Friday 17th August 2018.
Got up a usual, Breakfast and off to work.
(I deliberately don’t mention that many customers or what I do at work very much on this Blog, or any social media for that matter, as it is sometimes inappropriate and also I live and work in a remote area where somebody will always find out and take offence at what you have or have not said. Consequently, as I work for the only company carrying out our trade in the region with a turnover of over £3Million, I have to be a bit cautious! )
Got to our Office/Workshop/Stores building, collected the parts required for today, and met up with the other engineer that I’d be working with this morning. I’d be working with a different guy this afternoon, on a different job on a different machine but in the same room! I wasn’t told why, but it was to be an important mistake.
We went down from Redruth to St Ives, up to the Industrial Estate and into the rear entrance of the Commercial Laundry based at the top of the hill. Into the back door of the Laundry and stripped the Ironing Bands from their No.2 Ironing Machine. This job is to replace these bands, so as we removed the old bands we used them to lace the new ones through the machine, securing the ends together afterwards. This job went quicker than I’ve ever done it before, (I’ve been working on Ironing machines of this design since 1988, and I’m not really that thick but even so…) James, the new Engineer that was helping me saw a quicker way to carry out this task than the way we’ve always done it so we tried it to see and it worked, Twice as quick! Consequently, we were finished earlier than expected so he went off to carry on with his own work for the rest of the day.
So, on to job two for the day, replacing the suspension of a 24kg load High spin Washing machine, another two-person job, so I rang Nigel the other Senior Engineer ton see where he was and when he thought he’d be getting to me. Nigel is still on his way to Penzance, some 6Miles South and when he’s finished the quick job he’s got there he’ll be coming up to me.
This is definitely a two person job, we are replacing the suspension which entails lifting the drum assembly clear of the springs and replacing the springs after removing the shock absorbers (dampers), then replacing the shock absorbers as well.
The official way of doing this job, and by far the easiest, is to remove the side panels of the machine as well as the lower front and main rear panel, the eight vertical shocks come out via the front and back, the other two horizontal shocks come out of the sides as do the springs. These springs are coil springs similar to those on the front of a car, though shorter and a little narrower, to remove them you must first disconnect or remove the shock absorbers (due to limited travel extension) jack up the floating chassis carrying the drum and motor package and ‘simply’ unbolt and remove the springs, one corner at a time.
This is the dangerous part of the job, there are no recommended jacking points to do this, and if the floating chassis slips off the jack then you WILL have your arm trapped, your mate has to lift the chassis off your arm blooming quick or you could lose all use of it, let alone the almost inevitable breaking of bones. We take wooden spars with us to use as levers just in case, never had to use them because we are too careful to stop that happening but it does sharpen your mind!
So as you would have gathered, good access is vital to do this job safely, it can be done safely just from the front and back, but it is blooming hard and very awkward to get to the fixing bolts for the Shocks and Springs.
We had no side access without pulling the machine out of its position between the adjacent machines, I carry some old iron pipes to use as rollers to save using a Pallet Truck for this, so after unpacking all the tools needed and sorting and placing the parts as well, I was ready to go round the back, remove the rear panel and rear shock absorbers ready for when Nigel arrived so we could jack it up after disconnecting the drain pipe and pushing this machine out of its position.
Went to squeeze past the Left end machine in the row, to find that it isn’t where I left it! I have been going past this machine for at least 8 Years, now it is suddenly only 8″ from the end wall, not enough room to get past as there is a 4″ wide drain pipe suspended off the floor and I can’t get my feet past it!
What’s happened? why has it been moved, or am I going even more crackers than usual? It transpires that the customer wanted more capacity, our Salesperson (carefully worded description) decided they would be better served with a larger machine than the smallest one they already had so that machine was replaced with a wider machine, the Left one of the row being moved across to accommodate it and removing our Service Access.
So find a workaround, cannot get past the rear of the machine at the far end of the row, it is rented from a different company and they’ve put it too close to the wall behind, their engineer cannot even remove the back panel, let alone get behind it!
