Life’s a funny old game.  A friend of mine, known for his positive outlook, has a phrase that comforts him through tough times “Just as one door closes, another slams in your face.”  The point is that just as you are busy seizing the day, fate, in turn, joins in the fun and seizes you warmly by the throat.

I experienced this first-hand this week whilst playing squash.  At the point of winning the match a loud bang echoed around the court signalling that not only was the match over, but also my chances of any more carpe diems for the next few weeks.  I had ruptured my Achilles tendon.  For those unfamiliar with the BBC’s educational series about all things medical, namely Casualty and Holby City, the condition tendonus bustus is bad news if you are partial to walking unaided.

And so it is, with the best weather we’ve had all year and the fullest diary of work for months, that I find myself with a leg in plaster, unable to carry a cup of coffee, much less work as a photographer.  A lesser man would weep, but true to my naturally sunny and positive disposition, I intend to treat the whole experience as instructive and an opportunity to reassess my goals.  With my leg up in the air most of the day, instruction and reassessment are all that’s left to me.

The first installment of instruction was a trip to the NHS Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at our local hospital.  Now I’ve always associated the word ‘urgent’ with speed and necessity such as “If I don’t get to the loo urgently we’ll need to get this leg plaster replaced” but it seems there is a medical definition along the lines of “We’re understaffed and underpaid and we’ll get to you as soon as we can but at the moment the waiting time is at least two hours.”.  It’s not the sort of Urgent I grew up with.

Of course I understand that some people have serious injuries that mean they jump the queue, but what concerned me most during the long hours choosing from the range of clinics on offer on the noticeboards, was the wait to see a triage nurse.  On entering the hospital the lady at reception takes your name and address, from which, and despite being behind a window with an intercom, she is apparently able to assess the urgency of your condition. This must be the case because the Urgent Treatment Centre triage nurse was confident that it was safe to leave all new arrivals sitting in reception for over an hour before seeing them.  Presumably this is a Darwinian filter system used on the basis that any patient surviving the first hour in reception must have a condition worth looking at.

So once the plaster is on, the next regular opportunity to fall flat on your face comes with using crutches.  The truth is they do take some getting used to and there are a range of new techniques to master for what were, up until now, straightforward manoeuvres.  Simple tips include do not put your crutch where your good leg wants to land – this results, in my experience, to rapid descent and a selection of adjectives describing crutches, gammy legs and the world at large.  Another point worth remembering by your partner, is that the toilet seat should be left up, since trying to lift it whilst balancing on one leg and holding two crutches leaves you flailing around like a demented Dalek in its death throes.

Showering also takes on epic proportions.  A ‘walk-in’ shower is transformed into a mini torture chamber where you stand with one leg in a plastic bag to keep it dry and try to wash all that needs washing whilst standing on one leg on a wet, slippery, soap-covered floor.  What falls down, stays down.  Even after just a few days, Dignity is a distant memory.

And so, despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, I shall continue to put my best foot forward, albeit now, the choice of best is much more limited.