Dr. Ahmer Wadee is a lecturer in Civil Engineering
Is sport really that good for you?
by Long John Silver
(sorry, by Ahmer Wadee)
Well, what an unbelievably strange end to the term it has been for me personally. Around 3 weeks ago, I was looking forward to completing my teaching and being able to concentrate on some important research commitments: including trips to Glasgow and Bath, three research papers to complete by mid-March and various other matters. However, I discovered to my cost on 27 February that any best laid plans can go to wreck and ruin. We were playing our weekly game of 5-a-side football and things were generally going ok (even though our team was losing by a couple of goals) from a personal perspective I had scored a couple of goals and it had generally been a good workout. With around 5 minutes to go I was chasing our goalie's throw down the right-wing and I overran the ball, but when I attempted to turn my right shoe gripped the ground but my ankle could not cope and it dislocated itself with an audible "crack". For a few seconds everyone continued playing until they all heard my shouts for everyone to "STOP!". This was followed by some rather disquieting grimaces from my fellow players and members of the Structures research group who were arriving to play badminton when they saw which way my right foot was pointing compared to my knee: I estimate the discrepancy angle was approximately 50 degrees. Well if you think that is sad I would ask in my defence: what ARE you supposed to do when you are sitting in the sports hall of Ethos waiting for an ambulance with your feet pointing at strange angles? The paramedics were absolutely fantastic, giving me a good dose of morphine to relieve some of the now excruciating pain and taking me to the Accident and Emergency Department of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital: a part of Imperial's Medical School.
I was immediately taken to the resuscitation room where I was plied with more painkillers: with morphine to my right and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to my left; I felt I was in quite a surreal predicament. I was then put to sleep and the medics relocated my ankle thereby straightening my foot. When I woke up with the pain immensely reduced and I was being wheeled to have an X-ray. The doctor then informed me that my fibula has been fractured slightly when the ankle popped out and I was going to be admitted to have a metal plate put in by surgery the following morning. I spent the night in one of the orthopaedics wards in which I believe I was at least 30 (if not 50 in some cases) years younger than all the other patients in the ward who were mostly waiting for new hips after falling.
The following two days were hectic to say the least: operation, recovery, a dozen visitors, more X-rays, learning to walk with crutches and then finally discharged. It felt slightly bizarre when my anaesthetist told me she was an Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial just before my operation, I suppose it was the thought of being operated by a colleague. All I recall of the operation is going to sleep and then waking up in the recovery room being offered a glass of water. It was really gratifying to know how many well-wishers were around and there was certainly no danger of gift-food shortages. At this point I must say thanks to everyone who made the time to visit me, sent me goodwill messages and to all the medical staff in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital who were absolutely superb. Now there was a new problem, I was told that I was not put weight on my right foot for six weeks, which has basically put me out of action for the duration and at the time of writing I am around a half-way through this period. This meant a lot of apologies to be made and rescheduling to be done.
Most importantly, this whole episode has brought home to me how much we rely on our four working limbs to live a normal life. Without the use of one leg I have found it virtually impossible to transport anything without assistance, food for instance, safely from one room to the next; it is not legal for me to drive; it is very difficult to use public transport and the most basic functions require plenty of forethought and planning. At least having broadband at home has allowed me to keep one foot, pardoning the pun, in Imperial to keep in touch with my research group which has helped me to complete the research papers mentioned at the beginning. Some side-effects are that I have spent quality time with my parents who have been absolutely brilliant and I have been avidly following the cricket world cup. Nevertheless this is only small compensation considering that I have basically lost my independence albeit temporarily. I am very much looking forward to returning to the fold full-time in the summer term.