Fragile at fifty

It felt like the end of term. Two whole weeks away from hospital. No prodding and poking and yanking and tiny pricks.

Except … There was a message on the answerphone. The Land Rover was in for a tow bar to be fitted and we were expecting a call to say it was ready for collection. Yes, we could have fitted the tow bar but the electrics to go with it are another story.

But it wasn’t the garage. It was physio wanting to come and visit. Luckily I can’t hop to the ‘phone in time so I didn’t get to speak to them.

Just what are they going to do? Watch me hop to the toilet and back? Try and get me to use the crutches? and fall down the steps because 1) I have zilch upper body strength and 2) my left wrist still struggles to grip the frame let alone the wobbly crutches.

State health services are always pressed for resources. I figured I was doing my bit by not demanding a home visit. Partner viewed them as quasi Social Services snoops. Spying out our untidy scruffy flat and reporting back to, who?

If they rang again I have no idea. The cast wasn’t coming off until the end of June so no change in my situation for three weeks or so.

The end of school hols came far too quickly and it was back to outpatients. I rang patient transport and discovered they were coming at 11am.

‘But that’s the time of my appointment.’

‘Oh we’ve told orthopaedics and it’s ok,’ she said breezily.

In fact they turned up at 10.45, while I was relaxing on the sofa (where else? I never move off it) and about to compose a tetchy reply to The Ark. He would just have to wait. The ambulance wouldn’t.

A very efficient couple of staff transported me to the hospital and I vaguely wondered what was in store. After the first appt with my surgeon I’d learned it was never just ‘Hi, how are you?’

I nearly didn’t take a book. After all, I’d arrive at the time of my appointment more or less. But I did. Just as well. His clinic was running well late. I heard the receptionist tell someone it was TWO hours late.

When I wasn’t fidgeting in the wheelchair, or half-heartedly reading the book, I listened to an entertaining spat between two nurses. As this was orthopaedics, it was all about plaster casts. I wondered how many patients they could have seen. They must have been at it for at least 20 minutes.

And then, right on time, ie a full two hours late, I was wheeled in.

My surgeon is the doom-monger of the world. Or at least of orthopaedics in Gibraltar.

Bandages were ripped off, cast was slid off. Surgeon was itching to admire his work. He actually got his hands dirty and started taking off the steri-strips. Nurse passed him tweezers. He sighed.

Here we go, I thought.

Along with the steri-strip he’d yanked off a large bit of black skin. Or maybe dark red. I didn’t look closely.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘It’s not healing properly,’ he pronounced.

‘Will I die?’


I didn’t like to ask if my leg would drop off. He can be unreassuringly honest.

Three weeks before, all had been well. Two weeks before, I was healing well. What had gone wrong?

‘This lady has very fragile bones ….’ he informed the nurse, as he watched the proceedings with a worried look.

‘Oh, not that again,’ I said irritably.

‘… and very fragile skin.’

This was a new one, he usually moaned about my bones not the skin as well.

He continued with his gloomy rhetoric.

‘It’s a good thing we waited those two weeks to operate … that soft tissue …’

He then recited the tale of the worst fracture blisters in the history of the universe to nurse. Who didn’t seem interested. Neither was I.

‘Can you move your ankle?’

I glared at him.

‘Sure, it’s just been in plaster for six weeks.’

He moved it for me.


It would have been fucking ouch! but I was trying to remain slightly civil.

More ominous sighs and moans (him not me).

Change of plan.

‘Leave the cast off. Give her a splint for X ray.’

Oh, god. A bloody X ray now.

And how do I manage without a cast? When the Podenco jumps on the sofa to bond with me and lands on my bad leg with the fragile bones and skin, my left foot will probably drop off.

Leg. Remains of fracture blister. Podenco pondering a flying leap
Leg. Remains of fracture blister. Podenco pondering a flying leap

I wanted out. I wanted home.

‘Can I go home after X ray?’

‘Yes,’ he said graciously. Phew.

‘And I don’t need to come back for two weeks?’ I asked hopefully.

Doom and gloom face reappeared.

‘Oh we need to keep an eye on that. Monday.’