Ok then, I’ll go over the top, I got my Step-stool out of the van and proceeded to do just that, I’ve done it loads of times before so no problem… Err, wrong.
Whether it was the fact that the staff on site hadn’t swept the dust off the top of the machine, me wearing my coveralls so providing less grip with said top, or what else I don’t know, but what I DO know is that once I got my gut on top of the machine some 6ft off the floor, I lost my grip and slid backwards, doing a backwards roll when my feet missed the step-stool on the way down.
It is amazing just how loud the crack is when the back of your head hits ceramic ‘Quarry’ tiles on a concrete floor, it fair echoes inside one’s head!
I laid there stunned for a few seconds, can move all my limbs and digits, and the neck feels ok so sat up and felt the back of my head, Oh Shoot, there’s blood on my hand, if that doesn’t stop soon that’ll be a problem.
I’m sat there, trying to stand up when one of the Partners in this Laundry comes running around the stack of Laundry trolleys to ask what happened, She heard the Crack above the noise in the Washroom and was 2 rooms away in their office. Knowing it wasn’t a hammer blow or similar, She thought that She had better see what it was, not expecting to see me staggering to my feet with blood dribbling from the back of my head. Now, Rachael is the mother of pretty adventurous kids so very little fazes Her, and straight into Mother Mode She went, SIT DOWN, NOW! a quick look at the split scalp and a damp towel was slapped on it. ‘Hold that there and don’t move’. Yes, Ma’am! I can see straight, I’m looking through about 6 vertical grids, (the sides of laundry cages) and the lines are staying still so I don’t think I’m Concussed. Just then Nigel turned up, followed shortly by our Service Manager who is also our Health and Safety rep, and our workshop technician. Rachael had phoned him while getting the damp towel, (that is rapidly becoming a wet red towel) and the boss had the forethought to bring the Lad with him to run me home or wherever.
All 3 of them tried to get past the machine nearest the wall at either end of the run without success, so that was a positive, as was Nigel scooping up my tools and putting them in my Van.
I had to talk the boss through the incident, and then the Lad ran me up to our local Minor Injury Unit at my nearest hospital to home. After a very nice Nurse glued my scalp and hair together and stopped the bleeding, we went back to our office, me driving to prove I was fit to drive at all and be left alone. Promises to the Nurse that as I live alone someone would be with me for the first 24 hours were of course broken! Went home via the Chipshop as usual, finding that Car Seat Headrests are painful when you’ve got a hole in your head and a tube of glue in your hair!
Saturday 18th August 2018
Woke up from a half sleep. Gawd, that was a horrible night, I’m not sure if I got any sleep or not. My Head hurts, and now my right arm really hurts. I developed Tennis Elbow 3 months ago in this arm, but it was nearly better until Yesterday, I think I’ve made it worse again!
Forced myself out of bed and downstairs to get some food inside me so I can take maximum dose Ibuprofen, made a pot of Tea and sat at my table feeling like a wreck.
I put a clean towel over some cushions on the arm of the Sofa and after an excursion upstairs to collect my Kindle tried to get comfortable on my side and read for a bit. Woke up at about 5pm absolutely starving, feeling a very little bit better so got some more food and painkillers and watched TV for the evening, phoned my Wife at 9pm as always and went straight to bed.
Sunday 19th August 2018.
Woke up at around the normal time this morning, the head is sore but no headache, I had turned my top pillow over as was covered in dried blood last night, and this morning there was a little but not too much so I removed the case and threw it. It was a plain one and I’ve just bought some spares the same colour so not worth fussing with. Went down for more food and painkillers, back up and had a bath (can’t risk getting the Glue wet with warm water yet), and got dressed. Out to the local Superstore and shopping for the week, My Wife is bringing my Eldest Daughter and Grandson on Wednesday for a weeks holiday as it is the Daughter’s Birthday on Thursday so I’ve got to stock up ready.
Why can I not steer this trolley? my right elbow is Really painful, not good, I’ve got to go in the attic later!
