Come celebrate my great news with me!!! Seven and a half months ago, Nov 19th '06, I broke my leg riding my dirtbike. It was a compound, angulated, comminuted fracture of my right tibia and fibula, meaning that I broke it so badly that the bones shattered rather than being clean breaks, part of the bone came out the skin, and my lower leg was left on an angle halfway down my shin. The accident happened just on the edge of town, actually pretty close to the nearest houses, so for the first 10mins after the accident I just yelled for help expecting someone to come, but because of the levee bank (flood barrier) between me and the houses noone could hear me screaming. I then called for the Ambulance on the phone I had, but it took a further 10mins for them to find me. The Paramedics are actually my workmates - I'm a Paramedic myself! I was given morphine but the pain was so bad that even when they'd given me the most we can give, 20mg, I had zero relief at all. In the end the Police were called to fetch a Doc from the hospital to come out and sedate me, so that the Paras and the Fire Service also on scene could get me out from the bike to straighten and splint the leg. That night I was flown by Royal Flying Doctor Service to the nearest big city hospital to where I live, 800kms away, as I live in the outback of Queensland, Australia. The next day I had a four hour operation to put a tibial nail (a rod of titanium down the centre of my tibial bone) and three titanium screws into that leg to bolt it back together - a procedure they ended up doing twice, as the first nail they inserted was too long. I spent a week in hospital before going home, and had to wear a full cast on my lower leg for one week, and then a backslab cast for a further week before being able to go cast-free. Before the accident I was training with the aim of running 10km under 40mins, and was running 30kms weekly and swimming around 20kms weekly too, as well as gym weights and kickboxing, so I was very active - this loss of lifestyle was at first the hardest part of dealing with the fracture, but I managed to turn it around and use that love of training to help in my rehab. The day after the operation I started wiggling my toes as much as I could (on a morph drip!), and gradually extended this to moving my foot inside the cast bit by bit. The same day I was allowed to remove the backslab for good, 2 weeks post-op, I went swimming, using a pullbuoy to support my leg. Back then it felt so fragile that even just having it unsplinted felt scary and delicate, but in the water the gentle pushing of the water going past really helped. Over the next few weeks I swam everyday, and by mid-December I started using the exercise bike at the gym on the lowest resistance, with my leg tolerating more and more exercise over time, though I was still not allowed to weight bear. 6 weeks post-op, I travelled all the way to the coast to see my surgeon again, but was really shocked and disappointed to see my xrays, as there seemed to be little healing at all. My fibula had been healing alright, but on the tibia - the weight bearing bone - the fracture and shards of bone still looked as fresh as ever, and most horrifyingly the bone ends were a good 5mm apart! The Registrar told me that my leg had ended up a half centimetre too long (hence the tibial ends were that distance apart) as the shattered ends of the fibula that hadn't slotted neatly back into eachother like a jigsaw piece. I was sent away with instructions to gradually start weight bearing anyway, and to return in another 6 weeks. If the load-bearing didn't stimulate greater bone growth and repair, I was told I'd need an operation to remove the middle portion of my fibula, the top screw removed, and then a wire inserted down the middle of my tibial nail to hook on at the bottom and yanked to force my bone ends together. The 6 week point was when the screw bolting my bone to that tibial nail within it was supposed to be removed, so that my bone would start bearing my weight rather than the rod; instead, my fractures had hardly healed at all, and it felt a real blow. So back I came with my new goals, and over that 6 weeks I surprised myself with how quickly I was able to start loading that leg.. it was scary at first to put weight onto it, but within a week I was walking with crutches, and by the end of the second 6 week period I was down to using one just crutch as a walking stick. Upon my return to the hospital I was pretty proud of how much I'd been doing, swimming or exercise biking everyday and doing daily water rehab in the pool myself too - I'd even started using the elliptical machine at the gym in the 12th week, which felt as close to running as I could get! - so was pretty hopeful. Instead the xrays told the same story, and showed that same awful black hole on the bone which was supposed to hold all my weight in walking and running, and I expected to be facing that hideous choppy-yanky operation. The Consultant however told me they would take out that top screw anyway, and that this was what should have happened at the 6 week mark, big gap or no big gap! It was the removal of the top screw that would in fact allow the gap to close, as once unattached to the top of the rod that top half of my tibia should slide down over the rod to meet the bottom half! So in essence I'd had six weeks of wasted time, hoping for a half-centimetre healing miracle that could never have happened. Ten days later on Feb 26 I had the screw removed under local anaesthetic - not recommended.. for anyone else facing the same situation, always ask for a general!!! I was told to go back to crutches (I was by now using just a walking stick), but being the pig-head that I am, I carried on using just the stick to lurch about. Everytime I put too much weight upon that leg for 2 weeks afterwards caused a sharp jolt of incredible pain at the top of my shinbone that drained the blood from my face and made me giddy enough to sit down, which I was sure was my bone slipping down over the rod. Adding to this certainty was the new swelling and redness I saw developing at my fracture site, which itself hadn't hurt too much since the first few weeks (since the ends didn't even touch). The ends of the bone were surely now jamming into eachother when I stood on that leg, and I'd never been so happy to see signs of inflammation and injury before in my life! I was right - xrays taken on March 21, 3 weeks after that second operation, the bone had moved all the way down to where it should be! FANTASTIC - no choppy-yankage for me! At the start of April, around 20 weeks since breaking the leg, I was able to finally start doing light duties at work. I'd kept on training as much as I could, but at around this same time the leg started becoming very painful and wouldn't tolerate any exercise at all. Where I'd gotten up to doing 90mins on the elliptical on a higher level, it now couldn't stand just 10mins, so I pretty much stopped training for a couple of months and just concentrated on walking first without my walking stick, and then without a limp. It seems very strange, but I guess it was because the fracture became essentially like a new one again, and with all the healing going on it just couldn't do as much. This I found hard as I'd made such improvement with my training and was enjoying doing so much and the fantastic fitness I'd developed on the elliptical (brilliant cross-training for running, btw), and was very frustrating. By early May I was able to walk limp-free, as the muscles of my lower leg and ankle strengthened, and my bone was recovered enough to not give pain from that extra load of pushing off from my foot as I walked, something you'd otherwise not even notice. By end of May I started running - well, more of a powerlurch than a run, to be honest - but to me, it felt fantastic! Actually it hurt like a ************************, but to me, doing the 8-10 steps of fast lurching that I called running was an incredible feeling, and I did it with an absolutely enormous grin over my clenched teeth! I tried this weekly, just as a test really with a week's recovery for the bone, and when I was able to run for 30 secs (still gritting my teeth though) I increased this to doing it every third day, but of course listening very closely to how my leg was feeling. Gradually this has improved, and I've been running 1.5km non-stop twice weekly for the past month. ..cont'd..