I don’t want this post to seem self indulgent and, for want of a better way of putting it, a bit ‘wanky’ but I want to keep a record somewhere in this wide world of my recovery and progress from my tibial plateau fracture. It’s like a little diary so if you’ve seen me at a wedding or a shoot with a leg brace, crutches or some combination of the two what’s below is why.
I’ve been through some pretty challenging things in my life but this process of getting back to being on my feet and back out working is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not just pushing myself physically without taking backsteps by pushing too far but also mentally not really knowing when I’m going to be able to work again. For a people pleaser like me being able to only answer ‘I don’t know’ to clients asking me when I’ll be back to work was something that was tricky to take. So this is me, my right leg and it’s newly installed pins.
One Year On…
So I’ve hit a milestone of 1 year on since my injury. Life’s back to somewhat normality, I no longer take my crutches everywhere with me ‘just in case’, I’m able to challenge myself a little more than I was doing but I’m still fully aware that there are things I can’t do.
Anything that involves being on my knees/crouching a lot I’m completely aware the next day is going to be a struggle (as you can imaging moving house was fun!), I still get some pain occasionally with the surgery site being a little tender but on a day-to-day basis I don’t really notice it.
I’m back to running around like a nutter with kids on family shoots, climbing over walls/fences to get ‘the shot’ at weddings (even though it did scare Tina and Tom at the time) and no longer make disgusting noises whenever I have to get up off my knees! Small wins everyday.
Do I still get frustrated when I come across something I can’t do? Of course. Do I have to be conscious of how far up a hill I go because I know that going downhill is more painful/awkward? Absolutely! Do I sometimes do sometimes do something forgetting that I still have limitations (like wrapping presents and being stuck on the floor for 10 minutes or rolling onto my bad knee and putting all of my weight through my knee and the pins)? Yooooou betcha!
Whilst I still can’t sit in the same position for longer then 30 minutes without completely seizing up and still can’t do silly things like jump (I did try and do the little jump and heel click last year, but that’s something I can’t do anymore - I’m aware there are bigger issues in the world). Having read other blogs about recovery I was worried I would still be on crutches at this point and the fact they live in the loft now feels like a HUGE win. I’m still careful and conscious that I won’t be climbing any mountains just yet but I keep getting stronger and can do a lot more than I could even 6 months ago.
09.01.2022 - THE SNAP-ENING
Sunday morning, a dog walk went a little bit wrong. Whilst walking in a particularly muddy field I was head butted by a dog (a golden retriever so at least a hefty dog) and hit the deck like a sack of spuds! All I can really remember is hearing a ‘pop’ and then being on the floor. A lovely family helped me to a gate whilst James ran to the car to get me to the hospital.
After a fairly hefty wait, a few vomits and x-rays I was told that I had fractured my tibial plateau (the top of the tibia just below the knee cap) and the only option for fixing it was surgery where pins would be installed. Initially I was told it could be a 9-12 month recovery time and I obviously just sat in a room crying. I was sent home in a horrible leg brace and told I would be called in the next day to have CT scans and prepared for surgery on the Tuesday.
As a belly sleeper I didn’t get much sleep having to stay on my back for the night. I was called early Monday morning and it was all a little bit shitty from there. I was so exhausted I pretty much was out cold once I got a hospital bed (and from the sheer volume of covid tests I’d had to take) and before I knew it I was getting wheeled down for my surgery.
11.01.2022 - SURGERY DAY
Just a couple of days after the initial injury I was in surgery having two pins put into the top of my tibia (if you want to have a look go down to ‘5th February 2022 - My insides’). Coming around from surgery I had quite an odd experience as one of the first faces I saw was Ben on of my previous grooms - I spent a couple of hours thinking I’d had a bizarre anaesthetic dream until he appeared by my bed with a coffee. A friendly face was nice to see as, due to covid restrictions still obviously being in place, all I had for company were the older men on the ward and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
I was told after my surgery that I would have to stay in bed, keeping my leg raised and as still as possible for 6 weeks until my next hospital visit. For someone like me who is generally quite high energy and not great at sitting still the thought of being stuck in a bed is an absolute nightmare.
