I’ve broken my ankle

Illustration of me breaking my ankle playing bubble football with the caption: "My deepest condolences - get well soon"

At the weekend I broke my ankle while playing bubble football on a stag do.

It’s my second major bone break, following my broken elbow six years ago.

If you haven’t come across bubble football before, it is where you play 5-a-side football wearing miniature zorb-style bubble suits. These bubbles cover the upper half of your body but with your legs sticking out of the bottom so that you can run and play football.

The artist’s impression above, from a card given by a friend, is not quite accurate. While your legs are outside the bubble, your arms and head are within it.

The design lets rowdy people feel deceptively safe to barge into people, because when you fall the bubble normally protects you, and you get right back up unharmed.

The problem for me came when I was barged into a wall, which bounced me right back onto the ground, landing forcefully on my ankle, where I felt the snap.

After a call to NHS 24, I was given an appointment at the minor injuries unit. There the nurse could tell instantly by seeing me from the corridor that my ankle was in a very bad way, such was its swelling.

My ankle was broken in three places — fractures on the bones on each side, plus an extra flake off for good measure.

I left with the three Cs — cast, crutches, and co-codamol.

I was told to expect a phone call about surgery I’d need to have later in the week.

I was slightly shocked but delighted to receive the phone call on Sunday evening, telling me to arrive at the hospital at 7:30am on Monday for my surgery.

The most uncomfortable experience of Monday was getting a Covid-19 test. However, on my way to the surgery I stumbled on my crutches and fell over, landing on my bad foot again. It was a bit of a shock, but luckily I had no other injuries. It’s made me a wee bit nervous/careful on my crutches since.

Me hobbling out of hospital on my crutches

Now my ankle has been fixed up, pinned and plated. After a delightful afternoon full of sleep and morphine, a very basic chicken sandwich and a soothing cup of tea, I sent was back home within 12 hours. I was very happy with how quickly my surgery was able to take place, and the excellent care I received.

Now I face recovery.

I have been signed off work for a minimum of two weeks, and am to do light duties only for four to six weeks. I was only due to work for two more weeks before starting my parental leave.

I suddenly find myself unexpectedly finishing work early. It is an eerie echo of what happened when Isobel was born, which also happened two weeks earlier than expected.

Now I’m unlikely to return to work properly (except for keeping in touch days and the like) until 2022. The six weeks I had away from work after Isobel was born was already by some margin the longest time I’d had off work since first getting a “proper” job after university. Now I’m expecting to be away from work for the best part of half a year.

But my immediate concern is being fit enough to look after Izzy as much as I can. This is what frustrates me most about my injury.

Parenting is a big exercise in teamwork, and lots of the issues we faced in the early days still endure to some extent. Normally we each have our own jobs when looking after Izzy. Now I’m unable to do some of mine.

In particular, lots of fun things like taking her for walks and playing with her on the floor are currently out of the question.

On the plus side, being very immobile but still being warm and having a pulse makes me ideal for naps.

But this all places an extra burden on my wife Alex who now finds herself having to look after both of us, when two of us should be looking after a baby.

Then there are all the fun summer plans we had made for the coming weeks, which we now have to cancel or re-plan.

For all these reasons I hope to recover quickly. It may be a few weeks before I’m comfortable without crutches. But I’m optimistic that the swift surgery stands me in good stead to be better sooner rather than later.

2 comments

  1. much love for you, Alex and Izzie. such bad luck.
    Hope your stairs safe for you up and down.
    Lots more sitting the next few wks, lots of time for cuddles with Issy. 2 fractures unlucky,just wonder if you should ask for bone density scan, or maybe you just adventurous!
    good luck
    karen and mark x

  2. Coming very late to this news due to holidays and backlogs of messages, but hope you’re doing better now. You’re clearly getting too old and brittle for such ambitious stag-related events 😛

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