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Andrew_L : Broke leg surfing
Diary entry posted Mon 2:05am 3 March 2008

This site is truly the internet at its best. I was stuck in bed on the first day home from hospital, I know you've all been there brothers and sisters. The hospital had given me next to no information, just the crutches walking test and 'see you in two weeks, don't walk on it'. I'd missed pissing into a measuring jug by way of a make shift pee pot, and was trying to decide whether to tell my wife that her 37 year old husband had just wet the bed. Luckily we'd just had broadband installed, my world of things I could reach from bed included a laptop and so like hundreds of others before me I found this website. It was great to read everyone else's tales of crack and twist, but I couldn't find any other leg breakers who did it surfing so here's my tale.

I left my wife in bed to sneak off for a dawn patrol three Saturdays ago. Clear blue sky, cold crisp morning, no wind. At the lay-by at the top of Watergate beach near Newquay in Cornwall, England, I pulled in to watch the surf. Clean lines, a little on the fat side but a set of bigger stuff lit up the far north end of the beach showing a bit of size so I called my mate Tom and ten minutes later we were running up the sand the half mile or so to the corner. We were the first out and as the tide dropped things started to turn on, with a clean grunty right handers peeling through. We had a few very nice waves each but as the tide dropped further and my other surfing mate Steve finally paddled out things were fattening up. I'd just paddled over to Tom and said,'I think we had the best of it', a bit smug, when a set rolled through and I paddled for my last ill fated wave.
I took the drop, pushed hard on my outside left leg which beat my right leg onto the deck of the board and in a split second the board rotated taking my foot with it and snapping both the fibia and tibia with a sickening crack. I was swearing before I'd hit the water.
I surfaced and paddled for the next set wave to bodyboard in. My foot was rotating, grinding and flopping from side to side. This is going to be agony shortly I thought, better get in before I black out. The wave carried me close in, I paddled into the shallows with a flopping foot and a great deal of bad language: But still not a great deal of pain.

I tried to crawl out of the sea but the small waves behind kept swinging my foot from left to right like a rudder. It wasn't a great feeling, so I turned round and tried to push myself up the beach leg first. My foot drooped at the break, not a good feeling either so I gave up. I tried to stand using my surfboard as a crutch, but my foot dangled backwards and the bones ground together so i let myself fall back down and decided to let the tide go out and beach me like a small slightly broken whale. I was right at the far end of the beach. It took quite a while of shouting help to get someone's attention, by which time I was high and dry and starting to get cold. My first rescuer ran over and we had the following conversation, "You alright mate, I've broken my leg", "Are you sure", "Err, yeh pretty sure", "Right OK, I'll get the air ambulance".
Time passed. A managed to get another surfer leaving the water to come over who turned out to be a lifeguard. He stayed with me until one of my surfing buddies Steve appeared. The lifeguard ran off to get some morphine and check the cavalry were coming. More time passed. The lifeguard came back with towels and morphine. He'd called 999 and they said they hadn't been contacted. A few minutes later the familiar throp of the air ambulance was followed by it approaching from over the sea and settling on to the sand nearby. That was the end of the drama. I got a few good lung fulls of nitrous and the medic pulled the leg straight, splinted it, and I was off in the big red bird. Bloody amazing get out of jail free card the air ambulance, never take it for granted, we have great rescue services down here, we're bloody lucky.

At the hospital I lay there while a nurse I knew from one of our local pubs ran a pair of scissors through my very nice winter wetsuit, the final indignity. Actually that's not true, worse was a few days later. After they had operated to put a rod and pin in the bone I awoke in bed. No plaster, all the support inside the leg so much easier. I had to have a crap in a bed pan and the first time no problem. The second time they couldn't find any of the deeper ones so gave me one that had the dimensions of a frying pan. Well ladies and gentlemen my pile of poo soon exceeded the vertical capacity of my recycled cardboard dumpster, so when the very helpful male nurse came back, I was sitting on the top of it!

Anyway, three weeks later I'm back at work, crutching around, and very grateful to my beautiful wife for putting up with me and emptying so many piss pots. Still not had a lot of information from the hospital but mobility in my foot is improving and things appear to be going OK. Next X-ray in three weeks, the doctor warned not to expect to see much bone repair in that time as I've broken ' the slowest bit of bone to heal in the body'.

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 Mon 2:05am 3 March 2008
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