Thursday, 4 October 2012

Weekend sailing - wrong way

On this particular weekend, those of us who generally only get one day of sailing per weekend were spoilt for choice: would it be the Laser open on the Saturday (fab weather - 11mph - hard work) or the Fireball class racing on the Sunday (a lot windier). Werl, much as I like the Laser in the light and fluffy stuff, the notion of hanging out of one by my toenails for an entire Saturday really didn't appeal, so the decision was made to do a bit of light housework and gardening and have a blast in the Fireball on the Sunday instead. 

Needless to say, it didn't quite go according to plan...

Saturday - How to cut your hedge with assistance from the NHS:

Standing on a secure platform, go along one side with the hedge trimmers. Repeat this process on the other side. When your hedge is about 5ft thick, you can't reach the middle of it from either side, so you take your extending ladder and lean it against the hedge. As you climb, the ladder subsides into the hedge, bringing you closer to the Mohican bit in the middle. This is not a stable platform, but you are surrounded on 3 sides by hedge, so what can go wrong ?

Well, as it turns out, the ladder can lurch forwards unexpectedly while you have both feet on one rung, which causes you (or in this case, me) to start to fall backwards. So I went to put a foot on the rung below, but missed and got it stuck between two steps. When this happened, I distinctly remember thinking that I was all out of options and in trouble, and there was a blur of sky followed by stars as my head hit the road. By the time I worked out that I wasn't a concussion case, it was apparent that my right wrist was hurting a lot, so I went into shock instead.

Painkillers were taken and an ambulance called, which took me to St.Cross hospital about 3 minutes away. But St.Cross won't take people who arrive by ambulance, you have to arrive by some other means (car/foot/bicycle) to use their A&E service. So back in the ambulance for the half-hour trip to Walsgrave in Coventry.

Much mucking about then ensued, with x-rays and a highly unpleasant injection "right into the centre of the traumatised area" as the bloke with the needle explained - prompting some unhappy words from the traumatised person involved. Then he grabbed my hand and the student doctor took my elbow, and they pulled very hard before setting it in plaster. Up until this point I had been cheerfully walking between the various departments, but they decided they would wheel me around from here on in, due to me having gone (in medical language) 'a funny colour'. So I lay on the bed and was trollied to the X-ray department again before being sent home. It was now 8:30pm.

Sunday - back to Walsgrave

I have observed that the most useful information often comes in the form of oblique statements and questions. I had the first inkling that Saturday's medical aggro was to no avail when the consultant said, "I see they tried to set your wrist yesterday...". He followed up with the telling question, "How did you manage to break it so badly ?".

So basically it's an operation involving metal plates and some very small screws, or the risk that your wrist never works properly again. Well I could see my Olympic sailing campaign going out the window at this point, so what else could I say but 'yes'. But it's too late to do it today, so back home to await the summoning phonecall for a quick in-and-out job tomorrow.

Monday - back to Walsgrave again

They hadn't called to say what time they wanted me, but I eventually got past the hopeless switchboard system and found that the answer was 'asap', so I packed an overnight bag and was in pre-op ward 52 by 11:30am.

Part of the pre-op anaesthetic package involves being parked in the waiting room and forced to watch 'Dickinson's Real Deal' (a pointless antiques related 'competition' gameshow thing hosted by a luminous lounge-lizard) for 4 hours. Not only does this numb the brain very effectively, but also has the advantage of leaving you with the opinion that, regardless of the outcome of the operation, your day can only get better from this point.

Then a swift change into the floppy gown with ties up the back that defeat even people who have both hands, and into the holding queue for the operating theatre. Thirty minutes later I was debating the quality of Rugby's schools and the various merits of the Android GUI compared to the iPad with some medical chaps through an oxygen mask, not feeling remotely sleepy... and then I was waking up two and a half hours later with a numb arm and no apparent side effects whatsoever. Result!

