We hadn’t even been back 12 hours.
We arrived at home at around 10:30pm on the Wednesday night, and The Husband and I were both exhausted – we put the boys to sleep, and I decided I was too tired to unpack. I had 4 days before I was due back at work on Monday – I could take it easy.
It’s that ‘taking it easy’ that made me get up in the morning and start acting like a lunatic. I put the car seats back in the car, I cleared the fridge, ready for the shopping to be delivered, I opened the post, gave the boys breakfast… I started jumping from one task to the next, doing things as soon as I noticed that they needed doing. The Husband left for work, and I told him: “Have a good day – I have a lot on today”.
The Little Guy needed a nappy change (he’s 2), so I took a break from the madness and went upstairs to do that. But of course I had no t-shirts for him – they were all in the suitcases. So I thought I might as well unpack – I unpacked one suitcase and put it to the side.
It wouldn’t lock. My idea of putting it to the side so I could move on to the next one didn’t really work, as The Little Guy had decided that he wanted to push it around. It opened on him, and he wasn’t happy, so I decided to take it downstairs to get it out of the way.
And that’s pretty much the last useful thing I did (or rather attempted to do) that day. The suitcase opened again once I was taking it down the stairs, my left foot slipped (or missed a step?), and I slipped forward. Unfortunately, when I fell after slipping my right foot got trapped under my own weight, and seeing that my body still had that forward movement from the slip, I basically gave my shinbone and calf a proper twist.
Twist and crack, in fact.
Yes, I heard it.
And I felt it.
I immediately registered the sensation that it felt and sounded like my leg now had sand inside. The pain was breath-taking for a couple of seconds. I grabbed my leg, held my breath and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to scream. I heard The Little Guy at the top of the stairs saying: “Okay?”, but I wasn’t able to answer him, to reassure him. I held my leg for a few seconds until I could look up and breathe again.
My right foot was unresponsive. The leg was still making that awful sound like there was sand in it.
As soon as I felt I could move, I scooped my leg up with my right arm, pushed the suitcase over the stairgate, got myself to the bottom of the stairs (I must have had 4 or 5 steps left), and I started calling The Big Guy. He had just gone into the loft with The Middle Guy to crack open his PS3 Fifa 16 – a present that my brother had given him in Italy 10 days before and that he had been waiting to play with for the rest of our holidays. I had to call him with a certain (ahem) ‘energy’, to make sure he came quickly – I knew he would have happily ignored me otherwise!
When he came downstairs (he wasn’t impressed with me), I told him calmly that I had broken my leg and needed him to get me the phone. I told him where it was, and then I asked him to get a top for The Little Guy, put it on for him and open the doors.
He looked confused. He looked at my legs (I was wearing some old, baggy joggers I only wear in the house), and he couldn’t see anything wrong with my legs. I was speaking calmly, and he seemed confused by the instructions.
“But if I open the door The Little Guy is going to go out”, he said.
“Well, keep him in please!!!” (I couldn’t come up with anything better!)
I asked The Middle Guy to go and get dressed, and I phoned The Husband to ask him to turn around and come back home. Then I called my brother-in-law to ask him to come round and be with the boys in case the ambulance arrived before The Husband did, and I called 112.
I think it was at that point that I decided, while still holding my leg, to have a look at it. I lifted my bottoms up and there was an additional joint somewhere on my shinbone.
Great. Yep, “I broke my leg. I need an ambulance please”.
My brother-in-law thankfully arrived around 15 minutes later, followed in by the paramedics. When I told them what happened one of them said: “Well, at least you weren’t carrying a full suitcase, and you weren’t on your way to your holidays!”
Somehow that didn’t seem funny or comforting at the time. Too soon for a joke. She got a blank stare, I think (oops).
I know we left my house in the ambulance one hour and 15 minutes later, so what happened in that time must be a bit of a blur, as it didn’t feel like that long had passed. I guess we (the 2 paramedics and I) spent a considerable amount of time trying to immobilise my leg. They gave me some morphine and then spent some more time working out how to get me out of the house and on a stretcher to get onto the ambulance, without moving my leg. I was really grateful for the way they took their time and really tried their best to try and keep me comfortable. I never found out what their names were, but I’ll never forget those two ladies’ faces and how they made me feel safe.
The Husband had got home while the paramedics were with me, and when we were ready, he jumped in the ambulance with me (second time this year!) We went to the hospital while the boys spent their day with their Uncle, Aunt, and cousins.
In the hospital I went from A&E (triage) to x-rays back and forth a few times. I remember being wheeled back from the x-rays department, and the doctor came up to me and whispered in my ear: “You broke your leg”.
“I know that. How bad is it?”
It was hard to learn that I had managed to break both my tibia and my fibula (at different heights), and that I would have needed a temporary cast, which would also go over my knee, because of the fracture on the fibula being quite high up.
It was hard to learn that I had to have surgery and a metal rod and screws (aka intramedullary nail) inserted in my tibia.
It was hard to learn that I had to be hospitalised and wait for surgery, which was not going to happen that day.
It was hard to learn that it’d be about 6 months before my leg would feel completely ok and fully functional again.
It was hard to know that for the first time in his life I was going to be away overnight from The Little Guy. For the first time in his life Mamma wasn’t going to put him to bed and give him milk in the night. (Of course Papa’ stepped in and did a brilliant job, but it was a little hard for everyone involved).
It was an accident.
An unlucky fall.
A very serious fracture for such a mundane task. How many times have been up and down those innocent-looking, carpeted stairs, carrying babies and all sorts of things?
The A&E doctor couldn’t really comprehend how I wasn’t hurt anywhere else, having told them I ‘fell down the stairs’ (technically, not quite right) and considering the extent of my leg fracture.
But what was also really hard for me was to recognise that before I fell I wasn’t in a great state of mind. I was overwhelmed by the tasks ahead. I was rushing around. I wanted to do it all. I wanted to achieve it all on that day, on that morning, in fact. I wanted to get through my to-do list. I wanted everything to be ready and perfect for the boys – for all of us.
But everything changed.
Temporarily (thankfully), but in one very quick second, everything changed. Because of that decision that I made in a split second, to take that suitcase down the stairs.
The Middle Guy has been telling me since: “Mamma, why did you take the suitcase downstairs? Papa’ could have done it”.
Hindsight. Oh. So. Powerful.