‘Er, it’s bank holiday sir,’ nurse said hesitantly. She didn’t say sir or god but she might as well have done. And wondered if her bank hol would be cancelled for the Fragile Lady.

‘Tuesday then for the dressing clinic. And back to see me in two weeks.’

I escaped to wait for my hospital attendant (used to be known as porters) to take me to X ray.

Meanwhile the receptionist booked the appointments.

This is interesting. This clinic is chocka. A wait for an elective (non-urgent) operation is seven months. We know someone with arthritis in her knee and she’s talking about going privately rather than waiting. When I was sitting near the desk before my appt, I heard the receptionist tell someone it was a minimum of seven months.

So how come I get the two appointments on the days the surgeon says?

Before I know it, I’ll be back inside so he can check on me every day and my fragile bones, skin and non-healing wound.

‘It’s short notice for patient transport,’ said the receptionist. ‘I’ll ring you if we need to change the date.’

Nurse said Wednesday would be ok. Tuesday, Wednesday, what’s the difference? If they could book something for Wed, why not Tues? I was losing the will to wonder any more and smiled nicely.

Down in X ray I asked another woman in a wheelchair how long she’d been waiting. An hour. God what a day.

In fact I wasn’t there long at all. Although the X ray machine didn’t like me and wouldn’t work. So, I hopped off the ridiculously high table (thank goodness for long legs), back into the chair and was parked in the middle of the corridor to wait for the other machine.

Back out in the waiting area after X ray machine No 2 had condescended to acknowledge me, it wasn’t long before a HA/porter turned up. And took me to the lift. ‘Where are we going?’I asked. Puzzled, as we were on the ground floor.


Oh no.

‘I’m going home.’

‘Well we normally take patients back after their X ray.’

‘I spoke to my surgeon and he agreed I could go straight home.’

Mumble grumble, but off we went to reception, where I only had to wait half an hour for patient transport.

Door to door? Four hours. Is this a complaint? No. But it does make for a hellish day. I was feeling sick before I went, and whacked afterwards. Even Little Rat barked his head off when he heard the ambulance staff bringing me home and then proceeded to jump all over me because I had been gone for Four! Whole! Hours! It must seem like forever to a Podenco.

A good quiet Podenco complete with colour co-ordinated pillowcase
A good quiet Podenco complete with colour co-ordinated pillowcase

So if I suddenly go quiet it’s because I’ve been rushed back inside for some unspeakable reason. I did think having peri-operative problems (the blisters) might have meant I would avoid my usual post-op problems, but seems not. For anyone unaware who hasn’t read my back history of ops, I was rushed for an emergency blood transfusion following copious vomiting of blood after tonsils and ads op, and I got gangrene after my appendix was removed and needed another op then to sort that out …

Think I’ll rename the blog. Fragile at Fifty. Or maybe Forever Fragile.

Artwork in header from reception at hospital. Obviously not taken by me as photos aren’t allowed in hospital …

90 comments on “Fragile at fifty

    • Apparently. Had I not broken the bloody ankle I’d have carried on quite happily in oblivion. One reason I avoid doctors. The less you know the better. Anyway I’ll worry about that if I ever get to limping on two feet instead of hopping on one. I have no interest in knowing what may or may not be wrong with me if I feel ok.


    • It wasn’t my intention :( people go through far worse. It’s just frustrating at times, and sad but true, as we age so do our bodies. Even if we are still 25 mentally.

      I’ll have you know she cleaned that leg up! I can’t face a pic of the scars yet. Well, I can’t take one dressing off on the Wound From Hell. But the other one doesn’t need to be there. I should take it off, but I swear I’d be sick. Maybe tomorrow. It needs the air. God know what the other side needs. Evostick?


  1. So you’re still going through patient hell. I’m so sorry. At least if you have osteoporosis they can give you something to strengthen the bones so maybe you won’t ever go through anything like this again. But that doesn’t help The now does it. Maybe he’ll be happier with you next time he sees you and the new dressings next week will protect it enough for the healing to start.
    I’ll be thinking of you.


    • So am I. But thanks. Is it any worse than anyone else’s? Don’t know. I’m not a fan of medical intervention. This surgery was so not me. Heard about someone who took osteo med and ended up with Crohn’s Disease. Usual story, try and sort one prob, cause another.

