Guest Blog : go visit Mexico and get involved in their culture – Chichen Itza

This weeks blog is written by my daughter Priya, a budding blogger still at school. If you enjoyed reading her blog entry, don’t forget to like, follow, share and comment!

Hi, I’m Priya and I recently went to Mexico with my family. We stayed close to a small town near Cancun; called Playa Del Carmen on the Caribbean Sea.

As you may know there are many archaeological sites in that area. If you visit Cancun, then I highly recommend you go and visit one of these sights. They all belong to the native people of Mexico who are called the Mayans.

So, who are the Mayans?

They are an ancient civilization who were prominent in central America around 900 A.D. The Mayans were a huge civilization, at their prime, it is said that their population reached 22 million. They used to build temples for their Gods made from stone and only royalty would be allowed to touch it.

2 hours from our hotel was Chichen Izta, which is a massive Mayan temple, and is one of the new seven wonders of the world. 

 Chichen Itza stands 98 feet tall and it has 91 steps on each side which totals 364 steps. Plus the one large step on the top, the Mayans created 365 steps – matching the number of days in the year. The Mayans were ahead of the game, by understanding time and how the earth rotates the sun. The temple is a huge pyramid like structure in the middle of a clearing in the centre of the jungle!

 When I first saw it, I was in awe of its size and condition, as it was very well kept. I stood there wondering, how on earth did they build this.  IT WAS SO BIG!!!

There are also other ruins on the site, such as a Mayan sport court. They played this game that was similar to hand ball (and Quidditch!) but much harder, they have to use all of their body to get the ball into a goal over 3m above them. It was very interesting to hear and see what they did for entertainment. Our guide told us that the winners would sacfrice themselves at the end of the game as a reflection of their devotion to the gods. I was surprised to hear that, as was everyone else. What an amazing place!

I learnt a lot from going to Chichen Itza and it was definitely worth it.

My advice when visiting this site is to go as early as possible, many tours leave at 7am and get there around 12, at that time it is intense heat and very busy. If you want a calm cool(er) time then try and get there as early as possible.  😀

In my next blog I will write about my trip to the Mayan ruins of Coba.

Returning to the operating table – removal of metal work. Osteotomy concluded

In January 2018, I underwent a Tibial Osteotomy operation at the One Hatfield Hospital in the UK. I had been suffering from the onset of arthritis on my right knee and needed a solution that would avoid a knee replacement operation and get my life back to some level of normality.

If you enjoyed reading my blog entry, don’t forget to like, follow, share and comment!

Returning in 2019 to remove the metalwork

The osteotomy had given me a lot of improvement. The physio work and muscle built around my knees in the gym has given me 90% of my life back. The knee issue hasn’t gone away but I feel so much stronger, some pain does remain but this differs from day to day – that’s just the ageing process!

RHS shows healed bone

As the metalwork in my leg did irritate me from time to time, I took my surgeons advice and booked myself in to have the metalwork removed on 27th March 2019. Mr Minhal Chatoo would be my surgeon again. He was brilliant.

The metal work extraction procedure would be a day case. The procedure would take up to 1 hour to remove the screws and plates. Due to the nature of the operation, I would be under general anesthetic, meaning the time in the operating theatre increases to allow for the time to recover as well.

Upon arrival and being allocated a room at the hospital, one of the nurses came in and read my BP, went through standard paper work, handed over a gown, pants and socks – I’m not sharing any pictures of that!

Shortly after, the anesthetist came round as well and confirmed that Mr Chatoo would be operating on me as the first patient of his day.

Mr Chatoo came in to mark my leg before the operation and we had a light hearted conversation. He mentioned the operation is very quick and low risk so was happy to proceed.

Once he left, I was taken downstairs to the operating theatre. As I walked down someone talked me through the procedure again and kept me assured.

Once I was asked to lay down on the bed, I was connected to the ECG and given the anethestic. In seconds, I was out.

Coming round after the operation

I felt groggy after the operation. It was about 10:20 am as I noticed the clock. They showed me the metalwork that was removed from my leg – 2 pins 4 inches long, 3 screws 3 inches long and 6 other smaller screws. They told me I was unable to keep the screws due to protocol; though I wish I could have kept them as a souvenir…

The pain was unbearable and the nurses gave me strong pain killers. 20mins later, it still felt bad so they gave me more – but I think it was codeine. 

Shortly after I was taken back upstairs to my room and Loiza was sat waiting. 

I remember falling in and out of sleep and still in pain. To me, this felt much more painful than the osteotomy last year. 

It took a while for me to eat lunch (soup and a sandwich), just the tiredness from the drugs and the pain. 

I remember the Physio “Saul” visit . He got me out of the bed and made me go for a walk. We made it to a stairwell and then down a flight of stairs. He did say the pain will be high but I will need to get moving sooner. The recovery period would be :

  1. Next 2 days full rest and some movement
  2. Use crutches for a few days after that
  3. Walk without crutches thereafter
  4. Keep moving and apply icepacks if there is swelling

The recovery period was a lot shorter but I kept in mind that there was a deep cut, stitches and several holes in my tibia that would take time to recover.

