In a freak accident at home, I managed to break both of my legs. This is a short series where I’ll share my story of what happened and how I recovered.
Broken Thoughts Part 1: What happened?
How does someone break both of their legs?
I’ve just bought tickets to take the family up to a rugby match in Belfast. It’s my stepson’s 18th and he wants a bit of space in the house with his mates before they head out on the town. I don’t want anyone smoking inside the house, so I’m clearing some final things to give the smokers somewhere outside to sit, when…
I wobble on the step but don’t move, I hear a crack and feel a sudden pain in my shin.
Oh my god! I think I’ve just broken my leg.
No, I can’t have, that’s ridiculous, I haven’t done anything, and I’m still standing. Oh Crikey, no,
I’m not, I’m falling, Oh no, here I go, don’t break my arm! Oh God!
Ok. I can’t get up, Jesus, my other leg! I can’t have broken both of them, that’s just too stupid for words! Bugger, if it isn’t broken its sprained really badly. Damn it that’s sore.
He can’t hear me over the vacuum cleaner. Oh dear God, the pain is going to make me vomit!
“I think I’ve broken my legs!.”
I can’t believe I’m saying that! How in the name of God does anyone break both of their legs stepping out through their back door!
Worst fears confirmed!
“Love, I think you’ve broken your leg!”
Seriously? No shit Sherlock, I just said that. What, did you think I was doing, lying here for fun?
“Yes, I know. I think I’ve broken them both”
“What the other one as well?”
No, the third one I keep as a spare!
“Yes the other one, it’s really sore too”
“It looks bad, you’ve definitely broken it, I’ll ring the ambulance.”
Oh Jesus! Pain!
Pain like I’ve not ever known despite giving birth twice. This is like electricity screeching in my leg.
Ok, breath in, breath out, no, that was too fast, slow it down, oh pain!
B r e a t h !
Where are you Bryan? Come back. Im scared! What have I done to myself?
Christ, this is going to be good when I ring into work. “Oh hello, yes it’s Sonia, yeah, I won’t be in today, I’ve broken both my legs!”
Oh God where are you Bryan, when is the ambulance coming?
“Hello Love, The ambulance is on it’s way.”
“Good, did they say how long?”
Why isn’t it here? I need it now! I can’t breath this is so sore! Who is looking for it, (breath in), do they know where to go, can they get in the house, (breath out), where is it now? Why aren’t they here already!
“No, but they’re not far, they’ll be here in a minute. Will I get down there with you? How are you doing?”
“I’m shaky, it’s really sore. God Bryan what am I going to do?”
“You’ll be ok”
Oh you sweetheart! You are lying down beside me, thank you!
Bryan lays down beside me in the dirt and holds my hand. I’ve never been so grateful for contact in my life. He rubs his thumb back and forward over the back of my hand as he holds it in his. He looks straight at me and touches my hair. I can’t breath. I’m going to choke, I don’t want him to see me cry
“What happened? Did you trip?”
“No, nothing like that. I lost my balance for a moment and I twisted, then my leg broke while I was standing, then I fell over.”
“What? While you were still standing? Did you hear it break?”
Pain! Terrible pain! If I keep talking then I can deal with it, here is another wave, make it stop!
“I’ll go and see if there is any sign of the ambulance”
What? No! Don’t leave me! Christ, I don’t want to be alone I’m fucking terrified!
“Right, Ok. Come back quick”
Oh God don’t be long, ah more pain, breath in, breath out, breath through it. I don’t want to be alone.
Bugger. I can’t even get my money back for the tickets! £60 quid. Stupid me for booking them in advance, should’ve just paid on the door. Can’t even sell them on. Damnit, if I’d just waited 15 minutes
Oh God no way!
NO! Bran get off me! No Masie! No!
FFS! Dogs! Stay away from my legs, don’t touch them!
Oh like this wasn’t already bad enough! DOG I will decease you, get away!
“Masie, don’t lick me” Bryan, get the dogs in please!”
“Sorry Love they just got out!”
Yeah, I figured that when they started using me as a playground!
“Hun, where are the boys? I don’t want them to see me like this. I don’t want them being frightened.”
