Heal the Pain…

For over a year, I’ve been struggling with the nerves in my right arm.  After many appointments, tests and opinions, I recently underwent surgery on my Ulna Nerve in an attempt to heal the pain.  It’s too early to know whether it was worth getting my 26th scar, but time will tell…

The Phantom Menace crept upon me years after my amputations due to Frostbite and we’re still not sure if the two are connected.  Assumptions are easy to make, but as life has taught me, it’s very dangerous to presume.  We must work with solid facts, solid information and solid data.

So I’m an arm down for a few weeks.  I have strict instructions not to do much (alien to me) and watch everyone else do the cooking, washing and cleaning over Christmas (this I can cope with..!)  I’m catching up on my reading and enjoying not jumping out of bed in a morning like my backside is on fire (more about backsides later).  Being down an arm and subsequently a hand makes for an interesting existence, particularly when the good hand is down a few digits, but necessity always was the mother of all invention.

I was born left handed, but the education system of the 1970’s forced a pen into my right. We think a little more openly these days, and though I’ve always worked right handed, I still have a strong left side. I’m left eye dominant and able to do a few things with both hands. This became invaluable during the experience of suffering Severe Frostbite. When a limb is taken out of normal service for a few weeks or months, you suddenly realise how difficult life can be, but surgery taught me a great deal. Within days I had learned to eat, shave, write and work with either hand, as required. As I recovered, it would have been easy to loose these skills, but I have maintained them and held them in reserve. Throughout our lives we learn may things, but I wonder how many of them we maintain or loose..? I wonder how many of us can still add up without a calculator, or remember how to navigate without a GPS or Compass..?

Convenience, laziness, time, overload – all come to distract us.

People often ask me what the most important skill is when working on expeditions or in the outdoors. Navigation..? 1st Aid..? Fitness..? Quite simply, it’s one word – Preparation. Prep, prep, prep is a phrase I continually say to people. If you’re well prepared, then any incident which comes your way is easier to deal with. When you know something is coming (like my surgery), you can be prepared and ready for it. If you wake up in A&E, it’s another matter, but being prepared in life, makes life so much simpler to deal with during the aftermath.

These past few days have shown in beaming technicolour how important being prepared and maintaining skills are. Knowing, that as my surgery beckoned, I could cope with my home life and get along, without constantly struggling made the run up so much easier. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hardly a piece of cake, bit with a little time and patience I can still get by. I had forgotten a few things though, such as how heavy a fully sedated limb is, how stinging the tingling gets once the anaesthesia wears off, how much injuries itch when they’re recovering and most importantly, how to wipe your backside one handed and with your opposite hand (you try it..!) Well, you can’t remember everything…

I’ve been overwhelmed by the loving messages of support and offers of help. My thanks to everyone who has been in touch. I hope to be on the mend very soon and return back into the mountains that I love.

May I wish you all a wonderful Christmas…

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