Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

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Richard G
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Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Richard G » Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:57 pm

So some of you may already know the story via Facebook, but for those that don't... (long read, I feel like I need to get it all down somewhere in one piece). There's a TLDR at the end. :???:

In getting ready for my (trip of a lifetime) for Whistler I've been doing a lot of bikepark / DH recently. Things have been going pretty well, and my skills were getting back to around where they used to be a couple of years back when I was doing it more regularly.

On the 28th of May, I was back at Bikepark Wales trying some of the trails with bigger drops. I'd warmed up with a few blues before getting a bit more technical on a red and a black. These out of the way I'd planned to just mix in a few parts I'd not done before as well as try and session a few things I was less confident with.

I'd just come out of Hotstepper into Terry's Belly (a blue trail I've done numerous times before) when I lost concentration, came out of a berm badly and somehow washed out my front wheel. I came down hard on my right-hand side, hitting my head / shoulder, arm and hip. Thankfully due to body armour / full-face helmet my upper body was largely protected, my hip didn't do so well. I managed to get to my knees and realised fairly quickly that something wasn't right. Based on the bruise that my right forearm sustained, I'm pretty sure I'd have broken my arm were it not for the hard shell / D30 based pads.

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Wasn't too long before a couple of riders turned up, and I asked them to help me to my feet to see if I could work out what I assumed were seized muscles. Not so much. I asked them to tell a staff member and to leave me leant up against my bike, where I'd stand on one leg until help arrived. Quite a bit of time passed, and I started to consider walking my way out, but after a few steps, I realised that I'd just be putting myself in more danger from other bikes arriving at speed.

After waiting a while I stopped another couple of riders, asking them to take my location and pass it to the staff. Significantly more time passes, and I'm starting to consider hopping out of there (still assuming muscle damage rather than anything more serious). Finally, two riders show up saying they've been asked to call the staff if they see me. Apparently, the first aider has gone to the rest area in the trail, much higher up the hill than I am. They take turns helping to hold me up until, around an hour after my initial crash, the first aider arrives.

Another age later, the trail is closed (I'm going to try and work out exact numbers from Strava). I'm still standing on one leg, with the first aider doing his best to take as much of my weight as possible. Shortly after that, the first paramedic arrives, I'm dosed on morphine, my armour is removed and I'm readied for a spinal board / pelvic brace. With the help of the fire service and their new six-wheeled toy, I'm brought down off the hill and placed in the ambulance. By this point, it's about 1.5 hours from the crash.

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Things move reasonably quickly now. I'm at the Prince Charles hospital in Merthyr within about 20 mins and sent for an x-ray shortly after that. If you've ever suffered from a core injury, you'll know that's when the pain really begins. Some staff are better than others at moving patients into scanners, and thankfully these were great. As soon as I heard "the doctor will explain what has happened to you" I knew that it wasn't as simple as just damaged muscles. The doctor explained that it was multiple fractures to the hip socket, and stated that when people normally "break their hip", they actually break the ball end rather than the socket... with the socket being a much more complex recovery (typical). It was at this point I started to realise the long term impact of what I'd done.

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After a CT scan (another excellent job moving me) I was moved back into a corridor and remained there until late that night. Around 10pm I was moved to a ward, where the assistants seemed to take great pleasure in throwing me into the bed. From this point on, most of the times I was moved / scanned it was agony, so I can only assume that something had shifted in my hip that hadn't previously.

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Time passed fairly uneventfully at Merthyr. The food was actually quite good, and I must say that I found the valleys accent to be quite comforting. The initial local diagnosis was that I probably wouldn't need surgery, but they were waiting for Cardiff's specialist input... annoyingly, Cardiff was down a surgeon, and didn't get back to them in a timely manner. The next step was Swansea (where I'd rather not have gone), who were also too busy. Finally, Bristol agreed to have a look and decided that I would in fact need surgery. At this point even getting to Whistler on crutches was impossible, and without that small ray of hope, my mood took a pretty dark turn.

After four days in Merthyr I was transferred off to Bristol Southmead. A rather impressive looking modern hospital.

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----------------------------

Bristol didn't get off to a good start. The night doctor couldn't be bothered doing my handover, and by the time the nurse had angrily harangued the daytime doctor into doing his job, it had been 17 hours since I'd had any pain medication. I still need to work out if I should complain about this or not. I'm lucky in that I've got a pretty strong tolerance for pain but no-one should have to go through that.

Things got worse fairly quickly when they found a blood clot in my right leg. No way to know if it had happened during the accident or because of the bed rest since, but either way, things were about to get a whole ton more complicated. The next day I was taken down to Interventional Radiography to have a filter installed into my IVC (inferior vena cava), a large vein just below the heart. This is a particularly unpleasant procedure where they make a cut in your groin, feed a tube through that vein and then feed the filter through the tube. This is what the horrific thing they put in me looks like (thankfully I didn't google it beforehand!)...