I want to hug them, and cuddle them and tell them that it’s all going to be ok.
I want them to hug me and cuddle me and tell me that it’s all going to be ok.
“They are upstairs, don’t worry.”
Worry? I’m way past worry! I am petrified!
“Where is the ambulance?”
“It’s close, can you not hear it? That’s it coming now.”
What? I can’t hear anything? I don’t know anything except pain, and the smell of dog piss. Trust me to fall just beside one of Bran’s marking posts.
Keep breathing. Won’t be long.
It’s already been too long.
Not much longer, just breath
Don’t cry, you are fine. Deal with it. Breath
Oh thank God, they’re here.
The Paramedic, pain relief and drifting
Can we get past small talk please!
“Well, you’ve certainly broken one of your legs, I need to ask you a few questions before I give you pain relief, but I can prep you as I go, that doesn’t look good.”
Good? What would good look like under the circumstances?
“Lets start on some gas & air, you are familiar with this? You had this when you had your wee ones?”
Where are they? I wan’t to hold them!
Are you on any medication?”
“Have you taken anything for pain relief?”
“You just tripped coming through the back door?
“I didn’t trip, I just lost my balance. My leg broke while I was upright”
“Did you hear it break?”
“That’s a horrible sound. On a scale of 1 to 10 how bad would you say the pain was?”
“So it could be worse?”
It’s a 10 when the pain surges, but it is an eight if I’m talking, not thinking about it, not moving, Oh Christ! Here we go, it’s 10, tell him it’s fucking 10!
“It’s ok Sonia, nearly there, I’m just going to put this stint in ok, and we’ll get some morphine into you. What about the other leg?”
“Yes, it’s really sore too, but nowhere near as bad as the first one.”
Maybe I haven’t broken it? It definitely isn’t even close to the pain in my left leg. I’m going to try moving it a bit. Oh, Dear God! No, that’s not a sprain.! I know sprains, and that’s not one. Seriously? Both of them!
“Are you ok there? There, that’s the Morphine going in now, hopefully that’ll take the edge off it for you. I need to ask you some more questions, nothing to worry about. How is that? Can you feel any difference yet?”
It’s only just gone in. Am I supposed to feel a difference? Why isn’t the pain going away?
I forgot how dry your mouth gets with gas.
“It might take a moment”
Then don’t fekkin tease me!
Think about something. Think about anything. Look at the sky. Ooo, the sky is particularly blue, I like that. Aww God the pain is still horrendous. Another wave, I wonder if this is what it is like to be struck by lightning?
“Still sore Sonia? I can give you another dose of morphine. Let’s get that sorted. The ambulance is on it’s way.”
He’s a paramedic. Thank God for Paramedics. I could still be lying here with nothing. Does that mean it’s working? No, I could still throw up it’s that sore, but something’s not the same.
What about that pain? Is it still an 8?
Oh God! What do I say? I’ve had two doses of morphine, it ought to be less. He’ll think I’m a right pathetic, middle aged, aul doll if I say it’s no different. Maybe it is better
“No it’s about a 5”
“5? The morphine must be doing it’s work”
I think I am going to pass out! Concentrate, look at the sky, you like that, look how blue it is, no clouds, just deep blue. Breath
“Sonia? You with me? The ambulance is nearly with us. I’m just going to check your pulse.
That’s nice. I like my wrist being held.
Wow that sky really is blue, except for the vapour trail following that plane.
Why is the plane going so slowly?
That trail is so white.
Everything is white. Except me, and him, and the blue sky.
I can’t hear anything other than my breathing and my pulse beeping
I’m slipping away. Thats ok
Oh, I’m attached, you have hold of me at the wrist. That’s good.
If you let go I’m going to slip away, I can’t do anything, which is fine. Im just saying
“Sonia? I just need to step round to the other side of you?”
Yep no problem
It’s nice that you are holding my wrist, If you let go I’m going to slip off.
That airplane is still going over head, why is it so slow?
Why cant I hear anything other than a beep?
“Sonia? You ok there?”
“The ambulance crew are here. I’m going to let them know what you’ve had, then they will take over.”
