This page gets updated with latest details about my broken leg. There are injury photos of my broken leg but they are behind links..
TL;DR. Fall on ice ended with broken leg/ankle joint. My broken leg in 2010 has caused massive long term problems. My elective left below knee amputation surgery happened 18th November 2021. My broken leg is now my amputated leg.
If you want to send something to help before or for while I am in hospital having Left Below Knee Amputation or for afterwards there is an Amazon List – Elliott’s Amputation List.
On Thursday 2nd December 2010 I was on my way to meet the mayor of Chesham where I live. We’d have coffee and a chat about a new voluntary organisation that she was starting to help vulnerable residents when it snowed.
Chesham is in a long valley, with a vast majority of residents living on hill sides and the tops of hills. Chesham is in a valley that runs roughly north-south, at one end is Pednor Valley that runs east-west. When it snows it takes forever to disappear. Two weeks later (20/12) Chesham reached a record low temperature of −19.6 °C (−3°F), recorded at a private weather station.
As I walked up one of the hills, Lowndes Avenue, in my walking boots with a walking pole. I stepped onto a wide patch of black ice left from when someone had poured water to defrost their car the night before or early in the morning. I felt my left ankle turn inwards, looked down and saw it was about 90 degrees. I heard a really loud, sickening crack and felt a monstrous burst of pain. I lay writhing in pain and screaming in agony as people drove past.
I slipped my boot off to assess my injury. I had a serious lump on the outside of my leg, I figured I’d twisted my ankle. I put my boots back on and hobbled three paces hoping I could still meet the mayor. I’m stubborn and determined but there was no chance.
Knowing how busy the ambulance service would be I slowly and painfully began to inch my way home, dragging my broken leg behind me.
I had walked with a broken big toe a couple of times but this pain was dozens of times worse.
My plan was I’d call a friend to help me out and if needs be to go to hospital. I got about five hundred feet, 150m from where I fell. I can’t remember the journey from where I fell after the first couple of steps to where I paused to cross the road. I think the pain was so bad my brain blanked it all out. Probably for the best.
The pain was so intense I couldn’t see straight and was feeling really, really nauseous. Reluctantly I stopped. I knew enough was enough, I had to stop within sight of the end of my road which was so fustrating.
I was really scared if I tried again I would collapse unconscious and could end up falling on my back which is really dangerous (Mendelson’s Syndrome).
Across the road was a green telephone cable box that Sheppie my border collie loved to have a sniff around and leave his mark.
If I could make it to that I could lean against it and if I passed out I would hopefully not fall on my back.
I got as comfortable as I could and tried a few friends. Two were snowed in, a third wasn’t in Chesham and the last one didn’t answer their phone.
I was running out of options, really fast. I desperately wanted to avoid calling an ambulance. A huge Bucks County Council gritter lorry trundled past and stopped. A guy jumped out in a high vis jacket and came over.
“Are you okay mate? ” he asked.
“No, I think I’ve broke my leg. ” I said fighting the lump in my throat down. I knew if I let one tear go it would open flood gates.
He went and spoke to his colleague and came back with another quilted hi vis coat for me to sit in, to avoid the cold.
“Right, you need to call an ambulance or we will. ”
I called an ambulance and waited. Two local PCSOs I knew very well, Beth and Victoria were walking up Lowndes Avenue and hadn’t noticed us. I told the lorry guy to go grab them. I’d have happily gone to hospital in the back of a police car if I had to! They came over and administered some much needed TLC and a hug. We waited ages for an ambulance, understandable in the snowy conditions and Beth was about trek down to my flat and get me a duvet or blanket when the ambulance arrived. Off I went to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
It was absolutely manic even though it was only 10:55am. X-rays revealed that I had badly broken my medial malleolus, also known as the sticky out bone on inside of my ankle. I had also badly torn every ligament and tendon in both sides my ankle. The photo on the right shows the swelling about four hours post injury on the outside of my leg. Click on the photo to see it, I’ve hidden it from the squeamish.
I had absolutely excellent treatment from all the staff right from the ambulance crew, A&E staff, X-ray staff and staff in the plaster room. Despite how unbelievably busy it was (the whole hospital ran out wheelchairs for patient at one point) they were all brilliant. Every single member of staff gave more than 100% with a smile.
I had a backslab cast put on my leg so the swellng could go down and assessment on what further treatment would be needed. I got home reaĺly late that night. Sheppie was overjoyed to see me.
Early hours of Saturday I slipped in the bathroom and slammed my heel into the foot rest of my wheelchair cracking the heel of my cast. A friend gave me a lift back to Stoke Mandeville hospital for x-rays to check for damage and a new cast.
The new cast lasted until Monday morning when I had another fall this one in the kitchen making breakfast so off I went back to hospital… AGAIN.
