I’ve finally managed to get out and have a very little wander in the Peak District!
A short, very short wander to Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill. Arbor Low Stone Circle is a Neolithic Stone Circle, a place of worship for Neolithic man, and also a place for funerary arrangements with nearby burial mound Gib Hill, for people of note during that period. Arbor Low Henge (henge meaning a Neolithic earthwork, usually with a ring bank and ditch, with the ditch inside the bank, not thought to be defensive), it’s original name was derived from Eorthburg Hlaw, which is supposed to mean earth works, purportedly consisted of around 40 upright stones (though there are fifty stones today), which were most likely in shallow foundations, which could be why they’re on their sides today. Gib Hill is an Oval Barrow (oval barrow is the name given by archaeologists to a type of prehistoric burial tumulus of roughly oval shape, typically found in the British mid to late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Oval barrows may indicate a transition between earlier long barrows with multiple burials and the later, more individual round barrows.), and typically located to the south west. A little background first, before I get to the nice part. It’s been quite a while since I last wrote about a walk anywhere, though I have written an annual review, but then it’s also been a long time since my accident, which was 19 February 2015!
I did write a short piece once I’d got home after a three month stay in hospital, while the doctors and nurses helped my leg stabilise after numerous operations, called; Unplanned walking interlude.
Yes I know, I needed a hair cut.
But I had only been home a few days after three months in hospital.
The red patches on my left leg are where the hospital too skin for the skin grafts on my right leg.
For almost two years after the initial thirteen hour operation, a Taylor Spatial Frame was fitted to my leg, complete with extensive skin grafts and the latis dorsi muscle was grafted from my back left side to the lower right leg, along with subsequent operations around bone tissue and skin grafts which refused to take, always had a secondary course of action; amputation, should things not go to plan!
The wheelchair I've not had to use since
The pinkish looking skin on my right leg
is the grafted skin,
taken from the top of the left leg.
I very nearly deleted my Twitter account, the blog, Flickr Photo Albums and much more. As part of the ongoing recovery process and support for a compensation claim, I had a Claims Manager, who was there to ensure all the right needs were in place, and also where required, which was a lot, physical needs, adaptations, and of course psychological support. In the early days, the psychological support did help a little (the outdoors was my prime calmer, but I wasn’t able to indulge), though the last session somehow it didn’t tick any boxes, even though the psychologist was as professional as they could be. Among the many methods employed, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and one that was good in the early days, to subconsciously retire to a place of tranquillity. However, after a while the latter started to have no effect, probably because it had been over used, and this was discussed with my therapist at the time. We then tried other places and scenarios, but I just became numb to these scenarios. Eventually, as my mobility started to improve, I started to visit bird and nature reserves, many of which are disabled friendly in that they were good for wheelchair access, and I was dependant on a wheelchair for almost two years.
Many people used to laugh at me during the winter months when walking these reserves, because of my outdoor experience, I carried a headtorch with me, so if I did get delayed, I had sensible illumination while hobbling back to the car.
The funny part of it as, one chap who mocked me, actually bought a headtorch so he could spend more time out in the winter!
So, it wasn’t such a daft idea, and I know my hill walking friends would applaud my carrying a headtorch, and wine gums.
Digressing, winter walking days were toasty days, my merino tops came in handy.
I’m a fiercely independent person, I’m not used to being dependant on others to the extent I am today, so that also bit hard in too my mental wellbeing, driving was not an option for over a year, until I managed to sort out an adapted car, which returned some of my lost independence.
The adaptation was a transposed accelerator pedal, or in simple terms, my left foot (the clutch foot) now operates the accelerator whereas most people will operate the accelerator with the right foot.
I’m a driver with considerable experience, cars, motorbikes, articulated lorries, buses and coaches (and tractors), and common-sense told me, to drive in this new method would only end in disaster, so I had to find someone who would take me out in controlled conditions while I accustomed myself to this new regime of driving.
I did, there was only BSM. The instructor duly arrived with an adapted car complete with dual controls, so they could defer any carnage that could, would, ensue.
It was scary, naturally after forty years of driving conventional, the rule book had to be re-written!
To cut a long story short, after a short while I settled to driving in this new style, I made mistakes and rectified them quickly and safely, but don’t we all as drivers?
My instructor spent the first hour putting me through a basic tuition session, then the second hour was a simulated driving test. The end result was good, his words at the end were; “If it wasn’t for the fact I was in charge of the car, I could quite happily have reclined the seat and had a sleep while you drove”.
That was the second hurdle over before the first.
The first hurdle was to walk again in a progressive fashion, which still hasn’t been achieved.
