Those of you who have broken a bone will know what this feels like…the feeling of being disconnected from a limb…
Saturday 20th January - I waved my left arm about – about 10 metres from the top of Arthur’s Seat frantically shouting ‘my arm, I can’t feel it anymore’; adrenaline coursing through my body, the cold air hitting my exposed skin, and that feeling of pure dread knowing I’d done something nasty to my body…and wondering ‘how the heck am I going to get out of this sticky situation I’d got myself into. And, more important, how the *bleep* am I going to get down from this mountain and get help?’
I knew the second my feet slipped out from under me - and I tried to break my fall by stretching out my left arm, banging my head onto solid rock in the process - that this wasn’t going to be a little bump. I just knew I wasn't going to walk away slightly bruised from this fall.
The piercing pain and the feeling that I was picking up half my arm from the floor just didn’t feel right.
Andrew - who I’m so glad was with me in Edinburgh (thank god, I wasn't travelling solo this time) tries to calm me down. I remember his look that was saying 'you're going to have to move'. But as stroppy as it seemed at the time, there really was no way I was moving from the spot I’d slumped into. Holding onto my arm for dear life, Andrew sprung into first aider action (ironically I was the one with the first aider certificate!). Anyway! he made me a sling out of a spare thermal he had in his backpack... whilst I sat there and well, cried.
I’m not quite sure what was going on in each other’s heads at that moment. I was freaking out thinking ‘why has this just happened. We’re on top of a windy mountain – although to be honest, I’m not even sure you’d call it a mountain. It’s more of a steep hill…but, at that moment in time, it just felt like a huge big gigantic mountain - it’s icy, it's cold and there is no one around’.
It’s not even like I could hobble a few metres to the nearest help-point, and I really didn’t fancy being left alone whilst Andrew went to find help.
…moments later and like a knight in shining armour – or maybe just pure luck – or, I like to think that someone was looking down on us – a man appeared from nowhere. I glimpsed the word ‘Ranger’ on the man’s sweatshirt, but assumed it was just one of those branded sweatshirt you get nowadays.
But, my knight - aka Robbie the Ranger - took one look at my face and said “you look like you need help?” and then he sprung into rescue action, reassuring us he’d seen worse, and injecting a little humour into the situation. I was so relieved to see Robbie, and so relieved he was there to help. He was asking so many questions....
... mountain rescue armed with pain relief were on soon their way, as well as an ambulance. The whole time I was thinking “what is mum going to say when she finds out?’. Because I travel alone a fair bit, she’s got into the habit of telling me ‘not to lose anything, to be careful, to make sure I look after my phone, to keep my passport, money and most importantly myself stay safe’, so I REALLY wasn't looking forward to her finding out about this little incident.
Andrew and Robbie manage to hoist me up and onto my feet, and with teeny baby steps and lots of stopping to get my breath back, we manage to get to a more sheltered and safe spot. Still, we were nowhere easy for the mountain rescue paramedics to reach me. I was unsteady on my feet and it was slippy, so we resort to sliding me down on my bum - so very ladylike!
Robbie asks how I feel about going a little further and by this time all I want to do is get to the bottom of the mountain, get somewhere warm and for the pain to stop. We see the ambulance in the distance making its way to the bottom of the mountain (hill!). So, wobbly on my feet, and trying to let my arm sink into the makeshift sling around my neck, I hold onto Robbie like my life depends on him, and we take each step, one at a time looking for solid ground where it’s not icy, and where I can place my foot….but, we both slip. I shriek and pain slices through my shoulder.
I wasn't going any further, so Robbie makes me sit and we wait….
It doesn’t take long before three jolly mountain rescuers reach us and take over. I was a little sad to see Robbie back away. Handing me gas and air (my first experience), the guys hoisted me into a sleigh. The rescue takes just over two hours. I remember lying back in the sleigh and looking up at blue sky – it was the first time I realised it all felt so quiet and peaceful up there. I thought how lucky we were that it wasn’t moody and raining. I mean, Scotland is "always" cold and rainy right? (it could all be worse). Inhaling the gas and air – boy, that stuff is AMAZING. I never realised how good it was, I thought it was all in the mind! It’s a shame you can’t buy bottles of it!
