Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Second Meeting

Off to my so-called 'office' today for the first time at the Chilterns Conservation Board in Chinnor. It's not really my place of work, that'll be my sofa mostly, but I do have a hot desk and office space I can use there. There's also human interaction, which is a good thing.

Chinnor is a cracking little village on the northern edge of the Chilterns and my commute there, albeit by car at the moment, is also pretty good taking in Wendover, RAF Halton and a variety of lovely olde worlde looking pubs. And at 25 miles it'll be an awesome Summer commute, on or off-road.

The piece de resistance? Lotte's Country Kitchen in Chinnor - the pinkest little tea shop I have ever seen. Cakes, china tea pots, homemade chutneys and a cookbook written by the proprietor Lotte Duncan herself. Well, it would have been rude to have lunch anywhere else really.

I took a slight detour on the way home to pop into Wendover Woods and sat for a while watching the Red Kites overhead. Another successful day.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

It's a Miracle

I mentioned a while ago about my knee injury. One year on, numerous visits to the physiotherapists, some sports massages and some visits to the chiropractor, and I still wasn't seeing much progress. So when I heard professionals using phrases like "your cartilage looks like crazy paving", "you've got the knee of a hard-playing 50 year old footballer", "there are ligament problems", alarm bells started to ring.

The problem is, these most recent diagnoses didn't tally with the original radiographers report done in January 2012, when I had the MRI scan. I'd also been getting conflicting information about how I should approach the injury, what was best for me and what I should and shouldn't be doing. All very confusing and having a massive impact on my life.

There was only one thing for it, a fifth opinion.

After much research and recommendations from friends and acquaintances, including a certain Mr Magnus Backstedt and Julian Winn (thanks guys) I decided to go and see Mr Jonathan Webb. Apparently he's the man when it comes to knees and cyclists, this was confirmed a few days after I booked the appointment when Nicole Cooke mentioned him in her retirement statement. Looking good so far.

My only reservation was that he is based in the Fortius Clinic in London, the same clinic the first consultant I saw is based. And I wasn't very impressed with him - the half hour appointment I'd booked in January 2012 took all of 5 minutes, cost £250 and all I got was a one line diagnosis. I tried for months to get some more information and clarification on cartilage fissures from him, but he was always off skiing or deer stalking in the highlands. Alright for some!

I explained all of this to Mr Webb's secretary on the phone and at the outset of the appointment he too addressed it and told me not to worry about the politics, the most important thing is that we figure out what's wrong. (A good start!)

Well, what a difference an hour makes. He examined both knees, did the usual tests and then we chatted. I asked questions, he answered clearly. I queried bits I didn't understand and pointed things out to me on diagrams. We had a look at the MRI scan, I told him about the 'crazy paving' comment and he said there's no evidence of that.

Basically, he said that aside from the fissure my knee is structurally fine, cartilage, ligaments and all. Plus the fissure didn't explain the pain and problems I was having anyway. At this point I think I started crying and apologised, he sat back in his chair and told me not to worry, "it's a very emotional subject for sports people" he said. (Himself being a former England rugby player.)

Apparently, my main problem now is a plica. He went into detail, but coincidentally it's exactly the same thing Nicole Cooke had. Obviously he did a quick op for her, snipped it out and six weeks later she won the Giro d'Italia. I don't have the budget of a pro cycling team. But I'm confident this is what I have and more importantly, believe everything he said.

Then came the best thing I have heard in a year: "It's fine for you to ride your bike as much as you want and whenever you want". I couldn't believe it. Really? "I can't stress enough that you are okay to ride your bike and you won't be doing any damage at all. It will hurt due to the inflammation the plica causes, but other than that, it will be fine."

So there we have it; slap on the ibuprofen gel before a ride and see how I go. If I can manage the pain then great, otherwise I'd better start saving for that operation. As I stood up to leave I could have hugged him! I didn't, by the way. I did in my head, but not in his office. Outside I took a deep breath and promptly burst into tears, again. I was so emotional I had to go and hide in a little pub around the corner and compose myself over a pint. What a day! Why didn't somebody tell me that a year ago?! I can't remember the last time I was this happy!

If you've got a problem, if no-one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire the J-Webb.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Day 1

So, day one in the new job and what a baptism of fire! (sarc.) It began with tea and cake in the British Library, went on for a few hours, included lunch, more tea, lots of chatting and an afternoon train home with enough time left to jump on the turbo-trainer for an hour and cook a rather lovely dinner.

As far as first days go, I guess it was ok. I had a bit of a wander around the library obviously, a place I've never been before even though it's just a five minute walk from London Euston - a station I have used well over a thousand times in the last decade.

As that annoying little red head once said, "I think I'm gonna like it here!"

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

My New Life

Every now and again an opportunity comes along, completely out of the blue, that you just have to grab hold of with both hands and be prepared for whatever changes may occur. That happened to me in November.

I've been plodding along in my television career for over a decade and have become accustomed to the shift work, endless time off and very good money. It has allowed me to do pretty much whatever I want, including setting up my own events business and travelling a lot. Then a job came up with the CTC that really couldn't be more different.

In simple terms, it's practically my dream job. If somebody asked me what I want out of life the phrases "work from home", "have time to ride my bike", "earn a decent wage", "do something I love", "be involved in cycling" would all come up. So when a job that covers all of those suddenly appears it's almost too good to be true. Throw in "work on your doorstep in the Chilterns" and I found I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was real. How can a job like this actually exist?

But it does exist. It is real. And it's my job, at least it will be from Monday 28th January. I'm so excited it takes my breath away. I will be the Senior Development Officer for the Chilterns Sustainable Gateways Project. Basically, I get to develop cycling in the Chilterns. My job is to get people riding bikes.

I feel like I'm standing at the gates of a new world with no road in front of me, just endless possibilities and new opportunities. A world of excitement and potential. I actually get to try and do what I've been wanting to do for, well, forever really. And it's mind blowing. It literally makes me shriek with excitement. And not just the job either but what it means for me and my life. I have just 5 days to the start of a brand new world and a new way of life; anything could happen.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

"You're Left Leg Is Haywire"

Happy New Year!
Okay, so I'm a bit late, but you might have noticed I've been away for a while. There's an explanation for that. The blog is called "Mountain Bike Girl" and has always, mostly, been about cycling. But for the last year I've not actually been riding a bike. I'm injured.

I blew my knee in December 2011 - patellar cartilage fissure thing. Basically my knee hurts, a lot, when I bend it. It's amazing how many times a day you bend your knee. Seeing the physio then threw up various other problems - ankle that doesn't fit, twisted pelvis, disfunctional shoulder, weak hip flexors, blah blah blah. In a nutshell, my left leg doesn't work properly and hasn't been working for some time.

So I've been working to relearn how to do even basic things: going up and down stairs, riding a bike, standing up and so on. In the hope of my leg working properly again at some point and my knee not hurting just enough so that I can ride a bike. Progress is slow and depressing at times. But one day I'll be back out on the bike. Wish me luck!