A sailing trip with consequences français  deutsch
It was June. We were in the last harbour at the end of a week-long sailboat cruise on Masurian lakes in north-eastern Poland. It happened. I slipped on the deck and came home with a white boot from my otherwise perfect vacation.

I had never broken anything. Now it has been quite a shock because I lost my independence. And suddenly I realized that I cannot do anything alone anymore. Furthermore the pain of a broken leg. Maybe because I was rested and relaxed after the vacation, it was easy for me to deal with the new reality.

A doctor in the hospital in Gizycko at a Masurian lake said after the investigation, it is a simple fracture of the right ankle. I will be six weeks in plaster. My first question was, when could I do sports again. The doctor said, "In a few months."

After returning to Jelenia Góra (Lower Silesia) and more accurate tests, the diagnosis has changed. It turned out, the fracture was not so simple as said in the beginning. It was slightly displaced. This meant eight instead of six weeks in plaster. In addition, the doctors told me that after removing the plaster I have to walk a few weeks with crutches because my leg will be very weak. So two months with a plastered leg and another month on crutches. Then rehab. Sport and especially running will be possible at least in half a year. Half a year! For a physically active person this is a drama. The whole summer was over and I had so many plans.

Loss of independence and mobility

Since I could not drive a car with the leg cast, I lived with my parents again after 15 years. Using the train with crutches is not really a good option. But also everyday life. You cannot even carry a cup of tea. Little things that I did not pay attention before, because they were just normal. In these situations one needs help and is no longer independent. Actually, it is nice to live with the parents again, as I was used to. I felt a bit like a child.

I had no intention of lying on the couch for two months. Despite the plaster, I wanted to be at least a little mobile and go to people because I'm a very social type. Furthermore you have to visit doctors. The first major mobility problem was the therapy with a magnetic field that was supposed to accelerate the bone growth. The next physiotherapy practice is a 20-30 minute walk from home. On crutches I could not make the distance yet. The plastered leg swelled and the hands, which carry the weight of the whole body, would not survive this journey. The appointment was in the afternoon when everyone is at work and nobody is present to take me by car. My mother does not drive a car. It is a small town where my parents live, so there are no taxis. Luckily, an acquaintance could lend me a wheelchair. After the first driving exercises with the wheelchair I was optimistic. I learned to turn and drive straight ahead at the speed of a snail. To go to rehab, the plan was to travel alone on the road and my mother, who came with me, helps me with the curbs.

The next day I had to put the plan into action. The last checks: tire pressure, mineral water, cycling gloves, sunglasses, positive attitude. I sat comfortably as in a stroller. It went well until the first problems occurred after a few minutes. The asphalt sidewalk was over. I had to drive half on the green and half on the road, which was critical. And then came a curb before the next walkway began. A curb monster! How do I get up? Forward? Backward? I could not do it alone. My mother helped and pulled me up backwards. After a little fight with the wheelchair and a few screams of pain from me, we made it. In this phase, the leg ached constantly and every shock intensified the pain. In addition, the uncertainty, what else will happen, depressed the mood. Because even this curb, which I had never noticed before for so many years, threw us back in time. The new walkway had some holes, which my leg had to feel, but we managed it. We met a woman who has a disabled child. She pointed us to an alternative path where are no steps.

We reached the rehab practice in less than an hour. But we were both exhausted. I did not feel my hands anymore. For the way back we took the other route, which is longer but has a better surface. We learned slowly. Less than an hour later we are at home. We are knocked out but happy and proud of ourselves, because we made it. Such small achievements are important if you can appreciate them. Such a seemingly small distance, which previously took a moment, now takes half a day. Only when you have experienced the problems, you appreciate the fact how beautiful and carefree it is to be healthy and not have to worry about curbs, for example.

Day by day it went better. On the one hand the leg hurt less and on the other hand I got used to the situation slowly. Then the condition was getting better too. I was able to cover longer distances with crutches. But the pain in my hands accompanied me.


At the doctor's visit, three weeks after the accident came the disappointment. I had already imagined that they would remove my cast and apply an orthosis. The doctor had mentioned this at the last visit. Unfortunately, X-rays have shown that the bone formation has not progressed yet. So I kept the plaster. Otherwise, I would have needed surgery. For me it was a drama, because in the opinion of the doctors, I would behave exemplary. I do not stress the leg too much, eat more protein and calcium and furthermore the therapy with the magnetic field. But in my case, that did not work. The doctors said it's only a matter of time, I just have to be patient.

