Updated: May 31, 2018
(Oli) With exactly a month to go until our proposed departure I’d headed into town to meet Ruth after work. It was her final day at the Jungle Creations office. And it was our final week in the warehouse, having decided to move out before Christmas, so we were having an evening out to celebrate
Mid-way through the evening we were walking to an Indian restaurant with some of her friends & colleagues when I felt my knee lock. It must have been a tiny incremental movement within the knee, perhaps I made an imperceptible twist whilst walking; I don’t know for sure, but I recognised the result. The familiar feeling I’d last had 18 months earlier, a year after an operation on my right knee to repair a badly torn meniscus. It’s like somebody jams a screwdriver into a hinge. The leg refuses to straighten. It’s an agonising pain and won’t bear weight.
This was unbelievable timing & I didn’t want to think about the implications for our year travelling the world on bikes. I simply hobbled across the road, aided by Ruth, got in a taxi and headed home to the warehouse. Well - it wasn’t quite that simple - Ruth’s colleagues had been getting into the spirit of her send-off & were several bottles of Champagne down. They were astonished & concerned in the genuine but amplified way in which only a drunk & festive soul can be. There was a drawn out goodbye through the open taxi door. The driver clearly didn’t have much patience with Thursday night boozers, and to be fair had probably had his fill of it in the run up to Christmas. With a line of cars forming behind him he began to rev the engine & fume into the rear view mirror at me. Eventually putting his foot down & setting off as though he was auditioning for a chase scene in Baby Driver. I rocked around on the back seat, neither able to bend or straighten my leg as I tried to explain to him that it was my girlfriend’s last day at work & the team were going to miss her; so please excuse the sentimental goodbyes. Eventually he realised I was sober and laid off the pedal a bit.
Getting upstairs to our corridor in the warehouse wasn’t so bad as I was able to take my weight on the stairway handrail - but getting along the corridor itself took me a while. The windowsills are low & sloping, and the old windows themselves are thin. I didn’t fancy putting myself through a pane whilst hopping. Or tumbling slowly onto a floor that probably last got vacuumed when when the warehouse was still functioning as a laundry, decades ago. Anyway - cab and corridor trauma over - I got into our unit. Much as I love our housemates: Lucas, Louis, Steve, Freyja, Wren & Ross; I was grateful to arrive home to an empty space. I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be so I wanted to shut myself away & research my options without any sympathy. I dug out a pair of old crutches, made a cup of tea, and got myself in bed and online.
I was pretty certain I had what is called a 'loose body’ floating around in the knee; maybe some scar tissue from the original tear had cleaved away from the mend. Eighteen months ago the knee had freed up after a week & I’d decided not to have a second operation. This time my options felt more limited. I didn’t want to delay our departure too much or discover I was unable to undertake such a trip. I took a deep breath & typed ‘best London knee clinics’ & ‘knee clinic reviews’ into Google.
By midnight I had a sense of where to contact and by one in the morning I’d written out a handful of detailed emails outlining the history of my knee; ‘football injury in 2014, great goal, couldn’t walk, Newcastle, July, hyperextension, medial meniscus, bucket tear, keyhole surgery, Lewisham hospital, extensive repair, March 2015, leg brace, crutches, all seemed well, mountains, hiking, climbing, yoga, June 2016: knelt down at home; knee locked, here we go again’. I was amazed to wake up to a couple of replies from clinics & within 24hrs I knew where I was going to be operated on. And within 72 hours I was sitting back in bed at the warehouse having been sucessfully operated on. Thank you Dr Evans & Carol Segger for that!
After a little recalibration of dates that allowed time for healing and restrengthening we realised departure only need be postponed by a month. Christmas would be undertaken on crutches, but beyond that; the new year would still pass on two wheels.