Hello from snowy Quebec! Wait, WHAT? This holiday has actually been in the works for three years or so, when my family decided we wanted to experience a proper White Christmas for once. We settled on Quebec City so we could also squeeze in some time in New York for NYE and my 30th birthday in the early new year. All our tickets were booked back in July; trust me to break my ankle five weeks out from the trip.
Yes, it’s a break—a hairline fracture on my talus (ankle) bone and an avulsion fracture (chips of bone) off my fibula, where the ligament tore. Yes, I’ve just travelled for forty hours in a full cast, on crutches. No, it was not fun, and no, I didn’t even get any sweet upgrades because all our big flights were packed full for Christmas. Yikes.
I followed the normal precautions for long haul flights: my fibreglass cast was bivalved (/split by the awesome cast technician at RHH Wellington Clinics and then held together with Velcro) and I began daily blood-thinner injections a couple of days before flying. Unfortunately the packed planes meant there were literally no opportunities to elevate my ankle at all. My leg was mega swollen after the longest flight (13.5hrs from Shanghai to New York) and stayed that way until I finally got some decent sleep (almost 12hrs) in my Quebec bed—it was a big relief to wake up and find it normal again today. There’s a higher risk of DVT for leg injuries so I was pretty panicked last night, but everything feels a-ok today.
The travel itself was exhausting, broken leg or not. My poor sister got lumped with being my packhorse through the airports (four: Sydney International, Shanghai Pu Dong, New York JFK and Quebec Jean-Lesage). We travelled for forty hours and through three time zones. Which way is up? Neither of us are very good at transit sleeping and gathered only 7-8 hours of sleep each in bits and pieces over the duration of the trip, some on flights and some on airport benches.
There are pros and cons to travelling with a leg cast. The cons generally outweigh the pros, but I’m a big fan of getting whisked through security gates and customs. On the flipside, I’ve been fairly thoroughly patted down four or five times in the last few days (each time by a female security officer at an airport, just to clarify). I haven’t really gotten to browse around at airport shops because once I’m delivered by wheelchair to a waiting area or gate, the wheelchair is whisked away until it’s time to move on, so I’m back to my crutches. I’ve gotten better at them in the last five weeks but they are still exhausting and I can’t go more than a couple of hundred metres without needing a few minutes of recovery time. My sister not only carried my crutches and coat when they weren’t in action but also fetched me food and drinks, and scouted for nearby bathrooms (also a con for some waiting areas I was left at… good job, airport staff). But we survived.
My favourite moment of the trip (apart from my sister bemoaning a little French boy’s ability to speak fluent French when she couldn’t, and the “aviation radish” on our PVG>JFK flight) was our final flight.
“I want to stay awake until we take off, just in case we can see the lights of Manhattan,” said Katie. I agreed.
We both promptly nodded off while the plane was taxiing to the runway.
It was ok though, because we snapped awake just before take-off. We saw…some lights? Maybe Manhattan? Probably not, but let’s say they were. Right after that we fell back asleep, and woke up moments before the “ladies and gentlemen, in preparation for landing:” announcement. Though it felt like only moments after we’d nodded off, it was actually an hour and a half, at least. Perfection.
Now we’re settled in our first accommodation in our Quebec (mum and stepdad arrived a couple of days earlier), it’s time for the real fun to begin! … Except that there’s currently an ice storm raging outside. Hahaha. Oh, dear. An extra full day of resting my leg and shaking off any jetlag is probably for the best, though. We’ve been hanging out in our PJs in our lovely apartment, eating fresh pastries and drinking tea, listening to Christmas tunes and painting Christmas nails, all while watching gusts of white whipping around in all directions outside. Pretty magical.