Five weeks after the accident came the next check. The leg did not hurt, so I thought that healing is going well. I always consulted the surgeon and the orthopaedist. The surgeon said it was time to remove the plaster because it was already loose. After cutting and removing the plaster cast, I was shocked. The leg was thin because of muscle wasting, the feet were numb and did not feel like mine. I could not move the leg at all. I have heard that it would be so, but when I saw the leg with my own eyes, I was really surprised and shocked. The leg was full of bruises. And this hair. They shaved it immediately.

The surgeon ordered an X-ray, which showed that bone growth was unfortunately still not good, only very slightly. The doctor said that therefore he could not give me an orthosis. I'm supposed to start slowly straining my foot, maybe the bone will grow better when the circulation is stimulated. It seemed strange to put weight on the bone which had not grown together yet. But he is the specialist.

It was weird without cast. My leg seemed light as a feather. But even though I wanted it, I could not move it easily. I realized that hard work is waiting to get fit again. Many hours of rehabilitation and painful exercises. This will be an interesting challenge. And I like challenges.

Then it was the orthopaedist's turn. Here it was not so nice. When he saw me without cast, he panicked. He said, "From an orthopaedic point of view, at this stage of bone growth, the leg cannot be without cast." But he calmed me when he said that a fracture, like mine, can take up to twelve weeks for healing. So I did not enjoy my life without plaster for too long. The orthopaedist put on a new boot. This time I chose a synthetic blue cast.

The new boot fit closely. But this time he went much higher, nearly up to the knee, which unfortunately was not very pleasant. But you can get used to everything. The synthetic cast is much more airy, which is an advantage in this summer heat. You should be able to swim with it, but I have not tried it. Afterwards, you have to dry the cotton wool and the fabric underneath with the hair dryer for hours. So I started a blue phase of cast life and hoped it might not take too long.

Lesson humility

We have the expression, "If the goat had not jumped, it would not have broken its legs." There was hardly a day when I did not hear this phrase. From neighbors, random passers-by, people in shops or wherever somebody saw me. At first I thought it was funny, then I was irritated, finally it upset me. Maybe because I always did a lot of sports and nothing happened. At first, I did not want to react to that. But then they would say that I am poorly educated. I decided to smile nicely, like a good girl, for seven weeks, and replied, "She did not jump, but broke her leg anyway."

What the plaster taught me is humility, enormous humility. Thanks to this experience, I began to look at the world differently. I appreciate what I have and how I live every day. Because it turned out that in a split second life can turn upside down. I met the sick and the disabled who say nothing happens without a reason. I think humility is the reason for me.

The cousin's wedding

The days with the cast fly very fast. I could hardly imagine that eight weeks had passed since the accident. My cousin's wedding had come. A few weeks earlier, I hoped that I would get rid of the cast by then and dance all night at the party. But that was an illusion. I love weddings. Unfortunately, this wedding should be different for me than the previous ones, because of that blue that holds my leg trapped.

It started in the church. Unfortunately I could not wear high heels. The wedding ceremony was beautiful and awing, of course. A young, happy, loving couple. Later dinner, music and dance. I spent the time talking to family members I had not seen for a long time. But how long can you sit? A wedding without dancing is boring. So I have made up courage and asked partners for a dance. It worked. The first danced slowly and calmly, but then it was getting vividly. The dance techniques with the casted lady varied, depending on the type of music and the creativity of the partners. There were half turns and even a cancan on one leg. I have asked all uncles, cousins and of course the groom. Men carried me across the floor, which probably pleases every woman.

But it also took a lot of strength from me. After some time the healthy leg ached and the injured leg had swollen toes. They looked like sausages. The cast had become tight. By midnight, the common sense ended my career as a gypsy dancer. I spent the rest of the wedding much calmer. A few days later I still had sore muscles in my left leg. So the training was ok.

