I’m writing this sat in a hospital gown that would put you off your dinner. And 10 minutes ago I had a swab pushed where the sun doesn’t shine – clearly the road to recovery isn’t going to be a pretty one. We’ve been waiting for skin grafts to settle before I can have the long-term fixator frame fitted to my leg. I’ll have my leg freshly broken again, in a clean fashion just below the knee. The break will create a gap between the bone and the plan is that I’ll grow a tiny amount of new bone every day. It’ll be down to me to adjust the fixator, which will keep the bone apart and force it to grow. At least it’ll give me a chance to get the spanners out... There’s been plenty of talk about infections and potential hurdles we’ll have to overcome, but for now all I can do is sit here with my arse hanging out of this gown and wait my turn in the operating theatre.
Being laid up with an injury is beyond frustrating. Feeling like a spare part isn’t my style and I’ve got the attention span of a spaniel pup at the best of times. Not being able to toddle off to do my own thing is doing my head in. The decision to hobble over to the Isle of Man was an easy one to make. I spoke to my doctor about it and he said it would be good to get out and about. People assumed that I might not want to be there, but I felt a little bit like I was missing out and couldn’t wait to get across to take the TT in from the other side of the fence. Things got pretty emotional when we made it on to the boat, I got a good clap off the crowd and people were pleased to see us. You have to remember that Becky and the kids are used to getting over to the Isle of Man at this time of year as well; it’s another chance for us to travel and spend time together as a family, so it was important for me to be there. The support I’ve had on social media has been amazing, but seeing it in front of me, with all those TT fans clapping me on to the boat and wishing me well was something else.
This year’s event was the first time I’ve not lined up since 1996, it felt strange not to be going through that rollercoaster of emotions that I normally go through. No start-line nerves, no pressure to carry on my shoulders, and no crazy schedule to stick to. Paul Phillips and his team did a brilliant last-minute job in helping to get me out – I just had to deal with Becky driving (I’m not a very good passenger). One thing I can be grateful for from all of this is the opportunity to take in the TT as you guys do, as a fan and a spectator. Seeing the helicopter coming around as it follows the leaders and seeing the race in a completely different way that I’m used to helped to lift my spirits for a bit. Half of me wanted to cry because I wasn’t able to ride, and the other half of me was pleased to not be on a bike. This year I also had to go through the nervous cycle that families do when we’re racing – again that’s not something that I’ve done before and it opened my eyes to the different kinds of pressure that people who are close to the TT feel.
I’ll be honest, I’ve had a few dark days. Not knowing what the future holds is getting to me. I’m not in a position now to say whether or not I’ll retire. It really pisses me off when riders say they’re retiring only to pop back up in the paddock for one last go. If you’re in you’re in, and if you’re not, then that’s you done for good. I’ll have a better idea about where I’m at once I’ve started the recovery process properly. One of the people I’ve been speaking to most about the recovery job is Hutchy. He’s been here before and I don’t mind admitting that I feel like I failed him as a friend when he was injured in 2010. I kind of buried my head in the sand and ignored him and his injuries, when what I should have been doing was giving him support as a mate.
That’s exactly what he’s been doing for me. Chatting to somebody who has had the same injury, who has been on the same road to recovery and more importantly, someone who has had those same dark moments as me has been really helpful. The full extent of Ian’s recent injuries aren’t fully known at the minute, but I know that we’ll be helping each other along the way in our ‘race’ to recovery. Have I even sat on a bike since the crash? Kind of... I tried to swing a leg over the Mugen bike but my frame got in the way. Will I ride again? Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt. Did Becky spend her 42nd birthday giving me a bed bath and wiping my arse? Yes she did, she’s been an absolute saint.