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A rather unusual anniversary
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Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 7:57am

Post #1 of 40 (365 views)
A rather unusual anniversary Can't Post

(Warning, long, nostalgia got the better of me).

This is an anniversary post with a difference. It's not commemorating a birthday, or the day I joined TORN. It commemorates a day when TORN and my real life collided – and when TORNadoes proved themselves to be the best of friends.

Ten years ago I was a journalism student in north London. A year previously I'd taken the day out of my studies for my undergraduate degree to do a spot of Christmas shopping and hang out outside the world premiere of FOTR. It had been fun.

In 2002, despite being technically closer to the action, I wasn't sure if I could be bothered doing the same for TTT's London premiere. I prevaricated most of the day but, by about 4pm or maybe a bit earlier, I made a snap decision – I wasn't doing any useful work, I might as well go. I posted a quick message on TORN to say I was off, gathered together my things and left my halls of residence for the annoyingly slow Tube journey into central London.

I kind of had a mini-deadline in my head as to when things were going to kick off and what time it would make sense being there by. In any event, I was in a bit of rush when I got to Leicester Square tube station. If any of you have been to Leicester Square you'll know it's a confusing sort of station with several exits. I still wasn't used to London at that time, so I picked an exit, popped up above ground, and my first reaction was “bother, on the wrong side of the road”. I crossed the road. I looked around. “Darn,” I said. “I was on the right side after all.”

I went to cross back, stepping and looking at the same time.


Eledhwen vs stretch limousine carrying chiropodists to a Christmas party. Eledhwen 0, limo 1.

I remember looking down at my right leg, which was suddenly rather painful, and wondering where my foot had gone – my white trainer was no longer there and it was dark. Then I folded to the floor, though sadly I didn't faint. I remember a man coming and holding my head and telling me not to worry, he was a fireman, and policemen telling onlookers to move back, and then a paramedic on a motorbike arrived and gave me some painkillers and tried to cut my coat off (I refused). Finally an ambulance arrived and whisked me off under blue lights to University College Hospital, where the A&E team gave me gas (which made me giggly, but didn't take away the pain) and reset my foot. I remember the nurses and doctors talking in rather low voices about “getting the pulse back” to my foot, but oddly it didn't strike me as all that serious at the time.

I managed to call my parents, which was a weird conversation. They'd had no idea I was going out that night, were obviously worried, but I just thought I'd broken my leg (hoho) and was quite cheerful given the circumstances. I was mostly worried that I wouldn't be posting any updates on TORN and that people would be concerned. Even by 2002 I think we'd had a few members join and then vanish and I knew there was a chance someone might wonder where I was. I gave Mum my login and password and then they put me into general anaesthetic and wheeled me off to theatre.

I woke up the next morning feeling absolutely horrible. I was sick and groggy from painkillers and in pain anyway and still in shock. Some of the orthopaedic team – not my main surgeon, he was lovely – appeared at the end of my bed and said “right, we've fixed you, now we're handing you over to plastic surgery”. It was at that point that I first realised that I hadn't just broken my leg and wouldn't be hopping out for six weeks on crutches. What had happened was that the impact of the collision with the limo's bumper had snapped my tibia and fibula – both the big bones below the knee – about two inches above my ankle. It was a compound fracture, breaking through skin and muscle and nerves and the artery leading to my foot. It was pretty nasty. The ortho team vanished. I lay there feeling worse.

The limo driver came to see me, which was sweet; I think he felt some responsibility – in the end the police didn't press any charges, he was under the speed limit (30 mph) but doing about 25 mph, which, on that road at that time of year, is fast. I should have looked better though.

Later that day my parents arrived from up north, and so did my wonderful wonderful plastic surgeon. Mr Floyd was a young consultant surgeon, he was sweet and calming and when he found out my dad was a GP made sure he was properly included in all the discussions about how to sort out the big hole in my leg. I was transferred up to the Royal Free, which has a specialist plastic surgery unit, and over the next two and a half weeks Mr Floyd and his astonishing team got me into theatre two or three times to take muscle and skin grafts from my left thigh and use them to fill in the gaps in my right leg – seriously, it's amazing what they can do!

But it was a miserable time in hospital. My parents couldn't be there all the time. I was acutely conscious I was not only going to miss the planned get-together to see TTT but also that I had train tickets for it for me and some others (we sorted that out).

The high spot was definitely when Mum told me, somewhat bemused, of the messages of support her post about me breaking my leg had had on TORN. I don't think she'd realised until then that TORN was a real community, full of real, caring people. The next week, a few of the British TORNadoes came to see me with a whole sheaf of messages from all around the world – it was seriously touching. It made me cry. Trinity the Purple, who's left TORN since then but is still a friend, visited and was there when the doctors were seeing if leeches would stimulate the blood flow on my leg. She christened the leech Fred.