      He’s never happy. Or maybe he is happy being gloomy and admiring his surgical work? Dunno. The healing on the dodgy side has had four works. Fine on one side just not the other. I don’t know.

      Thank you. I’ve tried to comment a couple of times on your last post but I had the usual crash. Meant to admire your Steve Harley choice :). I think I’ll wait till Sat for the next post.


  2. So sorry to hear that you are in so much pain and have to deal with all this. Wishing you a speedy or speedier recovery. Please keep writing. Sending you positive energy.


    • Thank you. I’m not too bad with pain. I do get frustrated though!

      I am trying to write about other topics too – in between the endless trips back and forth.

      Positive energy gratefully accepted.


  3. Sorry about your bad day at the hospital. I too was at the hospital yesterday and will post about it later. I don’t have strong bones and was advised to take elemental calcium and vitamin D3 in fairly large doses to help my leg heal. Take the calcium citrate form to avoid GI problems. Spoiler alert …no cast change for 6 more weeks despite growing presence of noxious odor. (Smells the same as your “odour”)


    • I must check up. I seem to have missed notification of some of your posts :(

      I figured falling over and breaking bones and bruising was normal. Maybe not? Years ago a school friend said loosely I had weak ankles. Maybe she was partially right?

      I’ll look into the bones thing later, thanks for the tip, though. I’ll file it away and hopefully remember it. Vitamin D though? But short of sunshine in my flat :(

      I fully expected the return to my welcoming cast. Like the Plath poem in a way. Never even said goodbye or thanks.

      Weird being ‘free’. And hell moving, or trying to move, ankle. Hope you are as well as can be expected.


      • D3 is the one; it helps absorption of calcium. If you haven’t already done so get a bone density scan; its painless and provides lots of useful information. Despite its many disadvantages my cast does one thing well; it holds the bones so well that I have very little pain from the break. I am sure I will be scared to come out of it when the time comes. I just wish it bathed regularly.


        • I don’t need a scan. Mr Doom told me my bones were in his fingers. That’s sufficient.

          I had little pain either. Oddly without cast, my ankle still feels rigid as though it is still restrained. Bizarre.

          Tomorrow will be a clean up day and start on repairing skin. Today was just thank god I’m home day.

          Wishing us both luck eh :)


  4. Oh, my!!! This all needs to get better and you need to get all healed up…what else can happen to you my sweet friend? I am so sorry and I wish I could make it all go away and you be 100% okay. Hugs!


  5. I am fascinated by all this. A woman I met had gone to the consultant, and been told to stop smoking. So she did, and when she saw him again the next month she expected a bit of bedside-manner- “Oh, congratulations! You’ve done well to stop like that” etc. Instead he said “You’re far too fat. You have to lose two stone.” She came out wanting nothing more than a fag and a cream cake.


    • Too funny. What is all the advice I have heard in hospital? Stop smoking, and Gibbos smoke ALOT.

      In the UK years ago, it was eventually pushed outside, and then banned altogether. Nowhere on hospital premises. But patients were receptive to the smoking message though, or so they said.

      And one of them was told to exercise too. Hmmm. To lose weight. Otherwise she was facing a knee replacement. But no dietary comments. I understand the fag and the cream cake although I do neither.

      My interest comes from working in the NHS. Normally I’d be in a smart suit, bossy, managerial etc. Trying to deal on equal terms as a cripple as not easy.


  6. Oh my! I read every word, and you have my utmost sympathy. Your doctor sounds like a real Job’s Comforter. I really hope that your wound heals properly. Sending hugs, and holding thumbs. xx


    • It’s actually meant to be a sort of this can be what happens if you have an accident story. As ever, with me, it goes a bit OTT.

      He’s not as bad as I make him out to be. But when he’s told me something once I would really not to hear it repeated. The fragile bones story is now four weeks old since the op. I’ve got the message and so what?

      Thanks, I’m slightly worried about the wound :( mainly because he insisted on me coming back so quickly. Got to give him that. He doesn’t mess around.


