What’s in a broken leg?
I broke my leg, I broke it dancing. Let’s get this bit out of the way. Where did I break it? I broke the fibula on my right leg. How did I do it? I fell over. I fell over on the dance floor. Someone told me something shocking… next thing… well I was landing rather awkwardly. Did it hurt? Yes.
Surprisingly I didn’t mind breaking it that much at first. Of course it hurt incredibly at the time. I passed out from the pain, got it fixed up and decided it wasn’t going to get in the way of ‘normal life’. But once I was able to start getting out and about a bit, it was interesting to see how people reacted to me, and how ‘normal life’ eluded me somewhat.
I have decided that of all things nasty, breaking your leg is one of the better nasty things. People are nice. They open doors. They let you go first even though you’re incredibly slow. They get you drinks, they plump up cushions for your leg rest, they sell you just one shoe. They let you sit in the most comfy chair, they pick up your crutches when you drop them for the millionth time. You never need to ask for a seat on the most packed of tubes. A lovely client even pretended to need a wee at the same time as me so that she could hold open a really heavy and awkward door.
The thing I found about a broken leg is that there’s not much someone can do to offend you. One friend took great delight in the opportunity to create new nicknames for me. Some of them were pejorative in theory but I took it all in the endearing sense it was intended with. Maybe it’s because I’m one of the lucky ones who will eventually fully recover from my broken leg, whereas others aren’t so lucky. It has though, given me a small but provoking insight into how isolating a physical disability can be. I had a severe bought of cabin fever, and then when I did get out I felt quite different to all those able-bodied people. The other thing is that when you are used to being independent, it is difficult to get used to asking for stuff all the time.
On the other hand – the broken leg was a talking point. Someone observed that it’s the only time when complete strangers feel happy chatting to you. Everyone can’t help but share their own bone-breaking-stories. I disagree; dog owners also experience a similar phenomenon but it is still a wonderful phenomenon.
My cast came off after 5ish weeks. I was given one of those boots that looks a bit like a snow boot. I noticed that people’s reactions changed a bit. It moved from black and white – simple ‘You’ve broken your leg’ - into a grey area. Why grey? Well I think the boot looks more like I may have a condition that might lead to ‘difficult’ conversations. So there were fewer conversations, I was being weaned off the attention the leg bought me.
It then went from a boot to no boot and a hobble, and now I can walk limp free unless I over-do it. I still take it easy but am able to plan walking holidays and half marathons again and without meaning to sound trite, I really appreciate my mobility so much more than I used to. I just wonder how long this will last…
Director of Ampleo.