"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Sunday, 25 January 2015

san francisco stopover

once the deep clean of the boat was done, I went to the doctor. I had spoken to gillian, the race manager, and she'd put me in touch with the insurance company. they emailed me with details of where to go and when. I got in a taxi early one morning and went to a medical centre, where a doctor checked me over. 'what is this scar?' was the question. on my left hip I have a massive scar from where I'd had my open reductions to fix my missing hip socket. I told her that I'd had CDH and she wanted to do X-rays to make sure the problem wasn't structural.

I had a panic. that hadn't actually occurred to me at all. what if it wasn't just muscular as I'd assumed. would this be the end of my race? a nervous hour or so as the plates were emailed and checked over. eventually she said she was happy it was just muscular and prescribed physio. I went to make an appointment and was told my insurance wouldn't cover it. I called them and they said they had to review the doctor's report to make sure they agreed with it.

we only had a week in san francisco and I didn't want to waste any of it waiting, and I said that to them. I knew I needed to get into physio as quickly as possible to get this fixed so I could leave. the next day I had an email with an appointment at a different physio. I turned up to be told I had the wrong time. by this time I was a bit stressed, and quite short with the lovely receptionist. he checked with the owner, as my physio wasn't even in yet, and the owner said he'd see me instead. he didn't normally take on new clients but as I wasn't going to be there long, he said he would make an exception.

when he checked me over, I couldn't even lift my left leg off the bed when I lay on my front. this was not good. it took a bit of time to work out what it was, but eventually patrick found the spot. at this point I accidentally kicked him quite hard. he was pleased he'd found it, but it was bad news for me. I'd done my piriformus, which is a tiny little muscle right in your hip. it wraps around and is a stabiliser. it could potentially take quite a while to fix. he said he'd try to sort it as quickly as he could and immediately started mobilising it. the sessions I had with patrick went: manipulation, stretches, massage, exercises and tens (nerve stimulation).

while this was going on, lorna and david were still here. I had a lovely day off with them and louisa. I hadn't seen them since race start and was amazed at how much weezy had grown while I'd been away!

because of my hip injury, I wasn't able to do the rig check so gaurav had to do it. he was well pleased, as he was getting off in san francisco and took loads of photos of himself up the rig! poser.... ;)

my final physio appointment with patrick was the day before we sailed for panama. I turned up, still in pain but coping with the medication, and he did his assessment. unfortunately for me, he decided I wasn't fit enough to rejoin the boat and so that was that. he didn't sign me as fit to sail and I was devastated. I went back to the hotel I'd stayed in with kate the night before. she asked how it had gone and I burst into tears and told her I wasn't coming with her. she burst into tears as well. what was I going to do?

on the way from the physio to the hotel, I'd called gillian - even though it was only around 0730. she's just brilliant. she said she'd meet me at the race office in around half an hour. when she arrived, I was sat on a box outside the portacabin with my ipod in. she dropped her bag and took me for coffee. we sat on a bench overlooking the pontoons and the boats, and talked about my options.

I was gutted not to be signed off, and asked her if I could sail anyway. gillian has been the race manager for a few races and has pretty much seen it all. she was in the royal navy for years and is the most sensible person I've ever met. she gave it to me straight: either get off in san francisco, get physio and rejoin in panama and finish the race, or get back on in san francisco, get off in panama and have my race end there even more injured than I currently was.

she doesn't, as my mum loves to say, fire and hit the wall. even though I was really upset I knew she was right. it's not easy for me to accept decisions like that, but gillian was really calm about it and even gave me a hug. she said she knew it was hard, but that matt must realise that there was a chance I wouldn't be sailing. I didn't want to tell him. I'd had a really positive debrief from matt in san francisco and really didn't want to let him down, and I felt not sailing was letting him down.

I sloped off to the boat, not talking to anybody I saw on the way there. I didn't want matt hearing it from anyone else. when I got to the boat, matt was on deck. I climbed (painfully) up onto the boat, and gave him the news. he had no idea I might not be sailing. I felt sick. I thought I was going to cry, right there on the boat, but managed (just) to hold it together. immediately I started thinking about stuff that was going to have to be covered. poor orla got an hour long immersive session on doing media. I had always done the transmission and editing, so she took notes while I gave instructions and tips.

meanwhile, the insurance were trying to sort me out with a hotel as the boat left in less than 24 hours. I packed up my stuff, taking only what I needed onshore with me. scotty on garmin very kindly looked after the rest of my kit so I could get it in panama, as we were very short on space on board mission.

slowly, the rest of my crew found out I wasn't sailing. it was really emotional telling them. it turned out there were another two round the worlders from other boats getting off injured in san francisco. aly from switzerland who'd sailed with us from singapore to china had torn one of her abdominal muscles, and ursula from PSP had severe problems with her wrists and needed a rest.

I'd decided to slip our lines the next morning when they left for the race start. it was actually physically painful watching my home sail away from me, with all my friends on board. we stared at each other for ages while she slipped the berth. gillian and justin, the race director, had very kindly said I could go with them to the race start at the golden gate yacht club. so we jumped into a taxi and headed up there.

after andrew's man overboard incident, all the boats had to do an mob drill before race start. it was really weird watching from land as they completed the parade of sail and got ready for the start. and then, that was that. they raced out under the golden gate bridge and were gone. it was a really disjointed feeling as me and aly watched them disappear from the yacht club. the insurance had got me a hotel but all my stuff was just dumped in the office after getting off the boat.

I headed back to the race office to collect my bags and went to the hotel. I didn't know how long I'd be there or when I'd rejoin the race. I wasn't thinking about not rejoining. that wasn't an option. I guess I'd be glued to the race tracker like everyone else for a while...

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