It’s not only my shoulder which is broken.

29th November 2015 -tomorrow, also a Sunday, it will be 8 months since I was hit by a young reckless skier – an incident which has changed me and changed my life.

There have been good changes – for the last five months I have swam every day, and I am now up to 1km per day. My breaststroke is really, really strong and this week in the (communal) changing rooms a chap about half my age said ‘ you’re a really good swimmer’. I told him I wasn’t sure about that as I am a bit limited because of my shoulder – saw him wince at my scar – but he was insistent; ‘ No, you are really good, you keep going for a long time’.

I am actually trying to do some crawl. The main reason for trying to do crawl is at my first consultation in the UK the consultant said to me ‘You’ll never do crawl again’. I am of the personality type that if you tell me I can’t I’ll prove you wrong and the consequence is I am blinking determined to do the crawl again. So the last few swims I have been trying a bit of back crawl ( I can do a length) and front crawl ( pitiful).

So, because my shoulder was broken I am now swimming and gaining all the health benefits from doing so but as a swimmer I am broken.

I am  riding again but only in the school.My enforced break from riding seemed like a long six months and whilst it is great that I can ride at all I would love to go out for a hack especially on some of the lovely autumn days that we have been having . The trouble is, I can’t risk falling off so I have broken away from hacking.

Last christmas my bike was broken. My lovely husband bought me a new bike for christmas, a mountain bike, it is beautiful and I rode it all the time until I had my accident. I have not been on it since as again I am worried about falling off. Coincidentally, the injury that I have is mostly seen in people who have fallen off bikes and horses – so you can understand my concern!

But there is one part of me that is not broken – an this is an important part. My spirit is not broken, in fact I feel stronger than I did before the accident. I think that is because I have always lived a blessed life and never had too much to cope with. I also realise that I still live a blessed life and in the whole scheme of things a dodgy shoulder is not the most monumental of things that could happen to you.

So I count my blessings more than before, I am more aware of the fragility of our existence than before and I am stronger than before.

Because if it doesn’t kill you it only makes you stronger.


To ski, or not to ski, now there’s a question.


September – schools back, the nights are getting shorter, and while there is still some beautiful summer weather it is definitely cooler. It’s normally about now that I start looking for skiing holidays. We generally go at half term ( along with the rest of Surrey) and try a different resort every year. We book self catering, drive across and squeeze 7 days actually skiing in.

My parents, both keen skiers, have also come every year. It has been low key, they stay in the same resort, same week, but often different apartment blocks to give each family a bit of space from the other!

I love looking for skiing holidays, I research the resorts and compare one against the other for snow history, altitude, ambiance and number of runs. Then the fun of looking for an apartment, somewhere close to the lift and shops. Finally I book it and we all start getting excited. The thought of it gets us through the winter and for me the holiday starts when I start googling. In February, just when it feels like winter is never going to end, we escape to the Alps, to the bright blue skies and frosty air, and when we return the days are noticeably longer.

This year, however, we have a problem. I am still not recovered from the last skiing holiday. Amongst other things  I still can’t touch the top of my head, take off a jacket easily or reach the shelves in Sainsburys.

This poses somewhat of a dilemma. Max and Lucy are keen to go skiing, they seem unfazed by the accident I had. As Max has started lower sixth it may not be that many years that he still wants to ski with us.  My parents, whilst not old, are not getting any younger and every year my Dad says ‘ Well, we don’t know if we will be able to ski next year’.

So with these two ticking time bombs, one either end of the spectrum, I feel an enormous emotional pull to go on what I am sure will be another wonderful holiday. Yet, physically and psychologically I don’t know if I can do it. It is one of the FAQ’s ( Frequently Asked Questions) that I still get when people ask about my shoulder. ‘ Do you think you will ski again?’ To begin with, I was certain, yes, definitely, why wouldn’t I? After all, both my mother and my brother  continued to ski after serious injuries. But as time has marched on and my progress has been so slow, with the pain and the limited movement I still have  I have become less and less confident.

This weekend I broached the subject with George. ‘ Do you want to go skiing next year?’

Without hesitation he answered, ‘No, do you?’. I replied, ‘No’.

So that’s settled then.

Isn’t it?

Definite Progress

It is five months this week since I set off on that beautiful morning in the Alps to go skiing. Had I known how the day was going to end I would have stayed in the apartment that day. In my photos on my phone there are a couple of photos of Max, Lucy and me at the top of the run, just before I had my accident. I remember George taking them – it was one of those conversations where I wanted to ski on and he wanted to stop and take a photo.

‘We’ve got all week to take photos, let’s get going’ I said impatiently. ‘Yes, but the weather might not be so good later in the week’ said George. So we stopped at the top of the lift and he took a couple of photos of the three of us, arms around each other smiling in the sunshine, looking forward to the day skiing ahead of us.

