A few years ago I damaged my ankle badly after a fall. The pain was intense and stupidly, I never got any medical treatment for it. I was challenged mobility wise for many weeks. Even after about a year I could feel an ache which thankfully has gone away now. So when Natasha asked if she could share her broken ankle diaries with me, I was delighted to agree so that she could share her tips on how to cope with a broken ankle.
“It’s not the first time I’ve called my husband to tell him that I’m broken. After all, parenting tiny people is tough. But this time I actually meant it.
I was walking home with my two girls from a playdate when my little pride and joys – my shiny new high-tops – gave way and I skidded over a manhole cover and landed awkwardly. I knew instantly in that instinctive feeling of doom way that I’d done something bad.
A short hop and no skip into an Uber later, I arrived one-shoed outside the urgent care centre, blubbing like a toddler who’s been denied snacks. A kind nurse who’d just finished her shift took pity on me, found me a wheelchair and got me checked in.
X-rays confirmed that I had broken my ankle in two places and I was whisked off to the nearest hospital for surgery the next day. More than 48 hours after that fateful fall I was finally back home with my leg in a cast, a pair of crutches and instructions not to put any weight on my foot for the next six weeks. Here are my broken ankle diaries which I hope can help other people.
Broken ankle diaries
When it happened I was really worried about how I was going to cope. I have an active five-year-old and an even more active (bordering on manic) two-year-old. My husband was able to take a couple of days off work while I was in hospital but life had to go back to normal at some point. Easier said than done when it took me half an hour to huff and puff up the stairs and simple tasks like making a cup of tea or picking up a Duplo brick were impossible.
I genuinely feared that I would lose my mind over the 42 days that loomed ahead of me, as I struggled to care for my children and had to rely on people to do literally everything for me. The harsh reality pierced me more than the daily injections I had to stick into my stomach.
But then something strange happened – it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. In fact, in some ways, it was a revelation. I wasn’t expecting that.
Don’t get me wrong – there were challenges. I’d gingerly get down on the floor to change a nappy and then have to sit there like a beached whale until someone could get me back up again. I accidentally got in the shower without my cast cover on the morning of my daughters’ joint birthday party and spent a good 45 minutes blow-drying it to avoid a trip to A&E to have it replaced. And I tripped over a Hatchimal and went flying across the room, throwing myself on to the sofa to avoid landing on my ankle and going back to square one.
The kids lived on the easiest meals I could make (many, many waffles), I had to hand them over to other people to look after (something I’m not used to doing) and I spent a lot of time saying “sorry, mummy can’t do that because of my poorly leg”. But we all survived.
Now, with just a couple of days before I pass the major milestone of having my cast removed, I’ve found myself looking back at what we’ve all achieved – my husband and children as much as me – and what helped us to get through it.
How to cope with a broken ankle by seeking support
People really want to help, it makes them feel happy and helpful, so let them. It can be easy to be too proud and to want to give the impression that you’re managing but don’t – pride comes after falls as well as before. Don’t assume people know what you need, tell them.
It’s easier to stay at home when everything is such an effort but the days will pass much quicker and be much more fun if you go out. Mobility aids like an iWALK2.0, a knee scooter or even a wheelchair can help you get out of the house and into the fresh air.
I struggled for three days with crutches before I went online and bought an iWALK2.0, something my physio had mentioned to me. It’s a hands-free crutch and it made my life (and mental health) a million times better. I went from being completely helpless and relying on people to do everything for me, to being independent again. I could pick up and soothe my toddler, make the dinner, hoover and tidy up etc. Thanks to this device I made it to my daughter’s class assembly and even to a client meeting for work. My children call it my pirate leg, I call it my lifesaver and would highly recommend it to anyone in my situation.
Boxsets and books are great but even they get mind-numbing after a while. Find something that keeps you busy – for me it was work. I work part time from home and the days literally flew by as I was so busy. A friend took up cross-stitching when she broke her ankle and made a beautiful tapestry during her recovery.
I’m constantly on the go, always finding chores to do, but because I was forced to, I finally stopped. Instead of saying “I’m too busy”, choosing instead to do the washing up, or tidy up for the 100th time that day, I sat down and watched the children. I enjoyed them and I didn’t feel guilty about lounging on the sofa for once. We played games together and read stories, probably more than we’d done previously.
I realised just how overwhelmed I’d been feeling before my accident and how much I needed a break. I’m actually feeling refreshed for the first time in ages.
Summer is in full swing and I’m looking forward to getting back on two legs and going to the park again (nothing like six weeks away from the local playground to make it seem like flippin’ Disneyworld). But I’ll genuinely look back on the last six weeks with fond memories and pride for all of us for getting through it with a sense of humour and some teamwork. I think I really do know now how to cope with a broken ankle and hope my story helps others.
What would go in your broken ankle diaries?
Whether you have had an injury or not, it is always good to ensure you know how to take care of your feet and legs as they do work so hard for us.
Do you have any tips on how to cope with a broken ankle so that life really does go on?