The Long Game

The feeling of missing out is hard to resist. Our club takes part in no less than 3 competitions this weekend at the ESSA school games, Ipswich (website doesn’t seem to be working at the moment) and the Middlesex Development meet, whilst Madison has bed rest to overcome the shoulder and hip operation from last week.

It’s the buzz you get, being part of the performance scene that makes up a lot of the swimmer’s psyche and if that is missing, the only way forward is the outlook for the long distance goals.

The outlook is most important as no swimmer can suddenly throw away 10 years of intense swimming and friendships formed around the pool.

We are very happy that the NHS has provided a great treatment plan, and Madison will get Physio support from next week. Another operation may be necessary to shape the shoulder bones, so that the joint gets optimum flexibility.

As bone from the hip was inserted into the shoulder, there may be awkard formation of the shoulder bones, which will need to be corrected.

It is all about determination and outlook.

In the meantime we can do our best to support the sport. Madison can return to coaching from next week and I am very happy to have been selected as official for the British Summer Swimming Champisonships in Glasgow in July.

Don’t forget all sports need volunteers to provide a good environment for our athletes to suceed to the top of their sports.



Lack of officials

Just gotten this incredibly sad email stating that the Middlesex County Spring Development meet, planned for Sunday 24 March 2019 is cancelled, due to lack of officials.

This is sadly just one of many recent cancellations of swimming meets in the London area, due to lack of officials.

It is a simple process,

  1. parents put their kids into a swimming club,
  2. parents pay the membership fees
  3. parents purchase club kits
  4. parents put their swimmers into competitions
  5. parents need to become officials to help make the competitions fair and equal for all swimmers.

The whole system is based on a completely voluntary participation.

During my officiating duties I found the time to speak to other officials how they ‘groom’ parents into officialdom and in some clubs there is an obvious awareness of duty among parents whilst in others parents just think that somebody else will be doing it, that it is enough to raise money for the club to be a good member.

Well, now when push comes to shove, parents are starting to realise that their kids simply cannot win the medals they so treasure unless they also become officials and helpers to keep the competitions fair for all.

Parents and coaches realise that there is only a point to training their kids to become performance swimmers if the competitions actually can go ahead.

What is the most worrying about the situation is that the sport will suffer if competitions have to keep getting cancelled.

I think perhaps parents rather sit on the gallery and talk to each other or watch their swimmers but that will simply have to change.

Parents have to also become officials when their children enter the performance swimming world. Every parent who can bring a child to a competition can help at that competition. Any special needs of parents can be accommodated most of the time.

Parents simply have to sign up to an official’s course, which is run by every county and then get a training log. Please ask your club for details how to get into a course.

The plan

Now the worst pain is receding, we can concentrate on the wonderful treatment plan Madison has been provided with by her NHS consultant Mr Firth. In correction of my previous post, we are not completely on our own health-plan and training wise, Madison was also given numerous work-out options from the Hackney Aquatics physio Cassandra Lyall and head coach Rick Hall. There is an outlook.

We need to take it step by step and after the worst pain recovery concentrate on getting the shoulder back into proper use. The only exercise for the shoulder given by the NHS physio for the next two weeks is a slight upward motion of the left arm, which is in a sling, to not more than 90 degrees.

What caused the post-op pain is the alteration of the bones in two places in the body. Bone shavings were taken from the right hip and implanted into the left shoulder to close a gap. Os acromiale is the medical term for having this gap at the top of the shoulder.

The bone shaving then is held in place by 2 screws, inserted on either side and the two screws are connected with an elastic band to keep it mobile but still fusing the bones. It’s quite brilliant. Only a fabric sling is now used to support the left arm, whilst in the past the shoulder had been placed into a plaster cast.

Monkey business
Get well card received

We need to go back in 10 days to have the stitches checked and then there is going to be an x-ray to check that the fusion worked. Any excess bone or anomality then needs to be removed to allow the best mobility for the shoulder.

Prior to the operation Madison was in pain as well and could not use her left shoulder since last summer.

It’s wonderful to have gotten get well cards from the club and the young volunteer team in the post, thank you.

There is now a genuine expectation that Madison may be able to return to performance swimming once the shoulder has been mended.



Madison currently has to be completely self-motivating. She has been sent home after an operation being unable to walk unaided and the arm in a sling. It is not possible to do any swimming at the moment.

She has to start from scratch and completely rebuilt competency.

It is so easy to get guidance when you are fit. Join a club, get into the pool and do what the coach says. But, at the moment, it is not possible to get into a pool and get guidance. All that Madison is allowed to do at present, is to lift up her left arm to no higher than 90 degrees. The hip is too painful and the rest is impossible.

