The Art of Walking

On Sunday 10 January I had an accident and broke my leg. It was my own fault; I was messing about on a skateboard, as though I’m not way too old for that. I was only on the thing for about a second before doing a spectacular back flip and landing (really awkwardly) on the ground. I knew I’d done something serious because my left foot was pointing in a direction I’ve never seen it point in before. And there was the pain. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I couldn’t move an inch. An ambulance was called but, for whatever reason, it never arrived. I lay there on a concrete path with trees all around for two and a half hours by which time it had gone dark.

A father and son, John and Vincent were walking by and asked if they could do anything to help. It turned out that they had an unused wheelchair at home and they offered to go and fetch it so they could ferry me to their car and then on to hospital. I’ve never felt so thankful to anyone. It would have been so easy for them to keep walking and not get involved. I’m sure they had stuff in their lives that they needed to attend to rather than be bothered scooping up some writhing stranger who probably should know better than to go anywhere near a skateboard. But they were bothered. They came back with the wheelchair and did what must have been incredibly unpleasant for them, they picked me up and eased me in. Up to that point, I had thought pain could not get much worse than what I was experiencing. When they picked me up though, it got ten times worse in a second. I’ll never forget seeing the horror on their faces as they got a first proper look at my leg and the damage I’d done to it. I had to be wheeled along the path, over a bridge and through a gate before I got to the car. I couldn’t possibly sit in either front or back seats so they opened the hatchback and I had to be hauled into the boot. Clutching at my leg, we set off for A & E. It took about twenty minutes and I think I was going in and out or reality a bit as songs on the radio seemed weirdly distant and surreal. I must have said thank you about a trillion times to John and Vincent as they dropped me off and I was bundled into the hospital.

They came to see me at home a few weeks later following surgery on my leg and I thanked them another few thousand times then. Apparently, I had snapped my tibia (the thick bone in my leg) and my fibula (the thin bone in my leg) in one easy move. I had to have a metal rod inserted from top to bottom with screws at either end. A hobby of mine is sketching and I often draw people as they pass by on the street. Those of us who are able-bodied take movement so much for granted; strolling through the park, hurrying to work, scurrying round the shops… I took it for granted when I stepped on that skateboard. We should take John and Vincent as examples. If we are blessed with the ability to walk, don’t use it to walk away.