  7. Double OMG, Kate! You didn’t tell me you had osteo… Bloody hell! pobre, pobrecita mia! And you have to go back, Wednesday. Damn! So sorry. (almost makes me prefer the boring footy post… then again… Naw!) This is much more interesting.

    Foot looks terrible! Snowy looks great. You know, He’s all attention in that first pic. That looks like a worried expression to me. Bless him! You can tell he’s concerned even if he is a bit hyper.
    In the other, he’s happy that you’re both home.

    You know what? I bet he’s got his own story going on in that little mind of his. :)

    You take care, Kate. Things do not sound good. Don’t do anything silly.


    • I’m putting the osteo to the back of my mind, to worry about when/if the ankle recovers in the next decade.

      I can always write boring footy No 2 – I watched Brazil and Croatia last night and will prob catch up on last nights matches today.

      Wait till I take a photo of the scar. Will have to do with eyes shut. Neither of us want to look at it or be the one to take off the dressing, and A is not usually squeamish.

      ‘A bit hyper’??!! Understatement of the century. They are known for their temperament. A bit like Pippa’s cross-breed of husky GSD is known for placid and gentle nature. Probably another reason so many Podencos are abandoned/killed. They are a lot to handle. Into everything. Mad half hour in the morning involves a charge around the flat and flying leaps all over, chairs, bed, sofa, me, preferably with a toy in his mouth that he can shake and worry in mid charge/leap. Someone told us they are impossible to wear out. You could walk them all day and they would just keep going.

      I think what was going on in the first pic was a plot on how to raid the pizza from the oven. In the second, he’s got his eye on me. More devilish plotting going on.

      Do anything? I wish.


  8. “Trying to deal on equal terms as a cripple as not easy.” It’s not fun, this getting older and dealing with this side when you’re used to getting things done and being the efficient always-on-top-of-things one.
    Doesn’t it seem like all of a sudden osteo is the biggest panic and issue? Active lifestyle and milk when young pretty sell determines later on…so it is what it is now. But it gives me an excuse to have a dog (no way to get out of walking a lot).
    Some sun is good (especially for wounds – want that healed up – such a bother otherwise. Can you massage it any to increase blood flow? Not too big a fan of home health people either…).
    Hiking would be nice, Your experience does make me believe falling down mountains not so easily managed these days. We are considering trying to take vacation with dog on trails somehow…probably regret that. But we are as happy making dinner along the way as spending a lot in fancy restaurants now – besides dressing up means taking more clothes.
    Poor Snowy looks exhausted – he must have been frantic. Love you consider him in decorating the place. (You don’t have anything protecting that leg? Does Snowy look at it and decide he should help by licking? Molly would – she gets very into her ideas natural healing if one of us is injured)
    Know it’s a nuisance, but glad your doc has decided to keep an eye on you.
    Hope the Land Rover is back in action – maybe you can at least ride around for an outing – I’d be going nuts.


    • Your first par sums it up. Part of me has felt like an observer, watching me trying to be the assertive patient I always claimed others should be. ‘Ask, ask, ask. You have rights and choices.’ Which isn’t quite the same in Gib with one hospital and few surgeons. Hey ho.

      The trouble is I drank milk and ate dairy products as a child until the cows came home. I’d often have to climb over the back gate (bolted shut) to go to the dairy out the back for extra pints because I’d drunk us out of milk. Plus compulsory milk at school. As active as anyone, playing outside, climbing trees, walking home from school in summer, swimming, walking holidays. I don’t know.

      Might try a gentle massage. Am trying to move it more now the cast is off. We’ve taken the dogs car camping before now, or hired a cottage and done day walks from there. Can’t remember our last meal out. Nearest we get is take aways and not had one of those for ages.

      Snows is very affectionate and tactile. He likes to lie next to us, or on us. He’ll often lie on that pillow and rest his head on my shoulder. Cases came from a neighbour who’d changed her colour scheme so didn’t want them any more. Me, I buy white. Goes with everything. Including Podencos. Toes. He is trying to heal the toes. Perhaps he’s working up my leg?

      I don’t know about going out. I’m so unsafe on one leg :( at least home is better than the hospital. It was totally sealed. No open windows. Weird.