Careful not to slip themselves, the rescue team lower me down the mountain and onto flat ground. The next stretch of the rescue was getting me up and onto a buggy – a bit like a golf buggy. I hate attention, fuss and being a nuisance, and all of this all felt like I was doing all three, plus it all felt so dramatic!
And, then it was off to meet two more paramedics and an ambulance….more attention, more fuss, more questions, all just because I’d stupidly slipped and hurt myself :-(
I’ve never been in an ambulance before, so this was another first. And, by now I was sporting a nasty black eye – I’d completely forgotten I’d hit my head as I fell, and I was shaking uncontrollably. I was also a little upset that my gas and air had been taken away from me too – pain was kicking in again :-(
Within half an hour after reaching Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, I’d been x-rayed, checked over by a doctor - making sure I hadn’t been concussed from my fall - and had it confirmed that I had indeed broken my shoulder – the humerus (which to me sounded like hummus).
And, there was me thinking I’d just dislocated my shoulder and all that would happen was a nice doctor would just pop it back into place, and I could go about enjoying the rest of the weekend……sadly not....
Something else was bothering me as I sat talking to the doctor. I was a little concerned that he may have thought I’d wet myself – the chair I’d been sat on had a wet patch from my wet leggings from where I’d slid down the snowy mountain (hill). So reassuring the doctor that I hadn’t peed myself, he popped on a collar and cuff and we said goodbye!
So that was that, not long after that Andrew and I were on our way back home to London – not even 24-hours after we’d arrived. “I feel so bad I’ve spoilt the weekend” I repeatedly said to Andrew who’d now assumed nurse duties, including all lifting and carrying of bags.
We should have been tucking into a breakfast of scrambled eggs, avocado and smoked salmon on toast in one of the many cute cafés that we’d spotted and earmarked the night before. Instead of that, we were back in the comfort of an LNER Train first class carriage looking at each other – me apologizing and feeling sorry for myself, whilst taking bites out of an egg mayo sandwich -which to me still feels like the best ever egg mayo sandwich ever to be made!
All the drama had given me the munchies too, so when the trolley came around a second time, I didn’t say no to a second sandwich and some shortbread biscuits!
The next morning having been to Lewisham Hospital casualty as soon as I got home (and faced my mum), I had it re-confirmed I had broken my shoulder. I spent the next the days feeling very sorry for myself and popping Cocodomol to ease the pain.
Fast forward two weeks after that day, and I returned to hospital for what I thought was a check-up. Sitting waiting for my name to be called out, one of the doctors walked past me and recognised me. Me being me thinks ‘aww, he remembered me, that’s so cute, I must have made an impression!’...but he had other reasons and questions including….“when did you last eat Lucy?”. Hmmm, I wasn’t expecting that….I knew instantly what was meant…an operation…a few hours later I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, filling in consent forms and anticipating my anaesthetist to call my name whenever someone came into the room. It all felt a bit like sitting in a bizarre dentist. One person would get called for their op, and would head off in their white gown, and then another anxious person arrived.
A good few months later pinned and plated, I’m able to write about ‘what NOT to do in Edinburgh!’
Big thanks to Andrew for looking after me and taking care of me – this guy has seen me at my best and at my worst – and I’m lucky to have him as a friend. And huge thanks to Robbie the Ranger, mountain rescue and paramedics who also looked after me on that Saturday morning.
So, what did we see in Edinburgh?
Apart from leaving a little part of me up at the top of Arthurs Seat and the view…..
We… had a comfortable and hassle-free ride through the villages, towns and cities of the east coast with LNER Trains. Not forgetting the best egg mayo sandwich!