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The idea behind it is that if the surgery was to cause the clot to move, the filter would catch it, and rather than pulmonary embolism, I'd just have a really bad day.

Two days of scans, injections, and general poking and prodding and I'm off for surgery. Originally scheduled for 10:00 I was told at 08:30 that I was being taken down immediately. This upset me quite a bit, I'd never been put under for surgery before, and I really wanted to see my wife before going in. All I could manage was a quick phone call before being down in prep. Thankfully they didn't leave me waiting long, and the next thing I knew I was waking up to the doctor asking me questions to get the fentanyl dose dialled in. I must say, that's some seriously impressive stuff. It's the only painkiller I had whilst in hospital that made an immediate / significant difference to my pain levels. It's not hard to see why people get addicted to it.

The rest of the day after surgery passed fairly quickly, and having been put on a catheter there wasn't a lot for me to actually do (annoyingly they let my bag fill up at one point, which was quite uncomfortable). Next day I was asked to move around / get off the bed for physio and it was at this point I started to realise that something wasn't entirely right with where they'd operated. Pain was generally fine, but the wound felt extremely tight and each movement almost felt like it was ripping it. I tried some gentle stretches in the hope of loosening it up but it didn't seem to do much. After being manhandled for a scan this got even worse, and the swelling had started to become fairly extreme.

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Some blood tests and (world endingly painful) poking and prodding from a doctor and I was asked if I gave permission to transfuse if necessary. I can't say this helped my anxiety levels much! Shortly after I was rushed for an emergency CT (the most painful part of the entire experience as they had to roll me onto my swollen side to move me) and shortly after that was told I'd need surgery the next morning to remove a large haematoma. Apparently closing me up hadn't quite gone as planned and I'd bled internally, which had dropped my blood pressure by a decent amount and left me feeling generally shitty.

We made sure not to make the same mistake the next morning, and my wife got in before visiting time officially started. This made going down for surgery a significantly less stressful experience, and I was back up with her in no time (this time with no need for extreme pain medication). The next day's physio was an entirely different experience to the first too, with them being surprised at just how well I could support myself on one leg etc.

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Sadly this wasn't quite the end of the setbacks. It seemed that being taken off the blood thinners for the surgery had caused the clot to grow slightly, which meant that my legs swelled alarmingly towards the end of the day. Some more poking and prodding from doctors and it was decided we'd just have to live with it as they couldn't risk increasing the dose whilst my surgical wound was healing. A couple of stressful days and I was put back on the full treatment dose of the thinners, which seemed to sort things out pretty quickly.

I managed to get in a small victory, in that I was able to both go to the bathroom without a helper. You'd be amazed how much the little things make a big difference to you when you're in that place.

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Unfortunately, there was a little bit more drama to come. As had been the plan, the IVC filter they'd installed needed to be removed (via the jugular vein). However, what I thought was a scan to check it then turned out to be the removal procedure... and worse, they ended up leaving me waiting in a room for three hours beforehand, so the anxiety kicked in again in a big way.

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They were pretty good about it in the theatre though, even putting on Queen for me to listen to. :lol: This only helped for so long though, as the surgeon first managed to destroy his syringe by pressing too hard (spraying what I assumed was blood over my face) and then used the words you never, ever want from a surgeon "Uhh, that's not right. That's never happened before."

Thankfully the incident with the syringe was just the tubing coming off (I've done this bleeding brakes!), and the liquid which exploded everywhere wasn't blood, it was contrast fluid. The second issue was slightly bigger. It seemed that although he thought he'd captured the filter in the retrieval sheath, when he went to pull it out, the hook at the top bent and he lost grip on it (turning it slightly in the process). I just about sh*t myself. :cry: A tense period followed with him asking for various adjustments on the imaging etc, when he asked me to hold my breath again and thankfully he managed to hook it successfully. Having one of those left in you really isn't ideal, especially if you want to lead an active lifestyle.

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That out of the way, it was time to start looking forward, and I got my first of many future small victories the next day, when I was able to wash and dress without assistance.

----------------------------

If you've read up until this point... congratulations. You have far too much time on your hands! :lol:

I appreciate that people have been through far more than I went through there, but I can only speak to my own experience of it all. I guess it would have been fairly straightforward without the clot, but there you go.

