At 12 I damaged my ankle whilst playing tennis. I mean, really damaged. I had sprained two of the ligaments severely. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was running, stood on a loose tennis ball (all tennis players will know this is a big no no) and twisted my ankle. I fell immediately and my coach ran over to check it.
It wasn’t swollen (yet) and while painful I could limp about on it. Probably due to the mix of adrenaline and embarrassment, I tightened my laces and carried on with the rest of my lesson. To my surprise, once I got home my parents checked over the ankle and whilst it did swell a little once the trainers came off, generally I was okay. I ate dinner, had a few ibuprofen and went to bed.
I woke up the next morning at 7am to get ready for school, this is where the problems started. Without thinking I hopped out of bed, and began walking. Except I didn’t get very far– I ended up in a pile on the floor as I could not weight bare. Being the stubborn preteen I was, I decided I’d crawl to the toilet and have a painkiller, get ready quickly before mum caught me, and all would be fine. I made it half way before my mum caught me crawling, and once she saw my ankle she began to panic.
In my sleep it had ballooned to near three times its normal size and I had a nice big deep purple bruise on the bottom of my foot. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to school that day, instead it would be a trip to A&E. Luckily the wait wasn’t long, they X-rayed it and confirmed that they didn’t think there was a break however it could have been hidden by the amount of swelling. I was sent away with crutches and a referral to Physiotherapy to start in two weeks time. For a very active child, 6 weeks off sport seemed like a life time, and my “no pain, no gain” approach wasn’t going to cut it. The first two weeks took a toll on everything, my mood, motivation and physical conditioning.
When I met Andrea, my Physiotherapist, she changed my life trajectory. She was firm but understanding and motivational. She explained why I couldn’t return to sport, she taught me about my injury and made me feel listened to. She guided me to start simple balance work (not so simple at the time) and we took it from there. I looked forward to seeing Andrea every two weeks. I loved being told I was progressing, and being challenged. She made sure to push me when I wanted to quit, and quickly pull the reigns in when I did too much. I went back to playing tennis, and went on to play volleyball, basketball, and take part in two athletics competitions. Andrea enabled me to be pain free again.
The silver lining? That’s how I knew Physiotherapy was the profession for me. I even shadowed her a few year down the line, which cemented the concept of joining this incredible, enriching profession when I was older. Without my injury and consequent Physiotherapy rehab, I quite literally wouldn’t be where I am today.
Naomi, Occupational Health Physiotherapist, CTC Healthcare Ltd