April 3, 2016 22 Comments Blog, Tips

6 Steps to Fly with a Broken Leg

What do you get when you cross a bicycle, a car, some rain and my leg? There’s probably a funny response somewhere but the answer is a pretty gnarly broken leg and 6 weeks off work.

There’s never a good time for broken bones, but this was particularly inconvenient as it meant cancelling flights to Switzerland and Munich and transfer two of my challenges to some friends. Not only that, but the doctor gave me 6 weeks recovery time which would also collide with my friends wedding in India.

Fly With Broken Leg - Break

Told you it was Gnarly

The predicament here is that he advised me not to fly during the recovery time. Okay, Switzerland and Munich was a bummer but no India?! No way! I had looked forward to this trip all year and it’s one of those once in a life time events! I don’t have many Indian friends who are planning 3 day weddings in their home country (which also coincided with the Holi festival…lucky lucky) so there was no chance that I would miss this.

Travel with Broken Leg - Recovery

On my way to my Wolverine dreams.

The medical consultant has some valid reasons to recommend against flying; during long-distance travel, there is a general risk of DVT more commonly known as blood clots caused by sitting still in a confined position for a long period. Usually these clots dissolve by themselves however there is a risk of it breaking off into your lungs causing blockage and pulmonary embolism. If you didn’t get that, it’s bad. Really bad. The risk of this increases especially when you have limited mobility (like a broken leg) and have had surgery (which I have)… so quite the problem. I’m no medical practitioner, however through pleading, research and preparation I have uncovered methods to minimise the risks for flying with a broken leg.

Note. I flew to the wedding with no troubles and even managed to get upgraded to Business Class! Thank you Turkish Airlines you star.

Consolidate your Doctor

Always, always, always inform your doctor of your plans as they can give advice and a note confirming you are fit to fly.

Prep your medication

I had co-codamol, tramadol and ibuprofen for pain, aspririn to thin my blood (reduce chances of blood clots) and omeprazole to protect my stomach lining against the aspirin.

The aspirin should be taken a regularly alongside the omeprazole a week before the flight and throughout the travel period in preparation for the outgoing and incoming flights.

All medication should be packed in a clear bag with your name and prescription to make sure no problems when checking in.

Make sure you have enough to last your trip!

Pack your discharge form

The metal detector beeped once through Istanbul where the security officer kept touching my leg trying to figure out what was going on. Despite that I was trollied around in the wheelchair and crutches having my discharge form on me would have sped this process up.

The discharge form is your golden ticket. Keep it safe!

Note. I couldn’t fault the security though after the recent troubles in Istanbul.

Make arrangements with the airline

Let your airlines know your condition and they’ll prepare you a wheelchair which will take you to and from your gate, bypassing most queues through check-in and security. You also get the perk of boarding early with the kids travelling alone before the usual scrum. Major perks.

Travel with Broken Leg - Wheelchair

Spot the Toblerone

One disadvantage is that you will also bypass the entire duty-free straight to the gate. You could ask the person pushing you to stop just so you can peruse the discount Toblerone bars, but being raised British and proper I was far too polite for that.

Wear compression socks

These sexy little numbers won’t win you any fashion awards, but they are great for improving circulation and reducing the chances for blood clots. Bonus tip; if you know someone who works in a hospital, they will be able to get you some for free!

Move frequently

You want to improve the blood flow to your legs, so make sure that you are moving often and exercising your calf muscles. I had a 13 hour flight, including a short lay over (it was cheap), so that meant a lot of cabin hopping and passengers staring at me, but a small price for healthy legs.

There you have 6 steps to fly with a broken leg.  Of course the best thing to do would be to limit any travel until you have fully healed from your injuries and take it easy. You won’t always you get 6 weeks off work, so milk it and take it slow. If you really have to fly these pointers will make your flight time easier and minimise your problems (and may even get you upgraded to Business Class!)

What did you think? Have you had any injuries just before something awesome planned? Are there any tips here which I have missed out? Any other gnarly breaks or operations? I’d love to hear it let me know on the comments below!

“Scars are not injuries. A scar is a healing. After injury. A scar is what makes you whole.”

China Meiville


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