      • Growing up I was always running. Did hurdles. Lived on milk mainly – all the same stuff…yet there’s “thinning” Maybe it’s normal people. Some is genetic. It is what it is. Not sure why the popular current hysteria.
        Did break a toe a few years ago and it took forever to heal – such a bother. Not planning to take any of those you-are-losing-bone-density drugs as the side effects are numerous – and who knows what the stuff actually is doing…big Pharma’s got a new baby….
        White is good – easy to wash and keep clean – no thinking required
        Glad you are at home – at least the windows open and there’s air flow.
        What you need is a lifter to get you out and seated for 10-15 min outdoors/in car to get a break from the same wall…the dogs do provide entertainment. Molly is like snowy but larger as far as wanting to be really close/snuggle – is it pack instinct or just wanting to make sure she’s part of the crowd – or totally grateful to be rescued? She’s managed to sneak up on the bed a few times. As it’s roasting hot, she’s a tad hot dog smelly


        • I didn’t run. Or hurdle. High jump yes. Always for the high jump. Trees, rooves, balconies when forgotten keys. Such fun.

          I don’t understand this calcium thing. I thought it was set in youth too. Wasted loads of milk really?

          I’m not the world’s biggest pharma supporter either.

          White is good – when it stays white. Little paws don’t help.

          A lifter? Partner has threatened that. Two of us falling down the stairs?

          Young rescue is my guess. Need pack. Big dog was on his own so long.


    • Haha. Too early to think of a reply to that.

      The ops thing is interesting. I was amazed when I worked in the NHS how high the rate was for post-op infection. Which is basically what happened to me after the other ops.

      I have tried to avoid hospitals. Just didn’t have a lot of choice this time :(


  9. I rather like your Doctor Doom…..he answers questions at least….and it sounds as though you’re an interesting case for him, so you are guaranteed his full attention.

    I really do not envy you being confined to quarters, though…the frustration must be at boiling point.


    • You mean my ankle is interesting because, in his words, ‘it’s a nasty fracture’, or I am interesting? :D

      He’s odd. Some might say a clinic running two hours late is inefficient. To me, I would say he puts the needs of his patients over time management. Which is no bad thing.

      As I can do nothing about it, there is nothing to be gained from getting wound up. So best to accept my idle life. Most people don’t have the luxury of lying around …


  10. OMFG!!! It’s going from bad to worse. Fragile bones and fragile skin, you don’t do things by half do you!!
    A break is usually six weeks in plaster, a spot of physio and hey presto, but the blister area looks sore too, which can’t be helping one bit.
    It’s a good idea to get the air to it, but it seems so vulnerable to leave the plaster off.

    I chuckled at Snowy, just look at those massive radars on his head, plus he looks like he’s wondering what he can do next.
    He looks very sweet on his colour co-ordinated pillow….five minutes peace eh?


    • Apart from always bruising easily and the usual complement of sprains, I thought I was normal ;)

      It’s just the remains of the blister. I suppose it will drop off at some point.

      The no plaster fear is really psychological. A bit like the dressing on the one side that I don’t need. The nurse said most patients don’t like to leave the scar exposed. Probably don’t want to see it more like!

      Rat is worse in the mornings. Suppose he’s had all night to charge his undischargeable batteries. The pillow pic must have been taken in the arvo. So far, apart from walk and brekkies, he’s found a bra, charged up and down, jumped on me, chewed my hair, played with two toys, tried to tug my sheet and is now molesting Pippa.


  11. I’m considering the bits of my body that hold me up, and my mobility, with much more respect now. Just one slip, and everything changes. Despite his manner it’s a good thing you have the attention of the surgeon, who will for your benefit medically and his professionally want the best outcome. I hope you won’t require anything more than time and patience for this experience to become a memory and an anecdote.


    • It’s funny watching people on two legs. You don’t realise how precarious and precious that balance and mobility are.

      I don’t mind his manner. He’s communicative enough, which is good, bossy which is irritating, I can just do without him repeating gloomy news endlessly.

      I hope so too.


  12. I know this is serious and you can’t wait to get better, I still think fragile at 50 would be such an appropriate title.
    I wish you well dear friend


    • I can’t. You’re right.

