William Frederick – Hip but grounded!
If you had been in Amsterdam observing Agent Bertram’s antics, some of you may have noticed him walking with a pronounced limp. This is because I (William Frederick) have had for a long time, a dud left hip. Over a period of four years I gradually came to the conclusion that we renowned authors are not made to bear such pain. Following the finest tradition I tried to pass on the painful limp to someone else but my recipient, Agent Bertram, was having none of it.
Things came to a head, half way down an old Amsterdam staircase made of ridiculously small steps. Our trusty Agent stopped and peered suspiciously upwards, looking through the ceiling and into the bowels of my laptop above, shaking his fist and shouting, “Hoy William Frederick! Yes I can see you… I have blooming well had enough of your referred pain. Please take it back and let me get on with my sleuthing. A Secret Agent needs to be mobile and at this rate I’ll end up like Ironside. Just because I’m a fictional character in a book, doesn’t mean that I don’t have feelings. I know that you don’t want to have the hip replacement operation but you’ll just have to jolly well lump it. Now get it done! So there!”
I could not disagree with Agent Bertram and so, on a sunny Monday morning three weeks ago, my Beloved drove me to a large hospital in Glasgow. Here I was admitted into a ward for ‘people with dodgy bones’ and the very next day I was operated upon.
The operation went well, so I am told… and so did the screaming afterwards. As the epidural anaesthetic wore off it became apparent that the pain relief drugs that they had given me weren’t working. The surgeon and the anaesthetist both came up from theatre during their lunch break and skilfully diagnosed some measure of agony. “Well done you!” said I writhing on my bed.
The pain relief team arrived and quickly sussed that I was in acute pain bordering on the levels inflicted when one is forced to watch a Ronald Reagan movie. They soon realised that I was immune to the pain relief drugs that they were giving me, as I had been taking them for four years. Morphine too, had little effect.
They next tried Ketamine. Now there’s an experience that I don’t want again! I felt as though I had suddenly been sucked into the innards of a microcomputer and had become one of its active components. I was a mere sub-processor in a grand jigsaw made of wriggling electric spaghetti. However, the pain had gone.
And so begins our catalogue of disasters.
Relieved of pain, I began to scheme. “How do I get out of here and back home”, was my main thought. So I did what any self-respecting chap would do and flattered the socks of my physiotherapist. After a period of softening she warmed to me and told me that my release was based around my ticking certain boxes.
Box – 1. Can the patient walk around the room aided by crutches?
Box – 2. Can the patient climb some stairs?
Box – 3. Can the patient use the loo unaided and attend to matters of personal hygiene? (The answer to that is – If anyone else tries, the patient will run away, leg cast and all!)
Box – 4. Can the patient dress himself unaided?
Box – 5. Can the patient do some rudimentary bar exercises like a ballerina?
I did all of these things despite sweat pouring off my face and dripping to the floor and I was duly discharged. Beloved drove me home at a slow pace avoiding what seemed like one-in-three of the potholes on our one hundred mile drive back to Argyll.
Beloved is my life and I am hers. We spend all of our time together twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. The wrench of separation was most difficult for me to bear and Beloved has made the two hundred mile round trip to Glasgow every single day. I hobbled from our car and once I had entered the house I howled like a baby, so mangled were my emotions.
Beloved prepared a fine Vegetable Rogan Josh with Mung Daal pancakes and Gujarati Carrots and Cabbage. A feast fit for a king! We sat and ate and watched a couple of episodes of StarTrek – The Next Generation. Bliss!
At 11pm exhaustion set in and I retired to bed. Beloved followed me after an hour and we cuddled up together with me lying in the ‘hospital regulation – flat on your back’ position, where we fell into the sleep of the just.
At 3am I awoke with a start. There was a loud clunk from my hip and then a searing pain shooting up and down my leg. The hip had dislocated…
I have suffered physical pain before but even skin grafts were as nothing to this. I had no idea that they made pain in such a concentration. An ambulance was called by a very worried and tired looking Beloved and half an hour later two ambulance-men sauntered up to the house and announced that they couldn’t get their ambulance up our track.
Luckily the track has two entrances and the second one is just about ambulance worthy. Beloved gave them directions and the driver whizzed off and returned fifteen minutes later. In the meantime a very Scottish sounding Paramedic attempted to get a line into my arm.
Chaz as he was called, tried for an hour before he finally found a vein that had not collapsed due to the shock. However he eventually found a vein and got a line in and the guys slid a PAT Slide under me and got me onto a trolley with an encouraging scream of agony from me.
Once into the ambulance I was to find that these sleek-looking vehicles are no more than a builders van with medical equipment inside. They have virtually no suspension worthy of mention. Be warned!
The half mile of farm track down to the main road is poorly maintained by a truculent farmer and provided an exquisite level of tortuous agony before we reached the main road. However the bumpy ride did not stop here as the trusty ambulance found every pot hole that the logging trucks have lovingly carved out for us. Ambulance travel is not what I would recommend to anyone whom I liked.
On arrival at the local hospital I was X-rayed and my dislocation confirmed. There is a Helipad at the hospital so I thought that at least the journey to Glasgow would be a quick one. Not so. A hip dislocation is very painful but not considered life threatening enough to warrant a flight in our shiny new Air Ambulance so I was pumped full of even more Morphine and whisked by road to Glasgow, all one hundred bumpy miles of it.
My leg is now in a plaster cast after the hip was manipulated back into its socket by a nice man called General Anaesthetic. Actually he may have been called Doctor Two as the Morphine has made my memory a bit funny. I know that the surgeon was a monkey, of that I’m sure. I am two weeks into an enforced bed rest of nearly three weeks, all the time, flat on my back.
Bring forth the day when I can get this damned cast off and start my next regime of physiotherapeutic box ticking!