Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Sunday, 8 September 2013



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Regular viewers may have noticed a break in transmissions over the past week.  I should have been ‘processing’ our Pyrenees pictures before setting off today to Chamonix for a week in the Mont Blanc area.  Sadly that trip has been cancelled due to my inability to walk more than a few paces at a time.

All was well last Saturday, when I managed to jog around the 5 km Parkrun at Wythenshawe well inside 22 minutes.  Annoyingly, if I’d gone flat out I would have got a personal best.  Then, on Saturday evening, a lower back pain developed, slowly and painfully spreading down my left leg.  After two nights with minimal sleep, we spent Monday looking after young Jacob whilst his mum went back to work for a few days before starting maternity leave.  Well, Sue looked after Jacob whilst I writhed in agony on the floor.

A call to my doctor’s surgery triggered an immediate appointment.  I thought I might have sciatica, but the diagnosis was a back muscle strain with referred pain.  A cocktail of drugs was prescribed.  Co-Dydramol, Naproxen and Diazepan.  After 48 hours on this cocktail I was still unable to stand, sit or lie down without significant pain.  It was a bit like constantly having cramp, but being unable do anything to ‘release’ the cramped muscles and reduce the pain.

“We can’t have that” said the doctor, replacing Co-Dydramol with Tramadol, which is apparently a stronger pain killer.  Since then there has been a slow improvement, but complete rest is needed and the Chamonix trip was a non-starter.

This should give me time to make good progress with the Pyrenean pictures, slideshow, etc, though they haven’t been touched during the past week as I’ve been more or less totally incapacitated.  I have however been able to follow Humphrey’s progress across the Pyrenees on his journey from Etsaut to Bagnères-de-Luchon.  He is now back at home in Berwick, after enjoying an interesting trip and chatting to many locals affected by this year’s extreme weather.  Well done, Humphrey, and I very much appreciated your verbal report the other day.

I’ve also enjoyed tracking Markus, the Austrian TGO Challenger, on his own rehabilitation walk after a serious skiing mishap incurred last winter.  He has devised a circular walk from Inverness which he calls the ‘Wester Ross Trail’.  The route takes him to Drumnadrochit > Loch Affric > Strathcarron > Annat > Craig > Kerrysdale > Loch Maree > Poolewe > Fisherfield > Shenavall > Loch Fannich > Loch Meig, before returning to Inverness via Muir of Ord and Charlestown.  It looks an excellent route – about 340 km (210 miles) with 9000 metres ascent over twelve days, similar statistically to a typical TGO Challenge crossing.  He should currently be flogging his way through the Fisherfield Forest to Shenavall in fair weather.  Good luck, Markus.

Our week was brightened by an interlude in a Rusholme curry house with Rob and Brenda and their son, Douglas.  It’s many years since I saw these contemporaries from my days at UMIST, and they had never met Sue.  It was great to see them, and my pain seemed to diminish for the duration of that evening.  Thanks for getting in touch, R + B.

Whilst I’m laid up I hope to make occasional random postings, and I do have a date for some of your diaries.  Several of our younger correspondents have requested winter evening walks in addition to the traditional ascent of Shutlingsloe on 17 December.  So, on Friday 8 November, there will be a stroll up to the Pigeon Tower and Rivington Pike Tower from outside Rivington Visitor Centre - the Great House Barn on Rivington Lane at SD 628 138, starting at 7.30 pm.

Our latest ‘programme’ is here.  More details of the walk from Buxton on 6 October will be added soon, and as soon as I’m fit enough, I’ll be sorting out the venue for our Xmas lunch walk on 8 December.  In addition, anyone wishing to be included in our Collett’s booking in the Dolomites from about 12 to 20 July 2014 should contact me by email –  It’ll cost about £600 on a half board basis, plus travel costs etc.  It’s a brilliant venue, highly recommended, and as I’ll be celebrating my new status as an OAP I may just about be able to commit to a round of drinks!


Louise said...

Sorry to hear you are suffering Martin, I can sympathise as I've suffered from a trapped nerve in my neck on and off over the last six years (when I say in and off, it's more on or vague, never gone) and at times it is excrutiating. I've found co-dydramol quite effective (I'm limited as to what I'm allowed to take) but I'm unlikely ever to take diazepam again, it made me so ill! Yuk.
I do hope you are pain free soon, it can really mess with your head when it is constant and so debilertating. Get well soon!

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Louise
I'm lucky in that the only side effect is that after taking Tramadol I sometimes feel a little fuzzy. The doctor thinks it's a muscle problem, not a nerve issue, so what the pain from a trapped nerve would be like, I hate to think. I'm usually ok with pain - my dentist remains surprised that I don't have injections - but this muscle pain was horrible for a few days, with nothing at all being achieved last week.
Take care.

Alan R said...

I heard off JJ that you were suffering. Back problems are horrible as both Sue and I can vouch. Trouble with pain killers are they lead you into a false sense of security. You get up one morning and think “Thats it i’m better” when the pain and the problem has just been disguised. Go easy Martin, don’t rush it. Swimming or walking in the pool may help. I found it did anyway. oh and sauna’s.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Alan
In my mind I've written off September so far as energetic exercises are concerned. The doctor recommended gentle swimming, but that's one activity that tends to give me cramp. Saunas sound a good idea though.
Don't worry, I'll be taking it easy - I don't really want to have to put up with the extreme pain of last week again...

summitboy said...

