Sitting with friends at eight o’clock in the evening on 19th January, after two days of skiing in Austria, there was suddenly a feeling of cramp in the back of my right leg. Standing up from the table, I tried to walk it off, though the pain did not go away altogether. During the night the pain worsened and by morning it was difficult to put weight on my right leg.
Going to the doctor in the town in the hope he might prescribe a pain killer turned out to be an alarming experience. He examined my leg and took note of where it was painful and said it was necessary for me to go to the hospital. “Do you have a car?” he asked. I explained we had flown to Austria from Dublin. “OK”, he said, “I will call an ambulance”.
Ten minutes later, an ambulance was sat parked outside of the surgery waiting to take me to a hospital twenty miles away. The journey was quick. The doctor’s letter said I was to be checked for thrombosis, he thought there may be a clot in my leg.
At the hospital accident and emergency unit, I was taken for an ultrasound scan. The doctor doing the scan thought there was clot at the back of my knee, but a colleague would need to look. It was an hour and a half before the colleague was able to come and perform a scan himself. He said a specialist would need to look at it. I was wheeled down to the radiology suite where a doctor did a third ultrasound scan, but was not sure, so summoned a consultant who repeated the scan and decided there was no cause for alarm, that the pain was muscular.
The whole experience lasted only from nine o;clock in the morning until half past two in the afternoon, but seemed much longer. It was a time for thinking about things and my main thought was that I would not be able to fly and trips to see my mum and dad would become few and far between, unless I were to move to England. Being unable to fly to other places did not matter, being unable to fly to Bristol would have been troubling.
Sometimes it is the unexpected and unlikely moments that are the times when we really think about things, when we really think about what it is that matters to us. The season of Lent, beginning on 18th February, is a season for us to think. As we recall Jesus spending forty days in thought and prayer, there is the opportunity to think about what comes first in our lives and what we could do without.
I am glad to say that the prescription pain killers worked well and that no further hospital visits were necessary.