Dear Regular Readers (and those not so regular),
I hope this week’s edition of our newsletter finds its way successfully into your inbox and you see something that piques your interest enough to want to click it is open and read; perhaps my ongoing knee saga may just be the sort of inspiring read you’re looking for and then again, maybe it’s not. At least click on something because you just never ever know when you might learn something new.
Until next week, keep safe, happy and healthy and if you happen to like pumpkins as I do, why don’t you procure and peel a 1kg of the stuff, chop it up into pieces (not too small – 3cm slices), peel yourself 1 large onion (sliced into rings), 2/3 cloves of garlic (whole) and together with about 750ml of vegetable or chicken stock, 250ml of water and some salt and pepper to season cook it all in a suitable pan until the pumpkin is tender. Once tender, put the pumpkin ad all the other vegetables into a food processor and blend together to create a very smooth orangey yellow liquid which should now look something like a thick soup. Then, transfer this thick soup looking liquid into a bowl and add about 150ml of single cream or about the same amount of milk(if you want to make a slightly less creamy tasting soup), some more seasoning if required and then mix it all together. You should now have a very tasty pumpkin soup which in my opinion is best enjoyed with a couple of pieces of homemade crusty bread. One tip, when reheating soup, don’t do it in the microwave or heat it directly in a soup pan on the stove because the flavour will change dramatically. All you need to do is put the bowl of soup (I use a suitably sized stainless steel mixing bowl) into a pan of already boiling water (a 30cm Le Creuset pan is perfect) and after 15/20 minutes the soup will be hot enough to eat and it will not have lost any flavour.
The next installment of my knee story, is continued below ……..
After pondering my options, I decided not to immediately return to the hospital, but instead carry out my own bit of medical intervention, by medical intervention I mean continuing on with my RICE routine and doing all the knee ligament stretches I had become accustomed to doing on a daily basis. I also decided that I would follow a different approach in terms of bandaging my knee: instead of wrapping the bandage around my knee in a conventional manner, I thought I would try to fold the bandage over to make it half it’s normal width and then wrap the bandage around my knee with the compression concentrated in the area where the fluid was most pronounced – in effect, I used the modified bandage to force the fluid up into one area and then wrapped the bandage around my knee quite firmly, but not as to stop circulation. I did this in the hope, somewhat quite naively when I look back now, that the concentration of pressure in one area may just force the fluid back into where it whence came.
I religiously followed all my routines daily and even though my condition was not actually improving, I felt better about myself and when you feel okay on yourself it gives you the hope and drive to want to keep going to achieve an end, even when it seems that there is no end in sight. In my case, my end was clearly getting rid of the fluid on my knee and preferably before going to the UK on holiday; the prospect of carrying my problem to the UK was a daunting, but realistic one and I had to accept it. During this time, I was busy doing what I’ve always done in my work which is travel around and visit my customers; however, with my knee bandaged up and full of fluid it was a hell of a lot more challenging than usual walking up the hills upon which most of my customers seem to build their businesses. Clearly, doing all the walking I was doing during that time only exacerbated my knee problem, but I couldn’t stop working, I just had to make the best of it.
During my internet research, I had read that some athletes with knee problems similar to mine buy bags of frozen vegetables, mostly garden peas, and use them as cooling aids instead of manufactured ice pack pads to help to reduce inflammation. Bags of frozen garden peas easily mold themselves around the knee, so the problem area can be uniformly cooled, whereas, ice pack pads tend not to be as moldable. I found this out first hand when I went to my local supermarket to buy some frozen garden peas; unfortunately, I could not find frozen peas, so I ended up buying some small beans that Japanese people call edamame, they’re bigger than garden peas, but they did the trick and yes, they are very moldable.
Time flies, it was now August of 2019 and with about 5 days to go before flying off to the UK with my son, Oliver, I again decided to visit the hospital. With the leg brace I’d borrowed weeks earlier in hand, I made my way to the hospital with the hope that by some miracle I could once a for all get rid of the fluid build-up problem in my left knee and if that is not to be the case then at the very least, feel some relief, even for only a short time, from having the fluid aspirated. Also, due to reading about certain peoples’ varying, somewhat negative experiences after having hydrocortisone injections, I thought I would give that a miss this time around. I actually did end up having a hydrocortisone injection, a total of 3 of them, but that’s a bit later on in my story.
The total amount of fluid that was aspirated this time around was pretty much the same as past aspirations, but it remained clear and healthy looking and as usual the doctor remarked that there was no infection. He also told me that he felt that the fluid would build back up again pretty soon, but at the same time he felt it did not harm to continue with the self-treatment plan I had put together and he told me to hope for the best. The doctor also asked me if I would like to try a hydrocortisone injection as he felt that it was now time to move in that direction; although he followed up quickly by telling me that he also didn’t hold out much hope that that would do the trick either, which made me feel pretty down with myself.
I have to say that for the first time during all my visits to the hospital I left on that day with a freshly aspirated somewhat sore knee and the clear understanding that my condition was a chronic one and the road ahead, if there was one, would be long, winding and extremely long. I was due to depart for the UK in the evening of the following day and I just knew that during the whole of my 10 day holiday I would be worrying about my knee; I also knew that I had to try to hide my knee worry as much as possible as I did not want to spoil anything for Oliver as it was his first trip to the land of my birth. That evening, I knelt by the side of my futon and said a quiet prayer in the hope that someone may just be listening upon high and in the morning I would wake up as if nothing had ever happened, like it’d all been a bad dream.
The following morning, I woke up and as usual reached down to feel my knee to see if any magic had taken place during my time asleep and low and behold it hadn’t; if anything, my knee looked more swollen and it felt sorer that it has felt after past aspirations. I decided that I would put my knee issue to the back of my mind for 10 days, I would pretend I was fine, like I had no problem at all and (as British people often say), just carry on. Because it was so early in the morning my wife and daughter did not accompany Oliver and I to the airport; we did our hugging and kissing and said our goodbyes at the door of our apartment and with suitcases in hand we headed out to our waiting taxi that would soon be delivering us at Haneda airport.
Whenever I fly back to the UK I take the early morning flight which leaves at 02:30; I fly at this time so I can arrive in the UK at about 06:30ish on the same day. I had planned to spend some time back in my hometown of Goole, so I could show Oliver where and how I’d grown up; I intended to take him to see the schools I had attended during my formative years, as well as visit some other places that held particular places in my childhood memories. I was really looking forward to going back to the UK with Oliver and it would have been so much better had I not had a knee problem, that I had decided I would try to pretend did not exist at least for the next 10 days, still fighting to get some thought space in mind.
What with all the waiting time involved, it usually takes about 3 to 4 hours to travel back to Goole by train from London Kings Cross, so leaving on the early morning flight from Japan meant that we could get back to Goole at about 11:00. The only unfortunate part of the trip back to Goole was that my mum was no longer alive (she’d passed away 3 months earlier), and sadly she would not be waiting at the front door of her home waiting to greet us as we walked through it, as she had done so with me on my many trips back to the UK to see her over the years. I’ll leave it there for this week and continue on in next time.