We… spoke to some super friendly local people on the bus ride to our cosy Airbnb (which came complete with Tunnock’s caramel wafers and Whiskey)
We…had a lovely walk to the Old Town on Friday evening. The city has a lovely old-charm feel with cobbled streets and cafes everywhere – and I do love a café. I had a good feeling on that Friday evening that I was going to enjoy taking photos of the city (pre-drama)
We…stopped at the famous Harry Potter Elephant Café. I had no pre-illusions about this café, and I admit to never reading or watching any of the books or films. The café had a traditional feel to it, but it was also incredibly touristy. It was a funny experience. We ordered homemade tomato and lentil soup, with bread….the soup arrived and we started eating. But half way through we looked up at each other…. there wasn’t a tomato or lentil in sight. Ha, it was all vegetable and it was delicious.
I wasn’t going to mention this, but I was reminded of a wee incident on our brief evening walk and bus journey home to our Airbnb. Perhaps it was an omen or a warning…we alighted the bus, and guess who manages to find the patch of black ice and falls slap bang onto her bum? Yup, me. I found that all very funny. I was more concerned about my camera than my bottom!
Here’s Andrew’s account of the day, in his words…
I Andrew, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and mostly the truth.
Well, let’s set the scene. It was a beautiful Edinburgh morning in January. Snow was crunching under foot as we walked through the deserted streets up to the beautiful Holyrood Park, home to Arthur’s Seat. The scene of the crime.
We passed through the park following Google maps to the foot of the mountain, which apparently is technically a hil - but it felt like a mountain. And we began our climb.
Looking back, the warning signs were there. We were both sliding around on the snow and ice so should have called it quits there, but we could see other people making the climb so thought ‘hey, it can’t be that bad’. On we walked getting higher and higher. We were still slipping about but the top was in sight. We were in a narrow gully which looked like it led to the summit with the promised view across the city.
It was all supposed to be so simple, a gentle walk to the top, take a few pictures of the view and then down for breakfast in one of the cute cafes. And that’s when it happened. In a matter of second our weekend took a dramatic change. One second Lucy was on her feet, the next she was on the floor face down in the snow.
I started laughing as I’m a nice guy like that. But as soon as Lucy rolled over I knew something wasn’t right as she was as white as a sheet. She kept saying I can’t feel my arm, whilst waving it at me. Lucy stopped waving her arm and started crying. It was at that point I knew we had to get off the hill. Which was going to be a challenge as Lucy was now clutching her arm and refusing to move. But move, we had too. I some managed to get Lucy to slide down the 5 metres on her foot while I dragged her other foot. But that was as far as she was going. We were stuck.
I was doing my best not to freak out at the situation for Lucy’s sake, but I was beginning to get worried. And then like a miracle, Robbie the Ranger appeared. He instantly took control of the situation and calmed us both down. Lucy was wrapped in one of those silver foil blankets and was slowing sliding down the hill. And then the pain really kicked in and we were not moving any further. We were then given a number of options, some of the words used included mountain rescue, special buggy, ambulance and even helicopter. We managed to persuade Lucy to move to a point where the special rescue team would be able to reach us.
It was at this point that I for some reason started talking photos of Lucy in her moment of pain, but I know Lucy well and knew that she would appreciate the pictures. Turns out I was right. Phew! The mountain rescue team met us and loaded Lucy into the stretcher. They then gave Lucy gas and air for the pain and her mood instantly lifted. It lifted so much she decided she wanted to have a baby as the gas and air was sooooooo good.
This was when the amazing vehicle turned into something from Thunderbirds, if Thunderbirds had golf buggies with 6 wheels. Lucy and her stretcher were strapped to the began her descent. Whilst I had to walk.
The mountain rescue crew and Robbie were amazing and got us down from the mountain and into the warmth of the ambulance. Before we were whisked off to Edinburgh’s top tourist hot spot: The A&E department!