#14 It’s not over until the fat lady gets thinner…

Not long out of plaster – and a stone heavier than before the big break

Not long out of plaster – and a stone heavier than before the big break

So, I’m pretty lucky, in that I’m one of those hateful long and thin ectomorph types, so even when I’m heavy by my standards, I never look very chubby. My jeans are less forgiving, of course.

So, they don’t tell you you’re bound to gain weight, although, to be fair, I might have guessed that for myself. My arms looked amazing at the end of six months in plaster. I don’t think I’ve ever had biceps before! But the rest of me had gone a bit soggy in the middle. And it didn’t stop the moment I became bipedal, of course. Because I still had the Herr Flick limp and kitten-like weakness meaning every few steps was punctuated with a nice sit-down and a cup of tea.

I didn’t dare to weigh myself with the cast on, but post cast-removal I was a rather distressing 18-odd pounds heavier than before. And I don’t put on weight too easily. So I dread to think how others may have fared. Then came Christmas. Having committed myself to a dancing and singing part in Oh What A Lovely War with my beloved Wivenhoe Gilbert & Sullivan society, that was a problem. Not only would I need to get flexible enough to give at least a passing impression of being an Edwardian ballerina, but I’d also need to lose at least a bit of that weight to get into any of my clothes.

Back to the dancing again!

Back to the dancing again!

Long story short, I made it on both counts, stretching every day and doing all my physio exercises (plus a few I made up to get that ankle moving again after six months of atrophy), and even managed the ridiculously quick change into my tutu…


Nearly back to usual, although the ballet could still use a bit of work!

Nearly back to usual, although the ballet could still use a bit of work!

So, all’s well that ends well, but it wasn’t easy. However, if I hadn’t pushed myself so hard, would I still be sitting down a lot and wussing out of country walks? Who knows. Goals are great… but you do have to be kind to yourself too!

Even though my leg-related drama is pretty much at an end (I sincerely hope!), I’m determined to continue this blog, and give more useful information for all of you only at the beginning of yours. We flamingos need to flock together! x


#13 Flamingo hols are fabulous

This gallery contains 13 photos.

So basically, Florida was a blast, but also a catalogue of frustrations to overcome. The trick was to not think about how much more fun it would be if both legs were in full working order, or how much less … Continue reading

#12 Take time out

Spot the flamingo...

Spot the flamingo…

Yes, it’s been an embarrassing amount of time since I last updated this blog. Why? Well, I won’t bore you with the full list (as it’s characteristically extensive), but it all boils down to holiday + return to work + new man, eroding my free time and/or inclination to post! I’ve decided not to feel guilty about it, because this blog was never about ‘have to…’, it was all about ‘want to…’. I realised this weekend that I really, really miss it. So hiya! I’m back. Hope you’re in the pink. I certainly still am… I have a wonderful backlog of photos and ideas from the last few months, so watch this space!

First though, as it has been so long, I should update you on the leg to put future posts into context. I’m still in the Sarmiento cast (otherwise known as patella bearing) that I was upgraded to just before my trip to Florida. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Cast number one had a slight accident involving dolphin swimming and a scant regard for sarmiento safety, so I had to have a new one on my return. I’ve been teased with the promise of an airboot soon. With any luck, the coming Wednesday is C-day, so please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me. I ache for skinny jeans. Other than that, life carries on as normal. In as much as my life is ever really normal. Autumn here I come!

#11 Not all casts are created equal

Those of you who know me well, will be well aware of the saga of my many casts. For those who don’t, a brief recap with as much useful information I can give you… culminating in my latest sporty little number. Yes, this is my exciting news. Hopefully not just cast number four, but last cast!

Cast number 1 - plastered

Cast number 1 – plastered

There’s very little I can tell you about the plaster cast, apart from the fact that having it fitted was intensely painful for me. At that point, I’d only just had my first shot of morphine, I’d had a broken leg for hours, and was still trying to tap away the pain. The pain is a much clearer memory than the cast. I wore it for a couple of days, during which time I barely moved, except to transfer to the loo. Best point: not a cheese grater!

Cast number 2 - flamingo

Cast number 2 – flamingo

The flamingo was my first cast coming home. Full leg, solid fibreglass, heavy and restrictive. Though after two months, it became almost a part of me. Best points: so solid you can use it as an extra crutch after a while; definite fashion statement. Worst points: weight, washing, and after two months, ooooh the itching!

