Sunday, 18 January 2015

My left foot...

Late February 2012 was the last time I recorded there being anything wrong with my left foot and if there is any kind of pattern developing (assuming that cycling and the state of my foot are in some way linked) then it has to be steep hills and possibly pushing things a little too far. Back in 2012 Andy and I rode to Limpsfield village following an off-road route through the Titsey Estate. On the return journey we had no choice other than to ride up Titsey Hill to reach the plateau and Botley Hill Farmhouse. The following day I was in the same state I found myself in last Monday – unable to walk. In a nutshell all of this week I've been hobbling around. It started Monday and got progressively worse as the week progressed. It was so bad that I was quite literally dragging my left leg behind me and it took me an inordinate amount of time to get anywhere. Fortunately my wife picked me up each night from Purley station, saving me the agony of the longish walk home. I say 'longish' because any walk, be it a short stroll to the local shops, is like trekking across the Himalayas. It wasn't pleasant and night times were just as bad as a dull, mildly throbbing ache meant that it was difficult to get to sleep. I resorted to Nurofen but was clearly not taking enough. In fact, I ought to relate my Nurofen story. In essence, all we had in the house were Nurofen melts, which, for some reason, didn't really appeal. Now you might say that if I was desperate, surely any port in a storm and all that, but for some reason I wanted basic Nurofen. So, at 0200hrs, I hopped out of bed – and by 'hopped' I mean I hopped out of bed on my right leg, wary that as soon as I put any kind of pressure on my left foot I'd be in total agony. I couldn't even put a shoe or trainer on without shrieking with pain. Suddenly the peace of the night was shattered. Arrrrgggggggggggggggghhhh! In the end I resorted to wearing my slippers.

At the foot of Hesiers Hill – perhaps I was over enthusiastic.
This shot was taken in the summertime.
Outside it was cold and quiet and the halogen street lights created a kind of lunar landscape in a suburban setting. I limped to the car, jumped in and drove off, passing a couple of gas stations and pulling in to their deserted, brightly-lit forecourts to see if they were open. It was hard to tell and the last thing I wanted to do was get out of the car and try walking if there was no point. The pumps were on; I could clearly see the digital read-outs of the meters, the forecourt was ablaze with light but there didn't appear to be anybody in the shop. I drove out and later found another gas station equally deserted. There was only one thing for it: the 24-hour Tesco in Purley – which, in all honesty, was where I was heading anyway. The huge car park there was virtually empty so I drove to the nearest parking space next to the store and then limped off in the direction of the shop floor. Fortunately I was directed to a small counter selling Nurofen Express, which I figured were good enough (although why 'brand extensions' exist I'll never know). There were no cashiers, just self-service machines, which required me to limp for a few yards more to pay. Clasping my much needed drugs I limped to the car, drove home, took some Nurofen and went to bed. It was around 0300hrs before I fell asleep, possibly later.

The week was characterised by limping everywhere and by Wednesday I figured a trip to the doctor's was in order so I booked up and found myself waiting almost an hour in the surgery's waiting room. GPs tend to be pretty useless as they don't really know what's wrong with anyone, they simply ask a few questions and then suggest that it might be X or Y and that anti-inflammatories are the best bet to start with. "Come back if you've still got it next week," she said and I limped away.

The last time this happened (back in February 2012) I went to a doctor in Croydon and asked them if they thought it might be gout. I was told no, not gout. If it was gout, she said, I wouldn't be able to touch it. Phew! But this time round the subject raised its ugly head again mainly because, over the Christmas period, I had stuffed my face with tangerines and oranges and other acidic fruits. I wished I hadn't mentioned it because it led to the doctor saying that perhaps I should consider a blood test. I hate blood tests. But she said it wasn't necessary so I haven't bothered. What she did say was 'no cycling', not this weekend at any rate, so I resolved not to go. Andy wasn't going on Saturday and, as it turns out, the rain was falling on Sunday, which meant it was likely that we would have aborted anyway. It was one of those damp mornings when everything had that wet look and the back lawn in particular took on a sponge-like appearance.

Fortunately, my foot is now better. I can walk virtually normally and I'm no longer in pain. There's nothing worse than being out of action for health reasons – in this case a dodgy left foot. It makes you realise the importance of good health at all times.

It also makes me realise how lucky I am to be able-bodied and how these things shouldn't be taken for granted. I'm levelling the blame for my left foot at Hesiers Hill on last Sunday's ride and, perhaps, I was overdoing it a bit. To be honest, I don't know the real cause, but that's the only thing I can attribute it to. Fortunately for me, it's over now. I'm feeling better, I'm not limping, I'm not in pain and I'll be back on the bike next weekend – weather permitting.

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