The third hurdle, was to return to work, preferably with my employer, who have been very supportive although my time off and during my rehabilitation back into the workplace.
From a personal perspective, that was probably one of the best moves at the time, returning to work, albeit on a phased return, but it returned some of the lost independence.
I’m sure there must have been a lot of unanswerable questions before they took me back, and regular occupational and human resource reviews were undertaken, with no backlash.
On one review with HR, I was advised I could have union representation, which I politely declined saying, that if I felt I needed representation, then I’d call a halt to proceedings and ask we reconvene with the required representation.
Thankfully after an unofficial chat going to the office, I was asked how things are going, and my reply was; “I can now moan like everyone else does”. I think that set the scene nicely and from there on, it was just a case of dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s” with an ending request from HR, if I felt there is anything they could do for me, the door is always open.
What a brilliant position to be in, and I’ve still not made any requests other than all meetings are on ground floor rooms, and the rest I’ll sort myself.
That was successfully achieved over two years ago, before the first hurdle, which is still ongoing….
The self-destruct button was still firmly depressed.
Because the last session of psychology didn’t tick the boxes, it was suggested that I read a book about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and many other related scenarios.
Wow, what a fabulous book, forgetting the medical definitions, many of which were way beyond my comprehension, but the scenarios discussed in the book, initially Vietnam Veterans, but many wars since, Falklands, The Gulf, and also civilians, those attacked, physically and mentally abused, well, a lot of those I actually was enduring.
A short fuse, disturbed sleep pattern, snapping verbally at the very people who tried to help me, tantrums, I could go on.
I never thought for one second it was PTSD, with depression thrown in, but it was. PTSD doesn’t just affect military personnel, or our blue light serving personnel, including volunteers in the many support and recovery services like the RNLI, Mountain and Lowland Rescue, it can hit anyone if the right triggers occur.
Self-harming is another form of PTSD, and I was undergoing a psychological version of that, which I saw happening and I think I’ve averted the worst-case scenario, because I recognised it wasn’t my normal self.
I still have flashbacks, I’ve learned many of the triggers, some of which even to me seem stupidly trivial, though there are many more I’ve yet to discover, though I think I’ve learned to live with them.
Physically, I still endure a lot of pain, my leg has secondary lymphedema and still swells up, the leg is very misshapen, so wearing of normal trousers is virtually impossible, and definitely not stretch pants which a good many walkers and mountaineers will wear.
These issues I’ve reluctantly accepted, it’s the independence part I’ve still not accepted.
Rest assured, there have, and still is, a lot of people out there doing what they can, to support and understand the best they can how things have unfolded.
To say I’m extremely grateful is an understatement, I’m nicely humbled.
Think I can safely say, the dark days are slowly drifting away, I’m back on Twitter and the welcome I received was heart-warming.
I mentioned that I had been visiting reserves, and rekindle my passion for photography, landscape and wildlife, but it also started to provide a form of improving my mobility, gradually increasing my walking distance albeit with walking aids in the form of elbow crutches.
Now the best bit, which is the reason for actually writing another blog.
I did say quite some time back that whatever the outcome of my injuries, I would write either as an able-bodied person, or disabled.
At this point, it is currently disabled, I very much doubt that will change much.
But that was on flat ground, no hills, no bumpy tufts of grass to negotiate, and each time out was painful, often for days afterwards, but I never lost time at work.
I’ve been building up my walking ability, not so much from a fitness perspective, though that as well, more from walking through the pain barrier, without the need for medication.
There is a big reason for this, first codeine and morphine, both of which I have on prescription, are opiates, and not only are they a damned good cork for the bowls, but a change in the law back in July 2016; they’re now classed as legal highs, so if I become involved in an incident while driving, I would fail a drugs test and could be classed as a heroin addict!
A list of drugs considered legal highs can be found on the DVLA Drugs and driving: the law pages.
Plus, I need to be able to walk a sensible distance, and be able to return under my own steam without the need to call for help.
Hopefully, I’ve adopted the sensible approach, using somewhere accessible, not a great distance and the weather plus what I need was close to hand.
So, Easter Sunday 2019, it was a lovely sunny day, a last-minute decision, was to go to the White Peak and try some undulating ground for the first time since my accident. Those tufts of grass we take as normal, were painful ankle twists and had a residual impact on the tibia, particularly the upper part just below the knee.
Because my knee and ankle do not bend normally, styles are now difficult, but not impossible, as I found out. But they could be at the end of a walk, that I’ve yet to experience.
So, it was Arbor Low Stone Circle, farm fields, a small hillock (well I can’t call it a hill, the overall height gain was only 20 metres), and a nice day, good views, somewhere I like and peaceful.