Whilst I was recovering in hospital my lovely James was running between my mom and dad’s, IKEA and home to put together what became affectionately known as my ‘hovel’. To save me being stuck upstairs at my parents he’d put together a little bedroom in his dining room so that I wouldn’t have to tackle stairs and could concentrate on getting back on my feet sooner and not needing to tackle stairs everyday.
24.01.2022 - FIRST LOOKS
After a few weeks after my surgery I was back in the hospital for my first appointment to check the pins were settling in and making sure I was healing well. This was the first time I’d got to see my little scars. Looking at other’s stories on line I’d got an image in my head of an enormous leg-length scar. I was surprised by how small and neat my surgical scars were. After this appointment I was allowed to have 30 degrees of movement on my brace. Being able to bend even just a little bit felt like an enormous thing.
29.01.2022 - CLOTHES!
Thanks to the Red Cross’s hiring service we got me a wheelchair and I finally got to leave the house (maybe earlier than would have been medically advised) I put my own socks on, some jeans and we went for a walk - well wheeled - around the village. Being outside again was the best feeling in the world!
By this point mentally I was really struggling. My anxiety was off the charts, I’d been struggling to sleep and my concentration span was pretty much non-existent. I’d never really considered the mental toll that this recovery was going to take. Even little highlights of visits from family and friends didn’t keep the ‘high’ for long and feeling like I was utterly useless had become an almost constant thought in my brain. Trying to do little work jobs got me even more frustrated as I could not concentrate on even replying to an email; combine that with feeling like I was horrible at my job and letting people down it was mentally exhausting just keeping ‘balanced’.
29.01.2022 - GETTING OUT
Being allowed a little bit of movement in my knee opened up the opportunity to be in a car again! A little trip to the garden centre felt pretty bloody special and I may have had a little bit of a cry.
05.02.2022 - MY INSIDES
After nearly a months since ‘The Incident’ I finally got to see what my insides looked like. I’d developed a bit of a weird fascination with it all as I had no clue - even from the day it happened - what the inside of my knee looked like pre-surgery and more importantly what it will look like for the rest of my life.
16.02.2022 - WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK
This day felt huge! It was the first morning that I woke up and felt like I could face doing some work. Still just little bits at first, replying to emails, choosing images to update my website but slowly coming to redesigning paperwork, planning social media posts and starting to focus on what’s to come and working out how I was going to be back out working as soon as I can.
21.02.2022 - BEND AND FLEX
Another hospital visit and another move in the brace. I was now allowed 100 degrees of movement in my leg brace which made things a whole lot easier and seeing the progress of this was really helpful for my head and made me feel like there was real progress being made to being a ‘functional’ human being again.
02.03.2022 - HE'S BACK!
After nearly 2 months of not having my time with Oswald I’d finally got him back. One of the hardest parts of my recovery was knowing that being with me wasn’t the best thing for him and I don’t think I’d realised before how much having this little tinker around gave me such purpose. Just having this little floof back with me was the best feeling. There’s not much else to share here - I just love my dog.
08.03.2022 - STEP BY STEP
It was finally physio day! This was my first appointment with Jade my physio at Stratford Hospital and she’s been an absolute bloody shining light. She helped me focus on getting myself back to work and not concentrating on skills I didn’t need at that time. I was finally told I could start doing ‘toe-touch’ weight baring which means some of the pressure was taken off my arms whilst using the crutches and meant I was much more mobile.
This day was my first ‘walk’ around the village - I felt like a damn Olympian!
