Fractured Ankle Diaries Week 1
The new year was supposed to be a new start for us all, we’d just come back from Spain after spending 19 years there and we were looking forward to creating a new life in the UK. After eight weeks of sorting out paperwork, attending appointments, importing cars and registering with doctors etc we finally had some spare time to get out and about, show Nico some of Northumberland which you simply cannot do without experiencing Hadrian’s wall.
It was here that the disaster day unfolded!
Only a few yards into a short walk and a slip on the mud resulted in a sickly sounding crack and a pop. That was the ankle fractured along with my plans to start getting fit again and pursue the ongoing stroke recovery regime which had kind of gone out the window while moving countries. It’s funny how you know immediately that it’s more than a sprain, the noise is a good indicator but it was the sensation of my ankle feeling like it was full of loose marbles that really did it.
Luckily we were able to get picked up by a friend who has the smallest car in the world but it was transport to the hospital nevertheless. We waited in A&E, then I got the x-rays etc before receiving the news that the ankle was indeed broken. A half cast was put on and I was sent home to wait for a call which actually came at 10.30pm – way passed my bedtime these days! The instructions were not to eat, not to take any stroke meds and wait until the phone rang for the time to go into surgery – 2.00pm the next day and nothing had happened so we rang back, spoke to several people only to be told that it was going to take 1 – 2 weeks…
Luckily the following day the phone rang at 8.00am on the dot and I had a slot in theatre, “make your way in” the voice at the end if the phone said so I duly did and by 11.00 am I was in a gown ready for the op. Part of the procedure was to have a block which is essentially a series of injections behind the knee close to the nerve which runs down your leg, it feels like electric shocks when they inject it but the end result is a completely numb leg from the knee down – like you feel absolutely nothing and this lasts for 24 hours.
After the operation I woke on the ward to the sound of the Newcastle Sunderland derby game, physio guidance followed negotiating up and down the hospital stairs which are no where near as steep as the stairs at home. and it is then that you begin to realise that for the forthcoming weeks most things are going take a monumental effort.
Codeine is an opiate and this is what was given to me upon leaving hospital, I left a couple of hours after the operation with the instructions that when the ‘block’ began to wear off start taking codeine and paracetamol otherwise it was going to get very uncomfortable. The problem with codeine is that it makes you constipated, I haven’t shit for five days which is a big issue, it does however take the edge off the pain especially at night so you can get at least some sleep in the first few days.
The toilet at the moment is half portable, by that I mean I have a lidded jar [big one] so that I can swing my legs out of bed in the middle of the night and pee without the huge operation that is going to the bathroom on crutches. The toilet really is problematic, sitting down on the lid you feel like the whole thing is going give way, you have to position every part of yourself carefully with the forward planning of an armed forces strategist to get yourself [and your rear end] in the right place.
I wash on the toilet too, it’s crap. The days of having a long soapy shower are still in the distant future so for now it’s flannels, soap, towels and all of that stuff while siting on the toilet which, is ultimately safer than the side of the bath because if I went backwards over that with my legs in the air then there would be a big problem.
Navigating stairs is a hairy process, I’m still going down on my rear end, somehow it just feels safer that way, anyone who has followed our story will know that we are not in our own house yet either which makes things just that little bit more difficult. Going up the stairs is something that I can only manage once a day and that is because the side that was affected by the stroke in 2022 is my left side and yeah, you guessed it, I broke my right ankle. Hopping up the last four steps feels like I’m trying to set a world record.
Stroke and broken ankle
Balance is the big one, using crutches does take some getting used to and when your left side is weaker you tend to sway in and out of that direction as well. The result is that your balance is all over the place. I never really realised how affected my left side was as I was always compensating with my right side, I used to joke about have ‘Schwarzenegger leg’ as the calf muscle on my right side was way more toned and larger than the left.
I never really realised how affected my left side was as I was always compensating with my right side
Having the right leg now fully out of action has made me realise that perhaps I wasn’t doing quite as well as I thought building up stregth post stroke.
So my plans for 2024 have well and truly come to a grinding halt, there is no way around it. Any overlanding we were going to be investigating has now been put on the backburner until at least the Spring. I’ve also had to shelve any camping plans and exercise to build up strength.
To be brutally honest the place where I need strength at the moment is in my head. Losing my son last year after my stroke hit all of us terribly hard, I learned my Mother has dementia, we moved countries in the middle of it all and now a broken foot. Sometimes it’s hard to keep smiling.
As such this website is going to go off track a little [no pun intended] where I’ll be writing to maintain my own motivation, keep myself engaged and share how the events of 2022/23 have affected my mental health. Call it a guy thing, a place for me to write and share some stuff us blokes might resonate with. If it helps me then it might help you.