It was a long journey back from that hospital bed. I got out on December 27th, spent a few weeks at home, a fortnight back at uni, and then another fortnight in hospital having more skin grafts done. And then came long months on crutches, first waiting for the wound to heal so I could start swimming again, and then waiting until I was able to weight-bear, and then switching to one of those moonboot things, and then variations on crutches/moonboot until I could ditch both.

I tried not to let it stop me – I went to the Howard Shore concert on crutches, and stood outside a theatre in the West End waiting for Ian McKellen after he'd performed in Dance of Death, on crutches, with friends from TORN. TORN was a great part of that year. I spent a lot of time on the boards, translating articles from French into English and writing parodies and all sorts. And in September I took my crutch to the States and Annael, Annael's niece Diamond, Draupne and I did a mammoth fantastic roadtrip to Moab and then back to a get-together of TORNadoes in Salt Lake City.

By the time I got back from the States I was ready to get rid of the crutch and get back to normal life. I'd found a job, found a tiny flat, I started rowing again and I've never looked back.

Obviously my family and the utterly amazing, brilliant care of the NHS (go socialist medicine) had a lot to do with my recovery, but I think TORN had a lot to do with keeping my spirits up. Though I'd only met a handful of you, collectively TORN cared. In fact I got more sympathy from you than I did from some of the other students on my course. That sort of thing matters so much in times like that.

Since then TORN's expanded massively. We now have well over 8,600 registered users and we're definitely the biggest and best Tolkien forum out there (I think so anyway). Yet I believe that at its heart, TORN retains that sense of community and looking out for each other. It's why, ten years after I didn't lose my leg and over 13 since I first posted, I'm still here. Cheers to you all.

Storm clouds

(This post was edited by Eledhwen on Dec 11 2012, 7:58am)


Dec 11 2012, 8:15am

Post #2 of 40 (215 views)
Thank you so much [In reply to] Can't Post

for posting this. I was gripped from beginning to end. You are very brave.
And yes, this place truly is a community. It's kept me going through some tough times, most notably the last two years. Not matter how much the ground has shaken here, I have had the stability of this wonderful place, and these wonderful people.

A leech called Fred. Lovely. Smile


Dec 11 2012, 11:53am

Post #3 of 40 (216 views)
Wow, what a story. [In reply to] Can't Post

And aren't we all glad you made a speedy recovery. It must've been a very scary time for you, but you're clearly a very strong person. And what a lovely thing for the TORn community to do. Even more reason to love this place.

When did you finally get to see TTT? I also went to the Howard Shore concert. We might've been in the same room!

Take care. Smile

Want Hobbit Movie News? Hobbit Headlines of the Week!

Tol Eressea

Dec 11 2012, 1:07pm

Post #4 of 40 (180 views)
Cheers to you, too, Eledhwen - thank you for sharing and being here! // [In reply to] Can't Post


Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


Dec 11 2012, 2:36pm

Post #5 of 40 (165 views)
I remember your mum's message [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember when this happened, your mother's message and later seeing pics of you on crutches. I didn't have any idea the injury was that serious! (I also don't remember hearing the bit about leeches!) Glad your leg recovered and you're still here contributing after all these years.

Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires.

--J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #43, to his son Michael

Alassëa Eruvande

Dec 11 2012, 2:41pm

Post #6 of 40 (161 views)
Happy Unusual Anniversary! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for sharing your story. I'd heard bits and snippets of it here and there, but never the whole thing, and from the horse's mouth, too! You were very lucky, in many ways.

Go TORn! Smile

I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!


Dec 11 2012, 3:50pm

Post #7 of 40 (156 views)
I will always remember [In reply to] Can't Post

you scrambling up a slot canyon in the San Rafael Reef in Utah with your crutch. It was clear you were not going to let your injury stop you from doing anything. I salute your determination and courage!

I'm just sad I didn't realize that there was no film in my camera on that hike, or I'd have pictures to show as a testament.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Dec 11 2012, 4:57pm

Post #8 of 40 (151 views)
What a fantastic testimony [In reply to] Can't Post

about virtual friendships and especially about TORn! Smile This isn't just a place that we come and rant about books and films, it's an actual community where people from all over the world are drawn to by their love of Middle-earth. But we've really gotten to know each other.

Thanks for sharing! Smile

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales

Lily Fairbairn

Dec 11 2012, 6:20pm

Post #9 of 40 (144 views)
Thank you for your wonderful story [In reply to] Can't Post

It brought me back, among other places, to that delightful evening we spent in Wellington in '08.

I'm so glad your horrible experience turned out to have so much good in it---although I'm sure you would have been happy to enjoy the TORn community without going through the accident.

Cheers to you too!

Superuser / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 6:28pm

Post #10 of 40 (154 views)
While preparing for The Hobbit premiere [In reply to] Can't Post

I remembered your 'incident with the limo', and thought about just how far we've all come since then.

