In October 2009 I broke my leg. I didn’t realise I’d broken my leg but I knew something wasn’t right. I went to see my GP, she didn’t notice that my leg was broken as she couldn’t see it but she did think I looked really unwell; she referred me to a psychiatrist who specialised in treating people who looked really unwell.
I also got given a CPN who knew a lot about people who were really unwell. We talked a lot about being really unwell, sometimes she talked about the signs of a broken leg. I didn’t know my leg was broken and I didn’t want her to think my leg was broken so I tried not to talk to her about it. The CPN was great at talking about being really unwell and lots of other things besides so we always had plenty to talk about.
I went to see the psychiatrist, he agreed with the GP that I was really unwell; he didn’t look at my broken leg and I didn’t mention it as I didn’t realise it was broken. The psychiatrist gave me some medication, for the unwellness and sent me away. The medication didn’t work, I was still unwell so I went back to see the psychiatrist again. This time the psychiatrist looked at me but he must have missed my broken leg. The psychiatrist decided I had a slightly painful ear and gave me medication for slightly painful ears. This medication didn’t make my broken leg any better so he gave me more medication for slightly painful ears
My leg was still broken but I didn’t have the words ‘leg, is, broken, my’ in my vocabulary in the right order so I didn’t know my leg was broken but I did know I didn’t have a slightly sore ear.
My broken leg wasn’t getting treated and soon it started to have an impact on everything I did. I went to a hospital for people with slightly sore ears, I stayed there a while and went back several times, I got even more medication for slightly sore ears but my broken leg never got any better.
I saw a different psychiatrist, she said ‘you have slightly sore ears but if I tilt my head like this *tilts head* you look a bit like someone who may have a broken leg’ she gave me different medication for slightly sore ears.
I looked up information on broken legs, all of the information pointed to the fact that my leg was broken, very badly broken. I was so scared about having a broken leg that I denied it was broken. Sometimes I didn’t know it was broken even though my broken leg was causing more and more problems for me every day. I hid my broken leg even from myself.
I stopped taking the medication for slightly sore ears; my broken leg told me it wasn’t helping.
I started seeing a psychologist; she didn’t care if I had slightly sore ears or a broken leg which was nice but my broken leg often got in the way of our conversations. We both carried on as though it wasn’t there, even though we both knew it was.
My leg was still broken, it got more and more broken every day and caused me a great deal of pain. I had to give up my job because of my broken leg, I gave up all my hobbies, I stopped doing anything I used to do as the broken leg was so broken and hurt so much it got in the way of everything.
Some time later, when everybody thought my slightly sore ears were still slightly sore, I was sent to see another psychiatrist, a very important psychiatrist who knew a lot about slightly sore ears.
He asked about my slightly sore ears, my painful arm, itchy skin, night time cough, headache, sneezing and lots of other things.
My leg got even more broken, I ended up in hospitals for people with slightly sore ears many more times, I saw many more psychiatrists but none of them noticed my broken leg.
The important psychiatrist had looked at my records, I’d had a slightly sore ear a long time ago, had seen psychiatrists and been given medication for slightly sore ears. I didn’t know.
My broken leg explained that it had always been a bit broken and had broken quite badly before but managed to heal itself enough to not be too obvious- for a while.
I talked to some people who knew a lot about broken legs, I did some tests that strongly indicated my leg was broken.
I talked to the important psychiatrist again.
I told him about my broken leg.
He told me that he didn’t believe legs could be broken.
I knew my leg was broken, you know if you have a broken leg.
I didn’t want my leg to be broken.
Nobody was sure whether to believe that my leg was broken- even though it obviously was- except the CPN who said quite clearly ‘her leg is broken’.
I though maybe my leg wasn’t broken, I thought maybe I’d made it all up.
My leg got more and more broken, the pain got worse and worse. My broken leg was now so bad that I couldn’t do anything at all; I couldn’t look after the children or even myself properly.
All I wanted was somebody to make the broken leg hurt a little less, I knew my broken leg was never going to get better completely, it had been too badly broken for far too long. I just wanted someone to tell me that I could somehow live with a broken leg and that sometimes; maybe it would hurt a little less.
The psychologist wrote a letter to another psychiatrist and his psychiatrist friends who knew a little about some of the signs of a broken leg. They said my leg was most probably broken and suggested who might be able to say for sure that my leg was broken and offer some treatment for my broken leg.
I had to write to the boss of all the psychiatrists and tell them about my broken leg, this was hard as now I was very ashamed of my broken leg, I knew my broken leg was very difficult for people to understand, I knew for most people I was the first person with a broken leg they’d ever met. I knew my broken leg was so broken it was scary, made people anxious and most people didn’t know what to do about a broken leg.
I felt very guilty about my broken leg as I knew it made people very uncomfortable. I knew I knew more about broken legs than the people that were supposed to be helping me. I tried my best to teach them about broken legs. I told them where they could get information about broken legs that they could use to help me. I thought the broken leg was all my fault.
My leg got more broken and so much more painful. I though I was wrong about my broken leg, I thought I wasn’t allowed to have a broken leg. I tried to ignore my broken leg but it wouldn’t let me.
The CPN learned a lot about broken legs, she was the only one who could make it hurt less for a while she also told me that the broken leg wasn’t my fault.
The psychologist agreed that I had all the signs of a broken leg but she didn’t like the term ‘broken leg.’ Sometimes my broken leg wasn’t as noticeable as the psychologist expected a broken leg to be. Sometimes she wasn’t sure if it was there at all. I tried to help the psychologist understand broken legs but it often caused my broken leg to hurt even more and sometimes get a bit more broken. I don’t think the psychologist ever knew how much my broken leg hurt even though I tried to tell her.
I got referred to another psychiatrist, one who believed legs could be broken, one who has seen broken legs before. I was very pleased and very scared, I wasn’t sure if my leg was broken, I knew my leg was broken, I didn’t want my leg to be broken, I didn’t think my leg was broken, my leg hurt, my broken leg made me very confused.
Everybody accepted my leg was broken but nobody was allowed to say I had a broken leg until the psychiatrist who knew about broken legs had written ‘has a broken leg’ on my file.
I wasn’t sure if my leg was broken. I knew my leg was broken as my leg told me it was broken. My leg hurt more and more every day.
Today I went to see the psychiatrist who knew about broken legs
He wrote, on my file-
Has a broken leg