I’ll take a much-needed step away from blogging consistently about my miserable mental health for once, and instead delight all of your senses with a thorough account of my recent spectacular leg break and subsequent hospital stay. It’s nice to change things up every now and then, no?
Alright, so let’s get right into it. I’ll do a little day-by-day and you can come with me on this fascinating and not at all grim journey. If you didn’t know that I broke my leg, well, surprise! This is a nice treat for you.
Wednesday (30th January)
This was, by all accounts, a pretty normal day for me. Well, I’d given myself a day off doing any work. My driving lesson, with unfortunate foresight, was cancelled because the roads were a bit dodgy in the morning, but it was completely cleared up by the afternoon when I went to see my friend and her kids.
I got the bus up there and spent a few hours pushing a small child around a garden centre in a trolley. I caught the bus back into town, had something to eat, and did a little bit of shopping before meeting another friend for a few drinks.
We whiled away a few hours drinking, talking nonsense, and generally finding ourselves a lot funnier than we had any right to. I was merry, for sure, but it’s important to note that I’m not really the type of person to go out and get blind drunk. If you hadn’t noticed, I have significant anxiety issues and don’t exactly jump at the opportunity to be completely out of control.
For further context, I was far more drunk at a wedding I went to at the end of summer. Some of you may recall my spectacularly bruised leg after I fell over three times like an idiot. In all honesty, despite the trauma and the surgery, my leg currently still doesn’t look as bad as that did.
Anyway, my friend got the train home at about 11:45pm and I walked home. The train station is maybe a ten minute walk from where I live. When I fell I was less than a five minute walk from home.
No stranger to falling
I was walking up a well-lit pedestrian street. That street gets a lot of foot traffic during the day. Seeing as it had been snowy and icy I still have absolutely no idea why the pavements weren’t gritted. There’s a little square near the top of the street that I’d usually cut through to get home. I was right by this when I fell, presumably about to cut through like I normally would.
I’m no stranger to falling over. I fall over all the time. Even if I don’t crash spectacularly to the deck, I trip a lot and can trip over nothing or fall from a stationary position. I don’t remember it being a particularly dramatic fall. Nothing out of the ordinary for me, just a quick slip and I landed (thankfully) on my arse.
I say thankfully because I could easily have hit my head or landed even more awkwardly. How on earth I fell to break my leg so badly I’ll never know. As I slipped I heard the crack and I knew something had gone badly wrong.
I sat on the pavement in shock. My leg was wobbling about, to be perfectly frank (and gross), my ankle was flopping around and I thought I’d broken it. Despite being aware that I’d really fucking hurt myself, I stayed pretty calm.
Some people across the street shouted to ask if I needed help. I said yes, but for some reason they just decided to carry on walking. Luckily. a young man was walking past and was clearly about to ask if I was alright anyway, but I basically just shouted, “NO. YOU NEED TO CALL ME AN AMBULANCE NOW.”
He did that straight away, nice and calm, getting my name and address, describing where we were, and telling them what happened. I could have called an ambulance myself, but I was in shock and didn’t really know what I was doing. I wanted to call my partner and it took my several tries to realise why I couldn’t hear anything through my phone – my wireless earphones were still plugged in.
Thursday (31st January)
I got hold of him and told him to come down straight away. By this point I think it had ticked past midnight. Thankfully we don’t live far, and he was there pretty quickly. The young man, whose name was Josh, stayed with me until the ambulance came. He tolerated me asking stupid questions about his life and crying that I was sorry I’d ruined his evening.
A true saint. Josh, wherever you are, THANK YOU.
The ambulance and my partner arrived at the same time. I was really lucky that I didn’t have to wait long at all, maybe ten or fifteen minutes, for the ambulance to arrive. The whole time I was sitting on the ice, but I knew I couldn’t get up or even try as I’d risk another fall.