Cast number 3 - the jointed wonder

Cast number 3 – the jointed wonder

Although I pushed and practically begged to have this cast change, it did come with its downsides. For a start, it was incredibly heavy. Plus, the pain in my knee was excruciating. Even as I became more flexible, the stiffness and the discomfort if I stayed in one place for long, was like having a nail hammered into the side of my leg. It did ease, but it took all my energy to stay cheerful at times. But the pluses were also great, particularly both the improved flexibility and the fact my muscles slowly began to return. Best points: flexibility, ability to go in a car, and I could see my knee! Worst points: pain, awkward hair removal, dodgy skin, and more pain!

Cast number 4 - Sporty little number

Cast number 4 – Sporty little number

Finally, the knee-length cast I’ve been wishing for all this time. The story behind this one is slightly odd. I coaxed, hinted, cajoled and blatantly came right out with it, but could I get the registrar to agree to a cast change? I could not. So, I resigned myself to going on holiday in the jointed monstrosity. When, oddly, I got a message last Wednesday telling me to come to the plaster room. And, here I am. Half-casted. Best points: light, easy to manoeuvre, not a cheese grater, slim enough for jeans, and yes, I can see my thigh again! Worst points: itchy, and already falling apart. If anyone knows of a tape that will stick soft fibreglass cast to fabric without irritating skin, do drop me a line.

Three months and counting. Onwards and upwards!

#10 Celebrate! The party gallery

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Don’t let the lame leg rain on your parade. It’s amazing how much fun can be had in a wheelchair and/or on crutches (though personally I strongly recommend borrowing a folding wheelchair!) This gallery is a celebration of flamingo partying. … Continue reading

#9 If you don’t ask, you don’t get

Those of you who know me well will no doubt affirm that I’m a paragon of politeness. Or, at least, I do really, really try to be – generally I think I may be working against my better nature, but aren’t we all? So I’m not particularly good at asking for anything.

Actually, that’s not true. In a work setting, I am great at asking. Or telling. Maybe a bit too vocal on both counts, actually. But like most people, I approach my private life with a slightly more laissez-faire attitude.

Imagine... only needing one chair to sit down. Sigh. But the doctor's saying four more weeks... or maybe not!

Imagine… only needing one chair to sit down. Sigh. But the doctor’s saying four more weeks… or maybe not!

Cast Away

The original ‘you’ll be stuck in the full-length cast for six weeks’ prognosis turned out to be wishful thinking. When I turned up at the hospital 10 days ago, excited and ready to cast off, I was told to come back in four weeks. I was more than a bit disappointed, but having got a reasonable explanation when I probed the registrar, I dusted myself down and crutched off into the sunset.

That was that, until my knowledgeable doctor friend explained that it wasn’t necessarily the only option. I could ask them to reconsider. Which honestly had not occurred to me!

So, following his advice, I made a few phone calls, got through to my consultant’s secretary and wheedled an email address out of her (I’m so much better on paper). Then, I made my case to move into a knee-length cast sooner… please, if at all possible.

Result! I’ve had a reply from him, which offers a fair compromise. The balance is between keeping my lower leg stable (good), and not losing any more muscle, gaining stiffness, and extending my recuperation (bad). I now have permission to graduate to a hinged knee cast brace – not entirely sure what this is going to look like, but I’ve been told it will let me bend my knee, which is all I need to know! Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed I get booked in to the plaster room asap; ideally, before the four weeks are up anyway. Time (and my leg)’s a wastin’!

#8 Co-ordinate with your Cast

Obviously this one requires a bit of forward thinking (ie, if you choose a cast colour that matches nothing in your wardrobe/cosmetics drawer, it could be somewhat costly) but breaks the boredom. With the exception of a couple of cringeworthily bad choices while in hospital (red t-shirt? What was I thinking?) I’ve gone for an 80s ballerina combo. It may sound like a fashion statement, but it’s actually very logical. I’m a tall girl, and I don’t like the cast getting too warm, so if I wore full-length trackies, that would mean one hell of a left-leg rollup. On the other hand, if I wear shorts, I have a good 36in of leg to cover. And there aren’t many socks that long. Believe me, I’ve looked. So, every outfit is based around the bottom half.

