The Long Way Home

Broken Ankle

Late December, 2002, Haarlem:
It was an early December morning when I slowly opened my eyes and with relief found myself in my own bed. Most of the night before was a messy blur of memories lost in a mix of alcohol. It had been a heavy night of unplanned drinking. My head should have been killing me but it felt fine. Even my stomach felt fine. I didn’t think about it too much. I was just happy the ordeal was over. I could relax.

But then I noticed something very odd indeed…

Flash Back – The Night Before, Amsterdam, Office Christmas Party:
It was the night of the office Christmas party. The festivities had not been planned to well but there was lots of free booze which was all anyone really cared about. For the few hours that the party lasted I drank far more champagne, beer and wine then was intelligent. I don’t really remember how the party ended but I found out later I had started dancing towards the train station (occasionally slipping on ice) with a few co-workers. When we got there I had missed my last train but they put me in a cab and sent me on my way home. The journey passed by in a blur but the driver got me back to Haarlem. This might sound very straight forward and like a bit of a boring story but it does not end there.

I remember trying to use a cash machine so I could pay the driver but I was far to drunk to operate the buttons. I must have told him I would be able to give him the money at my house because I then remember driving around Haarlem again. What I couldn’t remember at the time was the directions to my house.

Eventually the driver must have gotten annoyed with my drunken foolishness and kicked me out because after another memory blank spot I found myself in the middle of an unknown part of Holland. For all I knew I could have been in Germany but it was more likely that I was some where between Amsterdam and Haarlem. To this day I don’t really know where I was.

I walked for what felt like miles with out knowing where I was going. Despite another memory blank I some how ended up back in Amsterdam, right back where everything had started. In my drunken brain I came up with the idea of taking a night bus home. It seemed perfect. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? So I got on a bus, a random bus. A short while into the journey the rational side of my brain some how managed to surface to tell me the bus was not going any where near home. All I could do was wait for the bus to complete its route.

An hour or two and another memory blank spot later I ended up back in Amsterdam for the second time. I then had the idea of getting a train to a familiar station closer to home and trying to get back from there. It was not a perfect plan but at least it was a plan. Unforchantly even this basic plan fell apart when I missed the stop and got off at the wrong station only to be told there would be no more trains for another four hours. On the upside I would not end up back in Amsterdam again any time soon (I was getting sick of the sight of the place) but on the down side I had no clue where I was either.

I tried to sleep on a bench but was kept awake by a slight pain in my ankle. A few hours later the trams started to run again (before the trains) so I got one back to Amsterdam which was now starting to seem like the city of the dammed that victims could never escape from no matter how hard they tried. By this time I was more sober but staying awake was a battle. The good thing was the trains to Haarlem had finally started running again. I was so happy. The end was in sight. It had been almost eight hours since I had left the party. When I got off the train in Haarlem I limped home and banged on the front door till one of my flat mates let me in (I had lost my keys some where). I climbed up to my room, fell in to bed and closed my eyes. It was finally over…. Or was it.

Back To – Late December, 2002, Haarlem:
It was an early December morning when I slowly opened my eyes and with relief found myself in my own bed. Most of the night before was a messy blur of memories lost in a mix of alcohol. It had been a heavy night of unplanned drinking. My head should have been killing me but it felt fine. Even my stomach felt fine. I didn’t think about it too much. I was just happy the ordeal was over. I could relax…

But then I noticed something very odd indeed… My hang over was in my foot.

I pulled back the covers and saw that my ankle was swollen up like a water balloon. As I had become more sober during the nightmare trip home I had also become aware of a pain in my ankle. At the time I thought I had simply twisted it a little. However, a trip to the hospital confirmed that I had in fact broken my ankle. I felt very embarrassed when I had to tell the doctor that I could not recall how I had done it. I found out later that it had happened while I had been dancing and slipping on the ice. My co-workers said I was complaining that my foot hurt when they helped me back up but I had insisted I was fine to go home. So not only was I drunk but I was most likely in shock too. In total I had spent almost eight hours lost in Holland, drunk and walking around on a broken ankle.

For the following two months I had to keep my leg in a cast and I have never gotten drunk at an office Christmas party since. If this story seems hard to believe I can assure you that every fact (that I can remember) is true. One important thing the whole experience taught me is nothing in the world feels as good as putting on a clean pair of socks for the first time after having your foot in a cast for two months.

14 responses to “The Long Way Home”

  1. JaG says:

    Boy you’ve got some stories!!

  2. roxanne says:

    Wild and crazy Stu!

  3. zoe says:

    oh gawd, office parties ….

    last year i fell over in the pub, was “folded” into a taxi (Q’s words) and spent the night at a colleague’s place. getting to his appartment proved difficult, but once at the top of the stairs i decided it would be a good thing to fall all the way down them again – on my back.

    my colleague gave me a fireman’s lift back up and consequently dropped me again at the top of the stairs, slid down after me and landed on top of me.

    my back hurt after that.

    i sympathise with you.

  4. ellen says:

    What a harrowing experience. You’re lucky you never got mugged.

  5. Eon says:

    A chilling and true story – provided Stu says “and I have never got THAT drunk at a Christmas party since.” ;)

    There’s something about Christmas parties in Amsterdam – I had to spend the night at Schipol Airport after the first one I attended.

  6. Invader Stu says:

    Now do you see why I call myself accident prone :p

    Eon – Funnily enough, Schipol was the station I was trying to get to as part of my ‘get a train’ plan that went wrong.

  7. Invader Stu says:

    Zoe – Are stairs in Belgium as bad as stairs in Holland? That would be really painful.

    Ellen – I can laugh about it now but even I am amazed something worse didn’t happen to me.

  8. marycub says:

    ha ha the shame! And i thought my student days were bad! Although hours of memory loss have been known.

  9. RM says:

    Wow

    That is one insane story!

  10. Invader_Stu says:

    Marycub – My student days are still the subject of amusement for all my college friends.

  11. Whitney Davis says:

    Wow… yes, that is a crazy adventure.

    The scary parts are the parts you DON’T remember…. wonder what could have happened then?!

  12. Martin Bryant says:

    Ah, the joys of breaking bones… ;)

    I have to confess that I too have a ‘broken ankle story’ but I’ll put it onto my blog sometime. Does it still bend OK?

  13. Engineer says:

    Oppps…. glad to hear that everything ended up well. I bet you still wondering about those 8 hours ;)

  14. Adelina Mikula says:

    Awesome blog site, you should continue your work and maintain you current by using contemporary entries.

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