I was able to walk however I was very tired due to the drugs. I made it back to the room and then met Mr Chatoo again. I remember him telling me that he placed “wax plugs in the screw holes!” to reduce the bleeding from the bone. 

Mr Chatoo also said the operation was uneventful- this is good news.

I rested again and of course, fell asleep. When I came round again I was still in pain and was given more painkillers. 

The nurse mentioned that I could be discharged once Mr Chatoo comes round at about 5 pm. The discharge was quick and easy and everything was set for me to go home.

I was wheelchaired to the car – We drove home in my Audi. The ride was great as I was glad to be going home. 

When I got home, we took the picture below.

I was exhausted. I slept in Aroon’s room and was out as soon as I hit the pillow. I know I woke up in the middle night and Loiza had to help me to go to the restroom – it was still to early and I was unsteady on my feet – the drugs were not helping and as it transpired I had a bad reaction to the codeine.

Comparing Pre and Post Osteotomy scans – a single view of change

Just a short Blog this week. As per last week I wanted to share single point of view on the positive impact of the Tibial Osteotomy can have. The image below was taken from the One Hatfield Hospital’s monthly publication.

You can see in the left hand image the surgical requirements Mr Minhal Chatoo orchestrated pre-operation. On the right hand side you can clearly see the surgical correction.

Accuracy of the surgery has to be at 95-98%. For all the planning it really is up to the expertise and training of the surgeon. I cannot recommend Mr Chatoo enough. There are a number of experts like him in the UK and worth looking into this type of operation as it saves on having a knee replacement operation.

Should I have the metal plates removed 12 months after the Tibial Osteotomy?

In January 2018, I underwent a Tibial Osteotomy at the One Hatfield Hospital in the UK. I had been suffering from the onset of arthritis on my right knee and needed a solution that would avoid a knee replacement operation and get my life back to some level of normality.

In December 2018, I was thinking more seriously about going back into hospital to have my plates removed. In the last couple of months I was experiencing more irritation caused by the metal plates in my leg. My surgeon did mention this could happen when during my last consultation. I spent a lot of time thinking the knee pain returned, but simple self investigation by pressing on the affected area, it was clearly in the region of where the metal plates were located. The pain would appear in the following ways:

  1. Swelling beneath the knee area – The remedy was to use ice packs to reduce the swelling.
  2. Itchiness beneath the skin- not much I can do other than trying not to scratch the scar area.

In retrospect I didn’t really feel 100% fully recovered and did experience stiffness and pain in the knee area that was brought on by the following :

  1. Tiredness caused by lack of sleep
  2. Stiffness when sat in the same position in a chair in the office
  3. Excessive exercise such as treadmill running.
  4. Leg pain for standing up too long.

The remedy really was to take painkillers to reduce the swelling and of course, to rest.  In conclusion I saw myself as 70% recovered – still much better than what I was like before the operation. I found my picture below from our family trip to Athens, Greece where I raced my wife on the ancient Olympic track. Who would have thought that Will I run again!

Just the action shot of me running . Ok Loiza beats me at the end

Clearly I can run again!

My thoughts on returning to the hospital were something else….it would be my 3rd operation in 3 years – I was fed up with going into hospital and then taking time out (a good few months) to rehabilitate thereafter. I am softy at the end of the day!

A lot of points to consider…..

Loiza felt I should go ahead with the plate removal. Due to my private health insurance, I would be able to go back to the same private hospital (the OneHatfield) and have the operation done on a day that is convenient for me. It would be silly if I did not do do this.

Well thats it for now….I need to find a simple view/photo of my Tibial Osteotomy showing pre-operation planning and the affects of the surgery. As soon as I find it, I will post it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Coping with Tibial Osteotomy months 8 to 12

In January 2018, I underwent a Tibial Osteotomy at the One Hatfield Hospital in the UK. I had been suffering from the onset of arthritis on my right knee and needed a solution that would avoid a knee replacement operation and get my life back to some level of normality.

So our family holiday in August 2018 was amazing, we ate, shopped and visited many attractions around the Chicago lakeside area. Going for a bike ride on the lakeside was my favourite experience.

We were lucky that our hotel had an indoor basketball court ( well, Chicago is home of the Bulls) so I was really able to test out the progress of my recovery and it was a success! I was able to play 1on1 with my son – run, jump, turn and shoot and it felt great!. We were in Chicago for 10 days and we played every other day. It had been over 2 years since I was able to engage in a physical sport in that manner, so this was a massive achievement for me.

In terms of strength building I was able to spend longer in the gym and I felt stronger than possibly 2 years ago. I was making a real effort to lose weight and to change my diet. Over the summer I did notice that if I drink alcohol, I do felt aches and pains the day after – so the message here is to drink sensibly ! 🙂

As the UK weather in autumn/ early winter changes to being colder and damp, I noticed the metal work causing me pain in the areas where the plates and screws were.