Did I just pass out there? That was weird. Don’t think I’ve ever done that before. Why am I back? I feel woozy.
Oh Lord, my leg!
I wish I was under again, it didn’t hurt then.
The ambulance arrives
“We’re gonna get you to hospital, but we need to get you onto a trolly.”
Good fucking luck with that.
Hang on. How?
“We’re going to put this round your leg to keep it from moving.”
I believe the term you are struggling for is immobilise? You are going to immobilise my leg, perchance? One was in the St John Ambulance, one is familiar with the jargon.
Hold up. They are going to move me. Moving is bad, it hurts like blazes, it hurts thinking about it. Shite!
How did you do this, did you trip?
Here we go, how many times will I have to repeat this tonight?
“No, I wasn’t running, I didn’t trip on anything, I wasn’t carrying anything to miss my step. I just lost my balance for a split second.”
“She was clearing up, we were about to go out. She had just bought tickets for Ravenhill and we were getting ready to go up and watch Ulster. It’s my son’s 18th, he’s having a few friends round and we were getting offside to give him a bit of space.”
“So will he have to cancel now?”
“No – it’ll be fine, they’re just having a few drinks before going out.”
Don’t mind me. Just talk like I’m not here!
“Right, to put this on we need you to move onto your back. We’ll hold your leg steady. On a count of three, one, two, three”
Jesus, fucking Christ, and all the fucking angels!
I have a searing white pain screaming like a horror movie star
“That’s brilliant Sonia. Well Done. That’s grand, we can get this on now it shouldn’t hurt”
Brilliant my backside! It shouldn’t hurt but it bloody well does! It’s still hurting from moving it
“Now, what about this other leg, you thought it might be broken too? It doesn’t look too bad?
Mind, that could be some bruising there? It’s going a dark colour”
What, that black/purple bit? Yea, I’d say that will be a corker of a bruise!
“I’m just going to press on your foot, you tell me where its sore”
“That’s ok; that’s ok; that’s a bit sore, getting sorer, OH God! Stop! Sore!
What ARE you? Did it not occur to you, under the circumstances to go easy?
“Ok, I don’t know if that’s broken or not, they’ll have to X-Ray it at hospital to be sure
It’s bloody well broken, if it wasn’t earlier it is now!
Wow! My leg has an extra bend in it, that is gross and fascinating. Bugger, I’ve got blood on my white jeans. I love these jeans, I wonder if they’re ruined? They’re probably marked in other places too, while I’ve been lying here, they are probably bogin.
The thing is that we need you to get onto this trolly. We are going to support your bad leg, and under your arms, but you will need to put your weight through your good leg to get up
I’m sorry, you want me to do what?
What ‘good’ leg?
Are you on drugs?
Were you not listening? BOTH of my legs are broken and you want me to put my weight through one of them?
I am on drugs but they aren’t strong enough for that!
There’s going to be no end to this!
“Ok, tell me when”
No, not God. Not with this amount of torture, but I’m delirious with pain now and I have no words that sum it up. Inoffensively
And I don’t want to cause offence. I am supremely grateful to these people. Strangers who are helping me. I need a lot of help.
But here I am on the trolly. This is the first time the situation has felt in any way under control. Not under my control obviously, I don’t know it, but I’m not going to have control over my own self for many weeks yet. Thank God I don’t know this.
Where are the boys? Can I wave to say I’m ok? No, they are nowhere in sight. I already miss them like crazy. This is the first time I have ever left the house without kissing them goodbye and the thought of it is making me feel a bit sick.
What is the point of gas & air? Does it really do any good? I think the main thing is it gives you something to think about, something to concentrate on, and something to bite down hard on when the going gets really tough. Not that I’m going to give you it back right now, so don’t ask.
“Right Sonia, we are going to get you into the back of the ambulance now. Probably be better if we went out the back way, what do you think?”
I’m on the trolly, I have my gas to chew on, the morphene it taking the edge off things a little, to be honest I don’t really care, I can do no more, “whatever you think’.