The everyday 'fun day out to the hospital with my mum' look

The everyday ‘fun day out to the hospital with my mum’ look

Not entirely sure this one worked, and nearly fell over taking the pic, but check out all the pink...

Not entirely sure this one worked, and nearly fell over taking the pic, but check out the longest pink striped socks in the world (just seen)…

The night-time shorts and leggings combo

The night-time shorts and leggings combo, accessorised with an electric blue wheelchair (every girl should have one)

Viable options I can live with:

  1. Shorts + over-the-knee sock + ballet legwarmer (which are very, very long). PROS Kinda sexy CONS possibility of extreme high-thigh exposure when getting on and off wheelchair
  2. Dress + over-the-knee socks + ballet legwarmers. PROs Very sexy CONS even more dangerous than look number 1
  3. Shorts + leggings with one leg cut off (with just enough left to tuck into the cast and cover hairy thigh) + normal socks PROS Cool CONS did I mention knee dandruff? Try black leggings and thigh dandruff… urk. With skin-flake coloured leggings it might just work
  4. 3/4 length tracksuit bottoms or PJs rolled up on the left leg (loose or, erm, customised) + normal socks + normal leg warmers

Pink and grey sportswear + legwarmers + one leg rolled up + I like to scrape my hair back so I can see where I’m crutching = I might as well go the whole hog and rock the ballet chic look with a messy bun. For evenings out, I just ramp up the colours. It’s the only way I can live with going out in sportswear.


Sally Slingback – this one is all down to you. Shamed into tidying up my toes, I took advantage of a friend’s drunken generosity to get a perfectly co-ordinated pedi. And guess what. Everyone compliments me on it! Oddly enough, it draws attention away from the shrivelled toes; I would have expected the opposite. You live and learn 🙂

A wonderfully pink pedi

A wonderfully pink pedi

#7 The best £4.95 I never spent…

As a journalist, you tend to end up with some pretty random freebies – especially as a food writer. Sometimes, I’m flabbergasted at quite how inventive (or random) companies can be in their quest to get us to part with our hard-earned cash. Wrap-N-Mat was one of those items everybody regarded with a certain amount of suspicion when it appeared in the office. The idea was sound: a cloth wrap, lined with food-safe (and PVC-free) plastic, that held a sandwich together well, and converted into a little eating mat to prevent wearing the filling on your trousers. But it wasn’t exactly sexy. And, more to the point, it wasn’t a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine or some really top-notch quinoa…

Being open-minded (or possibly just a scavenger), I retrieved one of these from the table of many freebies, when it had been sitting there so long I felt rather sorry for it. And I used it a few times. Then I stopped eating sandwiches on some bread-free kick for a while, slipped it in a drawer and forgot about it.

A useful sandwich tray, but it complains when you cover it in crumbs...

A useful sandwich tray, but it complains when you cover it in crumbs…

What a carry on

Sandwiches seemed like such a perfect flamingo food. Portable, easy to make, simple to eat… although not really, when you think about it. Actually, pasta salad travels better in a tupperware than a sandwich, and unless you use a massive box, you end up festooned with crumbs. Pulling off clingfilm – even if I liked using it (which I really don’t) – or tinfoil is tricky enough with two hands… And then you’re adding to the waste disposal requirements, already the toughest job facing the casted lady. So a reusable option was a necessity.

The wrap-n-mat, via Swiss-Miss.com

The wrap-n-mat, via Swiss-Miss.com

Inspired by a flash of something or other, I recalled the lurking Wrap-N-Mat. Controlling my vehement dislike of any products with ‘N’ in the title (people, please! What’s wrong with an ampersand if you want to save space?) I dug it out. Genius. You can spread, assemble and wrap, transport with no displacement of filling whatsoever, then lunch on the sofa without having to dig crumbs (or rocket) out from between the cushions. It actually fits in a pocket when going back to the kitchen, and all it takes is a thorough wipe and an air-dry to make it ready to use again.

When I’m back on my feet, this baby is going to be my sandwich toting gadget of choice. How could I have forgotten this little wonder?