I'm really glad that TORN was there for you when you needed it. This community has helped me too, without anyone realising it. Sometimes, just having a place to talk is a wonderful balm for what ails you.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 10:57pm

Post #11 of 40 (135 views)
I think you've gone through much more than I did really [In reply to] Can't Post

My leg was a one-off, and then a long recovery - you've had constant uncertainty over months. But TORN has been a thing throughout for both of us! :)

The leech called Fred was awesome.

Storm clouds

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:07pm

Post #12 of 40 (130 views)
I saw it in York [In reply to] Can't Post

Dad borrowed a wheelchair from his surgery and we managed to get the wheelchair spot at the local cinema in January. It was worth the wait.

Didn't that Howard Shore concert happen just once? We must have all been there at the same time. We were the group randomly singing "kill the wabbit" to the tune of Ride of the Valkyries outside ...

Storm clouds

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:07pm

Post #13 of 40 (128 views)
Thanks, Notta! // [In reply to] Can't Post


Storm clouds

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:08pm

Post #14 of 40 (131 views)
Neither did I, at the time [In reply to] Can't Post

My surgeon didn't tell me how glad he was that the grafts had "taken" until April. When it happened I thought I'd just broken my leg and would be in plaster for a few weeks. How wrong I was!

Storm clouds

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:09pm

Post #15 of 40 (131 views)
Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

I was amazingly lucky. It could have been so much worse.

Storm clouds

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:11pm

Post #16 of 40 (135 views)
I don't think there are any photos of me with the crutch on that trip [In reply to] Can't Post

At least I can't find any. I guess I just got on with it. I do remember trying to decide what combination of crutch/moonboot to take with me, and arguing with American Airlines after they failed to give me an aisle seat on the flight home despite me arguing that I needed to get up and stretch my leg. It was such an awesome trip though.

Storm clouds

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:12pm

Post #17 of 40 (131 views)
We have [In reply to] Can't Post

I've made proper lasting friendships here. It's more than just a message board.

Storm clouds

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:13pm

Post #18 of 40 (140 views)
That was fun! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm so glad we got to meet in NZ. :)

The accident has definitely been a mixed blessing. On the downside I've got a nasty scar that I'll carry for ever, but on the upside I think it taught me so much about myself and about other people, and in the long run, has made me a better person.

Storm clouds

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:14pm

Post #19 of 40 (133 views)
I can't quite believe it's been a decade [In reply to] Can't Post

It's astonishing really. But TORN certainly helped. It's a great place. :)

Storm clouds

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:19pm

Post #20 of 40 (135 views)
I remember your Mum [In reply to] Can't Post

I was still fairly new, less than a year on the site, when your Mum posted to tell us you were hurt, but OK. Then we collected all those messages to give you.

Wow - 10 years, and I admire you for fighting so hard to get back to your pre-accident, active life. I'm sure there were moments when you wanted to stop, but you kept going.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 11 2012, 11:25pm

Post #21 of 40 (163 views)
Not really [In reply to] Can't Post

The only thing I thought would change is that I thought I'd never wear shorts or a short skirt again. Turns out that practicality beat vanity and the scar doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I think the main reason is that I've never admitted to myself how serious the accident was and how close I really came to losing my leg, so it was always a case of how quickly can I get back to doing stuff, never can I get back to doing stuff.

Storm clouds


Dec 12 2012, 12:53am

Post #22 of 40 (141 views)
An usually fine recalling/anniversary [In reply to] Can't Post

This was something like grabbing onto a tiger's tail and hanging on for dear life. It was a saving grace you had such good care. I am also happy for your experiences with TORnfolk coming to help to create some wind at your back.
It must have been a good feeling getting in to swim and testing those first strokes along with one foot push-offs. Did you start with a crawl without as kick, maybe having a floater between the knees?

Thank you for sharing this Eledhwen.


Dec 12 2012, 1:12am

Post #23 of 40 (132 views)
Memories and anniversaries [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, amazing story, thank you!

I was just remembering another anniversary, the wedding of Roheryn and NZ Strider, and that I drove you from the airport in LA to San Diego for the wedding!

This is a wonderful community, with so many great friends old and new.

Join us NOW in the Reading Room for detailed discussions of The Hobbit, July 9-Nov. 18!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 12 2012, 1:17am

Post #24 of 40 (179 views)
Omigosh. [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember hearing about your "unlucky break", but never knew how awful it really was!

I'm so glad you were surrounded by support - from the doctors, who obviously knew their stuff well, and from this awesome community of "friends unseen" but not "unfelt". Heart

Cheers to you, Eledhwen!


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 12 2012, 3:54am

Post #25 of 40 (163 views)
I remember your Mum posting [In reply to] Can't Post

and how concerned we all were...and we didn't know what an ordeal it would turn out to be until much later.

You know what's funny? Until I read this, I had completely forgotten that you were using a crutch in SLC. I had to go get out my pictures and look...and sure enough, there you are with it in our group shot on top of the mountain at Snowbird. What fun that weekend was. It's amazing to realize that it's been 10 years!

Yes, the meeting place is virtual but the friendships are real. Cool


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