Broken Ankle – My Trip to Northampton General

As I have previously mentioned, I broke my ankle on Remembrance Day 2015. I was playing rugby for UEA 1s against Northampton and we were away from home.

I had been playing rugby for 2 full seasons at this point having taken it up at University and the most serious injury I had sustained while playing a game was a fracture of my scaphoid and that didn’t even stop me from playing (yes, it should have done, I’m not great at injury care). We had also been lucky as a team to not have had any serious injuries happen to us. We kind of all thought we were a little invincible, I found out the hard way that we are not.

The game against Northampton was big for us, a kind of must win sort of thing with the league being very firmly on our mind, we knew that Northampton were going to be one of our hardest games and we were ready from the start.

From kick off it became clear that we really had a challenge on our hands. Our usually unmovable scrum wasn’t gaining ground and we spent a large quantity of the first 10 minutes trying to get out of our own half. We had just started to make some ground, gaining a penalty near the halfway line when my scrum half called a ‘red’ ball. This for us is where the forwards take the ball into contact in order to draw in the opposition defence. I took the ball into contact and tried to sidestep, the opposition 12 read the move and wrapped my ankles in the tackle. All was fine and hearing the ‘go down’ call from behind me I knew I had support so, I went down to long present backwards. The ruck formed on top of me and the 12 still hadn’t released from the tackle (as you are meant to do). Someone managed to land on my knee and there was an almighty crack. It sounded like a carrot snapping. I screamed for everyone to get off me and the game stopped.

Everyone had heard it.

I had been lying down to long present back and I very quickly sat myself up again. At which point stuff wasn’t quite working in my brain and I thought I was absolutely fine and tried to get up saying “It’s fine, I’ll walk it off”. I was not walking that one off.

When my brain FINALLY reconnected, I realised that I was in fact not walking anything off, I started to have a minor panic that I had in fact just heard my ankle snap and I was in the middle of a rugby pitch miles from home and I didn’t know what I was going to do.

Luckily we had a 5th year medic on the team that happened to be on her orthopaedic rotation. So, she gave me a light slap to get me breathing again (I know it sounds harsh, but I needed someone to be a bit mean to bring me back into the moment). We took my boot off (I insisted it wasn’t cut off, I spent £50 on those!) and then cut my sock off and it was fairly clear that I had broken my ankle. After a lot of discussion about how I was going to get off the pitch I was carried off by both my team and members of the other team. It was a real moment where the values that I think rugby is all about showed. The other team helped me off the pitch when I was injured, they didn’t have to but it was truly in the spirit of the game I think!

 

RUGBY
That’s me being carried off! So elegant…

 

Anyway, after a bit of back and forth I ended up going to Northampton General Hospital and while I hate to criticise anyone, I did not have a good experience.

When we arrived there were no wheelchairs and they asked me to hop (this was not an option, it was excruciating pain). Then we finally found a wheelchair (I was with one of my rugby girls) the wheelchair only wheeled backwards. Very inconvenient.

When we got to the desk to check-in there was a 5 minute argument about where I lived. As I have said, I was in Northampton, however I was living in Norwich. They could not get round the fact that my address wouldn’t be in Northampton. A 5 minute argument wasn’t what I needed really at the time. Then we had the nurse who when I said “I think I have broken my ankle” replied with “Well, it’s very simple, you either have or you haven’t”. Yes. Thanks. Very helpful. Especially when she asked me what had happened.

Anyway, went for an xray and woop what do you know I have broken my ankle. So ensued a very confusing set of events that to be honest I can’t quite remember. I was in and our of rooms, the room I was put in a back slab in was so small it was like a broom cupboard. I was told that I had broken my ankle (not which bone), and that I might need surgery but they weren’t sure.

I had my back slab fitted without having had any painkillers, literally nothing. This meant having my foot manipulated back into the right place without having had anything to take the edge off the pain. We later found out that they in fact back slabbed me wrong, because I wasn’t able to wiggle my toes. I was also meant to have been given blood thinning injection which I wasn’t given. Anyway, I was back slabbed and xrayed and sent home. Now getting home was a whole different story…

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