As for life going forward, the real hard work is yet to come. I've been told that I definitely won't be cycling for at least nine months, probably more like a year. I can't drive for three months, and it'll be at least six weeks before I can put even partial weight on my right leg. On top of that, I'll now be on blood thinners for six months, and, dependent on testing, possibly the rest of my life. It'll probably be six months before I know if the surgery was enough of a success to allow me to cycle again... if not, I'll be looking at a full hip replacement instead.

I've just got back home. Still a long way from being well, but at least I'm going to get some sleep here. So much planning and organising to do, if nothing else so I can get back to work.

I've booked my first appointment with my regular physio and I'm eager to start finding / addressing my new weaknesses. Also going to try and find a coach to put together a weights regime I can do with no hip / little core involvement. Gotta stay sane somehow.

If nothing else, it's nice to be away from hospital food...

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TLDR: Smashed up my hip socket at Bikepark Wales (just before trip of a lifetime to Whistler).

Hospital didn't go smoothly at all, ended up with a blood clot on top of the injury which complicated things a bunch. Had a filter installed to stop the clot killing me. First surgery caused a haematoma, second surgery fixed it. Final procedure removed the filter, but they nearly lost it in the process.

Three months before I can drive again. 6 weeks before I can even put partial weight on my right leg. Probably 9-12 months until I can ride a bike again, if at all. If not, next step is a full hip replacement.


p.s. I've left out the constipation so severe that I nearly begged for an enema. I've also left out the pictures of my ruined meat and two veg (I think they forgot to move them from between my legs on the second surgery). :lol:

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by wriggles » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:04 pm

Just a scratch after all then? :wink:

Horrible and everyones worst nightmare. You have done well to get this far. Well done :-bd

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Richard G
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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Richard G » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:09 pm

That was where they put the tube (HOSE!) to take the filter out. I would have happily paid them to be asleep for it, but sadly they need you to breathe at specific times. :sad:

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Landslide » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:13 pm

Eek!

Hope you heal up well (albeit not quickly by the sounds of it).

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by htrider » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:16 pm

Multiple ouches! Makes Chris froomes injurys look a bit lame. Least you got the right attitude to recovery good luck and heres hoping your biking again this time next year. :-bd
Maybe we should take up tiddly winks....

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Richard G
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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Richard G » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:20 pm

I was breaking bones before it was cool. :lol:

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by gairym » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:21 pm

Cripes!!!

And I thought I was having a bad year medically.

I was out for a long period with multiple issues once (though nothing quite so full-on) and I know that it can be hard to stay positive and so make sure you keep your goals realistic and celebrate the little victories (as it seems you're doing).

Heal quickly and hopefully you'll be back in the saddle soon.....
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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by RIP » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:23 pm

Bit of an anagram of "King Bear Bones" there Rich - which sums up how you seem to be getting yourself through it all. What a story. I'll make the fatuous "thoughts are with you" comment 'cos it's true. Best wishes for the recovery stage mate.
"There comes a time in your life Ponsonby, when you think: 'My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

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Richard G
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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Richard G » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:27 pm

I know there's going to be some dark days ahead, so I'm thinking I might put some sort of progress diary together... just to look back at and hopefully see just how far I've come.

I mean, if nothing else I've already gone from not being able to lift my right knee (for two weeks) to being able to do 20 knee slide reps reasonably comfortably. I also want to keep some measurements with regard to muscle size / strength too, just so I have an idea about what sort of wasteage I'm looking at on my right side.

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by middleagedmadness » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:29 pm

I can feel for you with the pain meds ,when I had my climbing accident the air ambulance gave me morphine at 2oclock ,was supposed to be a instant surgery due to open class c fracture ,no surgery till the next day and only offered paracetamol for pain ,it's hard to explain the pain but my lower leg was held together with tendons only ,anyone who knows me can imagine the mouthful the doctor got the next morning for not signing off on me having any pain meds ,had a couple of external frames screwed into my legs and a bone graft ,for the next 2 weeks orimorph was my best friend,( and once out of hospital weed and whisky :wink: ) ,I was laid up for 12 months rich and if you think too much about what you've done and what your missing out on then it will get you down , I know it's easy for me to say now as it was 4 years ago but the best thing to do is accept what's happened ,wipe your mouth and try and get on with life , I'd accepted that I wouldn't climb again not because of a physical problem but as I didn't want to be on a lead thinking about what was going through my wife's head at home ,and not wanting to put the kids and wife through what they'd gone through ( it's not just you it affects with a injury like that) so my days were spent planning paddling trips then I came across this site ,the planning of trips for that 12 months really helped with my mental state ,if I hadn't had such a supportive family and a "just get on with it attitude to life " then there's a good chance I'd have lost my leg during that year , remember don't take your frustration out on your family , accept you f@#ked up and your broken and when the hospital tells you you may not do something again ignore them ,hope you heal well ( sorry for the length of post but hopefully done of it will help you get through a bit of stuff) I found a great film to watch think it was called in the frame by Joe baumont ,showed me just what can be achieved when broken if you put your head down and crack on
Last edited by middleagedmadness on Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by sean_iow » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:32 pm

Pleased you're back on here Rich, you must be on the mend now, I was worried from your early FB posts that you'd given up hope of getting back on the bike.

