I’d reached the age of 29 without breaking a bone but as they say, there’s a first time for everything.
On May 8 2017, I was sunbathing on the flat roof of my house (approximately 10 feet high). I had done this loads of times, using a ladder to get up and down.
After some time larking around taking ridiculous Snapchats pretending to do parkour, I decided to get down.
You can’t see the ladder from the top and have to step down backwards.
I’m quite afraid of heights (and now I will be forever!) and my legs were trembling as I stepped onto the ladder. I’d only gotten about two rungs down when suddenly I was flying through the air. (I must have slipped as the ladder remained upright).
I landed sideways on concrete with my right leg underneath me. I was in total shock, having fallen about seven feet and I felt pain all over.
I had cuts and grazes on my knees, elbows and legs and an agonising throbbing pain in my right foot. I tried to stand up but it was too painful.
I wrenched off my runner and crawled to get my phone which had fallen out of my pocket. I had to crawl into the house as there are steps up to the back door.
When I got inside I could see my ankle had swollen up. I knew it must be broken but I didn’t want to believe it. I called a taxi and went to hospital.
I spent the night on a hard chair in A&E in agonising pain. I had no one with me, no food or water and hardly any coins for the vending machine. I had to hop on one foot if I needed to get up and as the night progressed my foot became more swollen and bruised.
Also, my phone battery died – every millennial’s worst nightmare!
After 14 hours in A&E with just painkillers and ice-packs, I had an X-ray and was given the bad news that I’d fractured my talus bone and slightly dislocated my heel and would need surgery.
I burst into tears as I had a massive fear of general anaesthetic, particularly after my dad’s death several years ago. I implored them to operate on me while awake (yes really) but it wasn’t an option.
For the next four nights, I was in hospital, on a trolley for one night (totally fine, my only issue with being on a trolley was not having crutches) and then moved to a ward.
By this time, my foot and ankle were incredibly swollen, my leg was bruised from my ankle to my knee and I was developing weeping pressure blisters on the side of my ankle. It looked so bad, one nurse thought it was infected.
I was given an orthopaedic boot to wear and warned me not to take it off at night.
I fasted for the operation that night (Tuesday) but the next morning it was cancelled as they wanted a specialist foot and ankle surgeon to operate.
I was informed of the complications my fracture could have, including the bone dying away and arthritis. I felt so terrified and helpless when I heard this.
My ORIF operation to move my heel back into position and put two pins into my ankle was rescheduled for Friday.
I dutifully fasted once more and waited all day in a state of anxiety until 6pm when my surgeons informed me they had to postpone due to theatre being busy with emergencies. (They had warned me earlier in the day that this could happen).
My boyfriend and one of my close friends from college came to see me and cheered me up while I awaited surgery.
Every night on the ward cost €80, I’d already paid €100 in A&E fees and don’t have health insurance so I was keen to get out as soon as possible. That night I fasted once more and at about 12.30pm the next day I was wheeled down for surgery.
I was terrified of the anaesthetic and having a tube put down my throat but it was actually fine. They informed me they were injecting me with a mix of ketamine and morphine and the last thing I remember was feeling the cold liquid travel through the vein of my right hand and up my arm.
It wasn’t like falling asleep, it was like being knocked out. No-one counted down and the next thing I knew I was awake in an ante-room feeling heaviness in my foot and extreme thirst. I drifted in and out of sleep a few times and I was hallucinating, thinking I could see a bottle of 7-up on a table (there was something green there alright!)
A nurse came over to speak to me and I began crying as the enormity of the last few days hit me. I was so relieved to wake up and know the dreaded surgery was over.
A surgeon came in to tell me surgery had gone well and kindly wiped my tears away as I began to come around. I wanted to ask them more about the operation but I kept falling in and out of sleep.
I was moved back to the ward and spent another night there as I was on a drip. The next day my boyfriend brought me home and I was so thrilled to be getting out. This dissipated the minute I tried to hop up my front door step, almost fell backwards and burst into tears.
Everything felt like a struggle and I was still in a lot of pain. I was on 12 pain killers daily, including an opiate which affected my mood and concentration as well as my body. I cried so much the first few days, the slightest little thing would set me off – like constant PMS.
I continued to take painkillers for the next three weeks (five weeks in total). Once I’d finished my prescription, I took paracetamol. Eventually, I weaned myself off them but it took ages.
The next few weeks I struggled to resume daily life while working from home. At first, everything was a struggle from showering, dressing and cooking to going outside on crutches, going out in the car etc.
Some days I just stayed in PJs and didn’t shower because it was too difficult. I had to wear the orthopaedic boot 24/7 and some nights I barely slept because of discomfort and pain.
Three months on, my fracture is healing nicely and I am partial weight-bearing. I’m still in the boot and on crutches but the future is looking good.
Every small achievement seems so important and I honestly don’t know how people cope with really serious injuries.
I will need a lot of physiotherapy to get back walking normally and my right calf has atrophied through lack of use and looks so scrawny!
As I live alone, I had to fend for myself. My family live 95 miles away and while my brother visited briefly while on holidays from Australia he couldn’t stay long.
My boyfriend took care of me the majority of the time and kept me sane during hard days but he works full-time and doesn’t live in Dublin.
A close friends lifted my spirits by calling over with a magazine and sweets and even offered to help me clean the house! My friends kept in touch with me and provided support but every time I saw their posts from concerts, festivals and holidays, I felt very jealous!
I was very naive about broken bones as I’d never broken one before. I thought they just knitted back together without intervention – not always! This experience has changed my life in many ways and although I know I will forget the pain, I hope I will be more grateful for being able-bodied in the future.
PS: I was incredibly well cared for by the nurses, care assistants, physio, doctors and surgical team. They were kind, caring and professional and I cannot thank them enough. Although A&E was frustrating, my hospital experience was positive overall.
TLDNR: I fell off a ladder, smashed my ankle and fucked up my summer. Please don’t do this to yourselves.
Pay attention to your intuition, I debated the safety of the ladder but then foolishly dismissed these thoughts…
Thanks for taking the time to read this post, it was very cathartic writing it! My OOTD is a look I would wear to a festival if I were able to attend one.
The snake print blouse is from a Tola Vintage kilo sale and the skirt is an old one I found at home and customised with studs.