Almanac Life: Keeping things in perspective





I didn’t have ruptured Achilles on my Christmas list.


Before this unwanted gift, my worst Christmas present was the steering wheel lock my Dad gave me in 1989.


One minute I’m dancing in the backyard to the soundtrack from Sing with my six-year-old son, the next I’m in Emergency staring with a mixture of bemusement and shock at something that once used to look like my right lower leg.


Francis was doing some energetic air guitaring with a broom at the time, his version of a young Pete Townshend, so my first thought was he’d accidentally whacked my heel.


I turned around.


No child. No broom. No pot plant. No glass. Nothing.




I’d been shot in the Achilles by an invisible gun.


Being Greek it could have been an arrow.


One glance at my leg (and more than 20 years of sports journalism) confirmed my fear – the back of my foot had caved in, like a sandcastle after the tide returns, and my calf muscle was slowly creeping up my leg.


The following day I had surgery to stitch the two bits of tendon back together, and for the next two weeks I was stuck in bed and under strict orders to keep my foot elevated higher than my heart for 23 hours a day. Tis the season to be jolly.


This was going to test me.


I’m a social creature. It’s not unusual for me to pop down to the shops for a loaf of sour dough and return two hours later. Conversation is my lifeblood. My partner thinks it’s a condition.


But more than anything else, I wanted to celebrate the end of the school year with Francis. I’d always wanted to be a mother but it didn’t happen until I was 43. I feel blessed to have him and, when work permits, I joyously ride all the milestones with him. Celebrating prep was one of them. I didn’t want to miss his first two official performances; a sheep in Charlotte’s Web, and his moves to Dance Monkey in the school concert. But instead I had to watch them on a phone.


The first few days of my confinement were spent issuing instructions from my bed.


In fairness to my partner, who absolutely pulls his weight, I have a tight grip on the running of the house and I really wasn’t sure how to let it go. (Do I look like Elsa?)


But a week into my house arrest something strange happened.


A weight began to lift. Despite being bedbound I did actually feel lighter – as if the control and responsibility I was relinquishing actually contained mass.


My focus shifted to where it needed to be – healing my foot – and miraculously the household kept going without me.


So here I am about five weeks post-surgery – clomping around in a moon boot and on crutches.


Don’t get me wrong I’m a long way from any kind of enlightenment. I’m frustrated I can’t carry a cup of Earl Grey tea from one room to the next. I can’t play cricket in the park. I can’t drive. I’m not allowed to sleep without the moon boot. The moon boot is hot. The moon boot is heavy. The moon boot is my nemesis.


But what this nasty injury has given me is a licence to get off the merry-go-round – it’s given me a chance to stop and do nothing, stop and do nothing but think.


And I keep coming back to the same place…  how lucky am I?


As the bushfires wreak havoc across Australia, I’m grateful for what I have. I have a roof over my head, I’m healthy and I’m safe. My family is safe.


The stories of loss are unbearably sad. The images of blood red skies and devastation are harrowing.  The courage of the firefighters, heroic.


My heart breaks for the people, the communities and the wildlife affected by these catastrophic fires.


And for the land that is my home.


My foot is an inconvenience.


Nothing more.



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  1. John Butler says

    Angela, my wife Marion suffered exactly this experience some years ago. No fun at all. And not a recovery that can be rushed. Tendons heal in their own time.

    But as you say, there can be compensations, if you’re open to them.

    I think the events of the last few weeks have reminded all of us that we have much to be thankful for.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Angela remarkable how tragedy puts things in to perspective,I have never forgotten,Brian Colbey gun player for,Glenelg doing his achilles and ducking in the grandstand thinking a gun had gone off.
    Angela at least you have got time to renew your,Norwood membership seriously all the best !
    ( stunned how some people are panicking over potential injuries re state of origin game for the bushfires as you have done whole picture for goodness sake)

  3. Thanks John and Malcolm.

    I’m now rushing to complete a Screen Australia funding application which also comes with pain!


  4. Sorry to learn of the arrow, A Pippos.
    But very happy to read your account here.
    “It’s not unusual for me to pop down to the shops for a loaf of sour dough and return two hours later.”

    Maintaining perspective while bobbing in a sea of opinion and outrage is indeed quite a trick.
    (given that we are all the most important person on Earth).
    Gratitude, mindfulness, empathy.
    That might end up being a pretty great Christmas present.

  5. Nicely said David.

  6. A Greek woman doing her achillies. Its nearly funny.

    All the best with it Ange. Apparently its as painful as it gets. I’m afraid that’s the season done for you.

    The fires are horrendous. I find it incredible (wrong word probably) that this country has evolved to burn. Its designed that way!! We need to talk to our indigenous brothers and seek their guidance on managing this.

  7. citrus bob says

    Wonderful words of wisdom Pip and thankfully you will be right for the season starting on 7th February.
    It has certainly done my heart good to see the wonderful support that the fires are having from sporting people all around the world. There are some “decent” people amongst the troops and not forgetting Elton and co as well.
    Yes, have done my achilles going for a quick run many years ago and I thought they were going to bring out the screen for me. Completed the run though on all fours.
    Good luck with your application to Screen Australia

  8. Adelaide’s first serious pre-season injury this year?
    In all seriousness, I hope the recovery goes well.
    Take it easy and slowly!

  9. Andy Thurlow says

    Hello Angela…I’ve one moonboot week left after snapping my achilles playing badminton. I had watched mainly older people (I am 68 and so really have no right to judge age) playing what I thought was shuttlecock for 2 hours, and thought this would be a great path to fitness. They welcomed me heartily and then proceeded to have me running all over the court. It was fun until after an hour and a half I heard that dreadful whumpf and felt like I’d been kicked. Added to the shock and inconvenience, was having to self inject blood thinners for 42 days. But, like you, I was in great hands medically and cared for wonderfully by my wife, Marlene and friends. My accident happened a week after we lost our great nephew, Paralympic champion Kieran Modra to a road accident. My tendon will heal. This time next year, God willing, I will probably have forgotten this inconvenience. But the pain for Kieran’s wife and girls of losing a husband and father lingers. Our thoughts are with Kieran’s family and with all those who have recently lost loved ones.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    I got a steering wheel lock for a Christmas present once too :(

    Hope the recovery from your inconvenience is swift, ditto for everyone affected by the fires.

  11. Thanks for the supportive comments.

    Dips – Achilles was one of my favourite warriors. Not any more.

    Bob – I can’t believe you were able to finish the run. Heroic/mad. The funding application is still going….

    Smokie – My AFLW debut will have to wait a bit longer!

    Andy – I’m so sorry. I didn’t know your family connection to Kieran whom I had the pleasure of interviewing. My condolences. Thanks for sharing your achilles story. I did two weeks of anti-clotting injections and that was enough! I’m delighted for you that you only have one week left in the moon boot. Enjoy life on the outside!

    Luke – Ha! I’m all for being practical but I draw the line at the steering wheel lock.

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