It has been a year since my last blog post and boy how things have changed!
This is an x-ray of my right leg. It is approximately what it looks like today. Below there is another x-ray and that is what my leg looked like before the operation. The first time I saw the picture below I thought I might throw up, luckily no one would let me see it until a few weeks after I got out of hospital. I spent 5 days in hospital in July last year. It was the first time I had ever stayed in hospital over night, it was the first time I had ever had an operation and it was the first time I had ever broken a bone. It was months before I could walk unaided.
So let's back up to what happened...
I was running a summer holiday fencing camp at Banchory Academy. While running one of the sessions with rubber swords for the younger children I jumped on to a gymnastic crash mat, just like I had done multiple times earlier that day and the day before, but this time something different happened. The mat slipped out from underneath my feet and I landed badly. I saw my foot do something it should not normally do and I knew I needed an ambulance even before I hit the ground. Luckily I had a Duke of Edinburgh's Award helper that day and she was a star. I lay on the ground holding my ankle ordering her about and she called an ambulance, called the children's parents, fetched help from the sports centre and remained very calm. The ambulance took 45 minutes to get to us and then my car was blocking the nearest building entrance. By the time we arrived at the hospital I had been given the maximum amount of morphine allowed by the paramedics. Incredibly when they told me at the hospital that my leg was broken I was surprised and then it turned out it was so badly broken that I needed an operation. I had a spiral fracture on my tibia and my fibula had snapped in two. This meant that I needed a pin inserted into my tibia and lots of screws to hold things in place. Due to this injury I was unable to take my planned trip to Sweden and my 4 week tour of America but it did accelerate my move down to Glasgow where I now live.
It has been very frustrating having to learn how to walk, run, jump, hop and balance all over again and some of those things I am still not very good at. I still get stiffness and pain in my ankle and knee and I have to attend physio appointments every month. I lost a lot of muscles and strength from not doing anything and it was extremely frustrating not being able to do what or move how I wanted but it has not just been a physical thing. Mentally I lost a lot of motivation to get up and do things even once I was able and I was constantly afraid of falling or injuring myself again.
As for my fencing, well that has taken some time too. I discovered that there is no wheelchair fencing in Glasgow and I was struggling to even find something in the rest of Scotland. When I was able to get back to fencing I had to wear a shin guard and was not allowed to lunge. On the positive side my business in Glasgow managed to get up and running and that really kept me going. Seeing other people fencing made me desperate to pick it up again. I really pushed myself back into it, starting slowly by taking lessons where I did not have to move my feet that much and then building up to fencing others. I practised lots of blade work technique to improve my arm speed in order to make up for the lack of use of my legs. Although it was really tough, fencing was the one thing I never gave up on. I did not let my dreams fade and with the help and support of my family I just kept going.
And so.........I kept fencing and I went back to competing, In October I competed for the first time after the accident in the Highland Open. Then the Scottish Open, the Merseyside Open and then at the Edinburgh Open in March I won my first ever fencing medal. I got a Bronze.
To say I'm stronger than before would not be true. I am often still in pain and I still get frustrated when I can't do things that I think I should be able to but my determination is better than ever. The ambitions I spoke about a year ago are still achievable today.
My name is Laura Jamieson and I am a fencing coach.