So I broke my ankle, a few weeks ago.
Just a little break, an avulsion fracture of the talus, apparently, though the additionally sprained ankle and knee have been causing me a lot more trouble. Never make assumptions about horses. You think they’re going to go over a jump, you think they’re a big brave thoroughbred, and then they coward out at the last-minute leaving you to go over said jump on your own. Cheers for that Wizard.
Aside from accusations of equine cowardice, I only have myself to blame for my injuries though. I’ve probably fallen off several hundred times since I started riding twenty years ago, thanks to getting a reputation for liking ‘problem’ (crazy) horses. Flop and roll. Every time. Even if you land on your spine, you flop and roll. On this occasion, however, something went wrong and my reflexes said ‘land on your feet – no actually, just on one foot, that’ll work better!’ It didn’t.
I may or may not have lain on the floor for a good two minutes whimpering, and thinking ‘bloody hell, I’ve actually injured myself here, aaaarrrgggghhh’, but then I dragged myself upright and the pain completely vanished. I could feel that the ankle had swollen under my leather boots, but I was able to rotate and put gentle pressure on it, so I recaptured Wizard (who had been standing next to me looking bemused/ bored), and got back on. We carried on jumping for a bit so he didn’t learn that ditching his rider meant getting out of work, then I limped home.
“It’s probably only a sprain, but maybe get it x-rayed just in case” from my GP led me to a fracture diagnosis at the Royal Free a couple of days later, at which point I have to admit I may have gone a little mad. The doctor who talked me through the x-ray didn’t quite know what to make of me, as I espoused my lack of pain and begged to be allowed to go on a hiking holiday. It’s not that I have a high pain-threshold, I really don’t, but I do get migraines and back problems, both of which are so excruciating at times that the upper limits of my pain-scale are perhaps higher than average. Compared to this the ankle hardly hurt at all, and nobody seemed to care about the knee. The problem came, however, when I was told to rest. I don’t do rest. I go to the gym every day, and I ride two to three times a week, and I do MMA and boxing every week, and hiking, scrambling, swimming and occasional rock climbing and ohgodpleasedon’ttellmetorest!
Rest I did though, religiously. I bandaged ankle and knee every day, and tried to use the crutches he forced on me (mostly I carried them around with me, but I sort of used them sometimes). I elevated and iced the ankle every evening when I got home from work, and I kept as still as I possibly could. The clever man, you see, told me that the only way I would be able to go on a hiking trip to Scotland in 13 days was if I rested until then and didn’t go on the planned hiking trip to the Lake District in 7 days.
This ‘resting’ malarkey lasted all of 5 days though, at which point I warily headed back to the Royal Free for an appointment to get a ‘support boot’ fitted, or even perhaps a cast. I waited around for nearly an hour, but the wait was worth it in the end as the wonderful, wonderful doctor who saw me said no cast, no support boot, no crutches if I didn’t want them, and actually yeah, why not go hiking in the Lake District?! Just don’t ignore the pain if it gets worse. I could have hugged her.
A week of hiking in the Lakes wasn’t easy, but it was absolutely, definitely worth it. Through trial and error we worked out that I could cope with about half the walking we would usually do, and 10-12 miles a day over rough terrain was about my limit (16 miles was a bad day. A very bad day). I had also forgotten to take any painkillers during ‘rest-time’, so regular doses of ibuprofen and paracetamol on holiday really made a difference. Pushing myself to just get on with things was the best possible remedy. The constant twisting and stretching of my ankle as we clambered up and down uneven mountain paths was a far less boring form of physio (there’s only so many times you can write the alphabet with your foot), and the sense of achievement at the end of every day turned me from a miserable, paranoid gremlin back into something resembling my real self.
Much to Tom’s relief, for whom the two weeks of rest time had been more trying even than for me. Also, we went to cafes. We had pit-stops involving lunch and ice-cream and alcohol. I had an epiphany half-way through the week and pointed out that I was actually really enjoying myself, rather than just walking miles and miles and miles in the rain like usual. Almost like, dare I say it, a real holiday?! “Humph, well, yes I suppose this is what weak people do on holidays” replied my darling Thomas. ‘What, have a good time?’ He did at least laugh at this.
Hopefully more fun walking-holidays are to come, but here are the photos from this one.
End of the day here, at a waterfall near Borrowdale. Veeerrryy tired!
The librarian adventurer.
Nearing the top of Catbells, a peak I’ve never climbed before because Tom deemed it beneath him. Turned out to be a nice little climb with a beautiful view, despite the crowds – just the thing for a broken foot!
A lovely cafe we stumbled upon, the Grange Bridge Cottage Cafe. It has a beautiful little garden with views over the river – the perfect place to stop for lunch and ice-cream!
Outdoor cafe at the Lodore Falls Hotel.
Tales of wild-camping and swimming under waterfalls to come.
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