I was back in the Orthopaedic clinic on the Wednesday (accident +6 days) to have a checkup on my leg. There was extensive bruising on both sides of my ankle (Inside of leg, fracture site photo and outside of leg, torn ligaments and tendons photo). It was decided that I would need an operation so my ankle joint could be wired back together. Surgery was booked for the following day in the day surgery unit. The damage was far worse than expected and I had to stay in hospital until Sunday evening. Sheppie went into total manic mode when I got home, he was so excited he was physically shaking.
A few days before Christmas finally I was allowed a fibre glass cast in a lovely Christmas design. In the next eighteen months I had five lots of pyshio and suffered several bad falls.
A few people ask about the wound on my foot and the scar. So here is the wound a week after my operation. The stitches had to come out in January, as I had no way of getting out of my steep road due to the icy conditions. Two were embedded and had to be dug out. The nurse said she was only trying once. If they didn’t come out I was off for a general anaesthetic. Thankfully with a lot of screaming they came out.
I four injections into ankle joint of my bad leg in 2015 which made everything so much worse, It caused neuraligia and creating a neuroma (lump on nerve). It added masses more pain, even the weight of my duvet on my leg caused agony without heavy painkillers.
Eight years on from fall, I still needed very strong opiate painkillers, controlled drugs. Could’t walk very far, had a limp and a cane.
By 2018 treatment options for my broken leg seem to have run out. Consultant Surgeon at a local hospital (Watford) has said there is nothing more he and their team could do for me.
Two operations, eight different plaster or fibreglass casts, nine courses of physiotherapy treatment, countless doctors, nurses, HCAs at eight different hospitals (plus a physio clinic in sports centre). Lots of lots of painkillers of various types. At least eight falls bad enough they resulted in A&E. We had reached the point where the consultant orthopaedic consultant asked the question How do you feel about amputation?
I admitted that yes I had thought about amputation. I’d bought a combat tourniquet and been in so much pain I’d thought about doing it myself. That raised an eyebrow and I nearly got a psych referral.
I fell head first down the stairs in December 2018. Badly dislocated my right shoulder and hit my head. Ten months later (Oct 2019) and still in a lot of pain with right shoulder. Massive issue using a wheelchair.
2019 – I am being seen at Nuffield National Orthopaedic Hospital with a view that I am probably having my leg amputated below the knee. The excellent Rehab physios are doing their best to avoid.
Obviously two legs and no pain would be ideal. I am so sick of spending all this time going to all the hospitals, sick of taking so many drugs and side effects. There are many times I wish the leg was just amputated and I could get on with starting life again. There are times I lay in pain trying to work out how I could amputate my leg myself without bleeding to death.
Nuffield have all been absolutely brilliant. Staff have been so kind whether that is physios (special mention to Sophie and Leeah), x-ray staff, reception staff, the lovely ladies and gents in League Of Friends shop..
My brilliant physio Leila Heelas
at Nuffield requested an MRI in November 2019 to rule out problems after I started getting severe lower back pain and right hip pain. Pain was/is radiating out from my lower back and hip and causing all sorts of problems with my bladder etc.
The MRI wasn’t supposed to find anything. Except it did. Rare fatty lumps growing on my lower spine and that meant nerves bunching up.
The pain and problems presumably caused by nerve bunching are getting worse. Sadly there is no quick solution, they are mmade up of fat the only solution is to lose weight. However the high dose gabapentin is causing weight gain.
I am on the waiting list for an elective left below knee amputation. Estimate is surgery will be around March 2021. However Covid is causing utter chaos and I am fully expecting that surgery to be delayed while hoping and praying it isn’t.
It’s mid May and I am hopefully weeks away from amputation surgery. Had the pre op assessment. My amazing surgeon at Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre just needs the details about cardiac problems discovered after surgery number two and discuss operation with the consultant anaesthetist.
It’s almost end of June and date has now been set for my amputation 15th July.
I went into hospital for surgery with surgery planned for but it was postponed as pre-op tests had found significant cardiac issues the consultant anaesthetist wanted the issues investigating before amputation surgery
I had a transthoracic echocardiogram today done by consultant radiologist James (Ultrasound probe pushed between your ribs and up under your bottom ribs. Far more uncomfortable than it sounds).
All looked acceptable and not much different than in 2018.
I had my amputation surgery on Thursday 18th December 2021. 4,005 days or 10 years, 11 months, 17 days from my fall to amputation.
You’re really brave and your courage shows through in this. Hoping the problems post surgery are resolved very soon.
Thanks. When I get surgery to remove metalwork it’ll probably help with some pain. (Update – it didn’t)
Very little can be done about neuroma and neuralgia caused by injection into joint going wrong.
It’s highly likely that I will be on high dose Gabapentin (9 x 300mg per day) for rest of life. The only sensible option at moment is amputation. I’d take that over 24/7 pain and Gabapentin side effects.