This week couldn’t have panned out much worse if it had tried. I literally can’t believe I’m writing this blog post. It weirdly feels like an out of body experience, as if I’m writing about someone else’s life for a week, thinking to myself “gosh, I’m glad that’s not me”. Yet it is me. As I stare down the sofa at my broken foot, I realise it is me, this did happen. What started out as an innocent walk on Monday afternoon has changed the shape of this term, and beyond, entirely.
Last Sunday, when I was sat on a cliff top in Cornwall, revelling in an amazing week of rowing and feeling so blessed to be having some time away with friends, seems a whole other world away. This week has been characterised by hospital trips, lots of tears, and lots of time spent wondering why this happened to me and how I’ll actually cope with this change.
On Monday, after going out on a solo run along the South West Coast path, the group decided to walk from our house to Lizard Point. Unfortunately for me, along the route, the earth gave way slightly and my right foot rolled outwards. Having been to the Trauma Clinic back in Oxford subsequently, I understand now what and how it happened. The orthopaedic Dr basically explained that as my foot rolled outwards, because I’m a recreational “athlete”, my muscles in the outside of my leg sprung into action to save me from falling, and as they did so (too enthusiastically) they yanked a bit of bone away from my fifth metatarsal and left me with a nice fracture.
I knew something wasn’t right straightaway, but I honestly never thought I had broken the bone. I hobbled on a little further but once I realised it wasn’t going to be possible, I think I went into shock, sat on a step and cried. Thankfully I was with a group of wonderful humans, who between them managed to get me back to a hotel, sort out some frozen veg for ice, contact one of the Mum’s for a lift back to the house, stop me from hurting myself when I fainted because of the pain, and all round saved the day for me.
Back at the house I slept on the sofa, and hoped the swelling and pain would go down. I couldn’t even touch my foot, let alone put any weight on it. That evening I tried to enjoy the festivities – it was the night I was most looking forward to as everyone dressed up in black tie and looked amazing. However, the pain was so intense I couldn’t concentrate on having a good time.
By Tuesday morning I knew I had to go to hospital. After an unsuccessful visit to Truro hospital, we were sent to a smaller community hospital. The radiographer was convinced straightaway it was a fracture and this was confirmed by another Dr. Alone in a little hospital consulting room, I cried my eyes out. I just couldn’t understand how this had happened, let alone process how the next few months were going to look.
I was having the best time ever with my friends and then all of a sudden, like a bolt out of the blue, I’m in a boot, with crutches, unable to walk. I wondered whether I had jinxed my luck – sat on that rock last Sunday I was thinking to myself how great everything was in my life, in that moment. I was feeling so happy and so content. I had things to look forward to; making the rowing team, my 30th birthday, the triathlon, lockdown easing, going to class in the Business School, training for London Marathon. And now, all of that was gone, in one quick moment.
When the nurse came back into the consulting room she just hugged me for a while. I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t understand why this had happened. All I could think about was how I was going to survive the next 12 weeks (the original prognosis the Dr had given me).
Back in Oxford my amazing Mum had come down to meet me when we arrived back and helped for two days, adjusting me to living with “Brian”; the cumbersome boot that is my new side-kick. Everything is difficult, it’s difficult to do even when you have help, but once Mum had gone home and I was faced with doing everything independently, I realised how much I had taken for granted in life. I’m still like Bambi on ice on my crutches and I can only manage stairs on my bum. Unfortunately we live in a flat that has two flights of stairs, so I really have to need to go up or down to actually do it, as it’s such a process to just move around.
Everything from getting food to showering to making my bed to getting dressed is exceptionally hard when you have to do it on one leg, and using crutches. Over the past few days I had devised little systems to help me get around. I can successfully manage getting in and out of the bath, and I go everywhere with my backpack now. So if I want to make a coffee in the morning I take my backpack upstairs, make it in a flask, put the flask in my backpack and take it back down again. It sounds simple enough but my word, it’s slow. Everything takes so much more time and doing it without my foot hurting is also a challenge.
Luckily I live with Michaela, who has been so helpful and always on hand if I need anything. Obviously, I hate asking too much of her, as she has her MBA to get on with and everything else it entails too. Lots of other Oxford friends have been so helpful and supportive too this week; Jas, Jez, Diego, Jon, Kara – I couldn’t have survived without them!
This week really has highlighted my amazing friends and family to me; so many of them have phoned or dropped by or sent “get well soon” cards. It’s times like these that you really need that support, as I know this is going to be a hard time to get through alone. I actively have to stop myself thinking about what I could or should have been doing each day. Instead I’m resigned to either my bed or sofa all day, which is really very soul-destroying. The positive way of looking at it, is that I could have a super productive few months, which I hope is true, but I’m also realising that I don’t have that much extra time because the mere acts of getting ready, or making food, just take so much time and energy.
So week 1 of a broken foot is complete, hopefully this means the pain will be subsiding daily as we go into week 2. I still can’t believe I have to stay on the sofa or my bed for literally 24 hours a day. I’m really struggling with that thought. Productivity is low. Energy is low. But I know I need to just accept the situation and make the most of it. I’m trying, honestly….