Monday after the wedding, I went to the doctors for the next check. Bone growth was more advanced but still not as far as desired. Fortunately, the connection of the bones is visible on the x-ray photo. The orthopaedist decided to leave me in the cast for the next two weeks. Only then the fight for every step will begin. But I was ready for this challenge and I could not wait to get rid of my blue boot. I hoped that I would never have this dubious pleasure again in my life.

Statistics of the time with the cast

After another two weeks, I spent a total of over 10 weeks in the cast, exactly 72 days and a half day. Meanwhile, 70 injections of anticoagulant drugs were in my stomach, leaving bruises temporarily. I had a plaster cast for five weeks and the other five weeks a synthetic one. In addition, during this time I had over a dozen bruises on my hands and a lot of pain on my shoulders. The muscles on the arms increased by almost two centimetres. I travelled hundreds of miles on a stationary bike and had countless hours of exercise on the mat.

I missed the entire summer sports season: a few starts of half-marathons I wanted to take part in, and of course a whole series of running, cycling and mountain trips that I had planned for this time. I read some waiting books, watched a few movies and found that there was not much to see on TV. In plaster, I supported our athletes at the European Football Championship and at the Olympic Games. I also got a baptism and a wedding in a cast version. I've also turned brown, which is, of course, the best way to build vitamin D over the sun, which helps bone growth, as part of rehabilitation.

I spent so much time with my parents that I've made up for the fifteen years since I stopped living with them. But above all, I learned the qualities I always lacked, namely, humility, patience, calm, and self-control. A solid attitude to life. But plaster is only the first chapter and the second chapter is coming, the life after the cast. And it turns out that learning to walk again with the leg is a much bigger challenge.

Life after the cast

Many people do not count on chapter two. They think that after removing the cast, the situation is the same as before. Some who saw me a few days after the castoff were surprised that I was still on crutches. It is a myth that after removing the cast anyone is beautiful and healthy. You cannot imagine, if you never had anything to do with this topic. Cast is a phase, and what follows is another phase, which in my opinion is much more difficult and demanding. And it takes about as long as the time in plaster.

It was fantastic to feel your own foot on the ground again. Finally put on two shoes, and a bath in the bathtub with two legs inside. Sleeping without plaster is also a miracle. In such situations, you learn to appreciate little pleasures. I was in euphoria. Finally something will change. Something that I can influence.

The leg looked bad. It was numb and it felt weird, I cannot explain it. I could not move it at all, except for my toes, which I had bravely moved during the cast period, as recommended by the doctor. The skin was fine, it just peeled a little. The lower leg was much slimmer than the healthy one. Up to five centimetres difference in circumference. You could see it with the naked eye. But you can catch it up when the missing muscles are rebuilt. Of course this is a very long process, but in the end, as doctors and physiotherapists told me, everything should be fine again if I am a hard-working patient and I follow their recommendations.

A real torture chamber

The rehabilitation began. I should bring a towel, sneakers and ... a hairbrush. I do not even ask why. Actually, the physiotherapy has proven to be very painful, I was mentally prepared for weeks, but I had not expected such a pain. Exercising muscles and tendons is a real challenge. It takes great determination and endurance, patience, because all this is a slow and laborious process (patience has taught me the cast) and resistance to pain. Pain is inseparable in the recovery process and it should accompany me for many weeks.

The physiotherapy practice was a real torture chamber. And this brush - the worst torture tool in the world. The leg must receive as many stimuli as possible, to stimulate it to work and rebuild the cells. So the brush massage was only one task. But while one feels normal on the healthy leg, the broken one is very sensitive and one thinks hundreds of needles are running on the leg. The sensation is totally disturbed. Every touch hurts. Even the stream of warm water on that leg felt like boiling water. I spent two to three hours per day in the torture chamber. I had to learn something about crutches to slowly remind the brain that walking is now being done on two legs instead of one. It took a change of the centre of gravity and my hands hurt even more. But it was worth it. I saw the effects every day, so I was happy and the motivation was not decreasing.

Rehabilitation is one thing, but doing exercises at home is the second. It is not enough to work only a few hours a day. The leg has to work all the time to improve the results. At home, I lay down on the bed for a moment, then ate something and worked again. I trained on the mat until I did not have the strength to do it.

Again a fracture - or how to become depressed

Everything started to calm down, I was on the right track to get fit again. The effects of physiotherapy were positively visible every day, which gave me even more energy. I would probably have walked without crutches after four weeks of training. But it did not happen that way.

