Knee No 2 and further problems facing the Coalition. August 17h September 2011

Crepitus (nasty grinding noises) was present when my equality case was settled in 1992.  Knee problems are on both sides of the family so the chance of escaping the condition entirely was remote indeed. I reported on the 17th August at the unearthly hour of 7.15am at Gobowen to be  given a new knee by Mr S Karlacki who had examined the offending joint weeks earlier and pronounced the time had come to operate. The waiting room was full.  Patients peeled off and by 11.30am, I was alone with a lady from Ellesmere Port and her spouse.  We were soon joshing with each other to guess who would be at the bottom of the list for the theatre.  Of course it turned out to be me. Progressing to the ward, I was seen by the anaesthetist and told I would be in theatre by 3pm.  Much muttering with new found friend as to why we had been summonsed to the hospital so early as nothing had passed our lips since 9pm the previous evening.  By 2 30pm, I was loosing my cool particularity when new found friend was wheeled off for the appointment with the knife.  Nick, the ward sister bore the brunt of my frustration.  The poor man dealt with me well but I was getting agitated that the operating team would have lost focus at the end of a long list and I could not bear the thought of a failed operation. My privately funded operation some 5 years ago was far from prefect and I just wanted to get it over.  Finally, I was wheeled to the outer theatre and then dumped for 20 minutes.  Frustration  mounted and when the anaesthetist finally arrived, I was seriously cross.  I growled that I now appreciated what Muslims faced when respecting Ramadan.  “ Do you want to abort the operation”, the flustered doctor replied. “No, that’s the worst of all options”,  I muttered and apologised for my petulance. Thankfully he bore no grudge as he struggled to hit the spot in my lower back to knock me out, a procedure made more difficult because of arthritic discs in the lower back.  I congratulated him on his achievement, telling him that he had been much more competent that the same procedure performed 5 years earlier.  “Luck” he smiled and I remembered no more until I was in the recovery room, wheeled back to the ward and sucked delicious tea through a straw; the first drink for 22 hours. Mr Karlakki visited the ward before he went off duty. He wore a motor cycle jacket and when he came to my bed, he said “Its good”.  “Thank you,” I said.  “I’m grateful”.  My window bed allowed me to catch a glimpse of a powerful motor bike, a Harvey Davidson, as the talented surgeon roared by. It was soon evident that he had kept his word and the knee operation appeared to be far better than the first.  The statutory ‘doughnut’; a ring fashioned from a crepe bandage was presented for us to insert the heel and push it back and forth to exercise the leg.  I noted that the flex I had already achieved a day after the operation was far better than knee No. 1 and I could almost straighten the leg for it to touch the mattress.  Miracle stuff.  It had taken me 6 weeks of hard work and discomfort to achieve the same result way back in  2005. Back home with crutches and an excellent trolley, (an essential piece of kit for transporting  items from room to room) its now my responsibility to do the exercises crucial for a successful final result.  I thought that I would enjoy 5 weeks free from council duties.  Not so.  Phone call after phone call. My carer who had come from her home in the South was impressed. “Could  I meet to  have a site visit to install a dog poo po bin in the Level Lane play area?   “No, I can’t drive”. Delay the operation. Various planning issues rolled in.  Letters to be signed and then what to do as the September  Site Visit programme had been hijacked by an Executive meeting that had been stupidly arranged at short notice to follow up the débâcle of the shaky schools closure consultation exercise.� Planning site visits occur one Monday a month except in recess.  Our members official diary shows the event throughout the year and yet the Executive chose to schedule the meeting at 10am on 5th September, the worse possible time as the bus always leaves at 9.30am. This overlap in meetings was even more inconvenient as the recess meant that a backlog had built up and members had 10 visits to make which would take the whole day.  Tracy, our wonderfully efficient committee Clerk was on the case.  It was agreed the bus would now leave at 10.45, members were told to bring sandwiches and would be allowed no more than a 10 minute pit stop at County Hall before setting out on the afternoon inspection.  I was furious at the failure of the Executive to respect the Planning bus routine.  I had decided that members should be given a bacon buttie during their short break as a good will gesture.  I was willing to pick up the cost but realised that the Executive meeting was the problem.  As Chair of Planning, I emailed Cllr Woolley the Leader of the Authority and asked for an explanation as to why he had seemingly shown no respect for hard working planning members who probably give more time to their planning responsibility than to any other committee. I suggested he might care to pay for the baps as an act of contrition?  Cllr Woolley’s reply was no less than I had come to expect and of course he was silent on who pays for the snacks. The row over the butties somehow made the front page of the Daily Post.  The provision of the butties actually turned into a battle and even I was shocked by the behaviour of an officer who for some explicable reason attempted to turn this simple charitable gesture into stuff of a kid’s kindergarten.  Absolutely amazing and the sooner I am out of this Council mad  house the better.

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