It’s quite a revelation. In today’s society, we are literally being told what to do every minute of the day; in fact our days are planned for us.

Be in school at a certain time; get home at a certain time; be at the club; complete home-work; get to bed.

Now we need to self-motivate to learn to get back to swimming and do basic exercise to get the arm and shoulder functionality back.

It is easier to do what you are told and as we are all so used to doing what we are told, it can be quite hard to do what you want to do and motivate yourself.

We are learning to be planners instead of having everything planned for us.

On our own

Since Madison has been discharged, we’ve been on our own completely. I had not been totally prepared for this situation and it was slightly unexpected but I can cope.

Nowadays hospitals discharge patients for home care whenever possible and so here we are. Good job I stocked up on food because of Brexit as. All the hospital admittance letter said is make sure you got enough Paracetamol and Ibuprofen at home for after the operation but they didn’t mention food.

Also what is most important is that you have the time to actually look after someone who needs home care. I don’t think the average working person could do it. I literally didn’t know that Madison had to take 2 weeks off school after this day-care operation. I thought a couple of days would be it but it emerged that it is a long recovery period.

We had been given 3 days worth of liquid Morphine , some dressing squares and a crutch to go home. Madison does not like the liquid Morphine, it is horrible. We are going to return that. We simply rely on Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. Madison relies on the crutch to get out of bed.

With Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, we got to be very careful to stick to the correct dose. It is extremely important to keep to the dose that is stated on the packet and not go over this. I keep a medication rota as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen have different cycles.

We normally do not take any medication and so this is the first time, we need to make our own medication schedule to manage the severe pain that operation left Madison in.

We also rely on the school now to give work to do at home for that time. Here we now literally also rely on the internet to see the Show my Homework calendar and send work back to the teachers electronically.

I have had to cancel my officiating roles for the next two weeks. For swimming competitions there is always a shortage of officials yet the hospital has an overflow of volunteers. I found that out by looking at their volunteers page and they actually closed applications for volunteers till the 4. April. Yet here I am already looking after my child at home instead of occupying a hospital bed.




The recovery

Thanks to Hackney Aquatics for the many good wishes from swimmers, parents and coaches and of course all others who made the hospital stay bearable. The hospital staff were marvellous too.

Making it worst before it gets better is the phrase the consultant used and that is what it literally is.

Getting out of bed on the same day of the surgery on Thursday in day-care was impossible. Madison had nerve blocks on the left shoulder and general anaesthetic. The surgeons took bone fragments from the right hip and transferred this to close the gap on top of the left shoulder, which is held in place with 2 screws and elastic band.

royal-london-nightWe kind of thought, it’s just a matter of waking up and going home after a while like it was after the injection Madison previously had but not so.

The pain was immense and all the morphine given did have a bad effect on Madison. It added nausea to everything else. So on Thursday evening Madison was supposed to go home it was necessary to get a transfer to a children’s ward to stay the night.

There is a breathtaking view onto Tower Hamlets’ south-side from the seventh floor of the building at night and reflections also show in the big glass window.

The next day looked quite dreary, it was decided to stop the morphine and concentrate on getting mobile. The physio taught Madison how to use a crutch, so we could vacate the bed and continue the recovery at home.

royal-london-dayIt is quite disabling to have a crutch for the right leg and a sling for the left arm. There will be no school for the next two weeks and we’ll get work to do from home. With the hip pain Madison could not move around the school and she is also not able to sit up. The screws in the shoulder are only protected by a slight bandage and the arm is kept in a sling.

Yet it is very good that the surgeons did it that way because if they had taken the bone fragments from the left hip for the left shoulder it would be more awkward to move on one side only. It would have disabled one side of the body completely.

Once the Morphine has worn off, it is possible to manage the pain with just Ibuprofen and Paracetamol. What is most important now is to wait for the hip pain to settle so that walking becomes easier.  Once the shoulder is fused together there is less chance of disturbing the positive effect of the fusion by accident. So keeping it safe for the next 2 weeks is most important. But obviously we do not want to occupy a hospital bed for 2 weeks when there are so many other desperately sick children in need of it.

Madison can’t wait to get back to swimming once everything is healed up.


A lovely day at HAC


You can just see the me practising my starter skills today at the Hackney Aquatics Development meet. I dare the photographer to take another pic next year, when hopefully my waist has reduced considerably.

The day was lovely. I never heard so many compliments about the wonderful refreshments and food provided by the dedicated catering volunteers, thanks Marian and Roberta.

Even though I look slightly grim in the pic, I really enjoyed myself as the whole atmosphere was really good.