Oh no! Hope you will be well enough to visit us in Ottawa in Feb.

Phreerunner said...

I'm sure I'll be alright by then, Ken. I'm puzzled as to how the problem arose and I hope that resting will solve it.

afootinthehills said...

Sorry to learn of all this pain and suffering Martin. I did wonder what affliction had struck when I read on Conrad's blog that you were on three different drugs.

Not often you're laid low is it? Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Gayle said...

I do hope that it proves to be short-lived, Martin.

Alan Sloman said...

Be careful with Tramadol. It's hefty stuff and the "fuzziness" and wild dreams are quite addictive...

Look after yourself, fella

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Gibson, Gayle and Alan
Yes, it's true that I'm very rarely laid low. I'm pleased to report that the Tramadol seems to have countered the extreme pain, with minimal side effects, and that overall a very slow improvement is evident. I'll be speaking to the doctor later today, and I'm also using Pacerpoles and Heather Rhodes' advice regarding walking posture during my 're-hab'. I don't know how I got into this state, but I intend to do everything I can to avoid a recurrence!

Phreerunner said...

Before Gibson removed his comment, it said "Personally, I don't think you take nearly enough exercise. Get out more!"
I do my best, Gibson, and the penalty for your cheeky comment is a test. You are required to identify all the images of Manchester in today's 'Postcard'.
I'm actually a bit miffed that nobody has commented on that - it wasn't a five minute job!

Phreerunner said...

Just by way of a clue, Andrew (who still has to work out how to comment on the blog) has identified 17.5 of the 27 separate images, but he failed to enumerate the multiple images. Well done Andrew, I wonder whether anyone will do any better - perhaps some bird that works at night?!

Can you tell, I'm feeling a bit better today...

wuxing said...

I hope I don't spoil things too much by pointing out the signs in front of the church and the stadium which are a bit of a giveaway. The palm tree is a mystery to me, however.

Hope you feel better soon - like many other readers here I also suffer from lower back (and knee) pain. For me the best remedy is regular walking (unladen), core muscle exercises and keeping my back straight when I remember!

Sir Hugh said...

Hi Martin. I've only just caught up with all this and you have my sympathy. I'm sorry about my jocular response to your comment on my blog which I misinterpreted as humorous.

If things don't improve much don't be slow to be INSISTENT about getting to see a specialist instead of going through a lengthy trial and error exercise.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Nick, and Conrad.
My doctor is insistent on seeing me tomorrow, and we'll see where to go from there. Strangely, I don't have significant back pain, just a variety of leg pains which are reduced by a combination of drugs and judicious positioning of a hot water bottle overnight.
I have no problem with jocular comments btw - anything that makes me laugh must be a good thing! These reports of other people's problems actually make me feel very lucky, as I hope that whilst my current issue has involved extreme pain, it may be quite short-lived... I hope.

Phreerunner said...

Ah, I forgot, Nick's 'Palm Tree' mystery. Some things have come and gone in your absence, Nick. Manchester's climate proved a little much for the poor old 'Palm Tree'!

_ said...

Sorry to hear about your travails, Martin. I hope things improve quickly for you. You know you're always welcome to drop in for a cuppa when you're over my way :-)

Re. the "palm tree", I remember being quite disappointed when I read that it had succumbed. I'd really like to have seen it in situ.

Paul F. said...

Oops -- sorry, Martin. That mysterious last comment (from "_"), was me :-)

I've been spring cleaning my various web accounts recently, and forgot that I'd stripped my Blogger account of identifying info (seeing as Google won't let me delete it).

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Paul, I was momentarily a little puzzled! We hope to see you on 6 October. I sincerely hope I'll be able to walk by then!
Meanwhile, I may just do a "palm tree" posting...

wuxing said...

Re palm trees - these look different, but these are (were) apparently seen in Manchester: and these: :-)

Phreerunner said...

The Trafford Centre palms were certainly there when we visited the Sea Life centre recently. I'm not sure about the St John's Gardens and the Sackville Gardens palms as I've not been there for some time. Perhaps a research project during my re-hab period once I've 'processed' the Pyrenees photos.
Thanks for those links.

Phreerunner said...

...A month later, and my pain situation is improving. Just in case anyone was wondering, you should be able to identify the following 27 features of Manchester in the picture:
Man City logo
Man City stadium
Big Bang Sculpture
Sinclairs pub
Manchester logo outside the Visitor Centre
Brickwork on the Arndale Centre, converted into a 'Yellow Brick Road'
Statue outside the Town Hall (Oliver Heywood)
Town Hall
Cathedral sign
Hulme bridge
Peace Garden statue in St Peter's Square
The Deansgate bicycle
Barbirolli statue
Bridgewater Hall pebble (how many can you find?)
Old Wellington pub
Quays sign
Lowry Centre sign
Lowry Centre
Busby statue
Man United logo
Man United stadium
Metrolink tram
Deansgate (Beetham) Tower under construction
All the pictures were taken in March 2006.