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I broke my ankle during Freshers’ Week and this is how I survived

Getting by without a leg to stand on

Uni life, especially Freshers' Week, is a weird and potentially difficult time. Throw in a broken ankle and the situation becomes significantly more painful.

Everyone comes to university with a can-do attitude that inevitably fails (once the reality of life sets in). However, when faced with a challenge like a broken ankle, that can-do attitude is really the only thing you have and you cling to it with everything.

The start of my university experience began with me at the Freshers' Fair, signing up to societies that realistically I would never go to (Ultimate Frisbee). I told myself I would play a sport and despite not having kicked a football in a couple of years and being an out of shape 19-year-old, I signed up for the Geography football trials for the next day. The first of many bad moves.

The match went without any incidents, and slowly my confidence built. So in the final moments of the game I was one-on-one with the opposition striker and he let the ball run away from him, giving me an opportunity to lunge in and heroically clear the ball. Instead, I fell in, rolled my ankle and heard a pop. Fuck. “Oh that’s not good”, “I wouldn’t want to be you right now”, “wow that looks painful, does it hurt?” were the incredibly helpful comments given to me by my teammates. I figured I was going to be hearing that a lot in the coming weeks.

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I'm also trying to smile on the inside

Things completely changed after breaking my ankle and it was a challenge. However, here are the important things you need to overcome to maybe enjoy something that really is a bit shit.


Crutches are such a hassle for those that have to use them. When you can walk normally, someone on crutches is an endless source of fun because who has ever not asked the person using them to "take them for a walk" and say “look at me I’m disabled, hahaha just kidding” and then walk away? When you have to use them every minute of every day, they really lose their novelty once you realise they are just exercise. So, what can you do? Get yourself a mobility scooter. For £10 a week I rented a scooter that changed me from being the slowest guy on campus to the fastest.

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Throwback to when this scooter saved my freshers

A post shared by Charlie Erwin (@charlie.erwin.erwin) on Oct 16, 2018 at 5:01am PDT

For getting this scooter I deserved this stupid grin.


A large part of socialising at university, especially at the start, is putting yourself out there and making the effort. Unfortunately, losing the use of one of your legs really puts a stop to that but you have to make do. Wanted to play a sport? Go play pool, you can hop around the table right? Want to go to the pub? Give people a free Uber and they won’t say no.

Being in Castle Leazes, where everyone knows everyone, I quickly became recognised as "scooter guy". Breaking your ankle can really help you make some new mates. However, the big issue with breaking an ankle is the fact that clubbing becomes an impossibility, at least for the first few weeks. It can be depressing to go to a pres on your floor and then just sit there as everyone else, buzzing, heads out. You do end up feeling, and looking, like one of those sad donkeys in those adverts asking you for £3 a week.

However, once you can make it out, nights become so fun. Everyone wants to dance with a guy on crutches and get drinks with them, and at least you’re guaranteed a spot on clubbers of the week.

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A positive mental attitude is the most important thing to have when dealing with a setback like the ankle. It can be infuriating dealing with people who mean well but say things like “oh how’s it been not being able to do things, pretty bad I guess?” Well gee, I hadn’t thought of that once, thank you for bringing it up! The truth is during Freshers' no one really wants to hang around with someone who’s always looking unhappy so it’s up to you to take the small positives when they come, make do with what you have and when it gets really tough just shout PMA PMA PMA.

It can get really lonely and frustrating losing your mobility and there were moments when I did feel really down, but I never let it affect my entire university experience. Uni is challenging but always know someone might have it worse than you, like that guy that broke both his hands on a night out.

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You’re only at uni for a short time, and so when obstacles come around that really push you down, it's up to you to try and pull through.

Photo Credit: Eleanor Weitzer (Ill Behaviour)