Sadly, it was now 6:30pm, so I was stuck in ward 33 overnight (while my overnight bag snoozed peacefully on ward 52). Those of you who have spent time in hospitals will know that the night time differs from the day only in as much as the lights are turned off. Nurses still stride about in hobnail boots, shout at the mad patients, play that game where they take it in turns to throw their car-keys into a metal waste-paper basket, and then take everybody's blood pressure at 1am with a machine that goes BEEP a lot. Then, just when you've finally got to sleep, they wheel some poor old bloke in at 5:30am, park him next to you and explain to him in a loud voice that he must be quiet "AS THERE ARE PATIENTS IN HERE TRYING TO SLEEP". He then turns his light on and off repeatedly for the next 30 mins, at which point the machine that goes BEEP is brought round again to signal the start of the new day.


After being advised by a doctor that it might 'smart a bit for a while', the wrist, repatriated overnight bag and me were all discharged and returned home to start the 6-week recuperation phase. 

And now...

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, I have learned a valuable lesson from all of this, but I'm not quite sure what it is. It may be that you can go from mundane routine to disaster in an instant, and that we are only ever a few cm inside the safety zone. Or it may be that 9.8 metres per second per second is a hard habit to break.

Whatever, I know that I won't be doing much sailing for a while yet.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Weekend sailing - right way promised a SW 12 gusting 30 so there was always going to be potential for a real Fireballling day, and so it was.
Turned out to be a day of settings. Standing in the lee of the club house had a distinct 22′ 8” feel about it however since I trust the mathletes computer at the met office we put the pins in and went to see what it looked like round the corner.
Race 1. Decent start off the starboard end with the strategy of a long leg and then looking for the fabled Hensborough port lift into A left us 2nd as Colin and Karen (and everyone else) bang the right hand corner and rocket around in the gusts coming over the dam wall. Run to M in the breeze and then C&K chicken out and down the kite! A wide gybe and off to B on the port backer which had now arrived. Gybe and into a flying 3 sail reach to T, power on with the fat boys no2 kite. Noticed Capt’n Bob had the kite up as well down to B and watched the resultant luffing match. Surf down to E up to P across to S, gate and round again, breeze building nicely so no fancy stuff this time, speed and bang the right hand corner it is, gusts and all. Lost sight of the rest of the fleet in the spray at this point so contributions gratefully accepted……:) Third lap breeze up really nicely now depower boat stand on cunningham, massive kicker, cars out, board up, main on quarter. Wind veered ,strategy go left , no idea if it worked compass all over the place . No kite to B. Gybe flat, kite up and off to T awesome 3 sail reach, become aware of being silently stalked by the carbon knight, the chase for the 20 knot prize was on, and then he returned to the waves quicker than he’d arisen. Two goes at a gybe round T which turned into dead mans corner as the wind headed and refused a clean gybe.
Looked like there’s real good battle going on behind us but don’t have time to watch…Looking for a conservative finish until crew decides its fast enough to go water skiing, rescue mermaid and head for finish and lunch.
C&K sailed the race on 22′ 8” with an alto mast…..must have been real hard work.
On way in Paul and Helen fall in with Paul testing giving the boom an engineers stress test with his head. Medical examination later on for concussion inconclusive as tester talking same gibberish as usual, boom passed fine :)
Race 2, big breeze now so its more pins in and a bit of strut action for 60mm+ of pre-bend. Port biased line, bear off and out the middle flat out. Loads of big gusts around making the boat skip through the waves. Bear off at N to deadman’s corner again and broad reach to F, beat back to P, high speed two sailer, crew standing on transom to X , gate. Alto boat owners seen stretching halyard to fit on shore so keeping an eye on Helen and Capt’n Bob. Reaches not as exciting as this morning but probably best as we’re now surfing in up to 30knts at times. Team work counts as real wash off potential now with bow wave way down the boat. H&P lose it on dead mans’s corner on lap 3 I think. Capt’n Bob and Paul do a decent bit of yachting and come home behind us, quote “could have done with a bit more rake….”
Cuppas from the nice tea lady behind the bar, could have eaten lots of cake.
How its really done: 

A good day, sleep well everyone.