Sometimes there was swelling in the area and soreness around the scar but taking ibuprofen eased the pain.

Oh and in October, we decided to have a short holiday in Athens, Greece. Strong recommendation from me and the family!

To get to the Acropolis you negotiate a steep climb and in places, over uneven surfaces. Great fun!


Positive change post Tibial Osteotomy – 6 months on…

In January 2018, I underwent a Tibial Osteotomy at the One Hatfield Hospital in the UK. I had been suffering from the onset of arthritis on my right knee and needed a solution that would avoid a knee replacement operation and get my life back to some level of normality.

I did get the chance to visit Chicago in the summer. Perfect weather!

By June 2018, I was signed off my Physio. He felt I made good enough progress to get my life back to a normal state and gave me some tough exercises to continue with. This was coupled with my surgeons recommendation to return on the 12 month operation anniversary (Jan 2019) to have the metal plates removed. This is a big deal as it means the cycle of pain in the knee could be reaching its end point. A weird part of me wanted to keep the metalwork in my leg as its a great conversation opener or filler (“I have a bionic leg”) however I was experiencing the odd skin irritation or swelling where the plates were located. Mr Chatoo (Surgeon) did mention a number of patients having the same experience. I set my mind to return in January for the final operation.

The gym workouts were going well. I was able to run 5k on the treadmill, lift and pull leg weights that was a clear improvement to pre-operation. I kept to a routine of fitness as well as cutting down on my alcohol intake and losing as much weight as possible, through healthier eating.

In July, I had to take time out from work to help my parents. My dad went into hospital to undergo a Quadruple Heart Bypass operation.

My dad is doing well 12 months on but it was a very tough time for my immediate family. Thank you to the NHS!

At the end of August and as a family, we decided to spend our 10 day summer vacation in Chicago, Illinois. For a Brit living under the cloud of Brexit some destinations were becoming very expensive and we felt that Chicago was a great location and is excellent value for money. Also we booked at the last minute and found a great value deal.

I felt much more confident in travelling and doing more outdoor activities; a real turning point as I felt my confidence was coming back.

Yes, there are some great beaches on the lakeshore. Fresh water also!

6 month check up after Tibial Osteotomy

In January 2018, I underwent a Tibial Osteotomy at the One Hatfield Hospital in the UK. I had been suffering from the onset of arthritis on my right knee and needed a solution that would avoid a knee replacement operation and get my life back to some level of normality.

So in late April 2018, I went on an overseas business trip to Detroit, Michigan and stopped over at Chicago on both legs of the journey. I would strongly advise to call your airline to explain your condition and request assistance – it takes a lot of stress out of the travel.

After my surgery, I had booked 12 physio sessions with the One Hatfield hospital (https://www.onehealthcare.co.uk/hatfield/) and had completed 10 of the sessions; I tried to keep to a visit every 2 weeks and the physio ensured he pushed me hard with challenging exercises. Here are a few that I still do today:

  • Bosu Ball – hop on and hop off on both legs
  • Strengthen calf muscles – slow raises holding a weight dumbell. Alternate on both legs
  • Strengthen hamstring with leg raises and using resistance from a large (elastic) band
  • Lunge exercises
  • On the treadmill, jog – I am now getting to 5km
  • Cycling
  • All leg weight training in the gym.

It is fantastic that I am exercising a lot more. It helped with the swelling being reduced (not using icepacks as much), stamina and my mental health.

May 2nd 2018 marked the 6 month review with my surgeon Mr Minhal Chatoo. I was booked in to have an x-ray prior to my consultation.

He had received feedback from my physio and so he knew I had been pushing myself. He then took me through some strength tests and was pleased. He then shared the X-ray results (below)

He explained the bone healing was progressing as planned and filling out correctly. He also mentioned the correction was 97% accurate to his planning.

Within the blue circle you can see the faint grey – bone growth.

I shared the following concerns I had over the last 6 months:

  • Swelling does flare up from time to time . RESPONSE – the bone is still healing, it will when tiredness sets in.
  • Feeling pain that feels similar to that prior to the operation. RESPONSE – irritation can be caused by the metalwork and that can swell, so the pain is really where the metal is located on the leg.
  • I had lost sensation from the front of my leg (shin). RESPONSE – the operation is intrusive and some nerves are affected. He recommended I keep track but no action to be taken as it was not affecting my day to day life. Nerve endings need time to heal, so the sensations may eventually come back.

He recommended I should not hold back and get back to full activity (other than playing football and hard surface running) BUT also to lose as much weight as possible, At 6ft tall, I was 110 kg and had dropped to 105 kg – he recommended to get to 96 kg for body longevity.

My surgeon then recommended the following :

  1. book in for a 12 month review
  2. plan for the removal of the metal plates as a ‘day case’