The (literal) shock of the fall
Despite a cold arse, I was holding up relatively well. The shock was numbing the pain, but that changed when the ambulance turned up and had to start prodding me. I told them I thought I’d broken my ankle. They had a feel around, and then awkwardly manouvred me onto a stretcher. That was something else. The pain was pretty intense and still makes me cringe thinking about it. They got some kind of inflatable leg support and strapped my leg into it, which helped a lot. They gave me gas and air for the pain.
We got to A&E in pretty good time. The hospital is basically in town, so again I was very lucky that we didn’t have to travel far. I was a bit out of it. but once we got to A&E I didn’t have to hang around long. They took me pretty much straight away for examination and x rays.
Again, I’ll stress how lucky I was. There were plenty of people in A&E but I’ve never been seen so quickly before. Granted, my injuries or illnesses have never been this serious, but it was still pretty damn swift.
The next couple of hours are a little hazy. A very nice nurse tended to me after the x rays. At first she didn’t cotton on to the significant fracture in my lower leg. At this point the bruising was showing. When I looked I could see that my leg didn’t look right at all. To put it bluntly, I fractured my tibia (the biggest bone running down the shin) quite near the bottom. I could see that my shin, well, wasn’t in the right place.
There was a particularly grim looking little graze right by where the bone was broken. Before the bruising, swelling, or any other visible trauma this was the only mark on my leg. Thinking about it now, it’s likely from where the bone snapped. Had the fall been worse, it would probably have been where the bone poked out of my skin. Pleasant.
‘Tib and fib’ fracture
Eventually, a doctor came along and confirmed that I’d fractured both bones in my lower leg. My tibia was snapped right across near the bottom. My fibula (the smaller bone running down the outside of the shin/calf) was fractured higher up, nearer to my knee. They also needed to determine if I’d broken my ankle.
The doctor said I needed surgery, and I had to sign a consent form which was a great laugh. It was done digitally, so my signature was basically just a few lines I’d managed to create with the mouse.
My leg needed to be set. I can’t remember at what point, but in addition to the gas and air they tried giving me morphine for the pain. Being the classically anxious person I am, I freaked out when they started injecting it as it made my brain feel all weird. They stopped that, so I was just on gas and air when the doctor set my leg.
I’m sorry, but I stand by it
This was a particularly fun experience. It hurt like absolute hell, and despite taking the gas and air and being out of it, it was still excruciating. It was horrible. The gas and air made me feel very strange, like everything was really fast but also very slow. It’s worth noting that just before the set my leg, I narrowly avoided a complete panic attack.
During the setting process, I firmly iterated on several occasions that everyone involved could go and fuck themselves. I remember saying, “I’m sorry about that, but I stand by it.” What can I say? Drugs make you do funny things, and I was huffing pretty hard on that nitrous oxide.
Once my leg was set in an enormous full-leg cast, it’s a bit hazy. I got up to the trauma and orthopaedics ward at about 5:30am, after getting to A&E maybe around 1am. I don’t know if I was taken up there straight after my leg was put in a. My concept of time was pretty skewed at this point.
Making it to the ward
I didn’t really sleep, but did drift in and out a bit. Things start going on the ward at 6am when they do the first set of observations for the morning. After this happened and the cleaners came around, my partner was asked to leave and come back at visiting hours. This left me on my own from about 8am until 2pm.
Honestly I don’t have a lot of recollection as to what happened on Thursday. I remember at some point in the early morning, before I got to the ward, being given a bedpan to wee in. It took me about three goes after getting stage fright, but I did it eventually. As a side note, peeing in a bedpan when you’ve got an enormous cast on your leg is neither simple nor dignified.
I know I spoke to my mum early on Thursday morning, and attempted the bedpan again. I got medication and regular obs checks, but I really can’t remember much else. A consultant came to see me to describe the surgery and give me the option of non-surgical healing. This would involve having that big fucking cast on for three months and still no guarantee that my leg would actually heal. No fucking thanks. Given the odds, I said surgery sounded better. The doctor said I needed a CT scan to assess the damage to my ankle before surgery, and that was that.
I’ve been rambling, so I’ll leave it there for now. I’ll be back with a second part to describe the rest of my hospital stay and surgery… stay tuned!