Finished the shopping, got home and whilst putting the shopping away noted that my elbow REALLY hurts now, still, got to clear the back bedroom or there will be nowhere for daughter and Grandson to sleep. went up and dropped the loft ladder and packed away the Christmas lights etc. into the Attic, and took the extra dining chairs off their beds, struggling to carry one of them downstairs. Took two painkillers and decided that I’d better call in the Doctors Surgery when they open at 8 in the morning on my way to work.
Monday 20th August 2018
Got up, went downstairs and really struggled to make my sandwiches, and had to pick up my Porridge bowl with my left hand as the Right Arm wouldn’t play. Had to move the Kettle and Teapot as well to use them Left Handed, and pick up my Tea Mug with that hand too! Now I’m really worried.
Drove to the Doctors, saw the Receptionist and got an appointment for 09:50 today so drove on round to work (Thanks to Power Steering) and went through to the kitchen to get a mug of Tea. Picked up my mug with my Left hand, Nigel told me to put it down and try the correct hand and I had to admit that I couldn’t, I walked round to our Service Controller’s desk and She asked me why I was at work? Honest answer, because I’m an Idiot, that’s why! Went out to my Van and unloaded all the outstanding parts for fitting, finished my Tea and went home, taking in my Sandwich box.
Back in the Van and back to the Doctors, I’ve not seen this Doctor before as She is covering in someone’s absence. I told her that I thought I’d aggravated my Tennis Elbow, and then described what had happened, She listened carefully and commented that She had an Idea what I’d done but would have to examine it fully and they wouldn’t know for sure until it had been X-rayed. By the time She examined the Elbow a lot of the pain had subsided, and I was starting to think along the lines of ‘Oh, I like this doctor, She’s ever so nice etc, etc.
Well you can guess what happened next, it involved gentle manipulation and prodding, tears pouring down my face and a failed attempt at braving it out, followed by ‘Ah, I was Right, I can’t tell you for sure how bad it is until you’ve had the X-rays but you won’t be working in a manual job for a while and DON’T try and lift anything with that arm’. I deliberately didn’t ask Her about driving, took the referral for X-ray and the sick note for work ‘one week initially, then a Doctor will ring you and let you know further’.
I was advised to ring X-ray to make an appointment at the local Hospital as you tend to get a quicker appointment that way, so once out in the Van that is what I did. 11:00 Tomorrow? that’ll do, back round to work and dropped off the sick note and told them I’d ring in and let them know as soon as I found out.
Back home and sulked around the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself, the Elbow was painful before, but now? Effing Jessica Christus it Bloomin hurt like crazy and was hot as well! Took as many painkillers as I could for the rest of the day and evening and almost slept that night.
Tuesday 21st August 2018
Struggled out of bed and had a Bath, a long soak as I hurt all over and have bruises that I hadn’t realised, didn’t wash my hair as I’m worried about the Glue releasing too soon and then got dressed, downstairs and breakfast. Tidied up downstairs and then drove to the Hospital for my X-rays.
Went into the X-ray room and was chatting with the Radiographer whilst She was lining me and the machine up, telling Her what happened both Last Friday and then Yesterday with the Doctor, then She took a set of X-rays and checked them to make sure they were clear. She then picked up a phone while still behind the screen and after a few words were exchanged came back around and told me “They can sort you out here, I thought I’d better check as otherwise, it would have to be Casualty at Treliske” Treliske being the General hospital in Truro that covers almost the whole county, waiting times in Casualty being famously long.
I got told in no uncertain terms that I was NOT going to make a run for it, I was going to walk through to Minor Injuries again and do it NOW! Yes, Miss! I was in no state to argue so off I went. Waited for about 3 minutes in a queue and then on a chair for about 5 after I’d explained why I’d come through, and followed a Nurse Practitioner into a bay where She showed me the X-rays.
You’ve fractured your Radial Head She told me, then told me what that meant, most of which went over my head, after all, it was trying to process “You’ve broken your arm 4 Days ago”! I heard the next bit though, “You don’t get a plaster cast as it is not deemed necessary, more of a hindrance in fact” She went on to explain that I’d be wearing a Triangular Bandage sling for the next week or so, and any time after that if my arm felt heavy but to decrease use as soon as able as the joint needs to move to heal correctly. NO lifting, NO twisting the arm under load so no, I wouldn’t be doing my job for at least 6 weeks. Bummer! After the family go home next Wednesday, that’s 5 weeks at home alone but without young Mr Culkin’s inventive mind.
I walked out of the Hospital, got in the Van, took my arm out of the sling and drove home! Rang my Lady Wife once indoors and told Her I’d broken my arm, ‘Oh, that’s a shame’ or words to that effect. Rang the Office, and could feel the gaping chasm under our Service Controller’s desk from where I was, the one I think She was hoping to swallow her up? August Bank Holiday fortnight is one of our busiest times at work, as we repair Laundry Equipment in the vast majority of Hospitality and Camping sites in this region!
Vacuumed through downstairs Left Handed, that is an experience! took more painkillers and collapsed in my armchair to catch up with some Vlogs that I follow.
Wednesday 22nd August 2018
Unlocking my shed and getting a reclining garden chair out took half an Hour one handed! carrying it through the House and erecting it was interesting. Cleaned some worktops in the kitchen etc, and the family arrived around lunchtime, having left just after breakfast and my Wife driving all the way (225 Miles).
Thursday 23rd August 2018
After going out with the Family for the day, we went to a local chain Restaurant for our evening meal as a treat for the Daughter, well, it IS Her 40th Birthday!
Over the next few days, we went to a theme park, Go-Karting, Crazy and Foot Golf, had a rest day Sunday then on the Bank Holiday Monday (National Holiday) The Daughter, Grandson and I went down to the Wild West Coast and visited Geevor Tin Mine. This is a preserved Mine, and though you cannot go down in the Vertical Shaft Cages any more, all the mining equipment is there, and you can tour round at will with Volunteer Guides there when you want them. We did take up the offer of Kitting up in helmets and heavy overcoats for a walk/stumble through one of the old horizontal mines on the site, walking into the side of the hill for some way single file and at times sideways as not wide enough to go forwards! An absolutely Fascinating day all round.
Tuesday 28th August 2018
My Wife and I stayed home while The Daughter and Grandson went out today, just as we were going out to collect them from the Station, I missed a call on my phone from the Doctor who left a message confirming the X-rays showed a Radial Head Fracture, and saying that he’d leave a sicknote for another two weeks at their reception. We went out and collected a Pizza each from a Chain Takeaway and collected my note on return. Got a phone call on our way out of the door from work with a proposal, should I agree to it, and told them it will be at least another two weeks.
Wednesday 29th August 2018
Despite the pain and incapacity, I’ve had a wonderful week with family crowding my little house! However it is time for them to return to Hampshire, and they set off after Breakfast, getting home just after lunchtime. I started to clear round and return things to their usual places until I could see no more through the tears and gave up.
Thursday 30th August 2018
Went into work and handed in the sick note, discussed the proposal they had made and agreed to return to work on full pay to mentor our latest engineer and shadow him on Gas jobs especially as he hasn’t got his Gas Safety ticket yet. This is to be on days that I can cope, my wrist is now quite painful and I had thought it was referred pain but I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve hurt this as well? Obviously on days when I have appointments then I won’t be in, my sick note covers those. We agreed that I’d start back next Monday.
I spent the next few days alternately resting my arm and gently exercising it to keep a full range of movement as I can, apparently you rarely do gain the full extension of your arm. I also managed to put most of my house back together, though stripping the Single Duvet covers is beyond me so I put that on the back burner for now.
Monday 3rd September 2018
Returned to work today, just driving as far as the Office, about 1½ Miles as I cannot pass my Right Arm over the top of the steering wheel, instead steering left handed and simply holding the lower part of the wheel still with the Right.
Spent the day (and indeed all week) riding shotgun to our new guy, what a way to earn money, being chauffeured around, chatting to my own customers (many of who are friends) and giving advice and guidance when required. The only downside is the fact that as the pain in the elbow decreases another one has taken its place in my wrist, sometimes at the base of the thumb, sometimes at the other side. During this week, I received a letter from Treliske Fracture Clinic calling me for an appointment next Monday at 10:10.
