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Coping Under Adversity

Last Tuesday afternoon I broke my ankle. It is an experience that will drastically change my life for the next few months. Therefore, I couldn’t not share it with the Third Space community, and I chose to write about it under the guise of creating my own activity, one which I wouldn’t wish on anyone – coping in an adverse situation while you are very far from home.


When I saw my ankle crack underneath me as I jumped off my longboard last Tuesday the six thousand, two hundred and seventy four miles of desert, ocean and mountains that separate Lima from my family and home in the UK, became startlingly apparent. If I was at home, in Edinburgh, or even had chosen to do my year abroad in Europe, I know that my mum would have been by my side in hospital within twelve hours. However, being half way across the world, this isn’t possible, and even now she has offered to come, I have declined – flights are too expensive and it’s just too depressing to consider wasting a flight to this wonderful country on fetching icepacks and helping me put my trousers on. Therefore, I have to cope on my own.

However, I am by no means alone. I have some wonderful friends here and the full support of the school where I work. The hospital experience was stressful, my Spanish vocabulary has undoubtably doubled and I realised that this is where the laid-back Peruvian attitude becomes most frustrating. I was given the choice between a cast and surgery and I nervously chose the surgery in the hope of a faster recovery, in time for December travelling plans to Brazil. I was in hospital for three days, constantly asking for a break-down of my injury, details of the procedure and asking to meet with the doctor. It was not until I was lying on the operating table that the doctor finally appeared. He had been stuck in traffic. For three days.

10407223_10154803034835554_9104834975322649506_nIt is actually pretty funny, and I took it all in good humour. Even when, though I was expecting a general anaesthetic, the anaesthetist asked me to sit up and expose my back and injected my spine with a huge needle until I could no longer feel my toes. I asked him why I was still awake and it finally become apparent that I was, in fact, having an ‘anaestesis regional’, rather than the general I was expecting where sweet dreams awaited me. 

I can’t complain too much, I was probably in the best situation given the circumstances. I know people seem to consider that Peru is a completely different world. However, Lima is just like any other capital city, the hospital was clean and actually quite fancy, the staff friendly and kind, and the surgery up to date.

If anything, this experience has made me realise quite how fragile human bones are. It hasn’t put me off doing the things I love doing and as soon as I am mobile again I’ll be out there surfing, paragliding and experiencing everything Peru has to offer, but it has made me take stock. I might not have been so lucky. I am so grateful to the school and my awesome friends for looking after me. It’s all downhill from here, as I lie in bed for a month or so, on the road to recovery. Be careful everyone.

Amelia Steele


  1. catrionamallows

    Your post was really inspiring and I’m amazed at how brave you are! I also hope you have a quick and full recovery so you can get back to doing all the activities you have planned for Peru 🙂

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