There are three happy photos of us, and as I swipe through them the very next one is an x-ray of my fractured humerus, followed by the x ray of the pins and plate after the operation.  It’s a stark reminder of how fragile our existence is, of how one minute we can be happily enjoying ourselves and the next everything changes.

This weekend saw a horrific air crash at Shoreham. A stunt pilot had an accident and landed on the A27. No one is sure yet how many fatalities there are likely to be but it could be as high as 20. Two young men who died were in car on the way to play for their football team; there is no way that they could have expected to be hit by a freak accident such as a stunt plane landing on the road.

So, against the background of the daily tragedies and life changing events like the one at Shoreham, fracturing your shoulder whilst skiing is a minor injury. To me however, it has without doubt been a major event, not just this year but in my life so far. When I first saw the lovely Mr. F and he was laying out how long the recovery would take he said to me ‘It will be at least a year before you can forget about it. If you ever can.’

There is not a day, in fact, there is barely an hour where I don’t think about my shoulder; it is hurting me or there is something I cannot do because of it. Very occasionally I realise that I haven’t thought about it for an hour or so and I am pleasantly surprised! As I am so aware of my arm and my mobility all the time I do notice progress – or lack of it on a regular basis.

The last week or so I have seen definite progress. Firstly, my arm is getting stronger; I like to think that the swimming is paying off.  I can wring out my swimming costume. I can lift the tea pot and pour tea with my right arm. I can drain a pan of vegetables.

My arm is also getting more mobile.  Washing my hair is getting easier; I don’t have to bend my head quite so far forward. I can open the top cupboards in the kitchen and get a cup out.  At work, I have swiped myself into the car park – painful but possible. I can lean over the side of the bed and put my book on the floor.

So, five months on and yes, my life has changed. My career has been impacted because of the accident and I am still a long way from being recovered.  But I am recovering – and there is still progress to be had.

Ambidextrous and all sorts of Physio!

When I first had my accident I had to re-learn how to do a lot of things with my left arm. I learnt to write, put make up on, hang up washing all with my left arm. I was amazed how quickly I could retrain myself to use my left hand and I am now pretty ambidextrous. I use the mouse on the computer in my left hand without even thinking. This week we went to Chinatown and I realised that I was eating with chopsticks with my left hand without even thinking about it. My left hand has really become my dominant hand and I have to remind myself to use my right hand to do things. It is a reversal of how things were; now I am having to relearn how to do things with my right hand.

It is pretty apparent that my range of motion is not improving at all ‘not exactly dramatic’ is what the physio said at this weeks session. That doesn’t mean to say that I am not constantly trying to improve it by using my arm. If I am putting things away in a high kitchen cupboard I will use my left arm to push my right arm up, stretching it. I make myself wash with my right arm even though it is so weak its pathetic. I am still swimming every morning, come rain or shine and getting fitter as a consequence. I have to think about using my right hand in a way that was just natural before. Its tiring using brain cells to think about doing the things that I used to take for granted!

By thinking about using my right arm and making myself do things with it I am hopeful that it will improve in time. At work, I pull doors, try to drink and eat with my right arm. As I am mostly in meetings or at my desk for the majority of the time you wouldn’t spot that I even had an injury. This is great because it means that I am not thinking of my arm all the time but sometimes it has its disadvantages. Last week we had a new Director join the company I work for. He is a very tall guy, probably about 6ft 5″ and German. I went over to shake his hand and he had one of those hand shakes where he literally grabbed my hand and pumped my arm as hard as he could. Unfortunately for both of us he yanked my arm higher than it has been since March 29th and of course I yelped in pain. There was a stunned silence in the room as all those present looked shocked by what had happened, the new Director was mortified and I was embarrassed explaining why I had squealed like a pig.

The odd thing is, since then I have  been able to reach higher 🙂

The operation – an ORIFic day.

So yesterday I  had the operation – an ORIF – Open Reduction Internal Fixation of  my shoulder. Having never had a general anaesthetic before I was amazed how the time seemed to go in a nano second – in fact the operation took over two hours. I am now the proud owner of a plate and ten pins in my shoulder and the lovely Mr F says he is pleased with how the op went. There are a couple of bits of stray bones but he managed to pin the majority back in. I have had IVantibiotics and as I bled after the operation I have got a lot of padding on my arm. My arm is in a sling where I have to keep it for six weeks. Apparently I bled a lot after the original accident which explains all the bruising – my arm is black and swollen and so I have been put on iron tablets as well as codeine and paracetamol. If the pain is unbearable I have been given some tramadol but I am not allowed any NSAIDs as they, along with smoking, are the two things which are proven to impact on bone healing. In addition I have been given lactulose – to counteract the side effects of the codeine and iron! I am allowed to go home and have an appointment in 12 days to have the clips out. IMG_0027 So here’s my x ray now! You can just about see the small piece of bone at the top which he could not get in, but the rest looks pretty good I think?