11.03.2022 - BACK TO WORK
So three days after I was told I could start to put weight on my surgery leg I was doing a wedding because I don’t do anything by halves. Being at Bec and Matt’s wedding had been the absolute focus of my recovery so hopped up on painkillers, crutches in hand and James being there to help me out I did a wedding! Being back at work - incredible feeling; Swelling and pain the day(s) after - not an incredible feeling.
18-25.03.2022 - HOLIBOBS
Another focus of my recovery and physio was being able to enjoy a holiday booked in in the Lake District. Feeling like I wasn’t a hindrance to anyone was a huge thing and maybe I pushed myself too hard (I absolutely did push myself too hard) but a nice break is always good for the head and my god did I need it at this point. This holiday was also my first stand up shower since the day of my surgery - without being too graphic flannel washes just don’t cut it!
29.03.2022 - THE ONE CRUTCH WONDER
This hospital visit hit differently; I was told I could start to 50% weight bear, which meant I could go down to one crutch for the most of the time and start weaning myself off wearing the leg brace. On this day I cried for roughly 20 minutes because I carried my own dinner into the living room. Little steps like this felt like climbing a mountain - every time I felt like I wasn’t utterly useless was one step closer to feeling ‘normal’ again.
30.03.2022 - BEHIND THE WHEEL
After being cleared by the doctor and checking with insurance I was behind the wheel of a car again. Another step on the road to being more independent and yes, there were a few tears.
07.04.2022 - INDEPENDENT WALKIES
For the first time I felt like I was confident enough on my feet and was out walking Oz on my own. Once he’d got used to not wrapping his lead around my crutches it was a great feeling of freedom. Another step out of the ‘feeling useless’ mindset I’d developed.
13.04.2022 - INDEPENDENT STAIRCASES
Not much more to say here - I went up and down stairs on my own!
14.04.2022 - BYE BYE HOVEL
This was a biiiiiiig day! Not only was it the first time I was doing a wedding on one crutch so I was able to start to work a little more in ‘my way’ but whilst I was out the ‘hovel’ was being deconstructed. I was finally getting able to sleep upstairs again.
28.04.2022 - BYE BYE CRUTCHES (MOSTLY)
This date saw me start to attend the ‘Lower Limb Class’ where I was the youngest person there by at least 25 years but it was a great way of getting more exercises to continue my physio and carry on pushing myself. I also braved my first crutch-less work. Yes, I was having a cry in the bread aisle of Aldi.
20.05.2022 - WORKING CRUTCH FREE
A crutch free wedding! Doing a 13 hour day without having to worry about my crutches clunking about or getting in the way (I apologise now if at any point I hit, tapped or tripped you with them - I never really got that used to them). It allowed me to think a lot more clearly, creatively and be more spontaneous; basically think how I used to on a wedding day.
23.05.2022 - OUTPATIENT DISCHARGE
My final hospital visit saw my last lot of x-rays which showed that bone had started to grow over the pins and I was officially discharged from the hospital. I still had physio but not having to see the Fracture Clinic waiting room again (hopefully) felt bloody wonderful!
07.07.2022 - PHYSIO DISCHARGE
Almost 6 months after the snap-ening, endless hours of physio exercises, a countless number of mental battles to keep myself functioning as a human being and quite a few cries; both happy and sad I was discharged by the physio.
I want to just say again how appreciative I am of the NHS, the team who fixed my leg, Jade the physio and most of all my family, friends and James for supporting me, pushing me and letting me know that I don’t need to be so hard on myself all the time.
So that’s my story so far.
I’ve still got a little way to go and I still have to be careful but I’ve learned what my body is capable of and know when I have done too much. If you’ve made it this far well bloody done and thank you for reading it. If you’re reading this as someone recovering from a tibial plateau fracture (I know I read numerous blogs in the ‘unknown times’) take it easy and listen to your body - it will let you know. If I’ve worked with you over the last 6 months or I had to delay a shoot with you because of my surgery thank you for your patience. If you’re future me reading this, don’t be so hard on yourself, be kind to yourself and get out of the way of running dogs.