WOMAN ON THE VERGE: Very little ‘crack’ after ice skating fiasco

January 31st, 2023 3:30 PM

By Emma Connolly

From a skating boot, to a fracture boot, and a whole world of pain. And I’d say I’m skating on thin ice with my family what with all my demands from the couch! (Photo: Shutterstock)

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A family fun day out to the skate rink in Fota, where I was channelling my inner Torvill and living my best life, didn’t quite go according to plan – when I took a tumble and fractured my ankle 

• HERE’S a cautionary tale of what happens when you get a bit cocky. It goes a bit like this … Between Christmas and New Year we had a great day out at the skating rink at Fota, with a big gang of cousins. I think I mentioned it here already. I’m not at all sporty but  I’m pretty handy at skating and I love it. There’s rarely an opportunity to indulge my passion (in other words show off) and the brief spell on the ice that day really awakened my inner Torvill. Because my husband hadn’t been able to come that day himself, the six-year-old and I decided to go again last Sunday. One last hurrah before the rink closed until next year. So far so lovely. 

• It took my husband a while to find his skating feet but once he got going he cut quite a dashing figure on the ice, so being the childish creature that I am, I wanted to outdo him, and impress him. I knew I was within his sight line and I took off at speed, but without concentrating. Next thing: woman down. Now, I’ve taken a fair few wallops before, and I’ve plenty of in-built padding, but this knock felt a bit different. As mortified as I was, I couldn’t actually get up. I had to roll over and just kneel there, praying for a miracle. I didn’t cry, but I came very close and I was definitely making those ugly, contraction-type faces (where you’re grimacing, and doing that manic deep inhaling and exhaling). Thankfully, someone came with a little wheelchair to get me off the ice fairly swiftly as I was wrecking people’s buzz. There was no room for my dignity, though – I had to leave that behind on the ice!

• By the time I got to the first aid cabin, I had gathered myself. The ‘Mrs Doyle’ in me came out and I couldn’t stop apologising profusely for wasting everyone’s time, while also trying to figure out who the attendants were, or if I knew anyone belonging to them. I insisted I was grand, and mainly to appease the six-year-old’s snow white, worried face, I said we’d strike for road. That didn’t go quite to plan. After I took a few steps (and nearly fainted) I said that I might take them up on their offer of the wheelchair to the car (more non-stop apologising while saying aspirations there wasn’t anyone I knew in the vicinity). As we headed out, the people for the next session were arriving in. Not the sort of PR you’d be looking for. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone. And to those I did lock eyes with I manically chirped: ‘Ah sure, it’s a thing of nothing, my own fault, it could happen to a bishop! Enjoy yourselves now!’

• Next stop was the VHI Swift Clinic. As we were in the city we decided it made sense to get the ankle checked there and then. I had never been, but the clinic does exactly what it says on the tin. We were in and out … swiftly. Despite my manifesting, and inner chanting ‘make it a sprain, sprain, sprain’, the doctor whipped back the curtain of the cubicle and cheerfully told me I had a break alright. Oh ffs. Again, there was apologising from me for wasting everyone’s time, sure what was a middle-aged woman thinking going on the ice at all? Serves me right. And off home I went with crutches, a big black boot and pain killers. 

• Around Innishannon the reality started to kick in but still I refused to acknowledge that this was anything more than a minor inconvenience. Staying true to my Irish-ness I went to great lengths to rationalise things. ‘It could be worse! Sure it could be you!’ I said to the six -year-old. ‘It could be my hand, and I wouldn’t be able to work,’ I fired off to my husband. ‘I could have split my head open and killed myself stone dead,’ I sobbed out the window to no one in particular. 

• I’m on crutches for at least a few weeks and there’s no denying it, it’s a royal pain in the butt (and tough going on every other muscle in my body). I’m getting a bit niftier but it’s very hard to go about anything in my preferred stealthy fashion. If it’s not my heavy breathing from the sheer effort of hauling my lardy self around you’ll hear, it’s my under-the-breath cursing. I’ve started planning my journeys around the house with military precision, creating a little itinerary before I set off: take in a visit to the loo, then the laundry basket (clothes go into the little back pack I’ve started wearing), swing by the washing machine, closing my eyes as I pass some rooms as the mess upsets me too much, and then let the dog out, whether she wants to or not, before collapsing at the desk from the exertion of it all. 

• More positively, the crutches are great for reducing the snacking. There’s definitely less random trips to the fridge or rooting around at the back of the press for forgotten treats (mainly as I’m afraid I’d lose my balance and topple over). It’s also helped greatly with Dry January – wine and crutches would be a lethal combination and I’m already mortified enough. 

• Staying with the positives, I’m lucky as we live in a one story with the exception of a few steps down to the living room which I face with trepidation. They’re like my own personal Everest which I have to conquer if I’m to watch TV or enjoy the warmth of the stove. Some nights I’ve given up and just gone to bed! Yes, my PTSD is that bad. 

• I’m also lucky as family are playing a blinder. Mainly. The six-year-old was a trooper and couldn’t do enough for me on day one, day two she was still quite enthusiastic but by day three she said she felt a bit under the weather herself! And who could blame her? But what my fiasco did revel is that that she can do loads of things that she had never before let on. Less positively, this situation has reminded me when the ‘mammy’ goes down or is a bit off form the whole household goes a bit off kilter. I have to wait until people have cleared off to school and work to sit down and feel a bit sorry for myself. At all other times, everything is ‘grand!’ 

• A drawback is that there’s only a few places in our house with phone coverage. Sometimes that made me cry more than the pain in my ankle and I’ve had to relocate my home office to the kitchen. It works well until my ‘colleagues’ start dinner prep or emptying the dishwasher, but I have to suck that one up, because if there was ever a time I was grateful to be able to work from home, this is it. 

• Without sounding overly dramatic or flippant I feel like I’ve got an ever so tiny glimpse into what life is like for lots of people with physical challenges, pain and disabilities. It’s flipping hard. In last week’s column I was giving out about people being slow in the supermarket queue – could this be the universe (God’s?) way of teaching me a lesson? Consider it learned. This black boot has softened my cough no end, let me tell you. Finally, a huge thank you to my family and friends for rallying around with collections and drop-offs, and check-ins and for listening to my moans. I’m eternally grateful. And yes, I’m hanging up by boots, my skating career is most definitely over. 

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