This year I had a milestone birthday. Last September (you can never do these things too early) we booked flights and rented a friend’s villa in the small urbanization of Son Vitamina on the south east coast of Menorca. The journey out was uneventful: a lunch time flight which arrived early evening giving us plenty of time to settle in. The villa was beautiful and there was a gastro-pub (The Nelson) a few hundred yards up the road. Although we shy away from Brit food on holiday, we did think it would be a good watering hole and promised ourselves a traditional English Sunday lunch while we were there.
We stayed on the island in 2011 and when not relaxing in the sun I found a shady place to write. The WIP then was Between Today and Yesterday. Now, seven years later, I had a new book to get underway and planned the same regime. The first four days were amazing, eating out in Mahon, the island’s capital, walking the streets of Ciutadella. Friday was the big day and we spent the morning shopping and then walked down to a small cove someone had told us about. I remember taking great care in walking as the pathway was rubble and very uneven. We spent the afternoon by the pool and then showered and got ready for the big event. We had a ground floor bedroom in the villa and the safe was situated upstairs in our friend’s room. I remember going up to retrieve a piece of jewellery to wear and then coming down very carefully holding onto the rail which ran from the top to just before the bottom of the stairs. Reaching the last step I let go, stepped down and fell. The bottom step was slightly deeper than the rest of the stairs, I had small heels on and I’m guessing I put my foot out and the step simply wasn’t there. I ended up on the floor having fallen awkwardly. As soon as OH and his friend helped me to my feet I knew I’d done some serious damage but everyone thought it was simply a bad sprain. A bag of frozen peas to the swollen area followed by a visit to the local pharmacist produced a support for the foot and some antiseptic spray. By the next morning, however, it was evident this was no simple sprain so all four of us headed for Mahon A & E. There they x-rayed and confirmed a break. The ankle was put into plaster and I was given a discharge letter, meds and instructed to go to my UK A & E for another x-ray on my return home. Before leaving for the hospital that morning I spoke to the insurance company to let them know what they were doing. On arrival back at the villa I was contacted by a nurse to discuss my situation and arrangements were made for an ambulance to get me to Mahon Airport and collect me on arrival at Bristol. Because I needed to elevate the leg during the flight home, the insurance company also bought extra seats on the flight.
The rest of the holiday was spent around the pool, although the weather wasn’t brilliant: hot and overcast most days. With assistance I did managed to get to The Nelson for lunch on the Sunday, other than that I did manage to make a series dent in my Kindle TBR pile.
On the day we were due to fly home the ambulance arrived two hours early just as we were in the middle of lunch. Total panic stations but OH, me and our luggage were eventually on our way to the airport where a designated member of staff saw us through check in and was again on hand to get me onto the plane. Unfortunately our return home coincided with the French Air Traffic Controller’s strike and our flight had been held up in Lisbon and then again in Bristol, resulting in a two and a half hour delay, one hour of which was spent sitting in the plane on the tarmac waiting for Mahon control tower to give us the green light for take off. So a flight which should have arrived home at 6.50 in the evening, instead touched down well after ten. I have never been so glad to be back in the UK even though it took nearly 45 minutes to get eleven of us mobility challenged adults off the plane. From there it was an hour from airport to front door, making it nearly midnight when we eventually got to bed. I didn’t care though, I was HOME.
The next morning (Wednesday)we went to the Royal United Hospital A & E Department. I honestly thought I’d be x-rayed, replastered and sent home. As they were putting on the new plaster I wondered why a small plastic pad with a clear nozzle had been inserted under my foot. I was told it was to be attached to a machine which regularly inflated and deflated it in order to get the swelling down quicker. ‘Am I having this at home then?’ I asked. ‘Oh no, you’re being admitted.’ was the reply. Not exactly what I expected to hear…
I was admitted to Surgical Short Stay where because I’d been abroad, I was given a private room and told I would be ‘swabbed’. This, of course, made my fertile imagination run riot as to what this entailed. In the end, it was simply a cotton wool swab in each nostril and in the crease of the groin to make sure I hadn’t brought back any nasty bugs. I spent two nights in the room, Wednesday with the pad inflating and deflating (and yes I did manage to sleep) and Thursday after the op. I had to have a CT scan before they took me to theatre to check on my heel alignment and that was followed by a visit from the anaesthetist to talk to me about the surgery. My last memory on arriving in theatre was seeing the clock – 15.55- and being told I was going to be put to sleep. Then there was nothing until I heard someone calling my name from far away and opened my eyes to see a nurse staring down at me. I was in recovery and it was 18.55. I had absolutely no bad effects from the anaesthetic, in fact I felt remarkably wide awake. On return to the ward I felt really hungry (having not eaten for nearly two days) and the health care assistant was an absolute angel, organising toast and strawberry jam for me – it tasted like a banquet! All things considered, I slept well that evening and was discharged late Friday afternoon. The consultant visited that morning to tell me my foot has been plated either side – not sure whether it’s a support mechanism to enable the bones to grow back correctly or whether from now on I’m going to have a bionic foot! I shall soon find out.
Since then it’s been a whole new learning curve. A steady round of medication and giving myself daily shots in the abdomen to prevent blood clots while I’m in plaster. And then there is getting around. Not easy but the physios set me up on a walker (easier than crutches) and the occupational therapist organised a series of aids to help me cope with day to day living around the house. OH has been wonderful, his whole life has been disrupted but he’s been amazing with all the household chores. I do actually manage the ironing as I have a high seat which I use in the bathroom to sit at the basin and wash each morning. Boy how I miss having a shower!
I’ve an appointment at the fracture clinic later today – another x-ray, stitches out and a new plaster. It’s five weeks and counting so should be free of my ‘boot’ by early July. I’ll probably need physio afterwards. And all this because I missed one step at the bottom of a staircase and fell awkwardly!
Folks I will never ever take my limbs for granted again, nor will I forget the amazing treatment from the staff at my local hospital. Nothing was too much trouble. At the moment all I can do is read and work on the PC. Writing that had to be put on hold after the accident is now centre stage and the creative juices are beginning to flow back again.
We have hired a wheelchair and next week I’m hoping we can find somewhere with access so we can get out and have some lunch. Am not going to let this beat me!
Will post holiday shots on FB later.