      I could have been fragile at four, five, fourteen, fifteen or forty though.

      And anyway! I am NOT fragile. Or I didn’t know I was. I don’t look it, don’t act it, don’t sound it, so therefore I’m not. Am I?

      Thank you. Appreciated.


        • Merely expressing my choice not to be drugged up with paracetamol for no reason.

          The point is that if I did want something – I did after the op – I was more than capable of asking for it.

          Thank you Mak. I’m off to catch up with some footy now. Please don’t tell me any scores! I can’t get it live so I’m always behind a day.


          • I don’t watch football, fortunately so I will not spoil for you but last I heard the games are fun to watch. Maybe I should get myself to watch one or two.


          • I don’t as a habit. But I’ve enjoyed the World Cup for a few years. Especially when Spain won, although I’m not hugely partisan, I really enjoyed the Netherlands match against Spain, some great goals.

            I’m reliant on BBC iplayer, so luckily can’t watch all of them. Their match of the day and a round up of the other matches.

            I like watching different countries play – very different styles.


  13. What a baby; stop moaning. Your leg looks crap. Are you shaving or waxing, by the way? ;)

    How were the Dutch last night! Five goals past Spain. Brilliant , hey? Let’s hope the English can perform against the Eyetalians.

    Love the Ark x


    • I wondered if they shaved me. I have yet to investigate. I must do a leg comparison.

      Fucking brilliant. Watched it earlier today. Your sweepstake draw suddenly don’t look bad.

      I will have to do another footie post. That match fascinated me. Do not write anything before I get to view it – England Italy – on iplayer. I am in love with Robben and Van Pries (spl?) such goals.

      You do a header, of poetic brilliance, swim on your stomach. And get up? Now that is a god!


    • Well I wonder if my experience is unusual or par for the course.

      Hey the other ankle’s already had one operation on a ligament, and a fracture with no op. I’m sure I can find something else to write about.


      • It is weird reading about your adventure you know, I have never broken a bone in my body… I had my chest cut open does that count?, [HeeHee!.. silly words that],,,, broken ribs.. I always look forward to more.of your words that is… ;)


        • I suppose we think that what happens to us is normal. So I thought everybody had tonsils, adenoids and appendix out, loads of sprains, bandages or casts etc.

          I don’t know why I thought that as actually most people didn’t. So a bit of dissonance there. I write something on Clouds can’t remember if you read it. About illness and ops. I was surprised that people had got through life without any harm. Amazing.

          I would not like my chest cut open. Not even keen in my ankle being cut open on each side. I’m sure as a kid I was much more relaxed with ops. No knowledge and total trust. Now …

          I’ll have to at least mention the Netherlands against Spain in the next post. Some fantastic goals there. Otherwise, back to hospital on Tues. Trying to avoid back to back posts on the saga. This is in danger of becoming the outpatient/football blog!


          • It wasn’t until I done my couple of posts about hospital etc, that I realised so many people had been through similar dilemmas, some lesser so bigger..
            Glad you didnt mention Nederlands or even more so Englands opener… I had complete trust, actually knew no different, second time I don’t know if I would be quite relaxed…


          • Interesting. Why am I the only one with a broken ankle then?!

            I thought Netherlands deserved that game. The other one? A draw might have been a fairer score, but luck of the game. Italy have won it four times and far more recently than England.


  14. oh K, always good to hear from you but i am sorry to read these words. i momentarily slipped out of hiatus and bumped into this. you actually appeared on my reader for a change! shocking, i know.
    but here you are, not doing as well as i was hoping. thanks for the heads-up. getting older is occasionally not the most fun, however i will never discount its merits. so hope things turn around for you. Timmy sends purrs and i send you hugs. thinking of you, and hope you don’t mind that i am praying for a happy turn-around and improvement, even as i slip back into hiatus. do take care! XX


    • Don’t be silly. That is the sanitised version. I took one of the plasters off yesterday so now there is a gory looking scar on display. Not good to look at when you wake up..I’ve covered it up with a sheet until I can face it.

      Haha. I don’t really think my flat resembles a treatment room.


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