Give me a break! (Oh no, wait, I have one)

'Femuring' is a well-known experience in the skydiving community

Maryalicia Post

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2018

As you may or may not know, snapping the thigh bone is such a common injury in skydiving that they invented the verb ‘to femur’. I didn’t know that but it was a comfort when I femured myself two months ago.

Actually, I hadn’t been skydiving, but it cheered me to think I might have been. In fact I’d been creeping downstairs in the dark in a trailing kimono when I tripped myself up and flew off the stairs to the floor.

I’ve learned a lot since then really. What it feels like to wait on queue in hospital on an ambulance stretcher (it’s hard to keep up a conversation with an ambulance driver for three hours as he waits to retrieve his property from under you), how it feels to talk to a surgeon in dawn’s early light (amusing – but that was probably due to the drugs – mine not his). And that in hospital (the one I was in anyway) it is now standard to ask for agreement before laying a hand on you..

Nurse: I’m going to take your blood pressure. Is that alright? Me: Good idea.
Nurse: I’m going to take a blood sample. Is that alright? Me: If you must.
Doctor: I am going to repair your femur, is that ok? I’ll be using a titanium pin, a metal plate and six screws. Me: Absolutely! I have no other plans for today.
Someone: We’re going to give you a spinal (something… words indistinct). Me: Be my guest.

From then on silence interrupted only by the sound of hammering seeming to come from under the table. I wanted to tell them what my father taught me when I was young: never hammer a screw.

Afterwards I discovered that the words ‘physio’ and ‘rehab’ were often said in the tone of voice once reserved by us Catholics for ‘get confession’ and ‘go on a retreat’… the tone of the first implies ‘it won’t be pleasant but you have no choice’, and the second ‘relax and get holy at the same time’.

I said no to both. I could ‘walk through the pain’ (as skydivers say in their online femur forum) – with a little help from a blue tablet (hospital) and paracetamol (home). And I did.

My femuring is almost a memory now.

But I’m careful on the stairs.