As you might guess from the X-Ray, our Haute Route plans have hit a bit of a snag.

We were walking on a marked nature trail around an Eco-Museum in Sweden and LB slipped on a wet log. She went sideways into what appeared to be long grass. But hiding in the grass were a couple of large logs which her hand jammed into and her arm snapped. All very unpleasant.

The ambulance crew and the doc all thought it looked like multiple fractures but in the end it turned out that her mum nailed it immediately – a radius fracture just below the wrist. To my eyes it was a stomach-turning second wrist below the usual one.

The X-rays were a relief – just a single clean break.

She was lucky enough to see an excellent doctor that managed to set the fracture beautifully meaning it didn’t need surgery to pin it. Have a squint at the X-Ray above (post being set) and see if you can identify the break.

We were initially told by 112 to walk back to the car. We didn’t have one and the nearest certain lift we could commandeer was several kilometres.

It took her mum some very stern talking to get the ambulance summoned. When they arrived the drivers said they much preferred to be called to the scene than having to deal with someone vomiting from pain after walking some distance.

Some interesting lessons:

  • The immediate response you get from someone on the end of a 112 call may not be entirely appropriate for your situation and you may need to take time to get them to understand. Having someone who speaks the language (both of the country and medically) is supremely helpful of course.
  • Just because it’s sunny, you’re wearing a bright orange Rab jacket and you’re less than two meters from the side of the road doesn’t mean that the ambulance crew won’t both be looking the other way as they pass you. Mark your position really, really obviously!
  • If you’re huddled up helping the casualty, try to move occasionally to avoid possible DVT when you have to run after an ambulance for 350+ meters (both ways) after having been kneeling down for forty minutes!
  • Make sure you always have a Pay As You Go phone charged with plenty of money because although 112 is free calling someone who’s gone to try to guide the ambulance in is not.

We were in a relatively good position as far as getting treatment and access to pain killers was concerned. For a similar injury in a more remote spot I would have been glad to have Co-codamol with me (assuming very roughly three hours or more till help arrived, according to the first aid course we were on in February). Even the non-prescription 8mg level is apparently rated as being strong enough to at least dull the pain of a broken limb.

We’re back in the UK now and coping with what at the moment appears to be no more than a massive inconvenience and some manageable pain for LB. Though we still need to fight through the thicket of NHS bureaucracy to see anyone in the UK who’s qualified to assess it let alone approve a new X-ray.

So that leaves us with the Haute Route. There are a couple of factors that mean we absolutely cannot move the trip back. So it’s go in a fortnight, or cancel.

I thought that the travel insurance would be the trip-killer. But having called the BMC and then Fortis, who back their insurance, we were told that although they wouldn’t cover the fracture for three months all other insurance remained in place. In fact the very helpful lady said that although they would happily discuss compensation for cancelling the trip, since we were with the BMC, she had a feeling we might not want to!

At the moment we don’t know for sure either way. There are some questions around removing the cast because the four weeks we were told that are required before removal expire midway though the trip.

Assuming that we do go, there are some things to consider.

  • Pack weight for LB was looking to be low already (sub 5 kilos base weight – maybe sub 4) but I will have to carry some of that simply to make sure she’s got as little to contend with as possible.
  • Keeping the plaster cast dry is essential and if it rains and rains that could be tricky. It might mean taking a post-bus for a day or three to avoid the rain. But to keep it dry regardless I’m thinking that a knee-length Longlight SealSkinz sock and a little gaffer tape at the elbow might do the trick. I’m also looking at the “WaterBlocker” variety but I’ve yet to find out how long they are since they are only sold in the US the order time might be an issue (there are slightly different companies selling SealSkinz in the UK and the USA, and the UK company don’t sell WaterBlockers).

Of course we’d welcome any positive suggestions as to what else to consider if we decide to go (like “take a wire coat hanger to scratch under the cast!”). I’m sure there are plenty of reasons not to go but you can find scary reasons not to do anything. Remember to ask “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I’ll finish off the posts on gear some time very soon and maybe something on the very successful canoeing trip.


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