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My Broken Ankle
John Reeve


Lying there staring into the blue sky with white fluffy cloud I wonder to myself what does this mean? What are the implications, whilst five very pleasant ladies tend to my aching wound? My hands are white; I am shivering convulsively and I just want to get out of here.

This was early May and I was on the final part of the descent from Ben Lomond, competing in a fell race. I suddenly slipped on a rock, landed awkwardly and heard a sharp snap. Ouch! When I tried standing up an overwhelming sense of nausea engulfed me, so I sat down and declared to the young girl spectator' I think I have broken my ankle!'

One moment fierce competitor, next real life victim for the mountain rescue to do, as they will. They were close to hand so I had no worries of having to call any one out. Sadly I was near to the finish so a rescue helicopter was not necessary. They strapped me into a basket and at their mercy I was walked off the mountain and piled into the back of an ambulance. There were a few spectators enjoying the spectacle of a runner and for me the humiliation of being carted off to hospital, in Alexandra, an undulating 40 minutes drive away.

To add more misery to my predicament my football team Ipswich Town were getting well and truly stuffed by Liverpool and during the ambulance journey the final result of 5-1 and regulation summed up my day. It was the 11th May 2002, the final day of the season in more ways than one, a day I will not forget in a hurry.

So what were the implications? At first I had to forego a precious night out to Glasgow with my wife, but worst was a leg plaster up to the knee. I had to return to the hospital the next day for further X-rays and a final massage to ease the bone back into position. The pain of this is still the most vivid part of the whole ordeal. No amount of drugs or 'laughing gas' could drown the feeling. I left the hospital exhausted, and my pride sorely wounded. So in plaster and totally helpless I could no longer drive, go to work, exercise, and sleep or play cricket with the kids in the garden. This was serious, my normal life had stepped changed to a new dimension - one of inactivity.

I am by no needs the first or will I be the last to suffer a spiral fracture of the fibula, a classic twist and break of the ankle. There is plenty of information on the Internet and I had plenty of time to research it. So I took refuse in cyber space - to seek out the answers to all my questions.

So once the ankle is broken the process of recovery starts. Recovery came in stages with little achievements and milestones here and there. The six weeks in plaster went from two weeks unable to walk and will probably never walk again. Followed by the next two weeks of getting out into the garage and practising on my climbing wall with the feet still firmly on the ground. To the final two weeks where life was returning to normal with cycling on the turbo trainer and trips to the park with the boys. The regular phone calls from work and the world cup was beginning to infer with my routine.

Probably the second worst experience of the ordeal was when the hospital phoned me to postpone the removal of the plaster by seven days. Did they not know how important that day had become to me. I was totally devastated, as I had become so focused on it and my natural reaction was to emotionally fall apart. Thankfully Sue renegotiated the appointment to the following day, early Friday a.m. right in the middle of the England and Brazil football match. It was a small price to pay!

The plaster finally did come off. One minute I was in the wheel chair getting pampered by the NHS. The next I was shown to the door unaided without plaster or crutches. The doctor's parting comment was 'lots of cycling and swimming and maybe consider running next year but don't push it! Next!!'

It then took three months to finally pluck up courage and venture back into the wood. My first Orienteering event was Dalayschyle a very rough wood with lots of brashings and I can tell you I was nervous. There is a saying 'put your best foot forward'; the bad foot didn't want to know. I finished and the following day there were no side effects. That surprised me and my confidence swelled. Life was looking up.

My next event was at Dumyat on the brown course, which I also finished. Again there were no side effects the following day and so I now believed that normality was around the corner. What is next, well it's about getting fit again and I didn't appreciate how hard this was going to be. Has anyone got any advice?

A few things to ponder;
� Never run alone without map, compass, whistle and ideally mobile telephone. They only get down the mountain on their own in the movies, unless you are Joe Simpson.
� Give into it and accept your predicament. You cannot fight it you will only get frustrated. It helped having the kids around. "Hey dad, watch me I can hop just like you".
� Get a routine and try and be very nice to your partner else you are going to starve.
� I always thought that mountain rescue teams were full of old grey haired men with large bellies. How wrong I was.

See you in the woods or on the hills.

John Reeve
Sept. 2002.

Copyright Alex King (Ochil Hill Runners) V4.2.5 (Feb 2019)