Thursday, 26 March 2015


No, this isn't a blog about a sequel to the Oscar winning Daniel Day Lewis film of 1989, but I feel like I've been through an epic performance just the same.

Last Friday, on the eve of the Spring equinox, I was admitted to hospital for a foot operation that I had waited on for some time, with the goal of preserving one of the damaged joints in the big toe of my right foot. At the same time, just for fun, it was decided to carry out two further operations, one to realign the toe better, and one to shorten the toe marginally to reduce pressure on the joint.

It's fairly accurate to say I was a little anxious whilst waiting, but I was also looking forward to the point of recovery and going back to things I have not enjoyed for a few years, such as walking the mountains of Scotland, which would make me very happy.  By coincidence the day of the operation was International Day of Happiness.

It was an early start at 7.30am, and the first hour was taken up with pre-op, checking and rechecking every detail. It was a little disconcerting, when, in each of the five sessions I was asked to state my name. Thankfully they put a name wristband on both arms, just in case I, or anyone else, forgot. The last thing they did made me laugh, as they drew an arrow pointing down my shin to the big toe. After all this attention to detail I thought someone might next hang a little card on my big toe saying "This one".

Then, very quickly, I was taken through to a small waiting room where I changed into the rather less than fashionable hospital gown, which is supposed to tie at the back, but the ties had long since vanished. It was a little disconcerting to sit down on the cold, vinyl-covered chair. In the room was a small TV, which was showing the solar eclipse event live. One of the locations was in the Faroe Islands, where a plane, high above the clouds, was filming the moment of totality. I felt it was a good sign as, just as the diamond ring appeared, the waiting room door opened and an attendant said, "they're ready for you now".

I have no end of praise for the staff at the hospital, especially the surgical team, as they got me ready to go through, keeping me calm. The last thing I recall was answering a question about my film teaching and getting as far as, "well, every Saturday I . . ."  I think some close friends would like access to that drug when I start on about the film academy.

I woke up what seemed almost immediately, only to find myself wired up to monitors. This was a surprise. There were also a number of staff scurring around me, talking to me as I came round. The anesthetist arrived and told me that during the operation my heart rhythm became irregular, and so they were just monitoring things for a while.

All was well and I left just 12 hours after being admitted,  hobbling out on crutches with rather strange footwear, reminiscent of an over-sized Geisha shoe.

One week has passed and in all that time I have been limited to walking between the kitchen and living room, or bedroom and bathroom. I have had various visitors every day, bringing me all sorts of goodies, and Pauline, my closest friend, has looked after me in the evenings, cooking all my meals. Maybe I can spin this out a bit longer for more attention.

I know I'm desperate now to be more mobile, but the pain and stiffness is still very noticeable, even though I am off the pain killers. The thought of grabbing a hold of the big toe and manipulating it up and down is making me quite anxious.

I'm reminded of a classic John Wayne film The Wings of Eagles, when John Wayne is in rehab after an accident. He's lying on his hospital bed, staring at his big toe, and repeats to himself over and over, "I'm gonna move that toe".

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