This is the HTML version of an update I posted to 30 friends on 7th June 2000, following some unwelcome advice from the neurologist:
First & last drive (long) ... more reasons to hate neurologists :-(
Since starting fizio my shoulder's been making great recovery, and the whiplash on my neck is getting better. The nice fizio is always surprised, or at least makes a good pretence at surprised, with how well I'm doing. My jaw's recovered ahead of the curve too, and the maxillofacial guy was very pleased at my progress.
My head's been working fine for weeks, although I felt slightly slow when I came home from Luton, for the last few weeks I've felt completely like me. I've been working for a few weeks too, not quite full time (but I have a dark suspicion that that's because I'm lazy). Some of my computer programs have actually worked, and I've outwitted some of my thicker friends in discussions :-)
My right leg wasn't hurt in the crash, but something in my head was affecting it. In Luton it took some exercise to get it working properly, and it continued to 'feel funny' - sort of post-pins-and-needles. It was constant from the first I remember in Luton ... I variously got the message that it would either stay the same forever, that it would stay the same and I'd get used to it and filter it out, or that it would gradually go away, perhaps in a year or more. Obviously, this was daunting and disappointing, but I accepted their opinions ... and was consequently a bit surprised when I woke up one morning last week and found the buzzing had completely gone. It does make you wonder wot those people get paid for!
So anyway ... physically & mentally, I now feel great. Obviously my shoulder needs more time and more exercise to be fully fixed, but bone-mending seems easy, and my arm's quite useful now - in the last week I've started to feel left-handed :-)
There was a suggestion that I should wait before starting to drive again. For at least a couple of weeks I've felt fully capable (and frankly pretty stupid for not doing it).
So on Wednesday, I had my first drive. Yesterday Amanda went to the Ducati ladies day at Brands Hatch ... so Wednesday, as part of reversing the scooby to the trailer I drove it round the village, and yesterday I had my first ride, when I rode the RVF round the paddock. Both felt good - and were done very gently, of course. The weirdest thing was how completely normal it felt, more like I hadn't done it since the day before, rather than since Easter!
Anyway, I digress. Oh hang on, I'm going to digress again. It's particularly hateful not driving at the moment because I can't wear the seatbelt over my left shoulder, so I can't sit front passenger seat and have to sit behind the driver. So I can't see anything, or talk to Amanda, or anything. (I told this to the orthopaedist last time I saw him, and he said my shoulder shouldn't be so sore that I can't have the belt on my shoulder. Then I asked him what would happen in a crash ... it seems not to have occured to him!). A friendly policeman said I can get a note from the doctor allowing me to ride without a seatbelt, but I don't want to take that risk.
Where was I? Oh yes ... Starting over a month ago with the DVLA's "if you have a touch tone phone, press 1" medical branch, I got lucky and managed to speak to someone who said they'd send me a questionnaire. A short fortnight later, it arrived ... none of the questions applied to me. However, I probly need to send it in anyway. Because it takes months to process, they "strongly advise" that you ask your GP or consultant wot you should do. The consultant (neurologist) was a rude, stroppy git who asked me some facile questions one afternoon in Luton, so I decided to start with the GP.
I was expecting to get the usual usefully vague and non-commital answer from the GP, which I would then be able to interpret my own way. As (bad) luck would have it, his bookshelf had a tome from the DVLA, something like "Advice For Doctors On Bod's Driving". He found the bang-on-the-head section, but couldn't see anything relevant because all the brain injury stuff seemed to assume brain operations. Those German types prefer not to cut your head open if they don't have to, I think due to their irrational fear of cauliflower. Anyway, GP picked a number out of the air and said three months, which was weeks away (23rd July). So that was a bit disappointing, but at least in time for our August trip to the Nurburgring ... as I was hoping to drive there & back, do some gentlish car laps, and borrow a bike to do some more gentle laps (I really want to see "my bend" from a bike as soon as I can).
Anyway, the neurologist returned my call today. He said the doctor's advice book does include a bit about me, under Serious Head Injuries, and talks about a SIX TO TWELVE MONTH WAIT before driving!
While discussing this with him, he asked me the first post-crash thing I could remember ... I said it was hard to say because I'd remembered stuff in Germany, but my arrival at Luton was cursed by the NHS and when I recovered from that I'd forgotten everything since the night before the crash. It seemed to me my bang-on-the-head hadn't been the cause of this extra amnesia, but he wasn't so sure. He also asked how long I was unconscious - my understanding is that the crash knocked me out for a minute, then the hospital kept me under sedation for a few days. His notes say I was unconscious for six days ...
Anyway, whatever the details there, I got some damage in my head, and he said I needed to keep off the roads cos of a risk of fits etc. Apparently the risk of being a fitter is under 2%, and it's possible that some fitter's fits have no warning, so it's not like they could pull over to the hard shoulder. He didn't seem especially concerned about the risk of fitting other than when driving.
He clearly has no intention of revising this SIX TO TWELVE MONTH WAIT - he was happy to hear that I seem to be fully recovered, but said that meant maybe we'd be looking nearer six than twelve.
As those who visited me there know, Luton is a fantastic place, and its hospital attracts the finest medical staff in the country. Strangely, on my first day there, they forgot to feed me, lifted me in the bed using my broken shoulder, and didn't do anything about my near-hypothermia temperature. Now we find they were supposed to make an appointment for me to see the neurologist last month, and I should've been in regular touch with the Brain Injuries Unit, which we didn't only not hear from, but we'd never heard of.
As far as I can tell, until I get a ruling from the DVLA none of this is legally binding, and it seems that the DVLA thing could take longer than the undriving wait anyway ... on the other hand, having had the recommendation of the neurologist I'd guess it would put me in the "driving without insurance" zone.
I would love to hear otherwise, and would love to find a way of getting the recommended wait reduced to mortal levels.
But for now I'm going to sulk.
I've had a bang on the head.