Some people are good at sports, some people are great at art. Me? I excel at being accident-prone.
As I sit here with my latest injury – a cracked rib from slipping down some stairs and landing smack on my backside – I can’t help
feeling sorry for myself reflecting on my long and distinguished accident career.
My journey began at around seven years old, when Dad was encouraging me to swing along the jungle bars. This was the eighties, so there was no wussy absorbent rubber flooring – when I fell it was on to unrelenting asphalt. Hello, broken elbow number one.
Next I was rollerskating along the road, racing my father on his bike, when I lost my balance and put my palms down to stop myself. The shock travelled up my arm and broke my other elbow.
Two years after I was sitting in the office of a local roller skate park, a bag of frozen peas wrapped around my broken wrist. By this stage Mum had actually taken me to the doctor, worried I had a form of brittle bone disease. I didn’t – I just broke easily.
There was the broken pinkie – a half-arsed attempt to catch a softball during a school PE class – and too many ankle sprains to attempt to count, and the time someone ploughed feet-first into my back while I was watching sports day, and I had to be stretchered off in front of the boy I had THE BIGGEST crush on. Still traumatised by that one.
By 18 I’d switched it up a notch by dislocating my shoulder (note to younger self – don’t run on wet roads wearing slippery shoes), and rupturing my ankle ligament in quick succession. The latter was on my way to the airport, and I had to be wheel-chaired on to the plane to catch my flight. Mum took one look at me, being wheelchaired off again, and sighed: ‘What have you done now?!’
The next time I popped my shoulder out it was doing backflips into our pool. I’d forgotten my swimming costume so Mum had leant me her functional, but uber uncool (sorry Mum) one-piece. ‘Don’t be so silly,’ she chided me, as I reluctantly pulled it on, ‘Who’s going to see it anyway?!
Pretty much everyone between our house and the doctor’s office – that’s who ended up seeing it.
Next, I decided to concentrate on the lower body again, slipping off a bathroom vanity on to a tiled floor, and cracking my heel. Luckily, I already had some crutches from a previous sprained knee to help me get around (accident-prone people always have a well-stocked first aid cabinet).
I had a few years off before attempting my next shoulder injury. This time it popped out while I was pulling open a heavy fire door. ‘I’ve just dislocated my shoulder,’ I told OH. ‘No you haven’t,’ he replied, ‘that’s impossible.’ ‘Oh yeah?’ I challenged. ‘Then take a look at THIS.’ I pulled off my jacket, then spent the next 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived calming HIM down.
Dislocation number four came a couple of months later, and this is my rock star injury: it popped out during the free fall of a 12,000-foot skydive over Queenstown, New Zealand. At least the view was spectacular.
We were on holiday in Mykonos for my next injurious foray: we’d been out with friends at a Full Moon party when one of them decided to pick me up and spin me around… then tripped, and body-slammed me into the concrete.
‘I’m fine!’ I insisted, hobbling back to our villa. When my knee blew up the next day OH took me to the nearest medical centre so we could beg for some crutches. After a routine x-ray the doctor came rushing out, waving his arms. ‘No more walk! No more walk!’
Turns out my kneecap had almost been almost split in half. That little accident required a hip-to-ankle plaster cast and self-administered blood thinning injections just to get home.
Then it was shoulder time again – this time I was pushing my way through a crowd of people in a busy pub, and one person barged past knocking my arm at just the wrong angle, knocking it clean out of its joint. That one involved a fun game of ‘try to find an A&E that hadn’t been closed down from Government budget cuts’.
I had a few years’ respite (unless you count my traumatic birth), until the night in Bali two years ago. OH and I had taken advantage of having our NZ family all together for a wedding, and had a very rare night out. We had an amazing time and had made it safely back to our villa. I waved goodbye to my Mum and stepdad, turned, tripped… and dislocated my shoulder for the fifth time.
OH had to stay behind with the girls, so that involved an interesting cab ride on my own to the nearest English-speaking hospital to get it put back in place.
‘You need to strengthen the muscles around your shoulder,’ the doctors back in the UK told me. So I started doing Pilates. A sensible move, right? Until five minutes in when I felt that familiar pop.
‘SHIT!’ I shouted, jerking the other women out of their zen-like states.
Then followed 20 awkward minutes as I waited for an ambulance. ‘You guys carry on,’ I insisted, ‘I’ll just wait outside in my car…’
Yeah, I never went back to that class.
A few months after that I tripped over at the 02 after watching Anthony Joshua, went flying through the air in front of hundreds of people (so mortifying) chipping my front tooth and breaking my hand.
Which brings us to this weekend, when I discovered that flip-flops and skinny winding stairs are a bad mix for an accident-prone. Here’s hoping this will be my last injury… but something’s telling me there’s plenty more where that came from.
Wish me luck!
• you might like to read my ‘7 Things You Never Knew About Me‘ post.
• image ‘handsome doctor bandaging woman’s broken leg while working in his office‘ courtesy of Shutterstock