Broken Thoughts, Part II: Nil by Mouth

In A&E (Accident & Emergency)

“Hello Love”

“Hi Sweetheart”

Thank God, he’s here. Good. Hold my hand.

“What’s happening?”

“I’m going to be taken to X-Ray” they want to have a look at what’s going on inside my foot. It’s not just broken, it’s dislocated too, and they want to check on the other leg. There was a Doc here just a moment ago. They’ve given me something more for the pain, so I don’t sound like Darth Vader anymore.”

I want to turn off. Reboot.

I’ll be rebooted with one of those moon boot things probably. Or worse, a cage.

Another body in blue scrubs approaches my trolly

“Hello, I’m just going to take you round to X-Ray, are you ok like that?”

Thats rhetorical, right? What would happen if I said ‘No”?

“Yes, that’s grand. See you when I get back love? You’ll still be here?”

Bugger!  I don’t want to do this alone!

“Of course I will! See you when you get back. Don’t break the machine”

<side eye> “You’re hilarious!”

Is this why I married you? For times like this?

Ok, bearings. Woah! No chance. Where am I? Two turns and I’m lost? A degree in Geography and you get lost in a hospital? Really?  Actually it’s just as well someone else is pushing, I wouldn’t have a clue how to get back.  How long will I be here? Will they be able to set this tonight? How am I going to manage at home!

Oh God! I hadn’t thought about that. I can’t go home, not like this, I’m going to have to stay in somewhere. Crap. Don’t panic; settle. There are ways round this, you will cope. But I’m not going to get home, what about my boys? What do they know, are they upset?

“Right Pet, that’s you, someone will take you into X-Ray in a moment.”

“OK, thank you!”

What time is it, how many minutes since my world exploded?

“Hi Sonia, I’m just going to take you into X-Ray now, here you go. We need you on there, so we are going to raise the bed and scootch you across. OK?”

“Yep, you need me to help? I can hold on here and lift”

Anything to help, anything to prove I’m not helpless.

“Ok, just hold still there.”

Not a problem, just watch me be still, I have that nailed, I can be stiller than a dead thing. its if you want me to move that we could have a problem.

What happened? Were you in a car accident or something?

“Nothing so interesting, just stepped through the back door”

I don’t wanna talk, I wanna see the X-Ray, show me my foot!

“You’re doing amazing, anyone else would be screaming their head off with what you’ve done”

 I am screaming, you just can’t hear me because it’s all inside!

Is it worse than I know? Show me my foot!

“Just trying to keep it all under control.”

“Ok we’re all done here, back to A&E”

What? I haven’t seen my foot!

Show me my foot Gawdamnit!

Fuksake! The most interesting photo anyones ever taken of my foot, I want to see it!

Arrrgh! What is it going to take to make the pain go away?

“Hey Hun, how was X-Ray?”

“Hi Love, grand, didn’t get seeing it which pissed me off. I would have liked to have had a good look. But whatever.”

“You’ll maybe get seeing them yet.

What’s next? Who are all these people! 2 nurses, bloke with a beard and a clipboard; you think you are important don’t you? Woman in a suit, what are you up to?

“Hello Mrs Boal? I’m the senior registrar tonight, my name is Jamie…

“Jamie Dornan?

<muffled sniggers all round>

HA! Well done Bryan! Jesus he must really think he is something, look, everybody is either getting offside or actually laughing! He’s cut to the knickers! Oh I can’t laugh, he is looking straight at me, I have to keep my face straight!

“Are you here all week Bryan?”

“No but you will be!”

A week? You think so? I hope not!


“Ok we have the X-Rays, can you see you have dislocated your ankle, all of this is supposed to be over here? You’ve broken both bones in this leg, there’s quite a lot going on in there.

Get your head out of the way and I could see better

“You will need an operation on this to set it right. Lucky for you Mr Adair the ankle specialist is on this weekend, he only works one weekend in six, so if you are going to have an accident like this, you certainly timed it well! He’s the best there is. Hopefully your foot won’t swell up too much so that they will be able to operate.”

An operation, wow! I bet I get a metal plate! I’ll be like Barry Sheen, all Mecano inside with nuts and bolts and stuff. That’ll be a cool X-Ray, wonder if you get to keep them. I’d have that up on the wall! 

“So, for now we are going to get your ankle back into place, and then we will set your other leg. That will get you more comfortable for tonight, and we will take you up to the ward, and get you a space. Getting this ankle back into shape is heavy duty, moving it will be very sore, so we’ll give you some anesthetic. It won’t be much, you’ll just be out for a minute, but that will give us long enough to re set your ankle.

