I’m waiting for an operation on my back. I’ve got metal rods from the nape of my neck to all but the bottom two vertebrae.
This holds me upright but doesn’t stop me dropping to the side.
This makes it more difficult to walk .
The problem is that if more rods are put in right to the bottom of my spine I won’t be able to twist from side to side at all.
I see a specialist at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore in London.
He is very worried that although the operation might make it easier in some ways, it will make it more difficult in others.
So in December he made me a spinal brace to wear. This is like a solid fibreglass jacket that has to be fitted and pulled on until it’s really tight. The idea is that this will recreate the effects of the operation, and that if I can walk in the brace I will be able to walk after the operation.
Well I’ve been wearing this contraption as much as possible for the last few months.
It’s known as my ‘corset’, although that would make it more of a Marine thing than a Para thing.
It’s like an instrument of torture. I can’t sit down on it because it pushes upwards and nearly amputates my armpits.
If I have managed to sit down in it I can’t stand up because you can’t engage your core muscles while you are wearing it.
It makes you sweat so you have to wear a cotton T-shirt under it but it’s so big that you can’t really get anything over the top of it.
All in all, not the best designed bit of kit I have ever had to use!
Still, I have done my absolute best and have been wearing it every day while walking.
My usual route is to walk half a mile or so along Bawtry Road until I arrive at the enormous Costa Coffee cup outside the petrol station. That is my marker and I can turn round and come back – may I say without my cappuccino.
I time this walk to see how I am improving.
I must say that this week the freezing cold and gusty winds have not seen my personal best improve!
The best thing about this route is the number of people who honk their horn, stop for a chat or just give me a wave from their cars.
If this didn’t happen it would be a very boring trip indeed.
Well it’s nearly time for my assessment.
The operation on my back is nowhere near as dangerous as the last time. The only nerves that can be damaged are the ones that usually go to the ankles and knees which, oddly enough, are not a concern for me.
But 2016 is going to be a very busy year and the sooner this is done the better – so fingers crossed everyone.