My Experience with Broken Bones

Growing up I always thought I was invincible. I was rarely ill, the hospital wasn’t a place I regularly visited and I never broke a bone. Well, that was until March 2019…

It was a Sunday and I’d just finished playing a rugby match for county. I’d walked away from the game unscathed and player of the match – I was feeling pretty good. I went back to the changing room and got ready for the Rugby sevens part of the tournament – which I played all of about 30 seconds of. This is how the game went: the opposition kicked off, my teammate caught the ball, passed it to me, I made a run for the try line, got tackled, SNAP. I fell to the ground and just shouted “it’s broken!”. The game stopped, the physio ran over and I burst into tears – not because it hurt – because I knew that I’d broken my ankle and I wouldn’t be able to play.

I waited for an ambulance for nearly two hours, I was chatty but the pain had kicked in. Although I was in pain, I didn’t mind waiting, as I knew there was someone else out there who needed medical attention more than me. Eventually the paramedics arrived and I was taken to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry, my friend came with me in the ambulance as she wants to be a paramedic in the future – and she wanted to be there for me of course. When we arrived at the hospital I was put into a wheelchair and taken into the paediatrics A&E waiting room, where I received a lot of stares from some very young children and alarmed parents. I was triaged quickly and taken to a room to wait for an X-ray. I’d snapped my lower left fibula, chipped off a section of my tibia and had a talar shift (this is essentially where the tibia and fibula move apart). My ligaments and tendons were also badly damaged. So not great but could’ve been worse!

I had an operation a week later to have a plate and some screws put in my ankle and was in a cast for three weeks after that. I was then put in a boot for 7 weeks and I remained on crutches after the boot was taken, but I worked hard to come off them ASAP as I was doing my GCSEs at the time and wanted to be off my crutches during summer!

I’ve never opened up too much about this experience, and I’ve always tried to make it seem more positive than it was. I was very down as I was missing out on rugby, I was in lots and lots of pain and the painkillers made me very unwell and so revising for my mocks and GCSEs was challenging at times – but I still managed to get all As and A*s. My ankle caused me lots of pain even after I got rid of my crutches and I walked with a limp for a while – which was very frustrating! However, it also brought me opportunities. I went to Twickenham to watch England vs Scotland and I got to meet the entire England squad after the match, I got photos and autographs which was amazing!

I definitely returned to sport sooner than I should’ve, but I’m stubborn and if I believe I can.. I WILL. However, just when I thought my days of injury were behind me, I broke my right Fibula in December 2019 – just 9 months after I broke my ankle!!!! The story is pretty similar, it involved rugby, me running and a snap. One of the paramedics was quite rude to me, as he felt we had called the ambulance for no good reason and that I should’ve been driven to the doctors. We later found out that such a course of action would have been a big mistake!

Crutches and a cast.. again! However, my cast got changed to a walker boot after a week and I was only on crutches for 4 weeks in total – considering my previous experiences, that was seen as a HUGE win!

My left leg still causes me pain, usually during exercise that involves running and jumping (not that that stops me running or jumping.. or playing rugby for that matter!) but I know one day it’ll get better.

My whole experience has definitely made me more fearful of breaking my legs, I have moments where I nearly go over my ankle and my heart does skip a beat, but I’m still playing rugby which is the main thing. My desire to be a doctor and study medicine is still strong, but I currently feel like orthopaedics isn’t the speciality for me – it brings too much back. This could change as I get older, who knows?!

Fingers crossed for no more broken bones, twice is definitely enough!

Cancer vs Covid-19

At present, Covid-19 has taken the lives of over 500 thousand people worldwide, leaving families devastated. The number of cases, deaths and recoveries in each country is a heavy point of focus for many. However, we mustn’t forget that although our lives have temporarily been on hold, diseases such as cancer stop for no one.

Last night I watched a Panorama documentary on the BBC, discussing the effect of the virus on those with cancer, and how an additional 35,000 people could die of the disease. A very important part of cancer diagnosis is catching and treating it early, but many people have been discouraged from going to the doctors due to the virus and so referrals have decreased and screening has been put on hold – allowing any potential cancer to spread further before being found, which in turn can reduce chances of survival.