Monday 10th September 2018
Drove to the P+R at Truro West, Langage and caught the Bus to the Hospital, then following the signs to the Fracture Clinic. Arrived a little early but rather that than late, I waited some 35 minutes past my appointment time but that is not bad for a public service Hospital.
Got called through to see the Dr and he was standing there looking at my X-rays on a Monitor, he showed me again the fracture in the top of the Radius Bone, and explained that often linked to this fracture is further damage in the wrist. ‘Let me shake your hand gently’ Well he did, I saw him do it, and he didn’t squeeze either, but I did yelp and there were Tears in my Eyes Ahh, says He, I thought so!
I had a few thoughts at the time but none of them was Ahh! Aarrghh maybe, but not Ahh. He explained that he thought I had broken my Scaphoid bone in my wrist and that he was sending me round for a set of X-rays, there is an X-ray suite in the unit so it was straight round to their own waiting area. Blimey, let me sit down before you call me! Straight in, 2 more of the Elbow and 3 of the Wrist and I was done. Back around the corner and the Dr was already looking at them! “Yup, broken your wrist good and proper, we’ll plaster it up and send you for a CT Scan as well.”
A Health Care Assistant showed me round to the Plaster Cast room and came and got me when it was done, I now have a short cast that stops me moving my wrist too much and goes some 8″ or so up my arm, The HCA directed me to the Scanner Suite down in the Undercroft and off I went exploring. Clinical Imaging was well signposted so I found it straight away, waited a few minutes and went in with the Radiographer. I’ve had an MRI scan before but not a CT so the lady explained that this machine, though it looks similar is totally different, a lot quicker and very quiet!
I was asked to lay on the table face down with my Arm and Hand beyond my Head in a Superman position, and after a few minutes of moving backwards and forwards, She lowered the table so I could get off safely. As I stood up She suggested that as I had already done the Superman, maybe I’d like to go for the full YMCA as well? They’m as daft as Is down ‘Ere!
Back up to Fracture Clinic, was given a Sicknote for 4 to 6 Weeks(!) and told that an Appointment would be made for Wednesday next week with Orthopedics Outpatients at 10:00. Right, time to head home, back out to the main entrance buying a Pasty on the way from the Friends stall and down the hill to the P+R Bus Stop. Ate my pasty while waiting for the bus and back to the carpark to try and drive home with my arm in a cast!
I sat there in my van and had a think, luckily the Plaster Technician had fitted me with a Blue Cast, not a White one, so I put one of my Dark Blue company jackets and kept the cuff over the cast, and drove home!
Got home at 14:10, not bad for an initial Appointment time of 10:10 with all that happened! First thing I did was to take some strong painkillers, then phoned the office to tell them I wasn’t going to come and play tomorrow! Ooh, I caught myself looking at the Carving knife longingly, thinking that if I cut this arm off then surely it would be less painful?
Wednesday 11th September 2018
Back to work today, again shadowing my colleague, He had to come and collect me as I’m not driving anymore with a cast on, and by the time I got home, I was shattered! The temptation to grasp things with my Right Hand is hard to resist and so my wrist hurts!
Thursday 12 September 2018
Out with James again today, but home very early as he had a Hospital appointment himself at 15.00 so dropped me off on the way. Indoors, Kettle on and check the post. A large pile of junk mail, three bank statements (2 savings and one Current) and received a pair of letters from the Hospital giving me appointments for next Wednesday at 10:00 in Orthopedic Outpatients, with the expectation of waiting up to 2 Hours on a busy day, and 11:00 in Fracture Clinic! I thought I’d better phone Fracture Clinic and warn them that I may be late when the Landline rang, it was the automated service from Appointments reminding me that I have an Appointment next Wednesday at 11:00! I rang them back and found that the Orthopedics one has been cancelled, that is why I am going to fracture Clinic!
I will have to see what next Wednesday brings.