It might be a long road back but even long roads come to an end if you just keep going. I love that you tried to walk out, on a broken hip :o that's the Bearbones spirit, taking the 'stop being soft' to the extreme :-bd
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Richard G
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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Richard G » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:44 pm

I had nothing to focus on Sean, everything was out of my hands and I fucking hated it. I appreciated your comment about keeping you company at 1am though. :grin:

I know what you mean MaM. The other part of the long term decision is if I can risk putting Charlotte through that again. For now though, I'm going to be working as if I'm coming back, because it's all I know how to do.

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by middleagedmadness » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:49 pm

Richard G wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:44 pm

I know what you mean MaM. The other part of the long term decision is if I can risk putting Charlotte through that again. For now though, I'm going to be working as if I'm coming back, because it's all I know how to do.
Just remember you don't have to stop but maybe rework the way you do it ,DH is a little like climbing where a lot of it is a head game and if your worried that's when things can go wrong again ,all the best mate( oh the weed and whisky was a personal choice may not be everyone's cup of tea :wink: )

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Taylor » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:53 pm

Shall we put you down as a "maybe" for BB300?

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Richard G
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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Richard G » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:56 pm

middleagedmadness wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:49 pm
Just remember you don't have to stop but maybe rework the way you do it ,DH is a little like climbing where a lot of it is a head game and if your worried that's when things can go wrong again ,all the best mate( oh the weed and whisky was a personal choice may not be everyone's cup of tea :wink: )
Problem is, I crashed on the sort of stuff that you'd see in any mountain bike ride. Had it been a massive droppoff or something then sure, I'd have an easy choice right now, but it was a nothing bit of trail.

Anyone that's known me on here for long enough can tell you how I've got a bit of a tendency to crash out of no-where. I believe BB events alone account for 3 ribs and a dislocated shoulder.
Taylor wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:53 pm
Shall we put you down as a "maybe" for BB300?
To be honest, I was actually considering coming up to help out / cheerlead... but it depends largely on my mental state nearer the date.

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:20 pm

but it depends largely on my mental state nearer the date.
Okay, let's be honest here ... it won't be any worse than that of anyone out there riding it :wink:

Don't let the thought that it happened on something simple alter how you think. I knew a bloke who died (yep, proper dead) after 'falling off' the bottom rung of a ladder. I also know another bloke who survived a head-on with a car while doing over 130mph and he still rides motorbikes now. Sometimes, it really is the luck of the draw and as I said to you before - you're not defined by what happens to you but how you choose to deal with it.
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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by whitestone » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:24 pm

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

Effin' hell Rich. I've been on the pop so I'll write something when I'm sober.
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Richard G
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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Richard G » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:58 pm

Bearbonesnorm wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:20 pm
Okay, let's be honest here ... it won't be any worse than that of anyone out there riding it :wink:
You raise a valid point.

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by benp1 » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:02 pm

Bloody hell mate. I read the short version but that sounds horrific, hope you recover well and quickly!

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by FLV » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:07 pm

Oof. Thats a biggie. Glad you've got through it and can work on recovery.

If it helps, I stubbed my toe earlier and it really f'ing hurt :lol:

Seriously though, chin up mate.. you'll be back on the bike before you know it. When it gets tough, just ask yourself what Alex Zanardi would do :-bd

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Richpips » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:40 pm

Good to hear you'll one day ride again.

I hope your recovery is swift.
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Richard G
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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Richard G » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:03 pm

In unpleasant news, some of the nerves are starting to wake up in my upper leg... and I'm not enjoying the experience. :shock:

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by In Reverse » Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:47 am

Christ Rich, I feel traumatised just from reading that. Fair play for sharing it on here with a modicum of good humour.

Good luck with the recovery mate. I've got loads of books I'm going to be offloading if you want any reading material.

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by darbeze » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:12 am

Bearbonesnorm wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:20 pm
you're not defined by what happens to you but how you choose to deal with it.
True words from the big man there. What a truly horrendous story Richard. I sincerely hope and wish that you get through it completely and are one day able to look back and see that something positive came out of it

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Re: Broken Riders - Joining The Party (Long Read)

Post by Moder-dye » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:27 am

Ooft! That seemed like a pretty grim trial :shock:

All the best with the recovery and hope its a smooth one.

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