Bryan, are you going to come with me in the ambulance? What way will you organise things? No, you will probably follow, so that you have your car, that would be more sensible. So I’ll be in the ambulance all on my own? Crap! Don’t cry, get your Big Girl Pants on and hoik them up, this is how it has to be.
“Love, do you want me to come with you in the ambulance, or will I follow in my car?”
I want you with me
“Probably best if you follow in your car, you have more options”
Don’t listen to me. Read my eyes, if you want the truth.
“Are you sure? I can come with you if you want”
“No, I’ll be fine, don’t worry. It’s better if you take your car so that you can get away.”
“Ok, see you up there then”
“Tell the boys I’ll be ok, and that I love them, see you up there”
I can’t think about them, it’s hurting as much as my leg
“I love you.”
“I love you too”
Don’t cry in front of him, be strong. He’s holding it together for you, you hold it together for him. What would I do without him? I could have been lying there for hours if he hadn’t been there. How is he going to cope with this? Who can help? Bollox everybody has their own worries.
That passing out thing was weird. I wonder how close to the edge I drifted? If that’s how it is at the end I can deal with that.
It’s a bit boggy out here. I’m glad I don’t have to push a XX stone woman on a trolly through this mud. You’d need to be fit for this work, and it’s a thankless bloody job. Remember to say thank you. Later on, when they pass you on to the hospital staff, remember to say thank you.
Oh God! How will I deal with this pain? Come on keep it together. Focus on breathing, same as before.
Oh, there’s the ambulance, I wonder how many of the neighbours are watching. Crikey, I wonder if any of them heard me shouting. Did I swear out loud or was it just in my head?
The trip to the hospital and more passing out
“Hey, how are you doing there? How would you rate your pain now?”
“About an 8”
Seriously – this shit again? An 8?
Yes an 8 – I’m coping, if I pass out, that’s obviously a 10, I haven’t passed out, so it’s an 8
“How are you coping with it?”
Oh come on! How do you think? I’m too tired for this, Don’t you realise it is taking all my concentration to deal with this?
It’s not her fault. Sonia you can be polite.
Try and smile
“Not brilliantly, it’s hard”
Breath. Stay calm, breath in and out. I can feel panic, but stay in control of it, calm your breath. Do it for a count of four, in two three four, pause two three four, out two three four. Again.
“I can’t begin to imagine. I’m sorry for moving you, but I want to take your blood pressure, would that be ok?”
go on ahead
“Yep no problem”
“Sonia, Sonia, here, I’m just slipping this over the back of your head, on see if that helps a bit.”
Oh wonderful, an oxygen mask.
Take long slow breaths, try and breath as deeply as possible, your oxygen levels are a bit low. I know its sore love, but you’ve had the maximum dose of Morpheme
Oh right OK, thought I was doing that, right, breath deeper, right into my belly. I wonder if that was what was happening earlier?
Where are we? Clandyboye? Is that all? Bloody hell I thought we would nearly have been there by now
Where’s Bryan now, wonder if he has left yet? Is he right behind me? I hope he’s right behind me, I wish he was right beside me. Jesus is this pain never going to go away? I can barely think about anything.
We should have been getting ready to leave for rugby now, faffing about with hoodies and flasks, who is carrying what, boys wanting to bring iPads. What a pig’s ear I’ve made of this!
Wonder how long I’ll have to wait at hospital before someone see’s me?
Gosh they have the siren going, what is the point in that, I’m already in here, I’m not going anywhere.
Good job I’m strapped in though, that corner was brave and tight!
“Sonia, nice big deep breaths again, are you with us? Can you just go over some questions with me?”
No, too tired
Oh here! That’s the junction before the hospital, we are nearly there.
“We’re nearly there, I’m sure you are glad about that”
“Yeah. Thank you, for everything”
God I wonder if I’m going to have to wait for ages in A&E. The pain killers barely fizzed on me, how am I going to cope?
Wonder where Bryan is
Oh, hello, this is quite dramatic, I could be in my own Holby City episode the way they brought me in there. It would be funny if it wasn’t so bloody sore.
Flip me! straight in, wow! No waiting. Cool!
The double doors of A&E bang open and I am taken straight through to triage where there is a team waiting for me, its like they knew I was coming.