Blog a Day 57of365: My Broken Foot

It occurred to me that since starting OneADay I haven’t complained about my foot. Quite impressive going considering the various problems that have happened in that time. So as my foot is aching more than usual today and I’m stumped for an idea, here we go…

I broke my foot back at the end of July last year. It was a stupid thing to do. I was rushing down the stairs half asleep to answer the door. Something I’ve done many times before but this time I forgot about the last step on the staircase. I remember in a half asleep state looking down and thinking ‘Bugger, forgot that step, this is going to hurt’. As I fell my right foot twisted under me, taking all my weight and twisting very, very awkwardly. I remember hearing something snap, not a nice noise at all.

I was very quickly in agony. My foot was huge, it felt incredibly hot and I couldn’t move a thing in it. I couldn’t even wiggle my toes at first. I knew it was a bit fucked, simply put. I reckoned I’d broken my ankle at the time. I very pathetically shouted upstairs to my Mum who was still in bed. She was laid up having put her back out a few days earlier so it took her a while to get downstairs. I hadn’t moved far at that point and could feel shock starting to kick in. I told her what had happened the best I could, then the damn cat appeared. I love my cat but he gets whiney in the morning when he’s hungry so my Mum went to go feed him, just so he’d stop pestering and going anywhere near my foot.

I was still in the same spot as I fell. I started feeling faint, very faint. I could feel my vision starting to go and felt very weak. I didn’t want to faint right there and then. For one thing I was worried my Mum would come back and think I’d banged my head and panic. I managed to crawl into the nearby living room and find a bottle of water. Luckily after a quick drink I felt less faint although still very shaky.

Once my Mum got back, she went upstairs to get dressed. That was when the panic really kicked in. I felt horrifically alone. I was in pain, I had no idea what was going to happen next, I was terrified of going to hospital and I knew I’d just fucked up my short term happiness all because of a bloody step. I cried, big howling sobs of tears. Poor Mum. She was trying to get dressed as fast as she could but she was in pain from her back, must have been horrible to hear me practically wailing downstairs. I don’t feel pathetic looking back on it; I just remember the fear and the shock. It had been a crap enough year previously, I didn’t need more bad luck and I was just so scared of what was to come. I remembered that I was meant to be going to close friends of mine’s wedding in a couple of weeks; even then I knew it wasn’t going to happen bar a miracle.

As I tried to stop panicking, I started trying to work out what was messed up on my foot. It was still ballooning but I figured out that my ankle couldn’t do anything, couldn’t support me or twist in any way and that my big toe and toe next to it could move, but the other three couldn’t. The fact it was agony to put any weight on it was worrying. Immediately worrying was how to get out of the house and to the car. My Mum couldn’t help me in any way because of her back (and her pre-existing, chronic neck problem). The neighbours were out otherwise they’d have helped. It never really occurred to us that maybe an ambulance would be appropriate in this situation. Fortunately, we got very, very lucky.

You see, we have a guy that comes round and cuts our lawn and hedge. It’s not as posh as it sounds. He’s very cheap and me and my Mum aren’t able to do it ourselves (our garden’s huge, again not really as posh as it sounds) so we pay him a few quid every now and then to do it. His son knocked on the door that morning to collect the money from the previous week. He very kindly helped me to the car, nearly carrying me to the car because it was so awkward to walk!

Skimming over the dull and painful journey…

A&E were brilliant with me. I saw a triage nurse within a few minutes of arriving. She poked my foot; I yelled loudly in pain and turned bright red. A porter with a wheelchair appeared within seconds and off I went! With my poor crippled Mum hobbling along behind me. An x-ray later and I was diagnosed. I had broken the fifth metatarsal of my foot and severely sprained my ankle (as the doctor put it, he was amazed I hadn’t broken it as it was the worst sprain I could have got before breaking!). The snap I heard coming from my ankle was most likely a ligament snapping. Lovely. He also thought that I’d damaged ligaments across the bridge of my toes which is why I had so much trouble moving my toes. The break, although normally simple, was a jagged break which meant that it might not heal correctly. Meaning that surgery might be needed if it took too long to heal.