Five days after the cast removal, on Saturday, of course, a moment that is least expected, I stumbled over the carpet at home and fell on my sick leg. Theoretically, the carpet should absorb the fall, but somehow it did not happen. I felt a great pain in my foot and knew it was not good. Again ambulances, hospital, several x-rays, infinite moments of uncertainty and finally a diagnosis that hit me: fracture of the metatarsal. The knee was open, which I first noticed in the hospital, but the bones were intact there, as was the old fracture. It was recommended to cool the foot with ice and to consult an orthopaedic surgeon on Monday.

I felt black clouds above me, literally everything seemed meaningless. There was emptiness. Something like depression caught me. Unthinkable for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm an eternal optimist. Because life is beautiful. But then it was hopeless for me, terrible, cruel. I came home and lay on the couch with my ice-covered foot staring blankly at the ceiling. I did not want to talk to anyone, I did not answer phone calls, my head was empty. You do not think about anything. I could not believe it when someone said he did not think about anything. It seemed impossible, but it got me. Every now and then I was struck by a tears attack and I surrendered unknowingly.

On Monday I went to an orthopaedist. A nice, professional doctor. He listened to my story, looked at the X-ray photos and confirmed the diagnosis of the hospital doctor. The first metatarsal bone is broken. He explained that bones are weakened and decalcified after such long-term immobilization in the cast. Therefore, the fall caused another fracture. I should put weight on the leg and walk as much as possible to strengthen the bones. Instead of a renewed strict immobilization with a cast, he therefore recommended an orthosis on the foot. With it I could go and at the same time the metatarsal bone would remain stable. He guessed it would take two to three weeks for the bone to grow together so that I could put weight on the whole foot again and walk "normally".

I came home stronger somehow, and the next morning I woke up with no black clouds over my head, saw a beautiful sun and smiled. In the head were the same positive thoughts as before. I had the will to fight again and the energy to act again.

Time, pain and physio

A great help was my physical therapist, who invested a lot of work and effort to restore me. Without her, I certainly would not have progressed so much and it would have been much harder for me. I saw her almost every day and was a regular for three months. It was like my second home. It took several weeks of intense work to get fit again. The days flew fast, definitely too fast. Although I did not go to work, time went by quickly.

In the beginning, after getting rid of the cast, it seemed to me that I had a shorter leg. I also got the impression that I have too much skin on my foot, especially the bend in my ankle joint. It was funny and disturbing sometimes. So I told my physiotherapist. Luckily, she made it clear to me that this is normal. Apparently this can happen after a cast period. I was not crazy.

The rehabilitation was very exhausting, difficult, sometimes even boring and simply painful. It did not get easier with time. It was amazing. You could see the progress, but it still hurts. However, one can get used to live with pain. The body quickly adapts to new situations. So pain became the norm for me. But sometimes it took a sharper shape. When the pain sends signals to the brain from second to second and dominates the whole body. I called this condition "needles in the brain". At the beginning of rehabilitation I had these needles in my brain almost every exercise. And especially with this hated hairbrush. By the time the leg became stronger, the number of needles decreased. But then came a new set of exercises and my needle friends reappeared. My leg was still swelling like crazy. It was good that it was summer and I still could walk with sandals. I could not wear any other shoes.

There were worse and better days. Sometimes the stiffness of the leg was so great that the simplest exercise was very difficult, and sometimes things went well.

Without crutches

After maybe three weeks without orthosis, I slowly walked around the house without crutches. But it was hard to call "walking". I looked more like a robot. I laughed at myself, but I was glad to be able to set the crutches aside for a moment and rest my hands. Sometimes they were so tired that I could not even move them in the morning. It might take me half an hour to get them started. I could not even hold a pen or a fork in the morning, not to mention the bruises on the palms.

While I was walking on crutches for so many months, walking for a short time without crutches was a huge pleasure. I was even afraid that I would never walk without crutches again. So every moment I did not use crutches was invaluable to me. It was also a form of rehabilitation to walk as much as possible without crutches. At first, the walk without crutches to the physiotherapy practice lasted almost an hour, after some time only 40 minutes and then even 20. Nevertheless, I still used the crutches occasionally. But each day brought me closer to the goal of walking as before.