Â Afterr another frustrating day trying to sort out my voice activation (Dragon) problems it was a great relief today to go to the golf club the weather wasn’t up to much, dark cloudy sky and even a few spots of rain at one stage. I carried my golfing umbrella with me as I have an attachment on my wheelchair into which the handle will fit. It is flimsy but I imagine it would do the job in an emergency, anyway fortunately I didn’t have to use it
I know the English are always moaning about the weather but really when I look back to my youth and remember the stiflingly hot August days when you could see the shimmering heat rising from the tarmac roads.like a mirage in the desert, and I wonder what happened to those real summer days. I know as one gets older ones memory becomes more blurred but this much I am sure, that the summer is not what it used to be.
Anyway I had a nice buzz around the golf course catching up with my various mates until, waiting in the rough 150 yards or so in front of the ninth tee, I was struck smack in the middle of my chest by a hooked tee shot from Griggsy of all people. I was extremely lucky because I had just turned my wheelchair around otherwise I could have been hit on my vertebrae with heaven knows what consequences. (I have already had one spinal fusion and certainly did not want another, at this stage). I was almost certain that I mentioned the circumstances of this accident somewhere in the last 300 or 400 pages of this blog but after doing a word ,search could only find one passing reference to it. It is such an incredible story that I will share it with you.
I’m sure the readers will recall that I have said, more than once that I used to play polo. Well, I was playing in Aden in a match against the British Army team, when Paul Wilthers – who, if I recall correctly, played off 5 and was the highest handicapped Englishman – came galloping up behind me shouting “On, on”. This meant that I should gallop as fast as I could towards the opponent’s goal,where, hopefully, Paul would land the ball after striking it at full gallop. He did drive it but, unfortunately not ahead of me but right into the back of my neck. It knocked the wind out of me and I galloped about 100 yards from the polo field before I was able to recover and pull up my pony. I did not fall off and after asking if I was okay we carried on. In fact I believe I played another three chukas after that. Apart from a bruise the size of a grapefruit there was nothing to show for the blow that I had received. There was no question of going off to hospital to have myself checked out, one just didn’t bother about such things.
It was some years later when I started getting numb and tingling sensations in my right arm and leg. As a result I was booked into Harley Street for an anagram. In those days I played squash most lunch hours at the Lansdowne club, just around the corner from my office. Anyway, I just finished playing when realised that I was going to be rather late for my x-ray so I ran all the way from Berkeley Square to Harley Street arriving around 15 min after the appointed time. The radiologist was rather cross with me for holding up a small team and I had to actually change in the operating theatre. They strapped me to a tilting table – like something ouy of an Edgar Alan Poe, horror story – in order to x-ray each vertebrae. When they got up to my neck they went backwards and forwards a couple of times and then the three of them got into a huddle. The radiologist then came over to me and said that there was something seriously wrong as it appeared from the x-ray that I had a missing vertebrae. We both agree that this was not possible but there was something that needed some immediate investigation. The first thing they did was to immobilise me by strapping me into a plastic suit and admitting me to hospital. The orthopaedic surgeon, George Bonney, came to see me and said that he would have to operate the following day. I must admit this was a bit of a shock as I had only gone there for an x-ray. However, I clearly had no choice and the following day was wheeled into the operating theatre.
When I came round a couple of days later all I could see was a forest of bottles and tubes, in fact there were 6 in all, two drips, two drains and two blood transfusions. I felt terrible rather likeFelix, that cartoon cat, who had been run over by a steamroller and completely flattened. When I was able to nail George he told me that they had slit my throat from ear to ear in order to access the spinal cord and when he had investigated he found that there had been four vertebrae smashed, in the polo acciden, three of them had fused but the 4th./5th. cervical had not. Apparently, it was hanging on by a single thin piece of bone, which George said, could have snapped with any sudden movement. Bearing in mind that I have just finished playing squash I realised how lucky I was. Apparently, they scooped out what was left of the vertebrae, in George’s words “like crabmeat” .What George had conveniently forgotten to mention was that he would have to chip some bone from my pelvis in order to make a couple of props between the fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae and then feed blood vessels into them in the hope that they would bond into the bones above and below. (I’m sure any of my medical readers will say I got it slightly wrong but in effect that’s what I understood happened). It was for this reason that it was not my neck that hurt in any way but the poor old pelvis from which George had chipped the bone that he needed!
I was a one-man band in those days running an office in Chesterfield Hill,, Mayfair and could not afford to be away from the office for any length of time. So a couple of days after the operation I told the hospital people that I would have to go to the office. Although they were horrified they could see I was determined so each day I ordered a taxi and sat bolt upright in the back looking a bit like Frankenstein in my plastic encasement and then returned to the hospital in the late afternoon.
When I was released from hospital I stayed in Pitt St, Kensington with one of Alice’s aunt and uncle. Each morning, dear auntie Pai would carefully remove the plastic casing and give me a bed bath before powdering and then replacing the casing. I stayed with her for five weeks when the casing was removed by the hospital. I arranged to play squash the following day as I was rather concerned that the pieces of bone that they had chipped from my pelvis, and inserted between the vertebrae, might fall out and the sooner I found out whether they had done a good job, the better. As it happened George had quite clearly done a first class job and my neck remained intact. I telephoned him with the good news apart from telling me that I was stark raving mad I think he was secretly quite impressed.