I was carted off to Fracture Clinic and had a big white plaster cast put on my leg, right up to the knee. I had instructions to return tomorrow and hopefully I’d get a nicer, plastic cast which was much lighter and cooler. Unfortunately due to the nature of the break I didn’t get one of those casts for another 2 weeks.

Oh and ironically I found out later that day, the person at the door was the postman, with a parcel for my neighbour not me.

In terms of being laid up, it was hell. For the first day or two, it was a novelty to be off work and have nothing to do but play games. The problem is, it’s not that fun when you have no other choice. It would take me 20 minutes to do a round trip just upstairs to the loo! I was completely laid up which was quickly very frustrating.

Things didn’t improve anywhere near as quickly as I’d have liked. I was originally told it would take 6-8 weeks to heal. In the end I had an X-ray at the clinic in October (3 months later) and was told because it was finally knitting well, that I would be discharged from the clinic.

Between July and October I’d had regular visits before with never any sign of it knitting. Why they didn’t put me forward for surgery, I don’t know. With hindsight, I wish they had. I never saw the original doctor who recommended it that first day so I’m guessing that affected the decision. Instead I saw many very rushed and overstressed doctors who would only ever have a matter of a minute or two to quickly discuss my foot before rushing onto the next patient.

One idiot doctor decided despite my foot not healing at all at the time, to remove my cast and give me a splint support (bit like a shinpad really) to use instead. I went back a week later after spending days in agony because I could feel the bone sticking out! Nice. :/ I had an airboot after that, much better inflatable thing that was a great support.

Because I was laid up for so long, and with so many heavy casts/supports resting on my ankle, that was healing very slowly too. Too slowly.

Throw in some very delayed physiotherapy (which I was lucky to get as the doctor at fracture clinic seemed to think a leaflet on a broken ankle would suffice!) and my ankle is still a bit of a mess now.

It’s a lot better than it was. I was off work from July until late December. My first shift was only 2 hours but I could hardly stand by the end of it, even after sitting every 20 minutes. The day after I could hardly walk.

Now I can survive 4hr shifts at work (albeit on painkillers and accepting that I won’t be able to do much the next day) and my general day to day walking is better. I can stand up long enough to cook a meal from scratch which I couldn’t do just before Christmas. I still have trouble standing still for long periods and every day I have various levels of pain. At best it’s an ache, at worst it’s a throbbing pain. All depends what I’ve been doing. My limp isn’t as pronounced as it was providing I don’t overdo it. I’m still not able to drive as I’ve been told by my physio; it’s not safe until I can stamp my foot to the ground, emergency stop style.

My energy levels are much improved and muscle strength has returned in my leg but my ankle is still constantly slightly swollen. I have very poor balance in it and I can’t stand on my tiptoes.

7 months on, I long for the day when there’s no more aching and I can do things without even thinking about it. It’s getting nearer but not near enough for my liking. I was never one for running beforehand but I’ve had quite a few dreams of being able to run. It’s something I’d like to take up eventually.

Enough whining, but here’s links to a few feet related photos of the progress.

Waiting to be x-rayed the day I broke it, the swelling was like that even two weeks later when they swapped casts!

My first cast. It was huge and very hot!

X-ray two weeks after I did it. It was slightly more jagged in the first x-ray but I wasn’t allowed a photo. Wasn’t technically allowed this photo but the doctor ‘looked away’.

My second cast. Annoyingly it wasn’t much improved on the first. Lighter but still far too hot!

Taken in September. This was when I had a removable airboot instead of a fixed cast. Still swollen, still bruised. Ow!

My ‘lovely’ airboot. Looks cool. It wasn’t.

1 thought on “Blog a Day 57of365: My Broken Foot

  1. Pete Davison

    Yipes! I’ve never broken a bone but I had a nasty sprain once. I was walking to a university lecture and trod in a pothole while crossing the road – my foot buckled and I felt a “snap”. I just thought I’d stumbled at the time, so carried on to uni, hobbling slightly. When the lecture finished though, I realised that it really, really bloody hurt. When I took my sock off and it was this horrible purple colour (not to mention the excruciating pain when anything touched it or when I put any weight on it), that’s when I knew that I’d actually hurt myself. Not nice. I can imagine breaking something is like a MILLION times worse than that.

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