Sadly I can’t remember where mine came from, so I apologise if the company that sent it doesn’t profit from this post. Feel free to link to other retailers in the comments…


#6 Bathing is bliss

You should have seen me trying to flannel wash when I was in hospital. Completely inefficient. For a start, I didn’t actually have a flannel. Not in the early days, at any rate. I was provided with a disposable paper towel – less, let’s say, soluble than your usual hand towel, but still, when you come down to it, a piece of paper. Have you ever tried to wash with a piece of paper? Exactly.

My insistence on going it solo meant my paper-based sponge bath also involved issues of balance and effort. With a leg on the bidet, bum balanced on a stool, and a piece of soap that was constantly slipping into the sink, it was slow going. Afterwards, I’m pretty sure I’d just moved the grease around.

Even once furnished by my lovely family with washcloth and shower gel, it was less than satisfactory. I’m not even going to go into washing hair; a totally fruitless endeavour, which I tried only once in the hospital sink before requesting dry shampoo. Note: get dry shampoo. Really. It’s amazing.

Kitted out

Once home, I made do for a little while before daring to take my first bath, using the amazing Limbo my dad had ordered for me in advance. Limbo is basically a glorified plastic bag, with a wet-suit-esque band at the thigh. When I was in the plaster room, I was handed a leaflet outlining this amazing invention, and given my attempts at washing prior to that moment, got straight on the iPhone and asked Daddy to order it for me.

2013-05-27 10.28.38


Getting it on is really tricky. Actually, removing it is pretty tough too, but it’s well worth the contortions, over-stretching and feeling like an idiot. Once Limbod, you can (theoretically) immerse the cast, although I’ve come up with a reasonably comfortable bathing position whereby my leg is balanced on the edge of the sink. Initially, I needed help – thank you so much those of you who were subjected to me semi-naked during that phase. Now, I’m a bathing pro. Flamingoes love the water, right?

It hasn’t lasted terribly well. After the initial six weeks, the rubber has a little tear in it, possibly because the cast is so abrasive. Why? Why would anyone want a pink cheese-grater for a leg? But it was well worth the price. I’d have paid a tenner per bath, so wonderfully blissful has each dip been.

It takes a rather balletic stretch to get the whole thing in shot

It takes a rather balletic stretch to get the whole thing in shot

Top bathing tips
DO keep a phone and a bikini within reach – you never know what might happen and imagine the ambulance men taking you out in the nuddy…
DON’T forget your sock. That cast is very, very, very abrasive. Nobody wants a hole in their Limbo
DO use some kind of adhesive duck/pebble/similar in the bottom of the tub. It helps when getting in and out alive!
DON’T run the water too hot. You can still sweat under that cast, and it takes ages to dry out. Icky…

Look, co-ordinated :)

Look, co-ordinated 🙂

And, a close-up

And, a close-up of my grey-toed sock

#5 Don’t forget your smartphone

This blog (and my life) would be so much less fun if I hadn’t been able to snap dodgy iPhone shots of every weird and wonderful moment. In fact, when I told a friend today about my grotesque, wasted, famine-victim left leg her first question was: ‘did you take a picture?’ As it happens, no. Long story short, I was having my plaster changed and I was too busy holding up my suddenly defenceless, painful and rather sad-looking limb to get out the phone. Not to mention being grossed out by what I can only describe as knee dandruff. It did, of course, cross my mind, and I’ll make sure when this full-leg cast comes off in a couple of weeks I can get you some snaps in all its flaky, crusty, hairy glory. Now there’s something worth signing up to my blog for, hey? But, once again, I digress.

The other bonus of having a camera handy, is being able to get a swift snap of your x-rays. And, as so many people have asked to see what’s beneath the pink leg, I can hardly disappoint, can I? When I was in hospital I was obsessed with getting a picture of my x-rays, but didn’t manage until x-ray session three. Since then, I’ve hedged my bets. Not only do I coerce the x-ray staff to take a sneaky snap of their screen, but I also take the opportunity for a pic at every fracture clinic. I do have an ulterior motive: a friend who just happens to have exactly the right knowledge base who can tell me how I’m getting along. However, I’ve also found myself getting those pix out in practically any conversation hinging on my leg. Which, no surprise, is most of them. Top value conversation starters!

What a pretty fracture

What a pretty fracture

2013-05-15 15.10.17

And another view…

2013-05-15 14.45.04

The spangly new cast. Even from this angle, you can see how skinny the leg is getting…