Digressing, I could quite easily become a pagan, paganism was, still is, worshipping nature, the stars and all things real. In a nutshell, paganism was outlawed by Christianity because it didn’t conform, and as a result, witches and witchcraft was born.
My wife and I once went in the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle, Cornwall. Wow what an interesting and fabulous place.
Forget the hocus pocus, it was about real people living real lives and respecting what was around them, nature, wildlife, the stars, not gods. Stories of how people were depicted as witches, because they didn’t confirm to the Christianity idealism, and what we now call disabled, mentally disabled, or even just bad tempered, these people were outcast and deemed witches.
Superpower strengths, and you were a witch, predict a scenario, you were a witch, stuff today thankfully we take for granted.
|Bird watching, and feeding the birds at a local reserve.|
|Nine Ladies Stone Circle, Stanton Moor|
|Witchcraft Museum, Boscastle, exactly a week before the floods in August 2004|
Even back then, humans suffered seasonal affected disorder during the winter, and the birth of spring cleaning came form then, when people danced and sang on those sunny spring days, around the broom while spring cleaning, hence the witch and her broomstick!
|Arbor Low Henge, July 2013|
|A hot sunny day, July 2013, sitting on one of the stones|
Enough digressing, back to the walk.
|The Upper Oldhams Farm Drive|
So, it was to be Arbor Low Stone Circle, at Upper Oldhams Farm, Long Rake near Monyash. I parked the car, sorted some change for the voluntary £1 donation in to the honesty box, and continued walking.The last time I visited Arbor Low Stone Circle was back in July 2013, with Andy, you can read about that walk here in: A Limestone walk from Monyash, and the photos are still available online via my Peak Rambler Flickr Account; Arblow, Bradford Dale & Lathkill Dale The walk through the farmyard was nice and steady going, though opening and closing the gates was a little cumbersome. Now before you think I’m crying not suitable for disabled persons, I’m not. My intention is to master this scenario to regain some form of normality. I just need a little more practice (more like a lot more practice) and I’ll be there. Now the work began, a very steady and slight incline normally, for me, was a steep incline as I turned left in to the field heading for the stone circle became quite uncomfortable to start with. But, hey-ho, a new scenario for my rebuilt leg, if that’s the worst, I’m more than happy.
|The path along the field to Arbor Low Henge|
|Looking over Monyash from Arbor Low Henge|
|Arbor Low Henge, with Upper Oldhams Farm in the background|
|There's an obstacle, a STYLE!|
|The stone at the top of Gib Hill, complete with offerings|
I didn’t know what I would achieve, knowing that very often on level ground, to do half that would have been difficult, even today, so overall, I was impressed, I now know roughly where my limits lie, though that is on a good day. A bad day, when the pain reigns supreme, will be different. I will also add, I wasn’t carrying a pack, the extra weight that will involve is another scenario to be tested at the right time in the future. Also, I need to progress from elbow crutches to walking poles. I’ve two types to choose from, standard walking poles with a slightly angled handgrip which I’ve used for years pre-accident, and on advice from physios, purchased some Pacerpoles, which have a more angled handgrip. Hopefully, among the negativity, there is more positivity, and the aim of this was to share some of the history, but also to promote there is a positive side, and I’m not one to sit and dwell, but to move forward the best I can. It will be slow, I’m not good at doing slow, but my situation will govern my progress, and yes, the tantrums will continue with the knockbacks, but the overall intention is to exhibit that WOW factor, and one day, I’ll walk with some of you again, albeit in a lot more tamed fashion, because being realistic and safe, that is how it is. Thank you for reading, and staying with me through this, what could easily be construed as not a very positive write-up, but the important thing is, it’s progress, the view is positive, no matter what, and sometimes the background is a necessary part of the story to understand what’s happening and why.Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Whether I pushed too hard or not, I don’t know, but I was in pain for a few days following that day. But then, I was out again the following day at a bird reserve, pushing the boundaries.
Sometimes you have to do these things, or you’ll never progress, and as the old saying goes; “No pain, no gain”.
There will be another outing, I’m already planning it, Stanton Moor, an old favourite of mine, I know the ground inside out, back to front and upside down, I’ve been walking there since I was a youngster, and probably could walk it blindfold, but I won’t….
If anyone wants to join me, they’d be more than welcome, though hopefully I’ll be using poles not crutches. Well, that’s the intention.
|Abor Low Henge from Gib Hill, and there is a style to be crossed, again!|
|Stanton Moor, my next conquest|
Photo Album Peak Rambler Flickr Photo Album
YouTube Peak Rambler on YouTube Links to some of the items I’ve mentioned and written about here:
Unplanned walking interlude
Unplanned walking interlude