Thursday, 13 September 2012

Professor Sidney Watkins

Few strangers have the ability to touch people's lives, to improve them for the better. I can name a couple in my life, but one outshines all the others: Professor Sidney Watkins.

I have written before about the troubles I had with my left ankle, the pain and discomfort that somewhat blighted my teens and twenties. A series of doctor and surgeons gave me long lists of activities I could not do: no ice skating, no skiing, no running, no serious walking. My life was constrained by the fear of pain and orders.

The Professor had little reason to show interest in the 20-year old who was introduced to him back in 1993, no reason to help him. He had achieved much in his life: neurosurgeon to three presidents, chief medical officer of F1 racing, and head of several safety organisations. He was semi-retired from private practice and had only a handful of people on his books.

For several years I had been bundled from pillar to post by doctors and surgeons, both within the NHS and private practice. I had undergone all sorts of tests, but no-one had worked out what was wrong. One day Andrea, my physiotherapist, decided to take me to see a 'rather good' surgeon who was in the hospital. I was taken to a waiting room, and after a few minutes a jovial white-haired man greeted me.

He studied, poked and probed my leg for a few minutes, before proclaiming: "I know what's wrong."

It took him several operations and five years, but he fixed me up. It is a measure of the man that he actually apologised for it having taken so long. Unlike all my other surgeons, when I asked him if I would ever be able to walk the Pennine Way, he immediately said yes.

Thanks to him, I can.

Sid, thanks for everything.I hope there are some good fishing rods in heaven, and that the salmon are running.

1 comment: