Back in June, my son suffered an avulsion fracture on his pelvis. Avulsion fractures are usually related to sport and are more common in young people who are growing quickly. My son’s fracture was caused by pulling a muscle while doing long jump in competition, which pulled his bone away. He was in a lot of pain and was taken to hospital by ambulance.
He has made a remarkable recovery since then, but was told he would need to go a full three months without sport. For a boy like my son, who loves athletics, football and rugby, that isn’t easy. I am grateful that it happened over summer, when less sport was happening. But it still meant he missed the national athletics competition he had been so excited to take part in.
As we moved into September, with still a month until he was allowed to do sport, my son was constantly jumping and bouncing around. And he was jumping higher and higher. My family seems to enjoy nothing more than jumping up and down steps or jumping to hit leaves on trees.
He was also making rapid progress in parkrun. He had walked his first parkrun two weeks after his accident. Since then, he took part every single week until his hospital appointment and got faster every time. He walked it four times, before the physio allowed him to start running. Ten weeks after his accident, he came within six seconds of his PB. He ran his 50th parkrun the following week and got a PB, then he got another PB the week after that.
He begged to go back to his athletics club, so while it was still too early to go back to his jumps sessions, we let him go to the sprints sessions from the start of September. This was on the strict understanding that he wouldn’t actually sprint and would run no faster than an 800 metre pace.
September also meant back to school and back to PE and games lessons. His teachers were very aware of his injury and very supportive of his recovery. So he spent time in the gym while his friends practised rugby in lessons.
As a supportive friend and team member, he went along to watch the school rugby team and his club football team play. And he was desperate to get on the pitch. I know how frustrating it was. Suddenly the time which had initially gone quickly seemed to be dragging. We couldn’t believe it had only been 10 weeks since his accident and he still had another three until he could (hopefully) do sport again. There wasn’t even any guarantee that he would be allowed to go straight back to sport after his hospital appointment.
During September, he missed out on a place at the academy of the local premiership rugby team and, one day before his hospital appointment, he missed out on district rugby trials.
He was very focused on his hospital appointment and was literally counting the days to it. When it came, the only word we could use to describe it was ‘underwhelming’. We were in there for about a minute and the doctor just asked if he was OK and if had been gradually building up his activity. He said he could get back to sport gradually, so not to play rugby that weekend (which is of course what he’d hoped to do). But he could do all of his sports – rugby, football and long jump – when he felt ready for them.
He didn’t play rugby the first weekend as he hadn’t done any contact in practise. He did some non-contact training with the first team in his games lesson. The plan was to do contact in practise and games lessons the following week, with a view to playing for either the second or third team the following weekend. (My son is now in senior rugby at school, which mixes years 11, 12 and 13. The school has a first, second and third team. The third team is predominantly year 11, the first team is predominantly year 13.)
He played football for his club on the first weekend. My husband (the coach), said he would play 10 minutes. Then 10 minutes became half an hour. He ended up playing 40 minutes (half of the game) and scoring the team’s only goal in a 2-1 defeat.
He was aching the following morning. I was aware that he planned to go to rugby practise, three sessions with his athletics club and then play rugby the following weekend, as well as doing PE and games lessons. I wondered whether it was too much, too soon.
The pain was similar to the pain he’d had in his hip in the days leading up to his accident, and it was in his right (bad) leg, although slightly lower down. I could see in his face that it upset him. He’d coped so well for three months, but was terrified of something else happening and having to go through the whole process all over again.
He managed the pain by reducing the amount of sport he was doing and, I’m pleased to say, he got back to normal pretty quickly. He learned that if he was doing PE or games at school, he couldn’t always do athletics in the evening.
Very soon, he was playing the full 80 minutes of a football match, but there was one thing he hadn’t done – rugby. He’d done rugby training, but with a series of cancellations, he didn’t end up playing a match until over a month after his hospital appointment.
As predicted, the first rugby match was with the third team – and it couldn’t have gone better. OK, so the team lost, but my son played the full game without any pain. He played brilliantly and he scored his team’s first try.
My son has most definitely recovered from his avulsion fracture.