X-Ray of a dislocated ankle and fractured leg

Ok, here goes, another needle. Drifting Wowcher!

Oh thank God!

Oh that is totally bearable now, how weird!

“How are you doing there?”

“Great, that’s made a big difference”, but I’m still not going to be tap dancing any time soon

“We are going to bandage this up to protect it, and get your other leg into a cast”

I’ve always wondered about casts, always wanted to know what it’s like. That’ll teach me, not that this is that bad, it’s fine, I’d take a simple break over the dislocation any day, just maybe not both at once! That is a lot of bandages and you can still see the bend in my leg. Somewhere between shock, and morphine, and anesthetic I’m beginning to fade quite fast now, despite the best efforts of the fracture nurses.

Both legs bandaged up

“We’re just going to take you up to the ward now, there is a space there for you”

How will Bryan know?

“Can someone tell my husband?”

I mumble a thank you to the Nurses and fall asleep on the trolly. Up on the fracture ward I come round long enough to see Bryan for a few moments.

“Its all good. They are going to operate on you in the morning, you’re lucky, you’ve got the top man.

Lucky? Are you serious? Tell you what, lets swap and see how lucky you feel!

Yes, they said something about that downstairs

“Are you ok about it though? I’m just remembering about when you were in labour with Luke, and they wanted to do a caesarean?”

Yeah, cheers for that memory! Remarkably, yes I am fine with it, this operation absolutely has to happen or I will not walk again, so no; there will be no meltdowns tonight.

“Yes thanks Hun, I am ok, it has to happen. I’m ok with that.”

Maybe because they aren’t planning on cutting my belly open and pulling a baby out!

“Bryan, what about the boys? I’m worried about them, they’ll want to know what’s happened. I am ok, honest.”

I do not like this, but I am ok. I will not panic, I am too tired to panic.

“Yes, I’ll go home for a bit, see the boys, I’ll come back up and bring you your nightie, and toothbrush; is there anything else you need?”

My what? I don’t own a bloody nightie!

“Ok Love, I’ll see you later, tell the boys I love them.”

I can’t keep my eyes open, I need to sleep. 

“Mrs Boal?”

“Hmmm?” What was that, like five minutes? This is as bad as being at home!

“Sorry to wake you, we need to put this round your legs to help the circulation.”

“Ok” The nurses put my legs into something that looks a bit like an inflatable dingy, that gently pulses. My legs feel very supported, its a good feeling.

“Right, we just need to give you an injection, then you can get some sleep.

Marvellous. Where are you going with that? Oh kill me now! It would have to be in the belly. Are you freaking kidding me?

“Ok, that’s you Mrs Boal, there is your buzzer if you need anything, settle down and get some sleep now if you can”

After exposing my wobbly bits? You think I’m going to sleep now? Fat chance! Oh maybe not, I’ll just close my eyes.



“Oh, Hi love, I can’t stay long, but I have a nighty for you and your toothbrush and a few other bits. How are you doing?”

Oh I’m just peachy, thanks. Sleep is over fucking rated anyway.

“I’m not too bad, they have this thing on my legs that pulses to keep the circulation going, it’s good, I’m comfortable.”

“You should bring that home with you for when your feet go blue. Oh, have you seen this (points to the Nil By Mouth sign).”

You utter, utter b******, yes, I’ve seen it, and I‘ve been ignoring it, hoping it will go away. I am doing anything not to think about it! Thanks for drawing my attention to it. Again!

“Yes, they plan to operate on me first thing, 8am I’m scheduled in theatre.”

“What for, Les Mis?”

I’m too tired for this!

‘You look shattered”


I am. Literally.

“All right, love, I’m going to head home now, I’ll be back to see you tomorrow. Hope it all goes well. Love you!”

“Love you too”

I watch him gather up his coat, and head off down the corridor. Then the tears come, I can’t stop them. Nil by fucking mouth!


  1. I just crushed my foot in the skid steer hydraulics lots of plates and pins 3 surgeries in a months lots of tears now skin grafts it seems like it never ends.


    • My sympathies, it takes a lot of patience, I ended up with MRSA in the wound which complicated things and set me back for a while, but if you are determined, you’ll get there.

      Get as much physio as you can (once you are ready) and don’t give up. Believe in your abilities, and sheer bloody mindedness, that’s what got me through. I was determined to walk for my boys.

      Good luck!


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