Tim Woodman - An Update

For those (if any) of you interested in how my recovery is going here goes…

As I suspected at the time I had avulsed my right patella tendon (this means it pulled away from the knee-cap, taking a small piece of bone with for the ride). Although it sounds excruciating, it is relatively less painful than rupturing a ligament in the middle, but still not a lot of fun. I also cleverly managed to do this just 6 days before heading west in a 1972 classic mini clubman estate on holiday and raising money for the Children’s Hospice South-West.

This was not the first time I had avulsed a patella tendon. The observant ones of you out there might have noticed a long scar on my left knee – this hails from 2009 when I had my left knee repaired (although why you’ve been looking at my knees I can’t imagine…) On that occasion, I was playing football and had jumped (really, probably both feet off the ground), but on landing my left knee gave way, and the knee cap ended up in a very odd-looking place. Weirdly I was in no pain whatsoever, which didn’t fit with a dislocation, but my limited medical training suggested that was what I had done (the knee cap really shouldn’t be that far up the leg…) I was taken to the RUH in an ambulance and X-rayed. I was sitting on the bed and an old medic wandered in, and asked what I’d done. “Dislocated my knee’’ I said. “No you haven’t’, replied the sage. “Raise your foot from the bed”. I tried, and it wouldn’t more. “You’ve ruptured your patella tendon” and he then explained what it does (links the knee cap to the shin – without it, you can’t extend your leg).

I was eventually taken to theatre and had the repair. I spent the next four weeks at home (it was over Christmas) before going back to work. Recovery was a long process – after surgery, I was on crutches and the knee in a brace. Over time the brace was opened up so the knee could bend (first 30, then 60 then 90 degrees). Gradually I was able to return to normal activity, and by about 15 weeks I was walking normally, and able to jog lightly in the car park for 20 yards. I completed the London marathon about 15 months later, but it took some time to be truly confident of the repaired tendon. For about a year I always landed on my right if I had to jump up or down. The knee itself had a lot of swelling, which subsided very gradually. At times it still feels a bit like having cotton wool in the joint, but for the most part, there is no real effect after 10 years on.

At the time I was convinced that I knew why the injury had happened. A few years before I had injured that knee, with some pretty substantial swelling, and protracted recovery. I believed that I had probably weakened the tendon at the time and the full avulsion was just ripping the last shreds away.

Now I’m not so sure…

When the right knee avulsed at Great Bedwyn I was pretty sure I knew what I had done. The knee-cap was in the right (i.e. wrong) place and I couldn’t raise my foot. I arranged to get picked up by my wife, and my car retrieved by my parents (still running around after me at 46!). I got Robyn to take me to the RUH as I strongly suspected I would be kept in, and would need surgery, and didn’t want to be in Swindon. I was diagnosed pretty quickly, but then given the option of heading home with the leg in a straight brace for the night, as the RUH was pretty busy, and it might be a while waiting for a bed. I went home, slightly sceptical, but the phone call to come in next day came early and I headed in again. A few hours later, I felt fantastic, but that was mainly the anaesthetic wearing off…

The surgery had gone well, and duly equipped with crutches (and having shown that I could use them), and some medication I headed home to the sofa, and an appointment with the Ashes and Netflix. The big problem – would I be able to get into the mini – loomed large. Departure was Friday, just four days away and my right leg was locked in the straight position. On the day, to my relief, with considerable sliding, and the right orientation, I was able to get in, and we set off on the 100 plus miles to our rented cottage. It was a tight fit, but I couldn’t move the leg anyway, so not too bad. Two days later I realised that I could have even more room – at some point in the last few years the mini’s seat had been taken out and re-fitted, and it was not fitted as far back as it could go. Twenty minutes later Robyn had completed the job, and I was able to travel in a bit more comfort.

We’ve been involved in the Legendary Grand Tour in north Devon for about 10 years, helping to raise money for the Children’s Hospice South-West. Over the 25 years it’s been running, more than ₤500K has been raised. Monday is fancy dress day…

queen tim

After the holiday I had another week at home, returning to the RUH for a check and the fitting of the flexible brace. Over the last six weeks, I’ve been able to bend the knee more and more, and have now dispensed with the crutches. I’m still not walking perfectly but it is coming, and hopefully, physio will start soon, and I should get to take off the brace in the next few weeks.

Looking ahead – I played crocket the summer following my knee repair in 2009, so if all goes to plan I hope to be back next summer, but it will depend on how well the rehab goes from now on.


woodman circle  Tumble Tim Wooman

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