Get Into my Car…Step out of the Boot!
by Andy Hemmington February 15th, 2012
Last night I slipped on some ice – I mean it was only minus seven degrees – what was I thinking? It made me remember about last year, and a friend I know who broke her foot. So I asked her about it. When I broke my foot last summer the inconvenience of the situation took a few minutes to sink in. And then the dismay hit me over the realisation that I wouldn’t be able to drive for quite a while. Getting about on crutches soon became very tiresome and not being able to just ‘nip to the shops’ was really frustrating.
When the plaster came off and I was fitted with what can only be described as a ‘Robocop boot’, I was at least able to ‘walk’ about a bit. And over the coming weeks the strength in my foot and ankle improved.
So, when in late October, I finally ventured out in the car I was nervous at the prospect of being (auto)mobile again. My physio had told me that as long as I could perform an emergency stop I was good to go. So I went. I changed out of the Robocop boot (I had ten seconds to comply) into something that actually let me feel the floor, I took the car to a small side street and emergency stopped. Twice. Just to be sure. It was like being in my driving test all over again. And I had to do that twice too (and that was when it was easier!). Right, now out onto the road…
My foot and ankle was pretty stiff but the gear changing process of using the clutch was actually good exercise for it and I felt suitably pleased with myself as I pulled up outside home, after a drive round the block. Wonder if the other road users and pedestrians had clocked that I was driving with my face about 10 inches from the windscreen because I was so nervous? Still, I felt very pleased with myself, and if I’d had L plates on I’d have ripped them off!
The real test came on Monday morning. Driving to work. In rush hour. In the semi-darkness. On a road with so many ups and downs it wouldn’t be out of place in a ski resort.
After the initial meltdown of figuring out what to wear given the presence of Robocop Boot (black leggings and baggy jumper it is then), I limp to the car, get in, change out of the Robocop Boot and I’m all set. Driving along in the newly assumed ‘old lady’ position with face as close to the windscreen as possible soon proved too difficult – my ankle was at such a right angle it felt like it was back in plaster! “Relax, relax” I say to myself, and after resting back into the seat, I find the driving a lot more comfortable. This is fine, look at me, independent again, driving myself…ah, and then I see them, brake light after brake light stretch out ahead of me along Ski Slalom Street.
OK, don’t panic I say to myself. Just take it easy. I leave enough space between myself and the car in front for a jumbo jet to fit in (just to be safe) but this seems to anger the chap behind me in his sooped up Astra and he decides to overtake in a very risky manoeuvre given the terrain we’re on. Show off. Still, it got him one car in front which makes all the difference.
Thankfully, I can see the end of Ski Slalom Street which brings me to a major roundabout where I need to turn right onto a busy duel carriageway. And by busy, I don’t mean flowing. Again I’m sat in amongst the red light district (brake lights that is), having to move my foot up and down on the clutch for what feels like hours. At least my physio would be pleased – good exercise for the ankle joint I suppose. The lane I’m in finally starts to move and I enjoy immensely sailing past sooped up Astra man as he gets stuck at a red light.
The rest of the journey doesn’t require too much clutch control, which is just as well since my ankle and foot are now aching horribly. I never thought I’d be hankering after wearing the Robocop Boot but at that point, I was.
Into the car park at work I go and do not attempt any fancy reverse parking…my foot hasn’t got it in it! Back into the Robocop Boot and off I limp to the office, where I’m overtaken by two or three people, apologising embarrassingly (how British). Funny how pedestrians are much more civilised than the likes of sooped up Astra man in the ways of overtaking!
I made it. It felt like an epic achievement and the aching in my ankle and foot would remind me of the effort all day. Still, it could’ve been worse…it might’ve snowed!