more severe than first thought and the surgery has to be that much more extensive. Instead of only three months I am going to be wearing an external fixator for as long as six.
At times like these it is necessary to try and weigh things up. Yes, I am going to be in a lot of pain and discomfort for several weeks. There’s no escaping that. Once the healing process begins, however, then things will calm down. Past experience teaches me that. Then I will have a long period off work that I might be able to use for writing. At the end I will have a foot that has been reconstructed for the third time and it should, hopefully, allow me to remain independently mobile for at least another eight years.
Despite the suggestion of writing this will not be a paid holiday. Wearing an external fixator comes with risks. It creates a number of open wounds that have to kept clean. The risk of infection is high and any infection can lead to septicaemia, which is very dangerous. Add to this the fact that people who have Spina Bifida should not have epidurals but also people who have Myotonia Congenita, which I also have, should not have general anaesthetic and the risk factor increases again. The myotonia causes other problems as well. As my muscles do not relax normally after exertion I have problems with my balance and have to be very careful using crutches. Also, the Becker’s variant that I have causes sudden weakness in the large muscle groups, in particular the arms and legs, which can lead to the limbs giving way without warning. Something else for me to consider when trying to move around.
There’s no escaping the fact that writing will not be uppermost on my mind over the next few weeks. I might not be able to post on my blog for a while so apologies for that in advance. I have decided, however, to keep a journal of my experience. I was surprised how much hospital care had changed between 2010 and 2012 and it was not for the better. I do not expect to find an improvement this time round. I know that sounds rather negative but it is an opinion based on experience. I have spent an inordinate amount of time in hospitals and seen first-hand the actual results of so many politicians ‘reforms’ of the NHS; it has never got any better. However, I do not want to end on a negative note. I will get through this ordeal and come out the other side with at least two more novels added to my catalogue and a foot that helps me walk a little bit better. You see, it is not all bad.