The documentary also discussed how radiotherapy machines hadn’t been used for a large amount of time during the pandemic, but we now know that their use is perfectly safe and so people have been missing out on potentially life saving treatment.

During the documentary, it was pointed out that a balance was attempted to be made between the risk of catching the virus and the risk of patients’ cancer worsening. No medical professional would ever want to stop or reduce life saving treatment, the four pillars of medical ethics ensure this. When watching this documentary, I recognised that this situation is far from simple, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy weaken immune systems, meaning that those with cancer would struggle to fight the virus if they contracted it. At the same time, stopping chemotherapy can increase the spread of cancer within the patient to a point where treatment may no longer be a viable option, or their chances of recovery or survival are reduced. It feels like a lose-lose situation, and the pressure on the medical professionals to make the right decisions must be immense.  As someone who wants to become a doctor, it can really test your want to study medicine, as you realise that you could be the next person to have to make these decisions.

This documentary definitely brought a tear to my eye, seeing the indirect effect of the virus made me realise just how great it’s effect has been. Although cancer can be diagnosed late at any time, there are people who are going to lose their lives, children who are going to lose their parents, parents who are going to lose their children, because of a late diagnosis that was caused by Covid-19.

Junior Doctors

Being a junior doctor is draining for many reasons. You work long hours and are often on-call, there are many things medical schools don’t always prepare you for and you are under lots of pressure, everyday. I’m not a junior doctor, although it may sound like I think I am, but I have read books and watched documentaries that have shown me the harsh reality of life after medical school, and that although it’s not all doom and gloom, a medical career doesn’t get off to the easiest of starts!

Last summer, I read ‘This is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay, a hilarious book with a serious message behind it. It’s a read I’d recommend to anyone, but especially to someone considering medicine. Adam used to be a doctor and the book is full of his experiences, including those as a junior doctor, and he doesn’t sugar-coat a thing! I found the book incredibly helpful, choosing medicine is a big decision and you need to be fully aware of what you’re letting yourself in for, otherwise you could end up making a big mistake!

I’ve also watched the documentary ‘Junior Doctors: On the Front Line’ and I’m currently reading ‘Trust me, I’m a (junior) doctor’ by Max Pemberton, which isn’t too dissimilar from ‘This is Going to Hurt’ but it’s solely focused on his experience in his foundation years as a doctor, rather than his later experiences. Gaining an insight into the work of junior doctors isn’t only beneficial, but it makes you appreciate the medical profession and it breaks down false images created by hospital dramas, that being a doctor is a glamorous, heroic career.

I’ve taken it upon myself to do some further digging into this hot topic, as I remember the junior doctor strikes, but I was a bit younger at the time so never really did too much reading into it. First of all, the term ‘junior doctor’ is often associated with students who’ve graduated from medical school and are in their foundation training years. This is not true! You are a junior doctor when in speciality training too, however the pay increases. In 2016, changes were to be made to the junior doctor contract. The pay was to increase by 13.5%, but what constituted of ‘unsociable hours’ was going to change, for example, daytime hours on a Saturday were to be paid at a normal rate, rather than an increased one. This was very controversial and people felt it was done to make it cheaper to have doctors working on weekends, as it was said that patients admitted at the weekend are more likely to die and so the government wanted to improve patient care by having more doctors working. This was challenged by junior doctors and it was felt that the reduction in pay was clearly for financial gain.

In 2019, negotiations ended and some key changes were made: an increase in pay for weekends and nights, guaranteed lift in pay of 2% each year for the next 4 years, limits on the number of long shifts taken and much more. It’s definitely an improvement, this deal brings a £90million investment into junior doctors for the next 4 years. I do think this deal is a step in the right direction, treating NHS staff fairly is very important, not only because doctors provide an important service to us all, but because we need to encourage young people to study medicine and become our doctors of the future.